How to Make a Cutting Laser From a CD ROM

Written by marshal m. rosenthal
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The laser diode inside of a CD ROM disk drive is powerful enough to cut through paper at very close range. Making a cutting laser using the CD laser diode can be done using a plastic flashlight, a CD ROM disk drive and a few parts acquired from a laser supply store. A limited knowledge of how to use a soldering iron is also necessary, but no knowledge of electronics is required. The cutting laser made will not be illegal but its use must not be abused.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Flashlight
  • Laser housing
  • Tweezers
  • Conductive pins
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Jeweller's screwdriver
  • CD ROM disk drive
  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Bonding glue
  • Cloth

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  1. 1

    Put the newspaper down on a table. Remove the battery cap and batteries from the flashlight.

  2. 2

    Unscrew the reflector from the flashlight and toss the inner plastic lens away. Unscrew the light bulb from inside of the flashlight and toss it out. Put the batteries, battery cap, and reflector down on the newspaper.

  3. 3

    Put the CD ROM disk drive face down on the newspaper. Remove the screws from the bottom and side using the Phillips screwdriver. Turn the CD ROM face up and put it down on the newspaper.

  4. 4

    Pull off the top shell from the CD ROM disk drive. Remove the disk tray and toss it out. Wiggle the laser assembly free from the two rails holding it in position on the motherboard of the bottom case.

  5. 5

    Unscrew the laser diode from the laser assembly using the jeweller's screwdriver. Put the laser diode down on the newspaper and toss the laser assembly and the CD ROM disk drive away.

  1. 1

    Twist the laser housing between your hands to separate the front half of the casing from the back half. Discard the front half. Pull out the now exposed laser diode with the tweezers. Place the CD laser diode into the now open holes where the other laser diode was removed from.

  2. 2

    Solder a conductive pin each to the positive and to the negative contacts on the CD laser diode. Let the solder cool off.

  3. 3

    Insert the laser housing conductive pins first into the housing of the flashlight. Apply bonding glue around the laser housing to hold it to the flashlight's housing. Let the bonding glue dry.

  4. 4

    Screw the reflector back onto the flashlight. Insert the batteries back into the flashlight and screw on the battery cap.

    Soak a cloth with tap water and put it down on the newspaper.

  5. 5

    Aim the flashlight at the newspaper from a few inches away and depress the "on" button. Watch as the flashlight which has now been turned into a cutting laser cuts through the newspaper and burns a hole in it. Release the button to turn off the cutting laser.

    Cover the hole of the newspaper with the soaked cloth to extinguish the fire.

Tips and warnings

  • Red enhancement goggles will help you see the nearly invisible laser beam the CD laser diode creates.
  • A laser beam aimed at a person's eyes can cause serious damage and should never be done.

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