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Wilksey
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« on: February 06, 2017, 12:40:59 12:40 »

Hi,

Can anyone recommend a cheap laser cutter for hobbyist use?

I don't want to spend an absolute fortune, so a cheap Chinese one will do, nothing with a massive cutting range is needed, something like the Epilog Mini or something will do.

Cheers!
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CocaCola
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 07:58:53 19:58 »

When I was shopping for one years ago, like many 'Asian Tools' almost every import one uses the same identical parts and many are made in the same factory or near identical bootlegs of the factory across the street...  That said I never did bite the bullet but my plan was to simply source the lowest cost one that did what I wanted and use any saved money to tweak it and make it better myself as all the low end ones seem to have quirks that need to be addressed...  I have done this with many of my other cheap Asian tools like lathes and milling machines and have never been totally let down once they were tweaked and dialed in...  One thing to obviously consider is getting one from someone that had already imported it and will provide some level of support and guarantee after the sale, at one time I had considered importing a larger one myself, but the logistics and hassle was not anywhere near worth the trouble vs what could be purchased from someone who was in the business of importing and selling locally...

Another thing you might want to consider is to see if there are some readily adaptable 'add-ons' that you might be in need of at some point that are not a total pain in the but to make work or fabricate... This was one thing I was looking at the time, as I wanted the additional rotary axis so that I could 'etch/burn' cylinders and there are some machines that are much, much more rotary axis friendly...
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 08:21:25 20:21 by CocaCola » Logged
Wilksey
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2017, 11:14:33 23:14 »

Interesting, can you recommend a brand / model (Ebay specials are OK!)?
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CocaCola
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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2017, 11:34:23 23:34 »

Interesting, can you recommend a brand / model (Ebay specials are OK!)?

I can't recommend anything 'current' all my research into them was years ago and although I suspect many of the same machines are still quite popular, my brain has long forgot the research I did and any notes taken are long gone...

The only memory I have left in regards to the cheaper machines is that it's very common (you can expect it) for the Asian import devices to have poorly focused lasers requiring you to tweak the mirrors and lenses right out of the box if you actually want it to work properly...
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Wilksey
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2017, 01:20:56 01:20 »

OK, thanks, i'll have a look around.
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pickit2
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 02:12:15 02:12 »

There are a few cnc machine sellers, adding a laser cutter head.
not cutting the cost, but adding value?
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Wilksey
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 11:43:24 11:43 »

How does that work, doesn't a laser use mirrors on the bed?
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solutions
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2017, 12:09:50 12:09 »

  ^^ Those are toy engravers/paper-cutters. There's not a whole lot of useful you can do with a 2.5W-10W diode laser head. A real man cuts at least 6mm plywood or acrylic.

There are differences in the laser tubes, though. I've heard some horror stories with some of the cheaper ones, so it's a bit pointless, IMO, to pick up a cheap machine, then have to order a $1000 tube for it.

Why not build an open source one?
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Wilksey
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2017, 02:11:11 14:11 »

Well, a "toy" one sounds perfect, i'm not a professional, I want a cheap one in case I don't use it and haven't wasted thousands of pounds on a useless piece of kit, if the tube goes then it'll be cheaper to buy another cheap one than buy the tube in that case!

I don't need to cut 6mm thick material!

Sometimes an open source one can be just as much as buying one, unless you have links to one that is under $400 USD as the toy ones are around $350 / 320.

I have a lot of cheap Chinese tools, and whilst not as good as ones that cost 20x more, they work.

Just after links of ones that work, doesn't matter if they take a bit of fiddling etc.
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pickit2
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2017, 08:54:38 20:54 »

http://www.buildlog.net/cnc_laser/index.php
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Wilksey
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2017, 02:04:28 14:04 »

Thanks, looks like i'd be better off looking at A CNC with a laser head.
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solutions
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« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2017, 11:09:35 11:09 »

You started out asking for an Epilog (a CO2 tubed machine). Now you want a CNC with a diode head. If you have a CNC, why have a laser at all? A laser on a CNC is going to suck at both cutting (not enough power) and at raster (mass is too high).

In any case, if you just want to scribble on wood or burn paper, something like this is as simple as it gets https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1537608281/lazerblade-the-affordable-laser-cutter-engraver

https://darklylabs.com/product/emblaser-1-kit/
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 12:05:18 12:05 by solutions » Logged
Wilksey
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« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2017, 02:22:06 14:22 »

Not really, I asked for recommendations for something LIKE a Epilog, pickit suggested looking at CNC with laser heads, that doesn't mean I WANT one, just that I am looking at the option of one.

I want a laser cutter, not just engraver.

Thanks for the link - though it does seem quite expensive for a frame with a 4W laser.
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OscarH
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2017, 07:06:37 19:06 »

Wilksey,
I recently installed a 3.5 W blue laser on my CNC. It can cut thin material like paper, carton, plastic, balsa or light wood. That's all you can do with this limited power.
On light wood, you cut ~1mm of wood per pass at a speed of 400mm/minute.
Engraving is working fine, at least on most of non-reflective materials.
You need to have much more power, at minimum 40 watts, if you want to start cutting stronger materials.
Then the difficulties start if you want to install a CO2 laser on a CNC, it is not that easy...
OscarH

 
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norkimo
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2017, 07:30:31 19:30 »

A couple years ago I visited Full Spectrum Laser in Las Vegas and they seemed to have some decent stuff at a good price.  They are certainly not the cheapest, but I think they provide one of the better cost/performance/reliability ratios on the market.

If you want something mid-range I'd check them out: https://fslaser.com/
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Wilksey
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2017, 10:36:26 22:36 »

@OscarH, thanks, the Chinese ones are 40W (apparently), and get good reviews considering (build quality not so good...but operation OK).
I guess the CNC has the axis required but yeah, the options are limited!

@Norkimo, thanks for the info i'll take a look at them.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2017, 02:46:05 02:46 »

Another nice thing about a dedicated engraver/cutter is they are generally enclosed and exhausted, if you convert an existing CNC that is another added cost so that you don't stink up the place and put irritants/toxins into your breathing air...
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Wilksey
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2017, 11:23:13 11:23 »

Yeah, are they all water cooled or are some just air cooled? Is there a preference for one over the other? I know they both have ventilation for fumes.  I've seen some lower power lasers with no water pump, presume just because of the lower wattage or are they skimping on provided equipment?
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hexadec
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2017, 08:09:00 20:09 »

If anyone is interested in the Chinese (so called) 50W blue laser cutters I strongly recommend you look up SarbarMultimedia's series of videos on youtube RDWorks Learning Lab.
It's a real eye opener.
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CocaCola
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2017, 09:09:29 21:09 »

If anyone is interested in the Chinese (so called) 50W blue laser cutters I strongly recommend you look up SarbarMultimedia's series of videos on youtube RDWorks Learning Lab.
It's a real eye opener.

When it comes to 'specs' fudging the power values it's almost a given with cheap imported items and many domestic items as well...  This is true across the board from power supplies, wall warts, amplifiers of all kinds, motors, batteries, LEDs and what not...  Heck even car manufactures use creative ways to measure horsepower, torque and mpg regularly...

I read an article long ago that contained details of an internal memo from an automobile audio amplifier company, they literally tested their amplifiers in a walk in freezer with a stream of Freon being blown across the heatsinks, using a single frequency tone they knew the amp was able to amplify best, while driving the amp with 18V until the device smoked...  They then used the final 'wattage' output obtained in their test as the power rating of the devices...  There was no way that in the real world at a nominal 12V in a real automotive application the device would ever get anywhere near their ratings, nothing has changed...
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Gallymimu
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« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2017, 03:18:51 15:18 »

When it comes to 'specs' fudging the power values it's almost a given with cheap imported items and many domestic items as well...  This is true across the board from power supplies, wall warts, amplifiers of all kinds, motors, batteries, LEDs and what not...  Heck even car manufactures use creative ways to measure horsepower, torque and mpg regularly...

I read an article long ago that contained details of an internal memo from an automobile audio amplifier company, they literally tested their amplifiers in a walk in freezer with a stream of Freon being blown across the heatsinks, using a single frequency tone they knew the amp was able to amplify best, while driving the amp with 18V until the device smoked...  They then used the final 'wattage' output obtained in their test as the power rating of the devices...  There was no way that in the real world at a nominal 12V in a real automotive application the device would ever get anywhere near their ratings, nothing has changed...

It's a bit like when I tell my girlfriend "No this is a very large one, I mean look how big my feet are!"
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snowman
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2017, 03:30:17 15:30 »

I have as Chinese laser cutter. its big and heavy. It comes with 2 huge boxes. one is accessories, other is cutter itself. total weight was 35 kilos. boxing was as big as chair you use to sit down in front of tv.

And don't be surprised when you notice that you'll much more place then you imagine. at the back there's a big fan attachment. there's a air flow hose which is flexible but takes too much space. Plus there's a smell and smoke problem depends on your work piece (if you're cutting plastic, acrylic or wood... oh God...)

don't forget the water bucket for cooling and splashing water.....

but its lots of fun Smiley

and... also order laser goggle. Its powerful device. You don't want to look at even reflections.
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Vineyards
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« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2017, 07:59:08 19:59 »

One man's cutter another man's engraver and vice versa.
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Xicoxloko
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« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2017, 06:13:22 18:13 »

DIY (If you have habilit for it):
https://buildyourcnc.com/Item/laser-cutter

Fullspectrum is another alternative:
https://fslaser.com/Product/Hobby

GlowForge is another alternative:
https://glowforge.com/tech-specs

The Universal Laser
https://www.ulsinc.com/
The site has a guide to select the best machinefor your use.

Chinese laser cutter is good alternative too.


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