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View Full Version : My thoughts after my first week with My new laser.



Paul Phillips
05-18-2010, 11:59 PM
Hi,
I posted about a month ago asking for a recommendation for a good Universal sales rep in Southern Cal. and several people recommended Mike Mackenzie so I ended up going through him. I just wanted everyone to know that I had a great experience going through Mike. Man he really knows his stuff. He was very professional and knowledgeable. He showed up promptly at 8am and we worked non stop training until after 5pm.
He was also very patient about waiting through some payment delays.
The machine I chose was a Universal PLS 6.150D 120watt. I'm really glad I chose to get the extra power because I can already see the advantage for the type of work my shop will throw at it. Don't be jealous but Mike tested one tube at 70watts and the other at 82 watts for a total of 152 watts! I know, he did say that they will "relax" a bit over time but i'm still pretty happy about those numbers. One of the first jobs I did was etching 1/16" into some corian plaques that we would have had to sandblast before and it worked great, I was very happy with the results and could see the benefit of being able to run it at full power and get it done in the time that i did vs. less wattage. (100% power, 40% speed, 2 passes)
The main thing we are running on it will be lots of Rowmark ADA material and we can definitely see a huge time savings for this process vs. rotary engraver.
Thanks to the great resource of information that is the Creek. I have been able to spend the time over the last couple of years and do the research and have a good understanding of what to expect and what I can do with it and as a result I have been able to hit the ground running with it. I though it would take a few weeks at least to get the hang of using it but I am surprised that I am already putting it into high gear producing signs. To all the newbies, it pays to do your homework! In fairness though I have a lot of experience running CNC machines and rotary engravers so I'm sure that gave me a good foundation to start.
Thanks to Mike Mackenzie for a great buying experience and to Scott Shepherd for offering to take my phone call to pick his brain before I pulled the trigger, and thanks to all those who post their valuable answers and information on this site to help those like me who find it invaluable.
Paul Phillips

Dan Hintz
05-19-2010, 5:59 AM
Oooooh, 152W... my 60W tested at 73W, haven't tested it again lately to see what it settled to. Be aware, though, that if any of your settings are on the edge of just accomplishing what you want, you'll need to adjust appropriately as the tubes settle... not much, maybe 5% or so, but it can make a difference if you don't watch it.

Scott Shepherd
05-19-2010, 9:05 AM
WOW Paul, you got a NICE machine!

I'm sure you are excited. If you have any questions, let me know. We do a lot of the same stuff and I'm happy to help with the things I have learned over the years.

Paul Phillips
05-19-2010, 11:48 AM
Thanks guys,
Iím sure I will have some questions along the way.
I guess the point I was trying to make on rastering the corian is that even with 152w itís not quite as fast as I thought it would be, but itís still faster than the wimpy sandblaster that we use to blast them with when you factor in the time it takes to cut the sandblast mask, weed it and apply it. I guess as a high production shop I couldnít imagine trying it with less power. With these I pre-finished the pieces, put down some paper pre-mask, lasered them, painted and then peeled the mask and they were done, still a significant time savings for us.

Dan Hintz
05-19-2010, 12:18 PM
Paul,

If they need to be deep, maybe a CNC would be more appropriate. If you can forego a bit of depth, you could raise the speed some or do it in one pass. Unless the signs are abused, depth shouldn't make that much of a difference, as long as it's deep enough through the mask to accept the color fill.

Paul Phillips
05-19-2010, 12:49 PM
Dan,
what would you consider the "normal" or acceptible depth for paint filling? Part of the reason I ended up doing 2 passes was to more closely replicate some existing sand blasted signs and the rastered letters retained some of the rough texture that seemed to be a perfect match, but I agree, I could have routed them faster.

Dan Hintz
05-19-2010, 1:11 PM
That's application dependent, but if the signs won't see any abuse (e.g., like an award), I would be comfortable with 1/32"... just enough so the paint sits beneath the surface of the plaque, unless you're going for the deep-engraved look. If it's on a post next to the pool walkway, I'd go much deeper.

Don't fall into the trap that everything looks like a nail when all you have is a hammer... if signs like this are a large portion of your shop time, a CNC machine will probably be a better bet as the laser will just be too slow. Others can give you a more accurate value, but on a typical deep sign design I'm willing to bet the CNC would cut the sign 2-4 times faster.