Today I’d like to discuss the Monport 40-watt laser engraver/cutter. This blog accompanies a video demonstration on my YouTube channel, so feel free to check that out by clicking this link. If you’re interested, I also have many other helpful printer-related videos on that channel.
I’ll start by going over how to unpack it and the process for the first print. This engraver isn’t too heavy, but it is pretty big. For reference, it’s 32 inches wide (a little over 18 cm) and about 20 inches deep (50.8 centimeters), so finding a place to put it may be challenging.
While we’re on the topic, you’ll also need something to vent the smoke out. I opted for a relatively cheap $160 vent from Amazon, which I’ll make another video about how to set up. I 3D printed some extra parts for it as well, and you can find the link to that in the description of the accompanying YouTube video or by clicking here.
My plan going into this was to mount the vent somewhere and then set the engraver up under that so it would direct the air out, and I wouldn’t have all the smoke and excess particles floating around in my space. Part of the vent tube will be inside the engraver, and it also comes with some fairly high-quality safety glasses, which is nice, and a small bag of a few other items.
The extra items in the little goodie bag include clamps, tape, a water pump, some tubes, glasses, a power cord, a white box of glue, a USBC data cable, a wrench, and two pieces for measuring. While there are many things that this engraver comes with, it doesn’t come with the USB software or a dongle. I contacted the manufacturer, and all they said about it was that the menu was outdated and they use a different software than the one it mentions.
If you look at the back of the engraver, you’ll see two tubes coming out of it. One is for water intake, and one is for water outtake. Simple enough, right? The tubes come connected inside the engraving, so we’ll need to detach those to pull them out from the back. The tubes will need to lead into a bucket, which is not included in the packaging. The diameter of each tube is 9 mm. Get a bucket with a lid and cut a hole in it big enough for the tubes to fit through.
I put the four legs on for the water pump and attached the tube connector to it. The manufacturer of this engraver says it requires distilled water, so I tried to make it as distilled as possible. We’re also supposed to ensure the temperature is below 75 degrees, and if you look at the top of the printer, you’ll see a gauge.
I tried to get everything filled and then used a white air filter to ensure that the inside was as close to being vacuum sealed. Once that is done, we can finally put the tubes through the bucket’s lid. The end of the water intake tube connects to the water pump. The water outtake tube connects to an orange tube provided with the engraver.
Next, we’ll go back to the engraver. You’ll see a protective piece of paper in the window with blue film on the bottom. Go ahead and take that paper off and attach the film. Then it’s time to install the chimney tube. This is where those parts I 3D printed come in handy. I designed an attachment that will force the direction of the air being emitted so that if there’s a side wind or anything, I can adjust it.
If you try to turn it on now, nothing will happen. Don’t worry, it’s just because the safety switch is turned off by default. Turn the red button counterclockwise until it pops up. You should then be able to turn the switch to the on position.
The USB data port can be a little scary. It’s pretty easy to bump and break on accident. After a long run, you’ll eventually wear down that USB connection, so I 3D printed a part to put the USBC parts through and used some glue to attach it to the engraver. I’d rather have the USBC cord break than wear down the connector on the main board.
Next, it’s time to install the software. Go to whichever PC you have hooked up to the engraver and search for lightburnsoftware.com. Scroll down on the home page, and you’ll see a few different options. For most computers, you’re going to want the Windows 64-bit.
Install the software and click “start your free trial,” then click okay and go to the “find my printer” option. The software will locate your printer and set the X and Y axes to 300 by 200. Lightburn has a few standard shapes, text, layers, etc. The layers function works similarly to photoshop, but they find the layers themselves. Unlike Photoshop, you can’t add a new layer manually.
I recommend playing around with the software to get used to it because that can take some time. If you’re following along with the video, you’ll see that when I made a rectangle, it automatically set that to layer 0. You can hold down the shift key if you want to make a perfect shape (like a square or a circle). For me, they all got put into the 0 layer.
So what can you do to put something in another layer? Go to the select tool and select one of the shapes you’ve put down. Click on the layer you want the shape to be in, and it should move it to that layer.
You’ll also have a few other options when you select the shapes. In addition to switching their layers, you can select a burn percentage and whether you want the shape to be an outline or filled in. You don’t have to have a new layer for each shape, but I did in the video to show that you can burn the same image at different levels by doing so.
To add a picture to the mix, go to file>import and select the picture you want. It will input big, so you will want to make it smaller. When the image imports, you want it locked so that when you change one number, the other number will adjust accordingly and the image will remain scaled properly.
If you were to burn the picture the way it is now, it would come out horribly. You want it to be in its own layer so that you can switch it to image mode. You can check this by right-clicking on a part of the canvas and clicking preview. You’ll want to get the speed up to 40 to be faster. Then click play on the preview to see how the engraver will engrave the picture.
Upon doing so, you’ll see red on the engraver. This red is the path along which the printhead will move, and the black areas are where the laser will start engraving. If you’re watching along in the video, you’ll see that it came out dark when I previewed engraving a picture of my face.
To fix this, we want to add more contrast to the image. Right-click on the picture and go to “adjust image.” Move the slider so that the contrast is high. When I previewed it this time, it looked a lot better, but my face still had a bit of “panda eye,” so I decreased the contrast a bit and increased the white.
Once you get the preview the way you want it, you can click start and begin engraving. Watching the printer go through this process, you’ll see a red dot resembling a traditional laser. That dot actually isn’t the laser, though, and the laser is a bright yellow.
Lifting the printer’s cover while running (which I don’t recommend) will activate a safety feature. The printhead will continue moving, but the laser will stop and won’t burn anything until you close the lid again. For the video, I bypassed the safety feature to show you what it looks like when the laser is on. It burns pretty violently, and you should probably not try it yourself.
Hope this blog helps!