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Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 3:54 AM
Well I have had my Epilog Mini24 laser for about a month now. It has been running nonstop doing various jobs. For all you noobs out there I thought I would post my initial impressions as well as a few interesting facts.

Noise
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When I originally ordered the laser it was my goal to have the laser sitting beside me so I could design and test fit pieces for my Robotics company. Well that lasted about 2 or 3 days. The noise these air cooled lasers make is incredible. Most of the noise is generated by the fans. My mini has 6 high-speed 80mm fans that run at full speed whenever the unit is switched on. Originally I though the noise from my blower would be the noise maker but this is not so.

To solve the problem I have the laser on the other side of the room. It sits in a doorway so the noise is pointed in the direction of another room. This helps quite a bit. I also turn the laser off between jobs. I purchased two of those Belken RF switches. One for my blower and the other for the laser. The switches are located on my desk just under the monitor.

The ULS model that I was demoed was also very loud. However when not in use the fans run at a lower volume. This is something that Epilog should look into doing. FYI I have a very large wood shop with all kinds of tools including a very large cyclone Dust collector. My laser is easily as loud as the dust collector and even louder than some of my power tools.

In a commercial environment the noise is very acceptable. However in a home or office environment it may not be. Keep this in mind. Generally the lower the wattage the less noise the laser will make because it does not need as much air flow to keep the laser tube cool.

Air Assist
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When I ordered my laser I was told that if I wanted to use a tank compressor I would have to reverse the direction of the air solenoid or the system would leak. If requested Epilog is supposed to do this reversal for you. Well they forgot and I had to do it. This is done by removing the back panel from the laser and removing a couple of screws from the solenoid. Once the screws are removed you simply rotate the solenoid and reconnect the hose and replace the back panel. Took me all of 10 minutes.

I run a 20 Gal 15 Amp compressor. The compressor is set for 30PIS and a hose runs from the compressor to the laser 25’ away. On the laser stand I have a filter and an additional regulator. Here I set the pressure between 1-10Psi. When I vector cut the compressor will kick in once or twice per evening.

The air assist works well and you can tell the difference when it is not used. One of the reasons I did not choose the ULS Versa model is they do not have a solenoid. This means the compressor will run constantly which pretty much leaves you with using a continuous run air brush compressor which is even more noise.

Printer Driver
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Again a couple reasons I chose the Epilog over the ULS model. First is that Universal does not yet have a 64-bit driver. Also they do not support a network driver. Both the 64-bit driver and network capabilities work flawlessly with one exception. When I started to use the color mapping feature on the 64-bit printer driver I found that I could not turn off a color or force it to raster. If it was a hairline it would always vector cut. Epilog now knows about this bug and I am sure it will be fixed at some point but since the driver has to be signed by Microsoft I would hold my breath. The work around is to set the power setting to 0 and the speed to 100. The laser will go through the motions but won’t do anything. At this point not sure how to mix rastering and vectoring when using the color map feature.

Raster Engraving/Marking
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At first I was a little disappointed at this ability as I would get all kinds of regular patterns or banding when I raster photographs. However, I later found that this was due to the way Corel resized images. I now use Photoshop for all but my photographic rastering. Photo shop has much better scaling options. You just need to make sure you set the DPI to that of your final engraving before you resize. Once sized I can also save the image and load it into Corel as long as I don’t resize or change the DPI it works (most of the time)

I have done full bed rastering, 24” x 12” at 100% speed and it has worked great. I am very happy with the results.
So far the kinds of things I have don’t rastering on are:
Wood (Business Cards)
Painted Whiteboard (Business Cards, Pictures, Trivets, Coasters)
Acrylic
Glass
Granite
Colored Cardboard
Painted Metal
Matt Board
Laser Tile
Ceramic Tile
Hard Board

Vector Cutting
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90% of what I do is Vector cutting. This is the main reason I purchased the laser. For the most part I am very happy with the cutting results of my laser. The laser was purchased as a 50 Watt laser, but is very hot for a 50. I use all the 60 watt recommendations in the book. The sheet that came with the laser showed many of the tests as high as 58 Watts and with an average over 56 Watts. This is good because one thing you need when cutting is power baby.

My target material when I purchased the laser was 1/8” Acrylic and Hardboard. I cut both of these at 25% speed and 100% Power. I get very good results. If I want a high quality edge on my acrylic I drop the speed down to 20%. When I cut my acrylic I keep the paper on as it gives me a better finish.

My laser can cut 1/8-1/4 Acrylic, Wood, Hardboard, ABS all day long. I have cut other materials up to 1/2” but it is a struggle. For instance I have cut 1/2" Acrylic but it was slow. More on this later.

Some of the materials that I have vector cut:
Acrylic up to 1/2"
Popular wood up to 1/2"
Hobby Plywood up to 1/4"
ABS up to 1/8”
Hard Board up to 3/8”
MDF up to 1/2"
Cardboard
Bologna
Circuit Boards (2 passes)
Various other Woods with varying results

All in all I will say I am very happy with the vector cutting on my machine. It’s important that you know that if you want to cut 1/2” material you had better get yourself a 100-120Watt laser and then it still might take two passes and the results may be less than satisfactory.


Vector Marking
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What is vector marking? This is when you set the laser to a setting that will only cut so far into the material. For instance 100% speed and 100% power is great for placing very fast marks on hardboard or acrylic. There is a down side to this though. The Epilog servo system has issues when vectoring at high speed. If you cut a diagonal line or a circle at 100% speed you get little fluctuations in the lines. Even slowing the speed down to 80% will they start to fade. The good news for me is that when I cut at 20% or 30% speed the little oscillations go away. When I do vector marking at 100% speed it’s a quick bit of text so its not that obvious.

What causes these fluctuations is not clear. I have talked to a few individuals that are very unhappy with them and others (Like me) who they don’t really affect. If you are a model maker or a architect designer I think these would be a deal killer. I did cut out some small items in cardstock when I first got my laser and noticed this issue. But for the most part I was happy. It does take away from the precisian when cutting very small parts out of very thin material. In any case slow down the laser and they go away. I have been told that on the ULS machines this problem does not exist. I can’t confirm or deny this but I will say that the edges on the materials that I cut when I did my Demo were not that good. Again which is one reason I purchased the Epilog mini.

Lens’s
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My laser came with a 2.0” lens installed. I also purchased a 1.5” and a 4.0” lens. For 99.9% of the work I do the 2.0” lens is perfect. I installed the 1.5” lens and did some cutting and rastering. I found that the 1200DPI setting now seems to show better results. I did not ever see any when using the 2.0” lens.
When vector cutting with the 1.5” lens the kerf is defiantly smaller and therefore you can get a more intricate cut but I don’t recommend it on anything thicker than 1/8”.
One area where I found the 1.5” lens very useful was in cutting the 1/16 – 3/32 extruded acrylic. It puts more power to the point so I can cut it faster with less stress on the part. When doing this I also get less stink.
The only use I have found for the 4” lens is that when cutting 1/2" stock. I get a straighter, cleaner cut. The down side is the air assist is useless and you have to manually focus. Not an issue as with 1/2” stock you have to focus abit into the material anyway. I think a small brass tube could solve the air assist issue.
When cutting out small parts that fit together keep in mind the different lenses will have different kerfs so some parts may not fit together.
As far as changing lens goes. It only takes a couple of minutes. It did take me a while to locate a 5/32” Allen wrench, which is what is needed. You simple remove two small screws and swap out the lens. No alignment just swap and go.

Cleaning
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I have not yet had to do any maintenance other then wiping off the bottom of the lens. Hardboard is some nasty stuff So I have to wipe it off every couple days under heavy use. I use the same lens pads I use for my photography so it’s a non issue for me. It only takes a few seconds. One thing I did pick up at the local hardware store was one of those little mirrors on a stick. It lets me see the lens when I wipe it off to make sure I got all the fluid off.

Software
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The software driver (both 32-bit and 64-bit) has some nice features. For one the ability to go directly from photoshop to engraving without the need for a product like photograv is a plus for me. One think I like about the epilog driver and again a driving reason to why I purchased, is the front panel display. Once you send a job to the laser it’s fire and forget. You can power down your PC if you want.

For instance I had a 24” x 12” sheet with several cutouts. I sent the job to the laser and powered off my laptop. On the front panel I selected the File I had just sent and told it to start by hitting the Go button. When it was done the laser beeped and I removed the cut parts and added another sheet. I did this 17 times. No PC, No Driver. Also note that you can send several pages or documents over . I prefer different documents as they are easier to tell apart on the front panel.

I have a product that when ordered consists of 6 sheets of cutout parts. I print them all from my PC and then shut down the software and or PC. The rest is done at the laser. Note that can save and load your laser settings when in the Epilog driver.

A lot on this board has been said about Job control software. I got a chance to see the latest driver for the ULS machines. Its pretty snazzy. I like the way that the complete job and settings can be saved and they way you can bring up a saved job and look at it on the screen then move it to a different location. This is very powerful. But again you must have a dedicated PC to do all this. The PC also must be very close to the laser. I would love to see something like this done on the Epilog laser as its probably one of its weaker points.

Final Thoughts
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If I was doing it all over again would I purchase the same laser. The answer is yes. The 24” x 12” bed has proven perfect for me. All the material that I use, comes or can be easily cut into 24 x 12” sheets. For instance I can get a 8’ x 4’ piece of hardboard or whiteboard and cut it down to 16 sheets (minis the saw kerf).

I do wish I had more power though but for the size and budget I don’t think I could get any more power. My next laser will be at least 100 watts.

Rodne Gold
06-04-2009, 4:08 AM
Good to hear you are happy with your purchase and it's doing what you want it to do...

nancy barry
06-04-2009, 7:09 AM
Thanks for this update. I learned a lot just reading your report and see areas where I can make ++ changes to my own set-up. There is certainly great value in taking the time to experiment and test as you have done.

nancyB

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 7:31 AM
Something that helps with the noise is to place a noise refector on top of the laser.

For this I used 1/8" white board. I built a frame that sits over the laser and holds the white board in place. This is sits between the fans and the glass.

Its about 12" high and does not affect airflow at all. But it does reduce noise about 30%. I noticed that when I had my glass door up the noise was reduced.

I also found that a clear wall in back of the laser reflects a lot of noise back at you so use curtains on the wall away from the wall.


Im working on a special enclosure that leaves the back and fan area free but shealds the user in the front. The key is to create a open area that allows cool air in and heated air out. IE allows good airflow but blocks off the noise from the user.

Also the remote controllers I use cost $39 each. I got them from Home Depote. They will handle something like 17Amps so are perfect for both the blower and laser. These are brand new items so they may not be available at all stores. The remotes come with holders that let you mount them on the wall (or Laser) with double sided tape. The remotes then slip inside these holders or can be removed as needed. Currently mine just sit just in front of my keyboard.

Tim Bateson
06-04-2009, 8:19 AM
When my tube gives out - knock on wood it isn't any time soon - I would like to replace it with the 50watt. I too like the features and size of the Mini24, I just need it to complete jobs a bit more quickly. Time is money. My 35watt cuts 1/8 hardwood at 16sp 100pw & acrylic at 9sp. Moving up to 25/20sp doesn't sound like much, but would be a welcome improvement.

Thank you for your detailed evaluation.

Dan Hintz
06-04-2009, 10:19 AM
Michael,

Loose pile carpet throw rugs work very well as a cheap sound killer. Hang up a throw rug behind your system and enjoy less white noise.

Larry Bratton
06-04-2009, 12:12 PM
Cleaning
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"I have not yet had to do any maintenance other then wiping off the bottom of the lens. Hardboard is some nasty stuff So I have to wipe it off every couple days under heavy use. I use the same lens pads I use for my photography so itís a non issue for me. It only takes a few seconds. One thing I did pick up at the local hardware store was one of those little mirrors on a stick. It lets me see the lens when I wipe it off to make sure I got all the fluid off."

On my EXT model, I remove the complete lense assembly to clean it. It simply removes by loosening two screws. I do not have to have a mirror to see if I got all the fluid off. I take it out, clean it, hold it up to the light to check and put it back in. Does the Mini not work this way? How do you clean the top of the lense without removing the assembly?

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 5:25 PM
I only use the mirror to inspect. But to clean the bottom of the main lens it takes only a couple seconds to wipe it with a lens pad. Much less time then to remove the lens.

Normaly its only the very bottom that gets gungy because the hardboard flares when you cut it sometimes.

David Fairfield
06-04-2009, 5:35 PM
Good review Michael. I do precision miniatures and found the vector tremors to be troublesome at first but easy to work around. I use various means, but the simplest is just to slow down the cutting at curves and zig zags where its most likely to appear. I use color mapping for this.

By the way, how are you focusing the 1.5" lens?

Dave

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 5:53 PM
The 1.5 has a small riser block. Well not riser since its below the mirror. This places it .5" closer so the air assist and autofocus plunger still work.


For the 4" it comes with a manual focus thingy like the 2" lens. They said I would have to remove the vector table to use the 4" lens but there is plenty of clearance fro cutting 1/2" material using the 4" and vector table.

As far as the vector tremors go. For things like minitures or cutting very thin materials I don't think I would recommend a Epilog. They start to show up when cutting faster than 60% In this case you would be better off with a ULS machine.

I would be interested to know if the Zing suffers from this anomaly.

Scott Shepherd
06-04-2009, 6:03 PM
I've not seen any machine vector cutting at 60%. I think someone on here mentioned it a long time ago that there is a limit to vector cutting speeds. Anything over 20% was the same. I've pulled that number from the air, as I don't recall what the actual number was, but several people confirmed it was the case. That seems like it was from a couple of years ago. Maybe Peck can explain the limits of vector cutting speeds and whether 60% is 60% or if 60% is 20% and 25% is 20%, etc. I've never tested it, so I have no idea. I'm only restating what someone else had posted previously.

Michael Hunter
06-04-2009, 7:02 PM
Scott

To avoid confusing the issue, I think it best to stick to the speeds as shown in the control panel.

On my Epilog, 100% vector speed is clearly much slower than 100% raster speed.
Even so, if someone was to ask what speed I used to cut 1/8" balsa wood, the answer would be 100%.

Scott Shepherd
06-04-2009, 7:08 PM
Michael, that's what I was talking about. I don't recall the conversation being a fault with any machine, and I don't recall which manufacturer the original conversation was even about.

You vector cut at 100% speed? Straight lines or curves?

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 7:20 PM
First off there are a great many items that can be vector cut at 100%. Many of these items wont matter cause they just dont yeald the resolution when cut that shows the Epilog Vector anomaly. Balsa is one of them.

Many card stocks and art board can be cut at 100% at very low powers.

These are not in the control panel. In any case I originally was talking about vector marking. This is a very fast and easy way to mark parts. In this case it does not matter if there are very small vector tremors. I do know some model makers and these tremors would ruin these projects.

Michael Hunter
06-04-2009, 7:23 PM
The balsa was for an electric powered RC aeroplane, so it had all sorts of shapes - straight lines, continously varying curves for the wing ribs and true circles for lightening holes. 100% speed, 55% power, 400Hz (60W laser). The customer was very pleased with the results (clean cuts with no charring at all).

The only other material I have cut at 100% is cartridge paper - everything else seems to below 60%.

Michael Hunter
06-04-2009, 7:28 PM
The vector marking technique that Michael Simpson Virgina is talking about is a great way of marking rulers or grids onto Rowmark Lasermax and similar materials. Much better than raster engraving for that sort of thing.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 7:29 PM
Scott so are you saying this vector anomaly is common to all laser manufactures?

I included as small test file. Set the laser to cut at a very low power like 10%. And set the speed to 100% and make the cut. It should mark the material. I would be interested in ULS and trotec machines.

The tremors show up as very small squiggles on the diagonals and on some of the vertical marks near the ends of the cuts. You have to look close to see them.

Scott Shepherd
06-04-2009, 7:33 PM
I'm not saying the vector issues you are having are on all machines, I simply stated that someone had mentioned once before that there is no speed difference in 20% and 100%. If you took a line that was 24" long and ran it at 20% speed and then did the same line at 100% speed, it would take the exact same amount of time.

I've never tested it, never tried it, and don't recall it being specific to one machine or another. I would be curious to know.

Mike Null
06-04-2009, 8:24 PM
On my older ULS and on the Trotec I believe the driver controls cutting speed when corners, sharp curves and circles are in the job.. In other words it overrides your setting. If the Epilog doesn't do that I'd be surprised but it sounds to me like you're trying to cut too fast.

If that's the case I wouldn't consider it a flaw in the machine but inexperience operating it.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-04-2009, 8:55 PM
No Scott I assure that there is a difference in speed when it comes to the tremors. At 80% there is a noticeable reduction and by 60% they are all but gone. Does not matter how long the lines are. This has also been confirmed by other Epilog users I am in contact with.



At first I was just trying to be diplomatic and state for some people this may or may not t be an issue. For me it is not. I dont like playing games I call them as I see them.

To be blunt

If you fall into any of these categories then the Eplilog Legend series lasers are not for you.

Need to cut very thin materials very fast
Need to mark materials using vector marking
Model Makers
Architect cutouts

You will not be happy and will most likely want to return the machine. This is not to say you cant use the Eplilog lasers for these kinds of functions. You just have to live with the squiglies or slow the machine down.

David Fairfield
06-05-2009, 12:45 PM
With respect, Michael, I disagree with your assesment of the Epilog for model makers & architects. Its an all round excellent machine.

Made this HO scale piano on my Epilog. How much more precision ya need? Ultimately it comes down to the skill of the operator, ULS, Epilog, whatever.

Dave

Brian Robison
06-05-2009, 1:13 PM
Michael,
What dpi are you using when you vector cut or vector mark?

Steve Clarkson
06-05-2009, 3:17 PM
Dave,

How the heck do you do that???!!!!

That's just amazing!

David Fairfield
06-05-2009, 4:13 PM
Hey Steve

Thanks. I do these just the same as anything else big or small -- I draw the pieces, laser cut them and glue them together. If something doesn't work the first time, I try it a different way. There are so many variables in the operating envelope, most problems can be solved one way or another.

Dave

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-06-2009, 12:54 AM
Dave I did not say you could not do it. I just said that you are going to get little squiggly lines on diagonals and circles which are visible when you cut or mark at high speed.

I knew about these before I even purchased the laser. But they are there all you need to do is run the file I have uploaded so see them. I know of a couple model makers that are very unhappy about them.


As for the DPI it hase nothing to do with vector cutting or marking.

Stuart Orrell
06-06-2009, 3:34 AM
With respect, Michael, I disagree with your assesment of the Epilog for model makers & architects. Its an all round excellent machine.

Made this HO scale piano on my Epilog. How much more precision ya need? Ultimately it comes down to the skill of the operator, ULS, Epilog, whatever.

Dave

Well Dave,

All I can say is BRILLIANT! This is great work. It must have taken a very long time to put together, with all the finishing touches too - but what a result.

Nice Work!

Brian Robison
06-06-2009, 7:46 AM
Hi Micheal,
Draw a circle and set your dpi to 75 and vector.
Unless the drivers have changed you will see
that dpi does effect vector cutting. I agree it
shouldn't but it does.

David Fairfield
06-06-2009, 8:17 AM
Hey Mike

I agree with your technical observations, but you should have left it at that without editorializing about who's going to be happy or unhappy and want to return. Obviously, I'm pretty gosh darn happy with the Epilog. I'd be a crummy model maker & kit manufacturer if I had an Epilog but just couldn't make it work for me. Any tool has strengths and weaknesses, a good craftsman exploits the strengths, a poor one just complains about the weaknesses.

Dave

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-06-2009, 9:15 AM
@Brian
I just did a bunch of experiments with DPI and vectors. While the oscillations/tremors are not affected by the DPI. I think I now understand how the DPI setting works with Epilog. When you set the DPI to 600 its like setting a internal grid of .001666" and .0008" when set to 1200. If you set it to a very low DPI like 75 obvously the resolution of the linse set in corel draw cant mate up with the as the grid is at .01" and the coord just jumps to the nearest.

@David

The only reason I mentioned thos types of individuals is that thos are the people that PM me. As a matter of fact they are the ones that brought it to my attention in the first place.

I did some experimenting and it seems to be most previlant in very small unattached segments Longer segments only seem to have the issue on the starting portion. Also it does it at any speed. it just presents itsself differently depending on the speed of the cut or mark.

This leads me to beleve it has to do with the non cutting travel from the ending of a cut to the starting of the next cut. Epilog seems to go full speed during this movement. The sudden change in speed\direction causes the head to vibrate ever so slightly at the beginning of the cut.

If indeed this is the case then Eplilog could solve this in a couple of ways in firmware. The first would be to give us control of the non cut movement speed. They could also get fancy and during long highspeed movements give the head time to settle down before the cut starts.

I included a mark done at 50% speed to show the squiglies. This is a 1/2" x 1/2" section.

Brian Robison
06-06-2009, 9:19 AM
Are you sure your x belt is tensioned properly?
Mine was a little loose from the factory.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-06-2009, 9:36 AM
Why don't you take the cdr I posted and run that at 100% and see what happens.

Belt seems OK to me. Does not have any play.

David Fairfield
06-06-2009, 9:50 AM
Are you sure your x belt is tensioned properly?


I'd suspect that too. Especially since Mike is reporting the wobble at any speed. Even at 50% I wouldn't expect to see the results he's posted. Call tech support on Monday.

Dave

Mike Null
06-06-2009, 12:57 PM
Are you absolutely certain that your mirrors and lens are secure? Either of these could cause the squiggles if they're not secure.

Scott Shepherd
06-06-2009, 1:08 PM
That's 50%? What's it look like at 100%?

I ran the file at 100% on my machine the other day. I'll try and get a photo up later. Nothing like what you posted.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-06-2009, 6:08 PM
To be honest I did a lot of tests at a lot of speeds. That was one of the worst.

Here is one done at 30% speed.

Notice how the oscillations are smaller. because the head is not moving so fast. You can see them even at 20%.

Tim Bateson
06-06-2009, 6:16 PM
I have to admit, I get the same results. Not on the horizontal or verticals, but on the diagonals.

Scott Shepherd
06-06-2009, 6:26 PM
Here's what I get at 100% speed. Not the best photo. Only a slight hint of a wobble at the ends of the long diagonal. The short ones are dead straight.

Kim Vellore
06-06-2009, 6:30 PM
I have an epilog and this wiggles show up, since I mostly do fine vectors...
Sometimes it is seen so bad the part has to be scraped. I am talking about 20% speed. It would not have bothered me much if I my friend had not bought an epilog. I was a big fan of epilog till,
One of my friends purchased an epilog and it did not work for him and Epilog could not fix this issue for him, but the worse part was the rowdy tactics used to keep this under cover, Which I is illegal in CA, and that is what turned me off. I hope he comes forward and shares his experience and let every one decide for themselves.
Kim

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-06-2009, 11:08 PM
What I have found is that the tremors are random. There are times when I get hardly any wiggles at any speed and times when I get mega wiggles. What I have shown is the worst after burning about 10 of those cards.

And as I said this can be a real negative for any type of model maker.

william kaminsky
06-08-2009, 10:56 AM
Not long ago, I got a demo of a low power Epilogue for cutting purposes. It fired right off but the kerf was unusually wide at any speed or power setting. No matter the color of line, it seemed to ONLY change speeds not power setting. Big thing was I took my own computer files to teh demo, for I knew what was expected for final results. Did not want to use their canned artwork.

Took some time but we eventially got the speed and power settings based upon colors figured out after two hours of tying this and that. But never ever got the unusually wide kerf situation solved. Was a host of reasons given, may be this or that..... but, am sure if you buy this we can eventially figure this out.

I have had parts cut using constant beam cutting at signifiantly lower power settings, and they came out fine and crisp. No answers via them months later, but they are looking into the matter still....


Wm.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-08-2009, 11:43 AM
I personally dont thing this is a configuration issue. Its more of a driver/implementation issue on the part of Epilog. I personally don't have a problem with the tremors. But I still stand my orignial statement that if you are a model builter or an archetect looking at making scale models you may not find the results acceptable.

David Fairfield
06-08-2009, 11:50 AM
Yup, had you asked me after only 30 days of experience with the Epilog, I probably would have said the same thing. The only real problem was operator inexperience.

Dave

Peck Sidara
06-08-2009, 3:15 PM
Taken from our Mini/Helix manual dated November 16, 2008, downloadable here: http://www.epiloglaser.com/laser_manuals.htm


Speed
The Speed setting determines the travel speed of the carriage in Vector cutting
mode and is adjustable in 1% increments from 1 to 100%. The slower the speed,
the deeper the cut. Most cutting applications require relatively slow speed
settings, and the speed is heavily dependent on the hardness and the thickness of
the material being cut. Slower speed settings will also produce better edge
quality. Please refer to the Speed & Power Recommendations section of this
manual. High speeds are provided for draft mode only and are not intended for
production applications.


In my view there are certain applications for vector cutting at high speeds such as test runs for positioning, possibly scoring of very thin materials and works best on files which contains straight lines.


Based on our recommended power/speed combinations, you will not find any material with a recommended speed setting over 30-40%.


Most of the acceleration of speed occurs from the 1-20% range, there is a difference between say 30% and 90%speed but due to the many variables (length of nodes, shape and contour of nodes), you may not see a noticable difference in time. Additional variables include acceleration, deceleration and how our laser handles/translates the vector data.


Our vector cutting speed scale is 1-100% but this does not mean you can run all your vector jobs at high speeds and expect to get the same quality cuts as you would at 10%Speed.


Nor does this mean our 100%Speed is the equivalent of another manufacturer's 100%Speed. If a comparison in cutting quality is done, it should be based on overall cycle time to complete a certain job. Machine X at 100% vector speed may likely be the equivalent of 30-40%Speed on an Epilog.


We have many customers who use our systems for architectural modeling, model making and vector cutting only applications and are satisfied with their purchase.


I appreciate everyone's opinion as it helps us all learn of the differences between the laser manufacturers and allows those in the market to make better decisions on which laser system to go with.


There have been many discussions as to which laser is the best and most have concluded there isn't a perfect machine out there. You have to base your purchasing decisions on overall quality, capability, features, benefits, support and value. All of which an Epilog laser offers...

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-08-2009, 5:48 PM
@Peck
What about scoring? That was the primary issue that I started with. From what you are telling me is that you can not score at 100%, or even 50%. Well I love my mini 24 and would not give it up for any other laser but I can tell you for a fact that there are ULS users out there that are scoring at very high speeds and yes even 100% without the kinds of things that I am seeing. Also Doing architectural building models entails much more than just vector cutting. A lot of vector scoring takes place.


If I am soooo darn inexperienced tell me please how to I vector score a mark with out any squiggles. I have done it at high speed and low speed as shown by my uploaded images.

Also please Dont start with the recommended settings in the manual. 90% of the items I am cutting is not in the manual. Also it says not a darn thing about scoring.

Also say I want to cut card stock. What is your recommended settings? 30% Speed? What if I want to mark card stock? It pretty much sounds like you are saying if you are using vectors for any reason dont go above 30%.

william kaminsky
06-09-2009, 9:31 PM
Yup, had you asked me after only 30 days of experience with the Epilog, I probably would have said the same thing. The only real problem was operator inexperience.

Dave


One item you forgot was inexperienced salesman or demonstrator. If the machine won't do what I want it for, the demo is finished. If the machine does a crummy job, the demo is over then. If the salesman says I never have done this before, we have a set software to demo using, then the demo is over then. I have never worked with common plywood before came out of the mouth of one saleman, demo was over then.

Perhaps the machine CAN do it, but I am not at the demo waiting to learn how it will or will not work on what I gotta do, the saleman is supposed to know how "Before" I get there. If it need Tweeking, then OK, I understand that. But if the salesman says I am not familiar with....

The checkbook is out in the car, and it stayed there too.


Wm.

Mike Chance in Iowa
06-09-2009, 11:09 PM
My tests had similar wobbles in the diagonals while the verticals & horizontals were fine. Changing the speed & DPI did not matter. The short diagonal lines had more wobbles then the long ones. (The wobbles seem to be at the start and ends of the lines and are straight the rest of the time.)

My issue is with circles. No matter what speed or setting I use, I have never had a perfect circle while cutting in vector mode. I have replaced practically every part on my Epilog Mini and everything is clean & aligned properly.

Here is a test on yellow poster paper/card stock. The text was 24 point Arial. The first five lines were vector scored with the speed/power/dpi and the numbers 2306 were used for their curves. The last two lines were raster engraved at 600 dpi. The first row of raster engraving was merely to duplicate the vector line above it. The last row shows the speed/power used to engrave the text on the paper.

You can see how all the vector numbers with curves in them are distorted and have some amount of wobble - especially the 3 and 0.

Would I get another Epilog in the future? I don't know. I would certainly test out other brands, do my homework and see which one I like best.

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-10-2009, 12:20 AM
When I was creating some of my enclosures (PC Cases) I used do a quick vector. I noticed it on some of the rounded characters. The marks were just part marks so it did not matter. For permanent marks that will show I have to raster them in.

There are an awful lot of epilog users who have this problem. Many have gone several rounds with Epilog. They tend not to post as they get the same thing that I am getting. Things like.

You are inexperianced
Why would want to do that anyway
You must be using the wrong settings

Now all that said, my Rep told me that all lasers that use the beam rail (The long X axis riding on two rails) have this problem to one degree or another. I suspect they might but some have it much worse than others. And I do think it affects the kinds of things you may want to use the laser for.

In stead of denying it or covering it up a way should be found to correct it or at the very least give you some control over it. I would lay odds that if had the option on the driver to set the non cutting speed from vector to vector this would go a long way.

Some thing interesting that I found is that the worst ones that I get seem to be after the laser is traveling a long distance from one vector to the next. If you run that test program without the vertical or horisontal the line tremors seem to be at a minimum.

Mike Null
06-10-2009, 12:52 AM
I decided to try a similar drawing on my Trotec. The font is 36 point and the diamond sides are 1 inch.

To the naked eye there are no squiggles but when magnified several times there are squiggles at the corners of the diamonds and some slight ones on the O's.

The material is oil board.

I would think that this would meet about any tolerances required.

Mike Chance in Iowa
06-10-2009, 1:16 AM
Mike,

I would be THRILLED to have the minor flaws you experienced in your test!

The squiggles and distortion are very easy to see in my test without any magnification whatsoever. It is very easy to spot where the laser started and stopped on each 0 (middle left) .... and I'm not even wearing my glasses to look at it!

I also have an issue with vertical vector cuts. It can be a simple or complex graphic I have used dozens of times, or it can be a brand new file with a single vertical cut with only 2 points in a perfect vertical line. Every once in awhile, while performing a vertical cut, it will perforate a tiny section instead of cutting all the way through it. DPI, color, speed, rotation, material, you name it. None of it matters. It is not a flaw in the material, nor in the design, nor in the cut settings. I've had to deal with it all these years and use sandpaper and various other tools to smooth out the perforated spots. :mad:

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-10-2009, 2:51 AM
OK here is my numbers. This is not a very large blowup. The numbers are done in 72 Point so they are nice and big. You can see the tremors with out even trying.

The Top was done at 100% speed. The bottom at 30%. Now if I was an architect and needed to score a line in a model I don't think I would be to happy with these results. Same if I do miniatures and need to mark something very small. I guess I could also raster them but the point is they are in actual cuts as well.

Hopefully some one here can see my point and not just sum it up to inexperience. I wish it was then I could correct it.

Brian Robison
06-10-2009, 8:48 AM
And your belts are tight?

Mike Null
06-10-2009, 8:53 AM
The printed vector speed of my machine is 31.5 ips. At 100% speed I do not have enough power with 45 watts to make a vector mark.

When I am cutting I always set my speed to under 10%, usually under 5%. I am not interested in speed rather a good, clean, through cut.

Since a large part of my work is name tags my cutting is 1/16" and 1/32" laminates.

Michael, you do raise an interesting point and one which it would appear all of us can duplicate but I suggest you try cutting at speeds of under 10% and compare your results. My thought is that your quality will improve. Then compare, as Peck suggested, the job time. I think you may be surprised at how little difference there really is.

David Fairfield
06-10-2009, 9:42 AM
Slower speed = reduced tremors and more accuracy in curves, sharp angles & diagonals. If for some reason I need to cut my machine time (eg in a large production run) I use color mapping to isolate those curves, angles and diagonals and assign slower speeds/reduced power, while the straight lines run at max speed/power for the material.

I also might detach the lines in my graphics, making a square shape into 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines, so the lens isn't whipping through 90 degree angles. But for the architectural models I build professionally, its rarely necessary. I only resort to this for fine detail parts such as arched windows and decorative trimwork.

I've yet to find an unsolvable technical problem with the Epilog. But I repeat myself, this thread has gone round and round and round.

Dave

Peck Sidara
06-10-2009, 11:26 AM
@Peck
What about scoring? That was the primary issue that I started with. From what you are telling me is that you can not score at 100%, or even 50%. Well I love my mini 24 and would not give it up for any other laser but I can tell you for a fact that there are ULS users out there that are scoring at very high speeds and yes even 100% without the kinds of things that I am seeing. Also Doing architectural building models entails much more than just vector cutting. A lot of vector scoring takes place.


If I am soooo darn inexperienced tell me please how to I vector score a mark with out any squiggles. I have done it at high speed and low speed as shown by my uploaded images.

Also please Dont start with the recommended settings in the manual. 90% of the items I am cutting is not in the manual. Also it says not a darn thing about scoring.

Also say I want to cut card stock. What is your recommended settings? 30% Speed? What if I want to mark card stock? It pretty much sounds like you are saying if you are using vectors for any reason dont go above 30%.

Mike-My posting in your thread was for the following reasons:

*Quote from manual was to state that hey, even the manufacturer doesn't recommend vector cutting/scoring/marking at very high speeds.

*Recommended settings from the manual was to back up our statement regarding vector cutting speed.

*Vector cutting at 100%Speed on an Epilog is the not the equivalent of 100%Speed on another machine. Your statement "I can tell you for a fact that there are ULS users out there that are scoring at very high speeds and yes even 100% without the kinds of things that I am seeing." is not a good comparision point. What is high or 100% on a uls or other model?? It could very well be equal to <30% or something similar on the Epilog.

I am not denying you or any Epilog customer/prospect of what they're seeing or getting when running vectors at high speed. If read between the lines, my posting should read "Don't expect great results when running vectors at high speeds, slow it down for optimum results".

I did not say or indicate you are inexperienced. I am not rebutting your opinion nor your findings and think you're doing a great service of writting a review after 1 month ownership. I just think some of the statements made are too black and white and that the thread has gotten off tangent.

My posting was from the manufacturers point of view so that readers can better understand what is being discussed, what the manufacturer recommends, what is to be expected and not come to the simple conclusion that you can't vector cut on an Epilog.

As for cutting or scoring card stock, I'd recommend speeds ranging from 15% to 30%, lower power and a frequency of about 500.

Chris J Drew
06-10-2009, 11:38 AM
Isn't this a bit like driving your car with your gas pedal all the way to the floor & then complaining that you keep running off the road?

I can drive the gutless diesel minivan like that, but if I did that in my Alfa I'd be in hospital pretty quick.;)

Bob Cole
06-10-2009, 12:31 PM
There have been a few other posts about vector cutting/engraving and speed for quality. I have a ULS and absolutely cannot vector engrave at 100% if I want any quality. When I am doing small items and vector cut or vector engrave, I will use a speed lower than 10%. I just reduce the power until I get the mark I want (and not cut if vector engraving). If it is real fine detail and very small, I will use speeds as low as 2% to 4.5%. For most items going any slower with my 60 Watt will make too deep of a cut even at 1% power.

Going higher than 10% speed will usually result in squiggles at the curves. On straight lines horizontal or vertical, I can go up to 20% but anything with curves or diagonal lines have to use slower speeds.

Dan Hintz
06-10-2009, 2:40 PM
I'd be interested in seeing some vector cuts of lines at 5 degree increments... The ones at 45 degrees should have the worst squiggles (if at all).

Michael Simpson Virgina
06-10-2009, 2:47 PM
I guess each laser has a sweet spot for marking or cutting. In mine it is at or near 10%. All the tremors are hard to see at that point. Problem is I have to take the power down to 3% not to cut through the stock I am using. This is a case where a 25watt laser would shine. You could vector mark some really thin material at slower speeds.

I almost wish I had not even mentioned the vector marking in this post as the whole thing has muddled my original post. Which was a rather positive review of the laser.

I will have stand my comments about architect and modeler use. Forget about the canned demos that you get and take the drawing that I uploaded and see which laser gets you the best results at the highest speeds.

When I purchase my next laser, and I will be purchasing another in the future. I will be doing some very specific tests at various speeds. Since cutting is my primary output my next choice for a laser may indeed be different.