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Joe Baker
06-13-2009, 8:25 PM
I had a demo on an Epilog Fibermark today. That thing was pretty amazing and we only played around with a couple pieces i brought in. I am hooked and probably will buy one. Anyone have one that can give me some suggestions before purchasing?

Rodne Gold
06-14-2009, 5:16 AM
Make sure you have the volume of work that will cover the costs of such a machine...make sure you know what materials you can and cant work on.

Joe Baker
06-14-2009, 10:57 AM
Rodne, good to hear from you. I would be using it to mark on 3 diff types of metal. We have been subbing this work out for appx 5 years. Right from the start i do not have high volume work for it. I would be able to net appx $1500.00 a month right out of the box. Not enough to feed anyone but i am thinking its enough to justify and pay for the machine.

The 3 main materials we need it to work on was marked well on the demo. Im happy with that.

Rodne Gold
06-14-2009, 2:11 PM
Im not that keen on flying head YAG lasers as they are normally a lot slower than Galvo..I assume you getting the galvo model?
The glavo model can do quite high production ... albeit over a limited marking area.

I am wary myself of buying in machinery to do the work if your subbee is giving you good service and still enabling you to make a profit. Often the real cost of DIY is masked , like maintenance , repairs , and the cost of an operator (even yourself)
We consume a lot of woodwork , set up on our own and promptly closed down cos of noise , extra space , dust , finishing rooms , spray booths etc ..wasn't worth it at all...

I have multiple Co2 lasers , looked hard and deep into a yag , but soon realised it wouldnt work that well for me , as the main markets for this type marking was not that big where I live, there were other Yags around and the cerdec route was still a vaible process for my setup.
It would be more cost effective for me to buy 3 lower powered Co2's than 1 yag ... but thats MY circumstances.
However there is a good market out there for cheaply marked high volume items which a Galvo yag can fill so you should really not just save money using it , but actually make money.

Joe Baker
06-14-2009, 3:36 PM
Rodne, i agree making money is what its about in the end. The other ways bringing it in house would help us is inventory. We have to do minimum runs subbing it out that takes about $4000.00 out of money we have to work with. Bringing it in house we could split that run up 4X and shell out 25% of investment and do the other runs as we need them.

Another BIG thing in my mind is it would allow me to experiment on different ideas without as much to loose. If i want to try an idea and do a run of 200. Not only do we shell out the $4k. if it doesnt sell well we can sit on that inventory for along time. taking inventory dollars away from stuff we could sell. Bringing it in house i can try an idea with shorter runs. Some will work some will not but at least the consequinceas are not as bad.

Rodne Gold
06-15-2009, 4:04 AM
Yeh , if the laser can increase your possible markets and products and you can do R&D "at home" its worth while. We bought ours cos we could see what extra we could do with it in one area alone - custom awards and it has panned out VERY well for us , currently we have 6 lasers.
Nice thing about the amt of lasers is that there is always one that is free for urgent jobs or just for fiddling.
So what are you intending to get - Galvo or flying head?

Joe Baker
06-15-2009, 10:13 AM
Rodne, i do not know what the difference is. I hate to sound dumb but i have to be honest. Thats why i am posting so i can get the dumbness off. thanks

Bryan Cowan
06-15-2009, 10:19 AM
We've had our FiberMark 20W for just a little over a year now and it's been great. We don't have it running 8 hrs/day yet, but we're slowly transitioning our marking needs to it every day. Aside from the normal clean/lube job, it's been a great working mule.

We mark brass, stainless steel, and carbon steel. We have cut rubber, magnets, and paper with it before, but nothing on the production level.

Joe Baker
06-15-2009, 10:43 AM
Bryan, has the 20w done all you needed? Have you had a time you wished you went higher wattage?

Bryan Cowan
06-15-2009, 10:47 AM
At the time, the 20W was the highest wattage available. I have been in contact with my local rep and other FiberMark reps regarding the 50W version. I'd like to bring a 50W in for a week or so to test side-by-side with the 20W. The 20W does everything we want; however, we'd always like more speed.

Rodne Gold
06-15-2009, 12:06 PM
Galvos suited to high production but smaller areas ..you can get a 10x+ thruput in speed with a galvo. Good for small part and promo marketing high volume stuff.
flying head machines just like ours cept with a diff wavelength of laser.

Richard Rumancik
06-15-2009, 12:17 PM
Joe, flying optics is what most of the CO2 laser systems use for raster/vector marking and cutting. It means that the last 2 mirrors and the final lens are movable (flying) as they move in the x and y directions.

The alternative is a galvo (galvanometer) beam-delivery system. The system uses 2 motors to swivel a mirror about 2 axes. The laser beam is directed onto the mirror, and the motors swivel to "draw" onto the stationary workpiece. The mirror only swivels; it does not translate. There is really no need to "raster" with a galvo as it can move point-to-point.

As you can imagine, with a fixed mirror, the edges of the image will be farther away from the lens than the central area. To correct this a field lens is usually used. But it has limitations as far as part size and satisfactory focus. For marking, you can usually get away with the angularity effect. Larger field lenses ae expensive.

Some people like Bryan cut parts with a yag. But a galvo marker could cut only very small parts as it would probably go out of focus for a larger part and not cut well. You probably would not have a very perpendicular edge at the extremes, either.

But the galvo is much faster than rastering so it depends on what you want to do. If you are planning on using it for marking only, e.g. marks in a 4" x 4" box say, then a galvo will be very fast. If you want to cut with it, you need to determine if it will work, as many plastics and organic materials do not cut well with a yag laser.

I was under the impression that the FiberMark was a flying optics machine. Do they actually offer a galvo? (If you want to see a pic of a galvo marker go to the Synrad site.)

Most of the YAG galvo markers are designed with a working area that would only allow marking a few parts at a time, or pass a part under the laser head on a conveyor, and mark a part number on it. The FiberMark flying optics system has the advantage of larger working area at the expense of speed. Most galvo yag markers could not mark a 12" x 16" metal part but the FiberMark could. Is that a useful feature to you? What size are your parts?

Here's an article that may help clarify:

www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/article_display.html?id=274472 (http://www.industrial-lasers.com/articles/article_display.html?id=274472)

Jon Colley
06-15-2009, 6:18 PM
It's worth mentioning that although the marking speed on a galvo-steered system is almost always faster, the limited marking field limits you in two areas:

1. The size of the mark you can create
This isn't typically a big deal but it does come up occasionally.

2. The number of small parts it can engrave in one job.
This is the big difference in my opinion. If you are engraving many small parts and do not have an automated feeding system, your employee will have to "babysit" the laser, swapping parts out frequently. On a flat-bed, it will be slower, but you can fill the whole table and let it mark while the employee can be doing other work. Despite the slower marking time, I would argue that the flat-bed has a much lower cost of ownership because it operates unattended for longer periods of time. The only case where this wouldn't hold true is where you need to make small marks on large parts, where you have to swap out frequently even on the flat-bed.

We sell both galvo-steered (Trotec Speedmarker FL) and flat-bed (Trotec Finemarker FP100) systems and typically the FP100 makes the most sense for most of the applications that we have encountered.

Rodne Gold
06-16-2009, 4:46 AM
At 5-10x thruput , it makes sense to hire a "minder" if one doesnt have an automated system and the volume of work is high.
If you can mark 50 parts an hour at $3 - TO is $150 an hr
If you can mark , lets be conservative and say 200 parts an hr with a Galvo at a CHEAPER price of lets say $2 - it translates to $400 per hr TO
You can employ some arb person with minimal skills to load and unload at a far cheaper price than the $250 an hour difference.
But as has been discussed , it all depends on your workload and needs.

Joe Baker
06-16-2009, 9:12 AM
thanks guys. Appreciate the schooling.