Attaching a Pointer Laser to a CNC Router

Tips and cautions for equipping a CNC with indicator lights for accurate setup and layout. September 1, 2010

Does anyone know of a light device that would go in a tool holder that you could use for point location? Ideally it would emit a small bright dot that we could use to center a part on a machine table. Does such a tool exist?

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor D:
I have not heard of what you are looking for, however there is a system that will read the file you are going to run and produce an outline of the part(s) on your table, using light of some kind or lasers. I looked into it many years ago but decided not to get it for some reason. I believe Carter makes or distributes this item.

From contributor B:
Go to any office supply store and get yourself a laser pointer. Chuck it up in a correct size tool holder (usually around .375 or .5), and turn it on when it is in position, then off, and let the machine put it back in the tool changer. Make sure the RPM of the tool is 0 in the tool parameters; it should not spin. Bad things happen if it spins at 24,000 RPM's. Please don't ask...

From contributor H:
Contributor B is right about the laser pointer and setting the RPM for 0. I can tell you from firsthand experience that it isn't a pretty sight watching a tool that isn't designed to spin suddenly take off at a few thousand rpm. You should see what happens to a magic marker!

We keep a clip on our z-axis head assembly for a laser pointer. We measure the distance from it to the center of the spindle and calibrate locations accordingly. It allows us to quickly and accurately freehand locate small recessed discs into our parts at precise locations.

From contributor J:
Recently I changed spindles, so I have yet to reinstall this. My Camaster has a crosshair laser set on the spindle. It has offsets so that I can set the crosshairs over x and y and hit a button called laser and my xy will move into position. This can be done on any router with a manual laser; just remember to turn the battery off.

From contributor M:
The laser pointer is a great idea. If you are comfortable programming an offset, you can run the same way you use a piggyback drill. Set up the pointer permanently on the side of the spindle: you will be a known distance from center and run the program offset by the known distances. If you are clever, the switch for the pointer can be set up at the machine control.