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Laser wood engraving on the cheap works surprisingly well.

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Review by MadMark posted 07-02-2016 01:17 AM 9009 views 12 times favorited 58 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Laser wood engraving on the cheap works surprisingly well. Laser wood engraving on the cheap works surprisingly well. Laser wood engraving on the cheap works surprisingly well. Click the pictures to enlarge them

I make a lot of boxes & cabinets and have long wanted to put pictures and words on items. The latest thing in the tool catalogs are ‘affordable’ laser engravers / cutters that start at several thousand and go up rapidly from there. Obviously that’s out of reach for a dabbler.

Searching the internet shows lots of units for between $100 and $200 – all from no-name Chinese cos. Gearbest listed several models from 200mw to 5w. I settled on the 1600mw unit as the best compromise between power and budget at just under $150.

When I ordered the unit I paid the extra ‘safe delivery’ extortion. It arrived perfectly intact.

The fun began when I found there was NO instructions except for the pictures and one lone assembly drawing on their web page. Surprisingly enough this (and the pictures) were enough to correctly assemble the unit.

The controller was fully soldered and only needed button tops inserted and general mounting. All the materials were correct and assembled easily.

No software comes with the hardware, but the web page has what you need. The Benbox control software has step by step installation pictures that point at the buttons to push and in what order. This is a great help as the program defaults to Mandarin.

Basically you generate whatever you want lased as an almost-any-format image file, bmp, jpg, png, etc. That is loaded and positioned (and/or scaled) on the screen and with one click the image is lased.

The laser is not a toy, there is a real eye danger and the supplied goggles MUST be used.

The software was a little confusing at first but after a couple days of lasing I quickly got the hang of it.

Over all I give it four stars instead of 5 for the lack of docs.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com




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MadMark

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58 comments so far

View scott0317's profile

scott0317

58 posts in 1626 days


#1 posted 07-02-2016 03:42 PM

Thanks for the review of this. I have been interested in trying this out and at this price, sounds like a great option. Would you mind posting who you ordered from and the capabilities (size, materials it can engrave) of the laser. I think I will order the same setup.

Thanks in advance

-- I've almost got all the tools I need, almost.

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MadMark

979 posts in 1623 days


#2 posted 07-02-2016 04:10 PM

Click the ’gearbest’ link in the original post and it will take you to the sales page.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View Dedvw's profile

Dedvw

176 posts in 3051 days


#3 posted 07-04-2016 02:00 PM

Where did you choose the safe delivery option and how much extra was it?

Thanks

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MadMark

979 posts in 1623 days


#4 posted 07-04-2016 02:28 PM

It was $5 ‘shipping insurance’ & was on the shipping page of the order form. Save a link to the page so you can check the status. The vendor doesn’t have a tracking page but everything came on time exactly as described.

As an aside, the only tools needed (metric allen wrenches) are supplied in the parts kit.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

3284 posts in 3279 days


#5 posted 07-04-2016 03:57 PM

Interesting. How deep can it burn? Also, how small a type size will it go to and still be reasonably legible? TIA.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View SteveMI's profile

SteveMI

1123 posts in 3465 days


#6 posted 07-04-2016 10:01 PM

I bought one minus laser to use with a wood burner for $82 plus $30 shipping. Four days to Cincinnati, and then 6 days with USPS to southeast Michigan. Double boxed and well packaged.

Definitely no documentation came with it and support from the vendor when you get to it, is in Chinese. It went together quite well in two hours with no rush, only had to make minor disassembly twice because I didn’t know the sequence.

Lots of other things going on in life and haven’t gotten back to conquer the software yet. Actually I plan to use Arduino GRBL (g-code) instead of the available software.

The parts are a steal at $82, 3 steppers, 8020 frame, precut thicker acrylic, gears / belts, Arduino, controller board, cables… Taking time to design it and then trying to buy individually and shipping would be a lot more.

My only regret right now is that this is A5 size 5.8” x 8.3” and the A3 size 11.7” x 16.5” was only $60 more with a 500mw laser (no delete option), which I didn’t see at the time. I bought at GearBest, but the exact same one is available on a number of Chinese sites. The A3 size is on ebay US (California) for $300 plus $46 shipping.

Steve.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4248 posts in 2732 days


#7 posted 07-04-2016 10:48 PM

Guys

I have been wanting something like this for me and the disabled vets like me I teach. Does it or can it be adapted to doing turning items along with flat items?
Also if I do not use their software what can I buy that will not only work with it but easy to understand since I have brain damage from a bombing in the middle east.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

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MadMark

979 posts in 1623 days


#8 posted 07-04-2016 11:31 PM

The burn spot is about 1mm. The software is dead easy. Click the text button, type it in, move/size it (optional) and click lase. At slow speed (20 – no unit listed) you can burn down about 1/16” into pine (YMMV).

At a certain point if you slow too much the material will catch fire and smear whatever you’re trying to cut. This is sold as an engraver and it engraves well, cutting, not so much.

You can lase readable text that is about 1/8” high. Tip: start with large text and shrink down to lase.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

3284 posts in 3279 days


#9 posted 07-04-2016 11:37 PM

Thanks! That might work for burning my driver’s license # in the handles of my carving tools. I have a lot invested.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12397 posts in 2550 days


#10 posted 07-05-2016 03:51 AM

A laser engraver is something I’d like to have. I’ve heard they really stink (literally) when engraving and that it’s better to use them outside or near a window fan.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

7258 posts in 3538 days


#11 posted 07-05-2016 05:44 AM

Nice little machine MadMark! Please keep us up on projects you do with it!

Rick M. have you seen the Laser/3D Printer/CNC/and more unit from Stepcraft?
Small and low cost enough not to hurt to bad and it is made in Germany.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View MadMark's profile

MadMark

979 posts in 1623 days


#12 posted 07-05-2016 05:59 AM

The burn quality matches that of regular branding irons.

The laser and software are in mm, if you draw in mm in CAD you’ll get a 1:1 laser burn.

There is a tiny amount of smoke from it that usually rapidly dissipates. I have a shop fan that always spins. The breakpoint where you need smoke handling are when you jump up to the 40+W CO2 IR gas lasers. For the LED based units in the 1/2W to 5W range not so much.

M

-- Madmark - Madmark2150@yahoo.com Wiretreefarm.com

View SteveMI's profile

SteveMI

1123 posts in 3465 days


#13 posted 07-05-2016 02:06 PM


have you seen the Laser/3D Printer/CNC/and more unit from Stepcraft?

oldnovice – I couldn’t find any mention of laser option? Did I miss anything?

Steve.

View JayT's profile

JayT

5925 posts in 2381 days


#14 posted 07-05-2016 02:33 PM

Interesting. I had been looking at having a local trophy shop do some engraving for me, but now am wondering if this would do the job.

What’s the total size of the assembled unit?

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)

GR8HUNTER

4897 posts in 883 days


#15 posted 07-05-2016 03:49 PM

HI MADMARK, does it come with the laser ??.... or do you have to buy that separate
and do you need a computer close to it ???? Thanks

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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