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Forum topic by JADobson posted 10-11-2018 09:18 PM 460 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JADobson

1207 posts in 2257 days


10-11-2018 09:18 PM

Hey all –
I have a decent side gig turning pens. A question I get asked a lot is if I can engrave them. I’m not set up so I take them to a shop to do it for me. Prices are pretty standard in my city ($30-35 for set up and $7.50 for each subsequent item). Because most of pens are one offs people are looking at the $30 on top of what I’m already charging for the pen. Scares most people off so I’m looking at bringing it in house to see if I can lower that cost. I’m seeing a few options on amazon.ca (I’m in Canada).

The ones I’m looking at are the: EJE 1000mW and the Sixdu 1500mW

Anyone have any experience with these machines? Amazon’s reviews seem like most people love it or hate it. Alternatively are you using a different machine that you would recommend.

I must say that the shop I’m farming this out to now does pretty good work (see photo) and it is simple to just drop off and pick up. Is it worth it to add this tooling?

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks


25 replies so far

View BFamous's profile

BFamous

167 posts in 267 days


#1 posted 10-11-2018 09:41 PM

I don’t have any experience with laser engravers, but do want to chime in on bringing it in-house. There’s a reason your source charges $30 setup and $7.5 per unit. I’m guessing you mark that cost up a little to make it worth your while to be middleman. I can understand your thought process on in-housing it if you’re goal is to make a larger part of the profit. However, if your goal is to reduce the cost for your end customer and are planning on undercutting that 30/7.5, I think you’ll end up doing yourself a disservice. You still have to account for your additional time playing with the software and doing test runs, and also have to subsidize the cost of the machinery.

Just my $0.01

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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Andybb

1278 posts in 749 days


#2 posted 10-11-2018 09:46 PM

Hmmm. I’ve toyed with that idea too. At $125 US seems like it would pay for itself pretty quick. You could probably just add a flat amount for engraving. If they are balking at $30 then maybe $10-$15, but I think you could probably get an extra $20 for “Custom Engraving” ?? I figure that as soon as I sold 8 engraved pens I’m ahead of the game. Right now, the best I can do is an inkjet transfer.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Rich

3661 posts in 735 days


#3 posted 10-11-2018 11:00 PM

I just ordered this one with a 3000mW laser, 3×3 engraving area and, by its design, no limit on the size of the item being engraved. It also has an upgraded laser, USB connector (the old style was notorious for breaking off of the circuit board) and improved software (still nothing to write home about but I’ve downloaded the software for this class of machine while doing my research, and the new stuff is a major upgrade).

It was listed at $121.02 which isn’t bad, but I usually like to wait for the 15% coupons. In this case I was afraid the units wouldn’t last that long, and I also noticed that the listing had a “Make an offer” option, so I took 15% off and offered $102.87 and they accepted it. There are a few other units available.

If I were making an offer again, I’d try for 20%.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/392126292887

Since it hasn’t arrived yet, I can’t comment on your question. It should be here in a few days and I’ll follow up if you’d like.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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JADobson

1207 posts in 2257 days


#4 posted 10-12-2018 01:59 AM

Rich – that one looks really good. Similar price and higher power laser. I wonder if they ship to Canada for free also. Need to investigate.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View Tooch's profile

Tooch

1777 posts in 2022 days


#5 posted 10-12-2018 02:53 AM

If you are on the fence about a laser engraver, I would highly recommend that you go for it. Not only for pens, but also for other projects like cutting boards, box lids, etc.

Since you are specifically looking for something to do pens, make sure it has a rotary attachment or can engrave cylinders. Without that specific function you will get a distorted image.

The software used for the artwork is just as important as the machine, so be sure to get one with a decent program like CorelDraw or Adobe illustrator.

As with any tool, you get what you pay for. The smaller engravers and all-in-ones (cnc, laser, 3d printer) promise a lot but require extra time to setup and wasted material with tests.

I’ve had a lot of use with mine over the past the 10 years and in my opinion it was worth the upfront cost

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

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Tony1212

227 posts in 1881 days


#6 posted 10-12-2018 01:09 PM



I just ordered this one with a 3000mW laser, 3×3 engraving area and, by its design, no limit on the size of the item being engraved. It also has an upgraded laser, USB connector (the old style was notorious for breaking off of the circuit board) and improved software (still nothing to write home about but I’ve downloaded the software for this class of machine while doing my research, and the new stuff is a major upgrade).

It was listed at $121.02 which isn’t bad, but I usually like to wait for the 15% coupons. In this case I was afraid the units wouldn’t last that long, and I also noticed that the listing had a “Make an offer” option, so I took 15% off and offered $102.87 and they accepted it. There are a few other units available.

If I were making an offer again, I’d try for 20%.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/392126292887

Since it hasn t arrived yet, I can t comment on your question. It should be here in a few days and I ll follow up if you d like.

- Rich

There was another thread recently that mentioned this laser engraver, but I didn’t say anything there.

I see this as possible replacement for branding irons to brand your work with your logo. If you look around, most branding irons are more expensive than this laser engraver but then you still have to purchase the actual head that leaves the mark.

Assuming this engraver is decent and you’re in the market for a branding iron, this probably the cheapest way to do it. It would also make changing the size or content of you logo trivial rather than having to re-order another branding iron head.

Plus there’s a lot more functionality in a laser engraver. So I am very interested in seeing how this engraver works.

Rich, please do a review when you get this. I am VERY interested.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

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Rich

3661 posts in 735 days


#7 posted 10-12-2018 01:56 PM


There was another thread recently that mentioned this laser engraver, but I didn t say anything there.

I see this as possible replacement for branding irons to brand your work with your logo. If you look around, most branding irons are more expensive than this laser engraver but then you still have to purchase the actual head that leaves the mark.

Assuming this engraver is decent and you re in the market for a branding iron, this probably the cheapest way to do it. It would also make changing the size or content of you logo trivial rather than having to re-order another branding iron head.

Plus there s a lot more functionality in a laser engraver. So I am very interested in seeing how this engraver works.

Rich, please do a review when you get this. I am VERY interested.

- Tony1212

The other thread was probably my post in Rick M’s hot deals thread. I copied most of the text from it for this post. Burning logos is the reason I’ve been looking for one to try, and the reason I wanted one that can engrave on any size board. I have a two-line branding iron I bought long ago but wanted something that can do my logo, dates, etc.

With the interest out there, I’ll definitely do a review. I know some of the pros and cons already from researching my choice but it’ll be interesting to see how it performs for my needs.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Andybb

1278 posts in 749 days


#8 posted 10-12-2018 05:45 PM

Rich is on the case so now I’m really interested in seeing what he has to say. Won’t be the first time I’ve purchased something based on his recommendation. Haven’t been disappointed yet. $102 is affordable. Just wondering if the software is user friendly and if it can do cylinders (pens). There is a $79 2000mW version too.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

1207 posts in 2257 days


#9 posted 10-12-2018 07:01 PM

Thanks for all the input fellows. Anxiously awaiting Rich’s thoughts!

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

View gwilki's profile

gwilki

225 posts in 1620 days


#10 posted 10-12-2018 07:24 PM

@JADobson: I’m in Ottawa and pay $15 for laser on pens with no set up charge. You may want to shop around.

If you do go with your own engraver, I would appreciate if you would report back on how it works out. I tried a buddy’s “cheap” ($1800 Cdn) Chinese unit a year or so ago, and it wasn’t bad, but the unit lasted less than a year and parts were non-existent. He is now saving for an Epsilon (I think that’s the name.) It is over $5000, but is tried and true. Whatever you end up with, be sure it comes with, or that you can add a “rotisserie”. Even the $5000 model does not come stock with one, and they are not cheap.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View SignWave's profile

SignWave

451 posts in 3181 days


#11 posted 10-12-2018 07:24 PM

I have the EleksMaker a3 from Banggood with a 3.5W laser, so the following is based on this machine.

With the provided software, and a simple jig to do repeatable alignment, I think it would take a 10-15 minutes to engrave text on one side of a pen, including setup. If you’re planning on doing a lot of engraved pens, then this would definitely work and pay for itself in short order.

1.5W is probably enough to do light engraving. A smaller laser will need to run slower to do the same work as a more powerful one, but for engraving a small area, it’s probably not enough to worry about. I wouldn’t go with any less power, though.

Having said that, most of the diode lasers are pretty limited as far as cutting capacity. I bought mine on sale for under $200 because it seemed like a good deal, but I find myself wanting to get a 40W CO2 model for not much more. It would be able to cut more, faster.

Those models you listed have a very small work area (80mm x 80mm). For a bit more money, you can get something with much larger capacity.

The one I have is GRBL based, fwiw, that means that it will work with any software that supports GRBL via usb. I use LaserGRBL (free) because it is more flexible than the software that comes with it. I had no problems setting up or running either software, though. I also did the trial of T2Laser, but wasn’t compelled to purchase the license.

The EleksLaser works reliably for me. A few times I’ve repeated a run from start-to-finish to get a darker engraving on the second pass, and it lines up perfectly each pass so long as you don’t touch it between passes. The CNC part works very well for what it is. I did upgrade the two stepper drivers to TMC2208 which made it both quieter and smoother. I am glad I did the upgrade, but the drivers that came with it are fine.

If you look at other reviews of the EleksMaker a3, you’ll see a complaint that the laser starts at full power, which is a problem. Since I got mine with a different-branded laser (also from Banggood), I had to get a separate PWM-to-TTL converter for $7 to do variable power within an engraving. The trade-off is that I don’t have that problem.

Sorry for the rambling, I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any specific questions.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

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Rich

3661 posts in 735 days


#12 posted 10-12-2018 08:37 PM


Those models you listed have a very small work area (80mm x 80mm). For a bit more money, you can get something with much larger capacity.

- SignWave

The earlier models were limited in the size of what you could engrave since it had to fit in the box and one of the axes of motion was the platform moving. The current generation can sit on any size board. While the engraving area is limited to 80×80 mm, I decided that is enough for my needs. Additionally, size was an issue for me. I need to be able to store it when not in use and the larger models like the Eleksmaker take up more space than I wanted.

It all boils down to what you want it to do. If I wanted to do A3 size engravings of Elvis and John Wayne, I’d go with the larger unit. For logos, 3×3 inches is plenty for me.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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SignWave

451 posts in 3181 days


#13 posted 10-12-2018 08:49 PM

I understand that 3×3 is plenty for pens. I was thinking of all the other things one can do besides pens. Choose the tool that works best for you ;)

Does anyone know if those smaller ones support GRBL, or are there alternate software programs that you can use with them? Just curious.

-- Barry, http://BarrysWorkshop.com/

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Andybb

1278 posts in 749 days


#14 posted 10-12-2018 09:49 PM

For anyone else who is interested the Amazon reviews say it will do cylinders like pens etc. Now I guess I’m just curious how it knows it’s writing on a cylinder or does the small size not matter as far as distortion goes?

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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ohtimberwolf

862 posts in 2498 days


#15 posted 10-12-2018 10:24 PM

Here is a link to the one that Rich suggested. Utube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgwXUBSKVm8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7Wr7kpPScc

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

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