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Forum topic by JBorfair posted 05-27-2015 02:35 AM 670 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JBorfair

37 posts in 893 days


05-27-2015 02:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: laser engraver wood engraver engraving machine finishing

Hi all:

I’m looking to take my projects to the next level and buy yet another tool in the form of a Laser engraving machine. I’m willing to spend 1500-2500 on a machine that is about 50W, but flexible on the wattage. I am having a hard time finding any reviews on machines of this nature so I am bring my question to you engravers. I want a machine that will support (up to) 15×20 inches. Do any of you folks have any recommendations, and what makes yours stand out as the reason for buying it?

Thanks for helping a fellow Lumberjock out.

Jim


14 replies so far

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1646 posts in 1784 days


#1 posted 05-27-2015 03:06 AM

You’re looking at Chinese lasers and one place you’ll get feedback on those is probably Sawmill Creek forums.

Not sure if even the cheapest Chinese machine will come with a 50watt at that price range. Ebay has laser engravers in that price range but they don’t look like bargains to me.

I don’t use a Chinese machine but chose the used Universal route. Simply recharging the tube costs $1,200.

I’m curious about your intended use for the machine?

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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skatefriday

380 posts in 950 days


#2 posted 05-27-2015 03:14 AM

Laser cutters/engravers are largely software machines with some commodity hardware and
expensive motors/servos. You won’t find anyone willing to give away quality software for
the $2000 range. You can buy a Chinese machine, but how good is it’s software? When it
doesn’t do what you want where will you go?

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JBorfair

37 posts in 893 days


#3 posted 05-27-2015 03:15 AM

I’m trying to avoid the Chines lasers I see. My intended use to engrave images, initials etc. for custom work I get hired to do. in this particular case, it is a wine presentation box made from black walnut that was harvested 40 years ago.

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JBorfair

37 posts in 893 days


#4 posted 05-27-2015 03:29 AM

What should I expect to pay for a quality laser?

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JAAune

1646 posts in 1784 days


#5 posted 05-27-2015 03:35 AM

You need power for cutting more than engraving. If you aren’t going to do much cutting, save money by looking for a lower power laser in the 30-40 watt range. If your work is small, look for a desktop model.

If you can locate a used, Universal and get the serial number, they will be able to give you the service history. That helps determine the condition of the machine you’re considering.

Trotec has a great reputation for raster work (images for example) but you’re unlikely to find one of those used and certainly not at that price point.

What SkateFriday says about Chinese machines is true. They almost all have terrible software. I used to get work from a local guy and he seemed to be very limited in file types that he could handle. On my aging Universal, I can do all sorts of things pretty easily. The software does most of the work.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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JAAune

1646 posts in 1784 days


#6 posted 05-27-2015 03:39 AM

Regarding price, my 7-year X-660 cost about $9,500 to purchase used from eBay, ship and perform basic repairs including a tube recharge. The Universal rep I spoke with when I got the service history said it was a really good buy. He didn’t even attempt to sell me one of his new machines.

A desktop model of similar quality would probably be half that price. So maybe $4,500 to get a good, serviceable laser with US-based customer support.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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JBorfair

37 posts in 893 days


#7 posted 05-27-2015 03:44 AM

Thanks for all the replies so far!! I am starting to get some ideas. If have to invest 500-7500 I will do it. Please keep the suggestions and comments coming guys. Thanks so much for the help so far!

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1646 posts in 1784 days


#8 posted 05-27-2015 04:11 AM

One last suggestion is to check out industrial auctions and search for Epilog, Universal and Trotec machines. Don’t buy an Epilog more than 10 years old as they won’t provide support. Do call technical support before buying and get estimates on potential repair costs.

Also remember that older lasers will have older interfaces like parallel ports. Older computers with parallel ports may not support newer design software. USB to parallel converters may or may not work. Some people report success and some report failure. My Universal rep said a Belkin USB/Parallel cord should work for me but I haven’t tested it yet.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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JBorfair

37 posts in 893 days


#9 posted 05-27-2015 04:19 AM



One last suggestion is to check out industrial auctions and search for Epilog, Universal and Trotec machines. Don t buy an Epilog more than 10 years old as they won t provide support. Do call technical support before buying and get estimates on potential repair costs.

Also remember that older lasers will have older interfaces like parallel ports. Older computers with parallel ports may not support newer design software. USB to parallel converters may or may not work. Some people report success and some report failure. My Universal rep said a Belkin USB/Parallel cord should work for me but I haven t tested it yet.

- JAAune

I am in need of USB interface, vice parallel without a doubt, as well as Windows 8 software. Good point JAAune!!

View skatefriday's profile

skatefriday

380 posts in 950 days


#10 posted 05-27-2015 04:44 AM



What should I expect to pay for a quality laser?

- JBorfair

Epilog machines are in the $15,000 range new. If you can find one
used in the high 4 figures I think you have a pretty good deal. They
do have some lower cost machines but pricing is pretty opaque. Yeah,
I hate that also.

View DrDirt's profile

DrDirt

4169 posts in 3210 days


#11 posted 05-27-2015 05:45 AM

Don’t know where bidding will end up but this is apparently turn-key, with a computer loaded with Corel Draw 8

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Universal-laser-engraver-Fully-Rebuilt-New-Tube-Desktop-Engraver-/171803897323?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item28004f6deb

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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copcarcollector

254 posts in 1585 days


#12 posted 05-27-2015 05:51 AM

Epilog machines are in the $15,000 range new.

The least expensive Epilog is about 8 grand, not 15. Might not be the most powerful or the largest, but perhaps a good starting point for your needs now.

View Oughtsix's profile

Oughtsix

42 posts in 642 days


#13 posted 05-27-2015 06:18 AM

The laser engravings I have seen look like laser engravings. Not something I would want to adorn a piece of my work with. I have seen CNC router engravings with a lot of hand touch up that looked really nice. But laser engravings on wood look cheap to me.

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

23214 posts in 2334 days


#14 posted 05-27-2015 01:38 PM

I purchased an Epilog Helix with an 18×24 engraving area and 50 watts, but I am planning on making a business out of it. I have run it pretty hard and it has given me no problems so far. I use CorelDraw x7 to run it. I have used Corel Draw for maybe 10 years and I also have used Photoshop for a number of years as well as Xara Extreme and Turbocad. I don’t do a lot of cutting. Most of my signs will be made out of material that is too thick for cutting and some of the thin material that I will be using does not cut very well. I have used some 1/8 – 1/4 inch birch plywood and it cuts very well. However, most of the signs that I will be engraving will be 5/8” maple and 1/2 inch plywood. One of the main considerations for choosing Epilog is that I have been looking at them for years and the distributor for Georgia and Florida is located only 40 miles from me. Epilog engravers have proven that they are work horses for a lot of years so they can pay for themselves.

In addition to the signs I have a number of other products that I will make in my woodworking shop that I will also engrave. I have plenty of room for another engraver in the room that I added on to my shop recently. I believe that I will be able to do most of the work myself so should be able to keep my cost and overhead low.

However, I did see at the Atlanta show some Chinese machines that looked very impressive. I have a lot of years of experience in the wood manufacturing business and I was the one that always maintained/repaired our equipment. I know very well what downtime can do to your bottom line not to mention irritate your customers. That’s why I opted for a machine with a long history and a good reputation. For a while I won’t have the luxury of a 2nd engraver so I will have to depend on this one to do it’s work with little or no downtime. I also hope to add a small to medium sized cnc router in the next few years. I have to do this because when my wife retires we’re going to need a small company for our retirement. I wish I could just operate my shop for my enjoyment and make beautiful things just for the sake of enjoyment and pleasure. Unfortunately, it’s just not going to work.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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