One of the problems with laser cutters for sale today is the extremes between two laser machines being sold. On one hand you have the $1,850 hobby laser “cutter” sold on Ebay direct from China while on the other there’s the Epilog, Universal, or Trotec 30W machine being sold for $8k plus. I have found a company or two that offers a great balance to the above that I’ll disclose later.
If you’re looking for a value added laser cutter but don’t want throw down or finance $8k bucks then keep reading…
There some obvious factors you need to consider before purchasing any laser cutter equipment. The most blatantly obvious is – what do you intend to do with it? If you just need to work on some small-scale projects, a desktop laser cutter would be your best option. However, you still need to familiarize with the familiar and not so familiar brands, range of specifications, and the quality of the support behind the technology. To have a better grasp on this, lets look at one of the more popular types of laser cutters: The affordable hobby laser “cutter”. The affordable deluxe hobby laser This model is priced to attract newbies or starters. That’s also why it has its fair share of hobby horror stories. Hobby level projects and production at small-scale levels sounds good but from my experience these small 10×12″ co2 40w laser machines make you feel like you’re working out of a shoe box. If you have a strict budget or an unrelenting spouse than a hobby laser of this size is better than no laser at all. But, understand that 40W will leave you deflated if you need to cut anything. 40W is for almost exclusively for engraving despite what the headline might say. Yes, you can cut wood or acrylic but it’ll take multiple passes to cut anything dense over 1/4″. Second thing is engraving space or work area. The material you can cut or engrave is limited by your machines working area. If its only 10×12″ with no pass throughs than you’re very limited. I used to think that, “Well, I’ll I’m going to engrave is smaller objects like stamps, leather wallets, and iPhone cases”. I said that and then realized that what I really WANT to do now that I know what I CAN do is limited by the work area I settled for. So, aim for as much power and space as you can afford. Boss Laser cutter Boss Laser is company which offers a darn good quality alternative to most of those budget busting machines that keep you researching online. Their laser cutting machines start at 50W on up to 170W. They are a good fit for both small-scale and industrial level production environments. In a recent Wall Street Journal press release, the company was cited saying that it plans to upgrade the software for their machines. As of now they offer EngraveLAB V9 on most of their machines as standard versus LaserCut 5.3. Considering their pricing that’s tough to beat. Their machines are well equipped with some value added accessories like auto focus, inline beam combiner, water chiller, various platform upgrades and again at a surprisingly affordable price. I would like to see more info on their site. No user forum either. But the key to this company I’m finding is their tech support. I called in just to talk to support and was helped almost immediately by a competent tech. I told him a problem with my machine and he gave some good help for dealing with LaserCut. Reviews of this company are growing and seem to point their support. But, their latest machine upgrades have some really smart value added options. My understanding is they offer a hybrid type machine by importing the base machine and then up fitting it key USA grade components. This keeps the price affordable and the quality dependable. Depending on what you need to laser cut or engrave, Boss Laser has a assortment of cutters starting at a 50W desktop machine with 14 X 16″ of cutting area while the largest is a 170W, 52 X 98″ cutter. Epilog Laser Epilog Laser cutters and especially the fusion series are perfect for those who intend to use the equipment on a number of different tasks. You can engrave logos on bare material, cut through both soft and had material like marble and mark the parts on a plastic product. Epilog is one of the most reputed laser cutter equipment manufactures; acquiring one of their machines would be a huge plus to your production plant or probably help you make the best out of your hobby. As an alternative to all four, you would probably like to try out Trotec which is another of the big players in the cutting equipment production industry. Where do you get laser cutters for sale? One of the problems faced by hobbyists is where to source laser cutters for sale. Quality assurance is not much of a problem and especially if you’re thinking about purchasing one machine from the above companies, But, realize this kind of equipment is retailed in any ole’ brick and mortar store. The cheapest of laser cutters sell at an average $ 2,800 which makes it hard for stores to stock the precision cutters for retail. Local dealers will sell laser machines for the big companies but thats why they have to mark up the product. The dealers need paid as well. I’ve always looked for laser companies online that have a good reputation for support. You can do a lot of quality work with an imported machine backed by competent reliable support team. I’d rather have that than a Rolls Royce with sketchy support. Amazon and Ebay is one of the stores you CAN go wrong with. They have a great assortment from which you can easily select the wrong mom-n-pop laser outfit who “flips” laser cutters without even opening the crate. I would not advise importing a machine from overseas. Getting the machine cross the border is just the beginning. If the supplier doesn’t have the right approvals your machine will NOT get by customs and will be shipped back. So, I’m more for buying through a US support based company.
If you are a do it yourself kind of guy and you have build up an interest in laser cutting or if you are in the business which requires a laser cuter then definitely you will not want to waste your money on the bills of an electrician whenever you face any problem with your cutter. It is the desire of every person who is having a laser cutter to be able to fix his cutter or to make it by him without any external assistance. This is the reason why the laser cutter DIY kits are available in the market easily.
When you are going to the market to buy a laser cutter DIY kit then there are certain precautions that you must keep in mind in order to get the right product. First of all you should know the best companies out there. You can do this by searching the net. Secondly you should know that what kind of kit do you want. It is possible that you already know all the things which are required in making a laser cutter then you don’t need a kit. You can go to the market or online and buy all the things separately by yourself. In this way you can choose the products which are best instead of having the company to select them for you.
In this way you will truly go for the laser cutter DIY procedure. You should know the right diodes and electron tubes. You should know how to buy the right glass tubes and along with the sensitive material you should also know how to buy the rest. Once you have purchased it all then it is the time for you to put the things in to shape. If you have not done it too many times then it is best that you start by making a blueprint for your plan or jot down steps just like instructions so that you don’t miss even a single step no matter how small it is. Once you have achieved the task several times then their remains no need for this step.
Next thing which you have to do is to properly start placing each and every thing in the place step by step. Pay good attention to its structure relating to its external outlook and as well as its internal circuit. You will have to make the electron source and then you will have to set the laser mirrors. Once you have done that then you have to set a cooling system which will keep everything in order by controlling the temperature. The last and the final step is mostly fun to do but it is the most important of them all which is aligning the laser. It is essential that there are no hurdles in the path of the laser. If there are any then you will not get the proper result of your laser. It will not be up to the mark. Once you have achieved the final step then your laser cutter DIY procedure is completed. Now you can enjoy working with your self-made masterpiece.
If you’re researching the market for a DIY laser cutter, here’s a few tips to consider before making the investment. And its a good investment by the way. Doing so will ensure that you find a top quality desktop CO2 laser cutter that can be used for years without any breakdowns or software complications. There are numerous laser companies out there so thats the good and the bad news. Here’s a few considerations to think about:
The first thing that you should think about when looking for a DIY laser cutting machine is the purpose you’ll need it today and what purpose you more than likely will have in the short term. Don’t get too narrow minded and think of just the application you need it for now and don’t think too far ahead or you’ll spend more money than you need to. Example you only need a smaller hobby laser when you are a DIY type looking to mainly etch smaller standard paper size materials that don’t have much depth. This is best used at home or in a small workshop that does not require too much work. And a hobby laser engraver is usually easy to use…LaserCut 5.3 is a popular imported software thats economical. Companies like Full Spectrum Laser sell cheaper, low end models imported from China that work for the most part. On the other hand if you are looking for something that will be used in industrial applications, it is recommended that you get a fiber or Co2 laser with a large engraving platform that’s best suited for the job. The Price will be anywhere from $9K- $12K, however. Companies like Epilog, Trotec, and Boss Laser have good quality machines that are both user friendly backed by competent support.
Regardless of the DIY laser cutter that you decide to use, it is important to think about the size that will be used for the process. Always go for something that is practical and can be used with ease so that you do not have too many problems when using the machine. It is usually best to go shopping for them in traditional stores so that you can test the product before you go buying it. This will save you numerous trips to and from the stores which can be quite frustrating at the end of the day.
It is also important that you think about the brand of the laser cutter machine before you buy the one to use. This is because there are some companies that strive to produce high quality products while there are others who are notorious for producing substandard products that only end up stressing the users. It is advisable that you go through a number of reviews that have been written by other users to get a feel of what the machines are all about. This will help you make a wise decision on the best machine to settle for that will heighten productivity.
High out put power
You should also go through all the specs that the desktop laser cutter has to buy the one that will perform effectively. Always go for the option that has high output power as this means that it can be used with ease. This also implies that the machine is reliable with an extended lifetime thus you will not have to go through a lot of maintenance issues when using the machine.
A high quality machine will work for a long time without breaking down making it a worthwhile investment. This is one of the reasons why you should spend a lot of time comparing all the options available to only work with the very best.
The following are several FAQ’s that I’ve received with regards to desktop laser cutters or smaller low powered CO2 laser machines. I decided to post here for the benefit of the laser cuttin’ community out there looking to buy a laser machine. Feel free to add your comment or questions as well.
I want to start a business selling laser cut jewelry and similar small products, mostly made out of acrylics. The laser cutter working area can be small, either 300x400mm or 200x300mm. I don’t know much about which manufacturers or models are worth looking at. The Chinese Rabbit 3040 is very cheap at 1200 UKP, but horror stories of Chinese lasers have kept us away.
We’re willing to invest a bit more in a better quality unit (i.e. Universal or Epilog) if it means better reliability and a more reputable seller. We’re even willing to buy second-hand, but it’s not clear where we should start looking or how much we should expect to pay. Any suggestions?
Expect to pay 8,000 to 10,000 USD for a basic Universal Laser or Epilog desktop laser engraver.
Chinese imported lasers have gotten much better in recent years. However, buying direct from China is still a poor idea due to import troubles, shipping cost, and the lack of support available due to the language barrier. If you must get a Chinese import, go through an import company. That will assure you a unit that’s been quality checked with full support.
Regardless of the route you take when purchasing a laser system, keep in mind that a desktop laser cutter or engraver is a very high precision, high technology, and even high voltage device. The major manufacturers command the prices they do for good reason. The laser engraver must precisely place a dot of extremely intense, invisible light under computer control repeatedly while requiring minimum maintenance over years of service.
The laser system must also be perfectly safe for anyone to use. Since lasers can pose a danger, the laser system should be designed to the applicable regulatory standards to ensure that at no point during operation will the operator or anyone standing by comes into contact with the laser beam. The safety interlocks must be foolproof and just as reliable than any other aspect of the design.
With that out of the way, you need to keep a few points in mind when buying a laser.
The two most important considerations with a laser are the power and cutting area you need. Power will determine what you can engrave and cut, as well as how fast. The cutting area sets limits on how large a piece you can work with. What you buy should depend on the laser engraving supplies you plan to process whether you’re gonna cut, etch, mark on materials such as wood, metal, acrylic, paper. So, your application should point you in a good direction.
Both hobbyists and businesses often end up trading in their lasers. This happens because they need more power. They may also need more working space. Therefore, you’re better off getting a somewhat more powerful laser with more working space than you think you need right now.
By getting a slightly over-powered laser you can grow into it instead of growing out of it. Especially at the beginning you’ll find many more uses for the laser than what you originally planned. Having a little headroom can make a big difference! The higher power means it’s easier to cut and engrave in once pass, which produces both the fastest and best quality results.
A laser with a larger working space may seem superfluous at first. But a larger working space is much less limiting than even a slightly lower powered laser tube. Whereas you can use multiple passes and slower speeds to somewhat make up for an underpowered laser, if your working space is too small then that’s it — you’re stuck. Upgrading to a larger working space often means getting a whole new machine, whereas upgrading to a more powerful laser may mean replacing just one component. (There is at least one manufacturer which makes fully modular systems, where changing the working space is comparatively easy.)
When planning your laser purchase make sure to get your exhaust setup properly sorted. Laser cutting plastics in an enclosed or confined space is a very poor idea. The fumes generated by laser cutting can be noxious or toxic, because you’re vaporizing the plastic. Larger laser wood cutters and other laser machines may have specific ventilation requirements, which you need to be prepared to meet.
Many new buyers looking for a cheap desktop laser engraver or laser cutter for sale find that really cheap units are impossible to find. Even hobbyist laser cutters are thousands of dollars.
A few people have built their own DIY laser cutters. This is very time consuming and requires considerable skill. If you have the technical aptitude to make your own laser cutter, you probably know it already. In that case, especially if your goal is to learn about laser cutters and motion control instead of the commercial application of laser machining, a DIY laser cutter may be a rewarding project.
Laser cutters are very similar to CNC machines and 3D printers. Laser cutter DIY projects may be feasible if you have experience with building your own CNC machine or RepRap-style 3D printer. However, if you’ve built either of those, then you know there’s a clear difference between the DIY version and a professionally built one. Home built machine tools are, as a rule, not suitable for day in day out production work, nor is building them a cost- or time-effective route to take. These are things you do for fun, not to save money or start a business.
If you’re looking to use a laser cutter for business or production then you will certainly want to find a professionally made machine. The higher price of a laser cutter made for sale is quickly eclipsed by the features, design, support, user-friendliness, reliability, and above all safety of a commercial unit.
Laser cutters are some of the best tools out there for prototyping and making precision cuts. Whereas the prices of 3D printers and CNC machines have come down significantly, to the point where even shoestring-budget shops and hobbyists can afford them, the prices of laser systems are still comparatively high.
Buying a desktop laser engraver from a well-known manufacturer carries a significant premium. If you can afford it, this may well be worth it! If you need a laser but cannot afford the capital expense of a well-known laser system, other options are available.