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Universal vs. Epilog laser

Discussion in 'Dimensional Signs' started by chevrolet, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. chevrolet

    chevrolet New Member

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    Looking to purchase a laser for the shop. We have taken a look at two brands.

    It looks like Universal uses stepper motors and Epilog uses servo motors.

    When we purchased a router we could have bought either technology. The gantry could have had stepper motors or servo motors. We picked the least expensive (steppers).

    Has anyone had experience with stepper motors versus servo motors in a laser application?
     
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  2. bjones

    bjones Member

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    I own two epilogs, both very solid. servo's are more accurate and more rugged, but look closer at the epilog's tracking and the lenses that are standard etc.
     
  3. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

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    Completely false statement. Servo's are not more accurate or rugged, nor are they necessarily faster.

    I've owned Epilog and Universal, one servo and one stepper. The stepper (Universal) would beat the Epilog every time and do a better job.

    There are very important, significant differences between the 2 brands, and without knowing what you plan to do with it, I wouldn't recommend one over the other.

    Having owned a Epilog and a Universal, both new at the same time, both used in side by side comparisons, I personally wouldn't own a laser without job control software. Epilog doesn't have Job Control. You click "print" and it sends the file to the laser into a queue on the laser itself. Turn the machine off, the job is gone, along with all history on how long it took to run, what settings were used. Everything. Gone. Forever.

    On systems with job control software (there are several). You send the job over to the job control software and everything stays with the job. Turn the machine off and back on, the job is still there. You can go back 1000's of jobs and see the exact, actual run time on the job, along with all the settings you used. For me, running a business, that type of information is priceless and it helps me quickly quote jobs. You can also move jobs around the material, duplicate items, and a number of other things. It's much more interactive than just the method epilog uses for send it and it's done. Once you send it, you can't move it, you can't duplicate it, rotate it, nothing. It's on the laser and it is what it is.

    I will never buy another laser that doesn't have job control software.

    Just my opinion.
     
  4. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

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    what is your opinion on a Versa Laser? I can pick up a friends used but in good shape.
     
  5. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

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    They are okay. They are the entry level machine, and their job control software has features disabled, I believe. On the other models, you can use their materials database or you can go into manual control where you have complete control over everything. The Versa, not so much. It's a good, basic machine, but it's not that fast, and it's limited. Depending on what you'd do with it, and what they want for it, whether it would make sense.

    Just doing some light engraving, probably okay. Want to run 100's and 100's of items? It's slow. It'll do it, it's just slower.
     
  6. gabagoo

    gabagoo Major Contributor

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    thats fine for me. I have absolutely no idea what I will do with it so entry level is all I need for now.
     
  7. bjones

    bjones Member

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    Want job control, simple.. most of us use flexi.. so use flexi's production manager with your epilog and bam you have job control and it's not with the laser engraver's proprietary software. You can also permanently store jobs in the flash of the laser in some models so there's two ways.

    To think one laser is somehow 'faster' than another.. dunno where that myth comes from. 40 watts is 40 watts, motors are generally pretty equal in terms of speed leaving really just the lens to make the difference and even at that production time differences are nominal at best and usually are the result of a calculation difference rather than the laser's abilities.
     
  8. V-ENGRAVE

    V-ENGRAVE Member

    Gabagoo,

    You could start with small desk/door sign using engraving stock. Than cut some acrylic letters/numbers, etch photos on granite and marble, cut Christmas ornaments in shape of snow flakes for family and friends, laser wine bottles, glasses, coaster. There are tons of things you could do with laser if time permits.
     
  9. chevrolet

    chevrolet New Member

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    May 25, 2009
    Thanks for the input.

    We will be using the laser to cut 1/8" to 1/4" acrylics, tactile braille material and other materials as we find uses for it. Small runs, not 100's of units. Large table size is important.

    I was interested in hearing of any resolution issues or speed issues of one technology over the other.

    Thanks again
     
  10. V-ENGRAVE

    V-ENGRAVE Member

    If your needs are to cut acrylic either one will do fine. Speed will depend on laser tube wattage. To cut 1/4" plexi with 40W machine will take lot longer than 120W.
    Raster engraving both produce top notch engraving. Another quality machine that is faster then ULS or Epliog is Trotec.
     
  11. bjones

    bjones Member

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    Personally I think all the good brands of laser produce a very similar product, and pretty much all of them have the same causes for subpar product. Poor maintenance. Regardless of what brand you get, just like making a sign, cheap product and poor care for the equipment means garbage results. Make sure your acrylic is cast acrylic too, it's more expensive but it lasers so much better.
     
  12. mhannam

    mhannam New Member

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    Vendor for Laser

    I'm in the market for a laser as well. Can you give me any recommendations on vendors? Our normal equipment vendors (Grimco, Proveer, Advanatage) don't carry this equipment or seem to have much interest in it.

    I'd love to find a great used laser as well!

    Matt
     
  13. CES020

    CES020 Very Active Member

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    I agree, no one can say one is better than the other, until you get into the upper end of the market. Universal and Epilog and in the middle of the market. If I showed you finished parts, side by side, it would be hard to tell which one did what. It's the fine details that matter, and those are based on the work you do and your requirements. I liked the Epilog, I thought it was a good machine. I LOVE the Universal because it has some controls over it that help me do things I need to do. I do a fair amount of very fine detailed work. 3 point fonts. I have options on the ULS that allow me to make that text razor sharp on different materials, where I didn't have the control over the Epilog.

    However, if you're vector cutting, it won't matter. As mentioned, the "speed factor" on vector cutting is determined by power. More power can mean more speed (not always). If I had to buy another laser, it would not be less than 60W. I do know Universal has been doing some deals where you can pay for a 30 watt and get a 60 watt cartridge as a free upgrade.

    There is a big sign show in Atlantic City Dec.4-6 and all mfg's will be at the show, and I am positive they will all have "Show Specials". You should contact all your reps and ask them what the "Sign World 2009" show specials are going to be. Might save yourself some serious cash.

    One difference for cutting acrylic, you need air assist. The 2 systems work completely different on that. The Epilog uses a wash system where it's a bent piece of tubing that blows across the face of the work. The Universal uses a nose cone and it blows air through that, and the beam goes through the middle of that nose cone, so it's actually forcing air directly into the cut, rather than blowing air over the top.

    I say that only to let you know that there are serious price differences in those 2 methods. One is low cost, one is not. One uses a $40 air brush compressor and one requires dry, clean air and it can be expensive.

    Neither are bad machines and the support level on both is about the same. If it goes down, both will have you parts next day. Got a odd problem they can't figure out? Both will wet the bed on that one. But simple stuff, you'll be back up the next day, and both offer free phone support for life, whether you bought the machine new or used.
     
  14. SE SignSupply

    SE SignSupply Member

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    Nov 13, 2006
    Give us a call, 800-283-1722, speak with Ryan.
     
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