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Solar CNC – CNC Engraving With The Sun

I don’t remember who taught me you could burn stuff by focusing the sun’s light with a magnifying glass, but I do remember how cool I thought it was. I felt like I was making something out of nothing. Whether it was dried leaves or the unfortunate helpless insect, I loved burning things with a magnifying glass.

A while back I bought a 2.5 watt Eleksmaker A3 laser etching machine. Once I got it put together and all the software running, I was super excited to start “burning stuff”!Unfortunately, it worked for all of about 10 minutes until the laser diode failed and I was left without the opportunity to see what the machine could do until the replacement laser arrived from China.

A cheap magnifying glass mounted to the laser holder and a sunny day, and he don’t need no stinkin’ lasers! The speed needs to be set to a super slow — 100mm per minute — and there’s the problem of tracking the sun, but the results are far finer than any of our childhood solar-artistic attempts ever were.


Do we have the makings of a possible performance art piece here? A large outdoor gantry with a big Fresnel lens that could etch a design onto a large piece of plywood would be a pretty boss beachside attraction. Of course, you’d need a simple solar tracker to keep things in focus.