View Full Version : Universal Industrial Series vs Epilog Legend 36EXT

Kim Uleberg
04-16-2009, 5:46 AM

My company is getting a new Laser, we currently have the LaserPro Spirit Ge and we have not been happy with it at all...so we need a new one.
We are not sure of which to get, and we know alot of you guys have experience with these machines. We like the ILS because of the table size they have (1219x610mm) and the Epilog has (914x609mm) which is also a little step up from the LaserPro. We would prefer the ILS size tho. But we've read around different forums and such, and have found people prefering both Epilog or ULS, so we are really unshure of which one to choose.
Theres the stepper vs servos...
We are also unshure about the bearing systems on both...which are better.

To sum it up...we are not sure heh

Can any of you give us any input about your experience with any of these laser systems? Or Epilog vs ULS in general?

Thank you for any help! :-)


Dan Hintz
04-16-2009, 8:02 AM
You can't really go wrong choosing either of the two as far as quality goes, so let the options (such as bed size) and local service be your selection points. The servo versus stepper argument is pedantic... they both do the job equally well. I'm partial to the ULS systems, but mainly for reasons that may have no effect on what you do (I prefer their check-style rotary, for example).

For one fairly impartial comparison between the PLS4.60 and the Helix, see this thread:

Rodne Gold
04-16-2009, 11:33 AM
What issue are you having with your spirit Ge that make you unhappy?..Im interested cos currently I have 3 spirits.

Kim Uleberg
04-17-2009, 2:33 AM
What issue are you having with your spirit Ge that make you unhappy?..Im interested cos currently I have 3 spirits.

We find it really unstable...sometimes the engraving is great sometimes it's really bad. It does not do vector straight...like circles and things like that are uneven...we used to have an old universal...never had those problems with that. With the spirit we can't do vector in for example rowmark anymore. We make alot of signs for the oil industry, like plastic signs with drawings of switches on em...we used to engrave the switch with a few hairline contours on it. But on the spirit the vector comes out really uneven, the lines arn't straight and so on. So now we use an outline instead and engrave it raster. Takes abit longer but the result is better.
We have checked this out from the beginning when we got it, complained to where we bought this, but this is just what the machine is like.
Don't get me wrong it's not a horrible machine, but it's not great either. We have concluded that it does not do a good enough job for our customers, we want better quality. :-)

Rodne Gold
04-17-2009, 3:36 AM
There must be something small wrong with the machine , the spirit GE is based on the Explorer and the Spirit and I have both and have no issues with vectoring at all...at any speed.
I would venture that either a shaft encoder on one of the X or Y motors is dirty or the belt tensioning isnt right or the motion system is not aligned or has dirt or a lack of lubricant.
Have your agents come to look at the machine ? Do you have agents near you?
Have you checked beam alignement etc?

Kim Uleberg
04-17-2009, 4:11 AM
Well that's what we thought, we thought there was something wrong with the machine...the agents have been here and looked at it 2 or 3 times...and they say theres nothing wrong with it...they said the vector is just like that and recommeded us to use raster instead. So we donno what to do. I'm no specialist on the laser myself, but I do clean it on a regular basis...we have swapped the wheels on the head a couple of times...try to keep normal maintenance on it.
Like you said you had no problems with vecot at any speed. At first we used similar settings we had on the universal, which was really old...so we figured this new machine should be able to handle it. Then the vectors turned out really uneven and lines were not straight n so forth...so we complained about it...they told us we had to much speed on vector, so we turned it down to 10 in speed...that's not much...but its still just as bad...they tried tightening some of the belts...no improvement.
Also when we first got the machine all letters came out crooked as well...they figured that out eventually...they hap put the top wheels on the wrong way so it was better after that...which also leads me to believe they don't really know too much about these machines. We've had this for a couple of years now, and we've gotten used to it's flaws...since they could not fix it we figured thats just what this machine was like. It was alot cheaper then the other brands...so we figured u get what you pay for sorta thing...but maybe since you're saying this maybe there is something wrong with it.
What kind of lence do you use? We started out with a 2 lence, but that sometimes left little gaps in lettering so we switched to 2,5 and that helped alot.
Maybe I could send u a little file and you could do the vector in your machine and thake a picture for me so I can compare it to the result we get? Then we could have something to show our agents and make em fix it...

anyway thanx alot for your help :-)


Rodne Gold
04-17-2009, 2:53 PM
The choice of lens wont leave gaps in lettering , Have you used the tuning thingy in your driver?

we get perfect vectors even at 100% speed , im pretty positive its got to do with a faulty or dirty shaft encoder on either x or Y motors , easy to clean ...either that or bad belt tension. I don't belive your agents are competent , you shouldnt have to turn vector speed down.

Our spirits have been the best and most reliable of all our machines barring the leds they use inside the cabinets for illumination...

Kim Uleberg
04-20-2009, 4:35 AM
The choice of lens helped us with our problem with gaps in the letters :-)
What tuning thing are you talking about in the driver? I have never used any tuning thing in the driver.

Sounds like there is something wrong with our machine then.

I'll look into cleaning the shaft encoders and see if that is the problem. The spirit has been like this ever since we recieved it.

Richard Rumancik
04-20-2009, 11:07 AM
... they say theres nothing wrong with it...they said the vector is just like that and recommeded us to use raster instead.

That was a clue that they really didn't know what they were talking about. To recommend raster engraving as a means of cutting is not a solution. I think Rodne is correct - there is something wrong with the motion system. Before you give up completely you need to have someone come in who knows how this machine works and can service it properly. Even if you eventually decide to get a new laser, at least you will have an operational machine to sell. As it is, it will be pretty hard to get anything for it.

Peter Meacham
04-20-2009, 12:24 PM

I concur with Richard, Rodney, et al regarding your problems with the machine - it did not come from the factory with those problems, it is a good machine - you have a wear or dirt issue I would say.

Find a competent technician or try it yourself. I would contact the service center and see if they can advise you.


Rodne Gold
04-20-2009, 1:00 PM
On Re reading the posts , it is possible that very small vector outlines of letter or hairline strokes , lets say 3-4 mm high can be uneven at top speed due to some motion slop , acceleration forces and so on.
I did a test one day , had to do 5000 tags with 4 lines of small text and tried vector single line fonts and didnt get a good result and time to vector was way longer than rastering (letter filled black and no outline)
If you say there were gaps in the letters and a longer focal length lens was needed to close em , also points to a beam or table alignment problem , or an Auto Focus gauge thats not quite accurate. Or do you mean gaaps when you rastered the outlines? What did the gaps look like

When have you had a beam alignment last?

Kim Uleberg
04-21-2009, 2:24 AM
I have never done a beam alignment hehe. Don even know how to do that. They didn't teach us much about the machine. Only the lenses and normal things that had to be cleaned. Another thing...the wheels in the laser...which way are they supposed to be? With the thick end towards you or the thick end away from you? They give me different info on that...
I will have to get someone to come look at this. The only problem is that there is noone around here with the skills. I will have a talk to the agents about this also

The gaps in the engraving happened with just normally filled letters in raster. It was most noticable in big letters. You could see the lines where the laser had engraved back and forth...and some of them...altho really tiny, were not engraved...so for example in red with white rowmark it was really noticable with little tiny red lines in the engraved lettering.

Thank you all for your info :-)



Also with the gaps, I do get them in Vector as well. Say I'm doing a straight line, but I wan it abot fatter then just hairline...so I use the coutour tool in corel, and make a couple of extra lines with an offset of 0,1. When the laser has finished engraving it's like it misses the lines every now and then. Like in the middle of the line he's gone off track a little bit and left a gap in the middle between 2 lines. also circles don't end up like nice circles in vector, they r never round, more like if you quickly hand-drew a circle. This was never an issue with the old universal we used to have. That always made close to perfect vectors. So yea there must be somthing wrong. We have just left it for a while now since our agent told us the machine was just like this, and we were doing vectors at too much speed.
Just thought I'd go into a lil more depth on the gaps, since Rodne asked :-)

Rodne Gold
04-21-2009, 12:48 PM
I have a spirit maintence manual in pdf form if you want.
My first step would be to clean all rails and rollers and enything that moves in the X Y motion system with a WD40 (Q20) moistened cloth , stubborn stuff will come off with alcohol
Then remove X and Y motor , gently prise off the end dust caps (they slide in an indentation , you need to prise the sides with the "open" ends away from the body. There is a round disc and an optical reader you could clean with a soft brush. Be careful with the dust caps and the shaft encoders , they delicate and can easily get hurt
Reassemble WITH CARE
The next thing is to check belt tension
The next thing to check are ribbon cables from the head - they can crack and give intermittent faults , you often cant see the break
Open the main board cavity and blow off any dust
The last thing to try would be a motherboard swap...
You do all this at your own risk!!!!!!!!!!

PM me if you want the spirit (not GE) manual

Kim Uleberg
04-22-2009, 4:35 AM
I've been in long talks with our agent the last couple of days now. After alot of back and forward, trying differnet things, our agent said the machine is just like that. There was nothing wrong with our machine. He tried our files on a different machine they had in stock with the same result. Again he said use raster instead of vector. Note this is not for cutting, but for engraving.
I've attached a picture of the result we get, not the best picture, but you can see that the circles are not good. I also attached the file we used to make this. The agent said with the use of several lines next to eachother in vector the result will end up like this. Which is something we always did on our old universal with close to perfect results.
So our next step now is to try this file on the epilog and the universal and see how they handle it.

The file was run on Lasermax, with 10 speed and 15 power.

Rodne Gold
04-22-2009, 5:13 AM
The corel file you provided is a very bad way for doing this graphic , it would also be a LOT slower than rastering it , you have many many vector lines , the curved arrow has 12 vector paths!!!
he whole thing has 27 closed vector paths!!!
Why are you doing it this way? Designing this way takes soo much longer than a simple single line type file and is very inneficient.
Its SOOO much easier to raster and use different line widths.
That graphic should take less than 20 secs to raster using 100 speed , it must take a hugely longer time to vector?
The whole thing is small , there is no ways that the machine would be able to resolve those vectors smoothly at high speed , the whole drawing is 1" x 1" and the circle is at best 5mm x 5mm , the whole moving gantry and head has inertia , even if you had to extrapolate that circle to 32 discrete lines , it means that the whole circumference of about 15mm is divided into .5mm segments and the machine has to start , travel and stop over .5mm or in imperial terms , 1/50th of an inch. It would most likely be interpolated to 64 discrete lines which is even worse. Even the slightest small play in any component would make it bad.
The arrow head and the curve that make up the arrow , cos of your vector file , would need the machine to change direction 4 x per vector engraving , ie something like 48 x in that element alone , that too would be problematic. Perhaps it was perfect on your old machine cos relative speeds were different , 100% on one machine doesnt equate to 100% on another or on older machines doesnt even come near.

Kim Uleberg
04-22-2009, 7:41 AM
yea I agree, we du run these type of files in raster, this was just a small example i quickly made.

anyway we have gotten a firmware update...gonna try that out for abit. Also discovered a flaw in corel thats the answer to a couple of our problems.

We will be looking into other machines tho, cause we are not happy with the one we have. It seems moody to me hehe, some days everything goes well, and others it just does not want to do what we want.
I totally understand what you are saying about the example I attached. It was a small size, and runs better in raster, which we do. But I just always thought it would be able to do small circles in slow speeds. I mean 10% speed is not alot. But we'll try out the other brands on the market and see how they handle it :-)

thank you all for your help :-)