Manufacturing items at home can be slower than in a factory due to the lack of continuous processes and easily repeatable steps. Clem Mayer, host of element14 Presents, experienced this issue while using his laser engraver. He had to open the enclosure, place down stock, run the machine, and remove it for every single item, which was time-consuming when engraving many identical parts quickly.

To automate the process, Mayer designed a motorized jig that would allow the machine to stay closed while preparing the next piece for engraving. The jig featured a horizontal drum with four sides and sliding panels, allowing stock to be securely clamped. A motor would then turn the drum 90 degrees when it was time to work on the next piece.

Mayer’s prototype included a Trinamic TMC2100 stepper motor driver, a bipolar stepper motor, and an Arduino Uno R3 to control the rotation of the motor. A rocker switch enabled the motor to rotate, while a secondary switch disabled the motor for free movement. A wired remote with a single switch was also created for easy operation outside the laser’s enclosure.

During testing, Mayer realized that the drum was too tall and interfered with the laser toolhead. As a result, he redesigned the jig to feature a flat turntable that could hold up to four pieces of stock in the same orientation. The individual clamps were replaced with a single magnetic disc to keep everything in place.

This project highlights how recognizing repetitive tasks can lead to innovative solutions that save time and improve consistency. Mayer’s motorized jig not only saved time but also ensured that every part started in the same position for consistent engraving. To learn more about Mayer’s design process and iterations, you can watch his video on the Element14 Presents YouTube channel.

Automating processes in laser engraving can significantly improve efficiency and productivity, allowing for the quick and consistent production of multiple identical items. By implementing innovative designs like Mayer’s motorized jig, manufacturers can streamline their workflow and focus on creating high-quality products.