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Laser carver/Cutter for pen engraving

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Forum topic by Fridgecritter posted 08-05-2014 11:06 PM 613 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Fridgecritter

165 posts in 802 days


08-05-2014 11:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: laser engraving carver pen turning machine question

I have been turning fountain pens on the lathe, and while the wood portion is very nice, the lower end pen kits leave a bit to be desired. I have been looking into getting a laser engraver to do some filagree designs or something nice in the side of the pens, and recently a customer asked for names engraved in the clips of her pens for a wedding for all of her groomsmen, and offered to pay a premium for the engraving.

I started by looking into how much outsourcing the engraving would cost, the nearest low cost engraving service being about 20 miles from my house. With fuel and service cost it would be a minimum of 12 dollars in gas for the round trip and 10 to 15 dollars for each item engraved. Not to mention the limited creativity I could ask for from the vendor.

I am at the point where I am ready to integrate the service into my business model with an estimated time to black of around 6 to 8 months including the Christmas rush, but that’s with the Chinese machines

I have looked at many Youtube videos, read many reviews on Amazon and forums, and for pen engraving, I think I will be OK with a simple 40 watt engraver with a desktop footprint.

My question is, does anyone think they can add some insight into these machines, and tell me if they have already walked this path? I don’t think I need the axis turner for bottles and such, only because of the cost difference. For pens, I could see it being really valuable, but the machine is just WAY over what I can budget in for my business.

I have always lived by the mettle, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” so I am exhausting every avenue before making a large purchase like this. The Chinese machines are around 500 to 700 dollars, and have a 10 by 8 inch work surface. Anything above that, and they start at around 5 grand from what I can see. I am hoping someone has a better solution that’s sort of in between.

Thanks in advance.

-- "Anyone can post a quote on the internet and attribute the quote to a famous person." -Abraham Lincoln


5 replies so far

View Kenbu's profile

Kenbu

19 posts in 567 days


#1 posted 08-05-2014 11:37 PM

If you haven’t already, you should ask your question over on the IAP forum, www.penturners.org.

Ken

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Fridgecritter

165 posts in 802 days


#2 posted 08-05-2014 11:37 PM

Thanks Ken. Heading there to copy and paste now.

-- "Anyone can post a quote on the internet and attribute the quote to a famous person." -Abraham Lincoln

View Vince's profile

Vince

973 posts in 2115 days


#3 posted 09-07-2014 05:28 AM

Any updates about this subject?

-- Vince

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

860 posts in 1003 days


#4 posted 09-07-2014 06:05 AM

Not so long ago I was in the market for a machine but new ones were running $12,000-$35,000 for the types I needed. I checked into cheap imports as a possible temporary solution to help earn the money for a better machine but didn’t want to risk the lack of service available from import companies. If the machine broke, I’d be out the money and probably wouldn’t be able to fix it myself.

I finally ended up with a used Universal laser at less than half the cost of a new machine. The reason I went with a Universal is because the company will service it as if I’d bought it new, parts are available and the company techs recited the service history of the machine over the phone when I gave them the serial number.

The biggest problem with used machines is dealing with outdated drivers, software and hardware. I’m capable in that regard and had old computers available so it only cost me a few days time to work around that.

The used machine came from the eBay seller michaelja99. It doesn’t look like he’s got anything on hand right now but I’d recommend him as a seller and he’s apparently sold a number of used lasers over the past year according to his feedback. Might want to keep an eye open if you’re looking to get a professional machine at a low price.

I do know a local guy has run his engraving business off a Chinese laser and seems to do okay. I suspect his driver software isn’t nearly as good as my Universal driver is since he always seemed unable to work with graphic files that I find easy to work with. All I have to do is create a PDF file with colored lines and shapes and the laser prints from that. I can easily convert from Sketchup, CAD or a drawing program like Scribus into PDF format so that lets me pull designs from many sources besides the $300 Corel Draw.

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

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JAAune

860 posts in 1003 days


#5 posted 09-07-2014 06:12 AM

Should also add that CO2 lasers which are the cheapest and most common types will not engrave metal. They will engrave paint or some types of plating applied to the surface of metal. So engraving the clips of pens may or may not be doable depending upon what material they’re made from/

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

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