Since I got my first laser machine, I always wanted to engrave tumblers so I knew I needed a rotary attachment. But I soon discovered that my options were very limited.
These devices available were either super expensive, some selling close to $1K and lacked features that could justify the price or, on the other extreme, cheap and poorly made. Those that were less expensive, had absolutely no indication of how they would work with my laser machine or how I would connect and configure them. There was zero instructions and zero communication with the manufacturer.
Frustrated, I set out to design a better rotary attachment that can engrave anything I throw at it, and will not break the bank. After much testing, tinkering and trial and error, I finally came up with a functional design that’s simple to operate, very durable, can be adopted to a wide range of objects, and is compatible with most laser engravers.
At the time we started working on rotary idea in 2018, few designs were available. Most interesting was an Open Source Rotation Engraving Adapter described in detail by Bart on buildlog.net on April 20th, 2011.
It utilized 2020 aluminum extrusions combined with 3D printed parts, set of rollers an a stepper motor.
I liked idea of using extrusions and 3D printed parts but wanted to take it to the next level. Bart’s design relied on loosening up multiple machine screws, adjusting position of sections and the retightening screws again. This was a slow and tedious process so instead I implemented a design based on v-slot locomotion that’s used in some 3D printers.
It utilizes a set of 3 or 4 wheels gliding over aluminum extrusion with v-grooves. Two wheels on one side and 3rd one on the opposite provide a win win combination of easy to slide parts and rigidity.
In addition I’ve decided that my rotary must have a front clamp and end stops to prevent engraving objects from moving forward or back while rotating, a.k.a. “walking”. Another design choice was to place stepper motor in-line with engraving object thus eliminating need to mirror or rotate image for engraving. What you see in laser program is what you get in the engraving!
At the time this was the first and only rotary that used v-slot system and had integrated clamp and stoppers.
First ever 3D design of PiBurn Rotary was made in May 2018, and this is what it looked like:
And speaking of the name, it’s not a big mystery. Number Pi is a mathematical constant defined as ratio of a circle circumference to it’s diameter. And since rotary is meant for laser engraving cylindrical object, I’ve decided to name my rotary a PiBurn.
After almost a year of refining, testing and building numerous prototype a KickStarter campaign was launched February 2019. While goal was not reached, but we have seen a real demand for a rotary like this so we just began making and selling it at our website. And we never stopped!
We constantly keep tweaking and refining PiBurn. Every year we release new redesigned versions, and usually every few months a new feature is added.
Designed from scratch by us at LensDigital, PiBurn utilizes a V-slot rail system, something that’s frequently found on 3D printers. V-rollers allow for effortless movement on both horizontal and vertical axes, allowing the rotary to fit a huge variety of objects. Wine glasses, tumblers, baseball bats, mugs, bottles and much more can be securely installed on the rollers.
The integrated head clamp holds hollow objects in place, preventing slippage of heavier items. The clamp can be rotated out of way if needed, to accommodate bottles, for example.
Our stepper motor is the one of the most expensive and critical part of the rotary attachment and we spent a lot of time testing various motors from several manufacturers. What we found was that the cheaper ones, while providing sufficient torque, may overheat to dangerous levels. For our final design, we use industrial, extra low heat steppers produced by Leadshine (a leader in motors for laser machines).
We started with hobby oriented PiBurn V1 and V2 made of out less expensive laser cut acrylic and 3D printed parts, eventually moving to a more tough industrial oriented PiBurn V3 that had almost all parts replaced by an aerospace grade aluminum giving it an unprecedented toughness, rigidity and precision.
Our CNC machined drive wheels provide flawless rotation minimizing “walking” and “jumping” movements during engraving.
Unique clamp is strong and has an adjustable pressure for challenging objects like heavy glass beer mugs, but it can also be easily removed when engraving bottles and growlers.
We were first on the market to offer magnetic adjustable feet, never seen before on a rotary. These work great with straight and sloped metal bottom surfaces of the lasers, provided a strong hold, preventing any movement.
The final design is so flexible and versatile, it can support almost any size object, from large 30 oz. tumblers to thin champagne flutes. And the quality of components means the rotary can take a beating and serve you well on your biggest orders.
Probably the most common question we hear is how will PiBurn work with my laser machine?
There’s not a single rotary attachment on the market that can guarantee you that it will work any laser engraver out there. Most Laser machine manufacturers will offer an attachment that works ONLY with their machine. The goal of PiBurn is to be compatible with as many machines as possible.
While we could not possible have access to every single laser engraver in the world we can say with confidence that it will work with most Ruida controller based machines. PiBurn has been tested with All Boss Laser machines as well as so called “50 Watt Chinese Laser” array of machines. It currently works with Orion, Koenig , Laguna, OMTech and recently Aeon Laser machines.
For everyone else, we are willing to work with you on identifying and customizing PiBurn rotary attachment to work with your laser engraver.
Available space inside your laser machine is something to keep in mind. If PiBurn cannot physically fit, it will obviously not work for you. Please make sure you have enough clearance between bottom of your bed and focal point of your laser. You will need about 4 inches plus diameter of your desired object like cup or tumbler.
Most important is that you need to know what kind of stepper motor is supported by your stepper driver, so we can ship you the correct one. It’s either a 2-phase or a 3-phase stepper. Boss Lasers for example use 3-phase steppers, and cheaper Chinese lasers use 2-phase. Please visit this guide that will help you to identify which motor your machine has.
A manual and user configuration guide will be provided as well. It will explain everything you need to know and how to setup PiBurn with your laser (i.e. things like circle pulses, diameter, etc.) as well as guide with useful settings for various engraving materials.
Still feeling have questions? Don’t worry, we’re here to support you and answer any questions.