Welcome To Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals

Signs101.com: Largest Forum for Signmaking Professionals is the LARGEST online community & discussion forum for professional sign-makers and graphic designers.

 


  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

laser Engraver questions...

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by gabagoo, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

    5,739
    108
    63
    Oct 10, 2006
    Vaughan, Ontario
    I have seriously wanted one of these machines for about 4 years, but just never seem to pull the trigger.

    I don't currently farm out that much, but I know if we have one I will find ways to use it for my existing clientele.

    I am in no rush for it to be productive, so I can take my time learning and getting used to it... and I have the available funds so money is not an issue. I have the venting in place from our printer as well.

    I guess I am posting to those that may have been in the same situation and then once they had the unit realized just how much it may have added to their product offerings.

    I remember when we bought our Edge some 20 years ago, we didn't have a lot of use for it, but within a very short time we used it more and more and it has paid for itself many many times over.

    The same can be said of the Mimaki we have... Slowly over time we utilized it more and more.

    I guess I see where the printing game is going and feel I need something different that other shops don't have.

    I am also curious to those that have them, the pros and cons and who makes the best machines.
     
    Tags:
  2. Ditchmiester

    Ditchmiester Active Member

    715
    0
    16
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oswego, IL
    What size of Laser Engraver are you looking for both in bed size and in wattage?
     
  3. jwindsor

    jwindsor Member

    27
    0
    1
    Dec 18, 2012
    29651
    Laser Engraver Questions

    We have an Epilog Mini-24, 45 watt. The bed size is 12 x 24 which is the size of a standard quarter sheet of engraving material. I would go this size or bigger, but not smaller. Buy as much power as you can. You may not always need it, but it is nice to have. A lot depends on exactly what you are planning to do with it. Personally, I would stay away from the Chinese machines, but some have had excellent experiences with them. Our Mini-24 is 7 years old and still running like the day it was delivered. Epilog has excellent support and they are built in the USA.

    Joe
     
  4. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

    5,739
    108
    63
    Oct 10, 2006
    Vaughan, Ontario
    I think I would be looking at something fairly introductory....what do you suggest?
     
  5. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    3,429
    397
    83
    Nov 11, 2008
    Ontario
    Hey barry:

    we have owned 5 lasers over the years, give me a call if you have any questions.

    Also, the exhaust on your printer won't be powerful enough to get the fumes out of your shop from the laser, we have a 800 cfm exhaust fan and you can still smell it some times.
     
  6. Baz

    Baz Very Active Member

    About two years ago, i was getting more and more requests for small engraved signs. I used to sub it out but as i got more into it, smaller jobs were turning into a pain for my supplyer so i had to buy one.

    I knew nothing about them and it just happened i had a Gravograph sales rep coming in every month to try and sell me a system. Like you, at that time i knew nothing so i wanted an introduction system. I bought a 45 watt, 18"x12" unit. It also came with production software that seems to be quite powerfull. Kinda like Flexi but built for engraving production.

    This system has paid for itself already. And is a great addition for serving the type of corporate customers i have. Now that i know more about these things ... I'd love a 100 watt unit, open ended so you can feed full 4' acrylic sheets on a rolling carpet and also adding a rotary system to complement the laser and run materials that are not compatible with lasers.

    If you think you could serve a few of your existing cutomers with it then i would say buy it. Like any machine you will be using it more and more afterwards and probably bring you a new type of clientel.

    As far as brands. I like my Gravograph but would also not hesitate to buy Universal, Epilog, Trotek. Find a retailer that can offer you good fast service. You shouldn't have a problem since you are in the Toronto area.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Ditchmiester

    Ditchmiester Active Member

    715
    0
    16
    Mar 24, 2011
    Oswego, IL
    It would really depend on what you are trying to engrave / cut and also how fast you would like to be able to run it. If you are looking for not spending a lot of money and just want to get your feet wet Epilog usually has a decent deals for used/refurbed machines on their website.
     
  8. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    3,429
    397
    83
    Nov 11, 2008
    Ontario
    epilog no longer has a canadian distributor, they got bought out by Trotec recently.
     
  9. French guy

    French guy Member

    25
    0
    0
    Feb 23, 2013
    Some peoples are saying that laser cut alupanel or dibond and some are saying it does'nt . Can someone help ?

    FG
     
  10. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    2,875
    4
    38
    Oct 16, 2008
    VA
    The "engraving" lasers that are C02 lasers, will not cut alupanel or dibond. The wavelength on the beam is one that will not penetrate metal. So not only can you not cut metal, you can't engrave metal either. Running a C02 laser on steel for hours won't change it. There are different wavelength beams available, there are C02, YAG, and Fiber lasers available today in the mainstream. A fiber or YAG will mark metal, but it won't cut certain materials. So it's a trade off. The vast majority of people are using C02 lasers and they won't cut or mark metal. You can mark metals with them, but it's done by adding a chemical into the equation.
     
  11. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

    5,739
    108
    63
    Oct 10, 2006
    Vaughan, Ontario
    Thank you for all your advice...I am going to try and head out next week to see a Trotec 300 and get an idea of just what it is capable of doing.
     
  12. fixtureman

    fixtureman Member

    358
    19
    18
    May 16, 2012
    Medina Ohio
    For in entry level laser Trotec is probably the most expensive. You can get 3 to 5 Chinese lasers for what 1 trotec costs.
     
  13. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

    1,505
    4
    38
    Jan 24, 2008
    Las Vegas
    You can get a 4' x 3' 130W laser table, with auto raising table, 4th axis rotational holder etc... for less than $7500. A laser beam is a laser beam. Wanna get your feet wet, then get one of those.

    (Oh, btw... never cut Sintra or any kind of PVC with one. Yes it will cut, but you would need to be wearing oxygen masks! Releases chlorine gas)
     
  14. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    2,875
    4
    38
    Oct 16, 2008
    VA
    You couldn't be more wrong in that comment.
     
  15. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

    1,505
    4
    38
    Jan 24, 2008
    Las Vegas
    So you are saying 130W beam of light is somehow different depending on where it's made? We are not talking about the quality of the mirrors, or the controlling software. I'm talking about the wavelength of light.

    Full Spectrum Laser (http://fslaser.com/) is a very reputable company in the Laser Marking/Engraving industry. They produce machines on par if not better than the larger companies like Epilog et al. I've spoken at length with the president there, and found out some interesting things about lasers, the machines and where they originate. The bells and whistles really come from the controlling software, and the kind of motors they use (steppers vs servo)

    Now after mentioning that company, I can tell you while they offer great machines at a very reasonable price. BUT I can still get the same quality machine at even half of what they are charging. Plus some extras. I've got the laser cut samples from about a dozen different manufacturers sitting here on my desk. Unless I told you who they were made by, you'd not know.

    My only need for a laser is to cut up to 1" thick acrylic for letters. They all (80W - 130W) do that, and more.
     
  16. cmykpro

    cmykpro Member

    77
    0
    0
    Jan 15, 2014
    I too have been considering a laser. Can anyone give specific examples of sub $10,000 machines worth investing into?
     
  17. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

    1,505
    4
    38
    Jan 24, 2008
    Las Vegas
    OK, if you don't want to get to creative with importing yourself, this company has a U.S. based office (Stockton, CA) and you can actually go and visit them, request samples etc.

    http://www.morntechusa.com

    Just know they still are marking up about 50% and you could still buy direct and save. But if you have questions or tech issues there are only a handful of companies that would still help you. But here's one important point I should make. If you are buying a machine that looks like these, chances are that the parts are interchangeable, and you could buy the stuff from one of these importer/re-branders.

    And if you want to do eBay, there is nothing wrong with anything by JCUT. They make really good quality machines.
     
  18. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    2,875
    4
    38
    Oct 16, 2008
    VA
    If that's what you believe, then more power to you. Full Spectrum has some of the worst customer testimonials in the business. There is a massive difference in every single aspect of the machines. You simply cannot compare a FSL to a Trotec. That's like comparing a Yugo to a Ferrari.

    There is 100%, without question, a very large difference in the beam, the beam quality, and it's ability to do the job. If you don't own one or haven't owned one, then please don't give advice like that. FSL has been at the center of a number of lawsuits by their customers. They have a horrible reputation in the industry.

    If you wouldn't buy a chinese no name brand printer, then don't buy a chinese no name laser.

    The only thing a Trotec and a FSL have in common is they are both named lasers.
     
  19. Biker Scout

    Biker Scout Very Active Member

    1,505
    4
    38
    Jan 24, 2008
    Las Vegas
    OK, but they still cut my acrylic letters. Why would I need to spend $42k to do that? Of course Trotec is like a Ferrari. But like a Ferrari, the Yogo it still gets me where I need to be. Speed, and style aren't paying my overhead. But the cut letters are.

    The days of overpriced proprietary machinery are losing ground. Yes, there still will be a need for them, and I would love to buy a Trotec. Perhaps I can some day, but I'd be paying cash, and would be at the point where I need what they are offering.

    I do have an import printer. (As do all of you... no printers are actually made in USA)

    Personally, I'll be pulling the trigger on a JCUT. It will serve my needs, and generate the cash I want. The first two jobs I have coming up this spring will more than pay for the machine. After that I really don't care if it becomes a paperweight. I can then buy a "real laser" at that point.
     
  20. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    2,875
    4
    38
    Oct 16, 2008
    VA
    Biker, with all due respect, you're talking nonsense.

    A beam is not a beam, let's be clear on that. Beams have quality. The lasers you mention for being such a great value are essentially the same technology that was available from mainstream companies 15 years ago. So you're essentially buying a 15 year old machine, performance wise. Those machine are typically water cooled and the "top of the line" glass tubes on the market for them right now is a RECI glass tube. When you go up in power on those, you lose a lot of the lower end of the performance. So to get a higher wattage machine, you'll lose the ability to do small, detailed work to a degree. For example, we engrave a lot of small text, 3 and 4 point text. The 80W RECI tube won't do it. Well, it will, but it's not sharp. They also are not rated to be run at 100% on the power. They recommend not running them over 80% power or you'll drastically reduce the life of the tube. So right out the box, your 80W has lost 20% of it's power. So you lose power at the high end and you lose detail at the low end. You will not find that is the case with Epilog, Universal, Trotec, or GCC, plus they are all air cooled.

    Those machines will engrave and cut at the very low end as well as the high end, at 100% power, all day long, every day with no impact on the warranty of the life of the tube. The beam is also a higher quality beam, meaning the shape of it is better, meaning you'll end up with a higher quality, more uniform beam, which will give you far better results.

    I'm not sure who quoted you $42,000, but lasers don't cost $42,000 unless you're getting into some serious sizes. You can get an Epilog, Universal, or Trotec for less than $10,000 (Zing, Versalaser, and Rayjet), if you just want to get started.

    You can certainly cut acrylic letters with your Chinese laser, and for that, it might be a great fit, but there's so much other work out there that isn't cutting acrylic letters, it would be a shame to limit your potential customers to just one facet of the business. I was interviewed for a trade magazine recently about using lasers in the sign business. I'm not sure if it'll be published or when, but if it is, it might shed some light onto the possibilities that are out there for lasers.

    And that's not even remotely touching on the software you can use, the way the machines work, or the speed in which they do their jobs. The Trotec has special features that deal with cutting acrylics and when letters come off our Trotec, the edges look like they have been flame polished. You won't see that on lesser machines.

    If you were shopping for a new printer to get into the print side of the business, would you go buy a HP2500 today? That's essentially the same type thing you'd be doing.
     
Loading...

Share This Page

 


Loading...