How to choose laser cutter? I want to continue the old topic

If you decide to buy this device for yourself, then first determine for what purposes you need it. It is also important for business or personal use it needs you. Depending on what material you want to print the image there are 2 types of laser engravers. From these characteristics will depend on the price, so this is very important.

The first type is gas lasers and the second one is solid-state lasers. Your choice should depend on the materials you intend to use the engraver for. If you need laser engravers for woodworking or want to make laser engraved pint glasses, you should select a gas laser. It’s great for laser engraving on wood, glass, bamboo, plastic, leather and so on. However, if you are looking for a laser engraving machine for metal and stone, you should purchase a more expensive alternative - a solid-state laser engraver.

I've read a lot about laser engravers, but I still can not figure out which brands are considered quality and durable. I do not want to throw money away. I'm interested in your choice.


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Hi,
I'm thinking of getting an engraver, pushing towards making prototype/custom PCBs.
There are a few attempts shown on YouTube, which look promising.

With the vast number of machines, I find I'm still looking.

Each time I see Amazon as the sales I look at the product, but don't even consider buying from them.
The postage/delivery costs are ridiculous.

This thread could prove very productive in making a decision.

Tom.. :slight_smile:

Elton27:
The first type is gas lasers and the second one is solid-state lasers.

I’m not sure why you think ‘gas’ vs. ‘solid-state’ determines the type of material you could cut or engrave.
I guess it’s more a case of what control electronics and optics you get on low cost machines.

I have a 40W Synrad laser which is very_slowly being built into a laser cutter/engraver (I’ll get around to finishing it one day :slight_smile: ) and that’ll easily cut thin sheet steel.

I think the problem with cheap ‘gas laser’ machines is that the laser is operated CW rather than pulsed - the other major consideration is the optics. For even a 40W CO2 laser you should have a beam expander, the various moving mirrors and a focus head, the cheap chinese machines miss out the expander and use cheap lenses… so focus is a bit crap and the lenses end up being a consumable !

Big advantages of ‘solid state’ is that you usually have the laser on the moving head (so no intermediate optics) and the beam is easily modulated for cutting/engraving different materials. However, more power starts getting expensive real fast.

I have looked at some of the few-100mW laser toys, but the actual speed they’ll engrave at is really slow.

I’ll be interested in what shows up here… maybe someone could convince Josef Prusa to do an engraver :slight_smile:

Yours,
TonyWilk

I have a 40w 'hobby' laser... (CO2)

It can NOT engrave or do anything with metals.. unless you buy some cermark to paint on the material/material to 'mark' (ie: bond the chemical to the metal and when wiped away leaves a black marking of the image you sent to it)

Engraving speed is also contributed to the DPI you run it at, as well as the size/intricacies of the image

I can cut 1/8 ply on one pass, 1/4 in a few...

same for acrylic..

Lens focusing (IMHO) would be a KEY aspect to my future purchase.. Its easy to get out of alignment and have beveled cuts. (not an issue for engraving really, but if you are building stuff (boxes) this fault becomes very apparent)

The bigger names Epilog, Trotec...have great machines IF you can afford them!

Mine is a FullSpectrum 5th gen 'hobby' laser with only a cutting area of 12 x 21.. (works for me though)..

I would NOT recommend them however.. they started out with a very bad reputation,... a few years in they stepped up their game and their support was pretty good.

However over time their lies and deceit caught up with them..

their promised updates and bugs fixes became vaporware....

They have moved on to NEW machines,... basically leaving all their original customers (and their promises) out in the cold.

Their new machine "the MUSE" has terrible reviews from what I know.. and they again put out crap for sale to the public, and we have been left to debug or test things..

I'm sure once they get around to fixing anything.. they will have yet a new machine and the focus will be on that.

If you are tinkerer/maker and dont mind fiddling around, you can usually pick up one of the 5th gen machine for a couple grand.

There is also a forum for an open source laser machine (forget the name).. that has a parts list..etc with a decent community behind it.

xl97:
I have a 40w 'hobby' laser... (CO2)

It can NOT engrave or do anything with metals.. unless you buy some cermark to paint on the material/material to 'mark' (ie: bond the chemical to the metal and when wiped away leaves a black marking of the image you sent to it)

What materials are you engraving with it?
Tom.. :slight_smile:

The normal (non-metal) kinds! LOL :slight_smile:

wood, acrylic, leather, paper, glass, some stone/slate... (more like a frosting/etch than a deep engrave to be fair on the later)

Or did you mean the metals that can be marked? (using the product cermark?)

For that I found steel works well.. I have done aluminum.. as well as chrome plated (brass?) I believe..

You mix it up or spray it on the metal/area (depends on the product you buy).. paint it on.. let is dry (takes seconds to minutes)... then run your project/engraving.

Once complete.. you wash away the layer of cermark, leaving your design bonded to the metal surface.

Sorta like how you see those 50th anniversary tool/wrenches people get as gift..etc

xl97:
The normal (non-metal) kinds! LOL :slight_smile:

wood, acrylic, leather, paper, glass, some stone/slate... (more like a frosting/etch than a deep engrave to be fair on the later)

Or did you mean the metals that can be marked? (using the product cermark?)

For that I found steel works well.. I have done aluminum.. as well as chrome plated (brass?) I believe..

You mix it up or spray it on the metal/area (depends on the product you buy).. paint it on.. let is dry (takes seconds to minutes)... then run your project/engraving.

Once complete.. you wash away the layer of cermark, leaving your design bonded to the metal surface.

Sorta like how you see those 50th anniversary tool/wrenches people get as gift..etc

Okay, I'm looking at the method of spraying copper clad PCB with matt black paint, etching the black paint, and chemically etching away the exposed copper.
Tom... :slight_smile:

you can probably just use regular spray paint then.. the cermark is supposed to leave a permanent bond after.. so you wont be washing that off after..

I believe just spraying your paint.. letting it dry, and running your gerber file/design in the laser with enough power to just disintegrate the paint layer (leaving the exposed) copper should work just fine.

Side Note:
our local maker space has a little cnc mill that does a great job of this.. (no etching needed)

another nice thing (about owning a laser) is you can make solder masks/stencils too..

(although I use my vinyl cutter for this)..

posted here on it.. and also a nice tutorial on Dangerous Prototypes forums..

xl97:
our local maker space has a little cnc mill that does a great job of this.. (no etching needed)

Can you tell me what make/model/tool it uses please?
Thanks.. Tom... :slight_smile:

There is some documentation on our wiki:

https://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/equipment/cncengraver

There are other articles as well about paint/pcb etching...etc..

:slight_smile:

xl97:
There is some documentation on our wiki:

equipment:cncengraver [Milwaukee Makerspace Wiki]

There are other articles as well about paint/pcb etching...etc..

:slight_smile:

Thanks... :slight_smile: