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Laser Engraver Recommendations

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by trakers, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. trakers

    trakers Very Active Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    Adding laser engraving to our shop.

    I would appreciate any real-world recommendations you guys might have (minimum usable wattage, etc), and maybe even more, any brands/models that are known to be troublesome.

    Not looking for top of the line, but not looking for junk either. Production volume will be fairly low.
  2. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Epilog or Universal would be fine. We've owned both. Currently have a Universal. Would buy another Universal if we needed another machine. Those 2 are middle of the road machines.

    Epilog's have some issues to know about. They use an encoder strip that has to be cleaned. You have to remove a cover and clean the strip. It's not a huge pain, but it's something you don't have to do on the Universal.

    On the Universal, you have job control software which keeps up to 2000 jobs, all settings, etc. On the Epilog, it's like a printer, once you print it, it goes to the machine and when you turn the machine off, the job and all settings are lost. The Universal also requires a computer be hooked to it at all times, the Epilog, you can print the job, turn the computer off and the laser will still run.

    The Epilog has ethernet capability for hooking up, the ULS runs off of USB only, because the computer is actually running the laser.

    Both have outstanding support, both will have parts next day to you if you are down. The Universal is easier to maintain. The lens come in and out super easy, for cleaning, the Epilog, not so much. If you remove the tube on the Epilog, you have to line it all up, which takes about 1 hour, on the ULS, it's made so precise, you can put a new tube in, hit the button and it'll be done.

    They are the 2 mainstream suppliers. GCC is another one in that range, Trotec and Xenetech are in the upper end. Xenetech charges for tech support and has a history of abandoning support for drivers. So if you use XP, they have been known to stop all support for legacy machines a lot sooner than people would like. Trotec is the top of the line and will be very fast and very accurate.

    That's my take on it all. Any specific questions, just ask. On wattage, what do you plan to do with it? Cut letters or engrave, or both?
  3. J Hill Designs

    J Hill Designs Major Contributor

    Sep 24, 2004
    had the opportunity to have an epilogue in my shop for a few months - VERY easy to operate...printed to it straight from corel
  4. trakers

    trakers Very Active Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    Thanks guys(gals) for the replies.

    CES020 your verbose reply was particularity appreciated. I spent about an hour on the phone with Universal this afternoon. Very informed person helping me there.

    Looks like a very high quality machine, but all but the lowest end model may be out of our reach. Waiting for a sales call from the "local rep" (2 states away) to see where we might be on pricing.

    Looking over your other suggestions now.
  5. cartoad

    cartoad Active Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Yakima, WA
    We have an Epilog, 45 watt in the shop, easy to maintain, and no problems with in in 4.5 years. Name tags, office signs, stencils. Steady small job runs.
  6. CanuckSigns

    CanuckSigns Very Active Member

    Nov 11, 2008
    we have 2 50 watt Trotec machines in our shop, highly reccomend them, AMAZING customer support, one of our machines has been out of warranty for 2 years now and our rep still fixes it for free as long as it doesn't need a part.

    Get the biggest/most powerful one you can afford, don't pay attention to the top speed specs of the machine, you will never really run the machine at top speed.

    V-ENGRAVE Member

    Would you be interested in pre owned Trotec Speedy 300.
    One of the SMC forum members has put his for sale. Machine is located in Michigan.