Types of Lasers
Notes on each Manufacturer, including reviews
- California Air Tools offers an ultra quiet, oil-free compressor.
- Make one. From FB: I added a few inches at the bottom and bought same size cheap furnace filters from Home Depot.
- From FB Jan 2018:
- I have an Oracle One fume Extractor for my Zing. I cut mostly acrylic and didn't have a good place to do an vented system. Works great. Replace the filters about once a year. Cost ~$2,500
- We recently purchased a 60-watt Universal Laser and their largest standalone filter that is 1/2 the size of a residential refrigerator for our classroom and there is still overwhelming odor from some materials and lots of added noise.
- The other reason for the extractor is life of your laser tube, servos, etc. if you don’t ventilate properly you will shorten the life of your tube, etc. significantly. TSSJ was going though tubes every 3 months until we upgraded the exhaust, after the upgrade the tubes would last 12-18 months. BYW: as many of you are learning the hard way... the filters won’t remove the smell of acrylic or even burning for that matter... they just remove the particulate. (Visible smoke & some of the stuff you don’t want to breath.) So if you don’t want a smell you have to exhaust outside.
- The BIG caveat with either pro or DIY this type of thing is that sticky glues from plywood / MDF will KILL filters, so if you cut that stuff you need to put cheap pre filters in front of the more expensive ones to take the hit first. You can get bulk packs of furnace filters for ~$1-3 per piece that can save the nicer ones.
Tips on Choosing a Laser
- What bed size do you need?
- Can you perform maintenance yourself, or do you need local technicians?
- When it breaks, how long will it take to get it fixed?
- What software drives the machine and can it import your design files?
- Is there a local maker space that will let you test drive it?
A no-name "50 watt laser" is around $1200 and worst case if the software is terrible, a lightobject DSP is only $350 and not terrible.
For something out of the box and mostly ready to rock no frills, limited support, get a G Weike. G Weike probably made the hardware for the Trotecs, Hurricanes, Boss, Thunder, Rabbit, etc. lasers that cost more for US support.
If you really don't want to fiddle with it and you need to get to work, get an Epilog. They're rock solid, the software is good, they're high speed and have great support, and the RF laser tubes produce a much smaller beam diameter than any glass high voltage DC tubes. They inherently engrave at a higher DPI and it shows in glass and acrylic. The epilogs really shine at rastered halftones in acrylic or glass.
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Tips on buying a Chinese laser
I basically built my list of requirements (bed size, laser type/power, etc) (It would be nice to add a list of typical requirements so others know what to ask for) I wanted and sent it off to 10+ laser manufacturers on Alibaba and waited for a response of what they have and they could provide.
It takes 2 months to get to the US via sea port shipping and FDA 2811 clearance. It is a class 4 laser, and if you do not file the right paperwork you will get lost in clearance and customs. A broker is highly advised, but you do not need a $500 bond when a smaller bond will work just fine. Find a different broker if they force you to do a $500 yearly bond. A single entry bond is fine. I paid $72.