PDA

View Full Version : Pinnacle vs. Universal



Dave Strickler
12-01-2004, 3:12 PM
Greetings everyone. I have been researching laser systems via the internet for about 3 months now, trying to decide which system I want to invest in. I stumbled across this message board a few days ago, and have learned more in a very short time reading your messages than I did the entire previous 3 months searching the web. My compliments and thanks to you all for the open, friendly, and knowledgeable discussions found here.

I worked for a pharmaceutical company for 27 years, but when they closed my plant, I declined the company offer to relocate. Instead, I would like to start a business of my own, and laser engraving seems to be a field with endless possibilities.

I have pretty much narrowed my search down to either a Pinnacle M series, or a Universal system. The Pinnacle system caught my eye because of the price, and the special packages which inlude so many items which are listed as accessories on other systems.

The Universal sytems are attractive because of their longer experince with laser systems, they are US made, and they are upgradeable. I can buy a 30 watt system, and later upgrade it to a higher power very easily. It is my understanding that the Pinnacle systems are not upgradeable.

I noticed there are several Pinnacle users on this board. What happens if a laser tube dies on a Pinnacle system? Is the system dead? Can a service rep replace it on site? How responsive would service be here in Pennsyvania?

I plan on buying a system sometime shortly after the first of the year. As you folks know, deciding which one to buy is a very difficult decision, so any help or advice you folks could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,

Dave Strickler

Aaron Koehl
12-01-2004, 3:27 PM
I'm pleased with the Epilog Legend, though it comes with a hefty price tag. We've produced some really great looking projects. Though I can't weigh in on the Universal or Pinnacle, I think Keith metioned looking in that direction if he were to purchase a second laser.

Dave Strickler
12-01-2004, 5:41 PM
Thanks Aaron. I haven't looked at Epilog very closely, but I will throw them into the mix also and make my head spin even faster! :)

Ted Shrader
12-01-2004, 7:46 PM
Hi Dave -

Welcome to the Creek. Don't forget to check out the other areas of the site, too. Lots of good info to be had.

Welcome,
Ted

Gary Shoemake
12-01-2004, 11:05 PM
HI there and welcome.

I have a m series machine and am quite happy with it. I also do undrstand that they are upgradable to a certain degree. Let me explain, When I bought mine my budget dictated a 12 watt system, which I now realize is just adequate to do the products that I do. I have talked with the company's tech support, which by the way I have not had a bad or unhappy experience with, and they telll me that I can upgrade to a 25 watt system at any time. The upgrade to a higher wattage is in the works.
There is a gentleman on the forum who is a tech rep, Kevin Huffman. I know that he checks into the forum frequently and maybe he will jump in with more info. You can alway PM him from the forum with any other questions.

Good luck with your choice no matter what it is and again as they say"Welcome to the Creek."

Gary

Gary Shoemake
12-01-2004, 11:07 PM
I forgot to mention that the tube has a three year replacement guarantee.

Gary

Keith Outten
12-01-2004, 11:34 PM
Dave,

I feel your pain and I have spent many hours on the phone trying to help several of our members who were ready to purchase a laser engraver. I bought mine just about three years ago and I remember vividly how confusing it was and how hard it was to find information that I felt was reliable on the Internet. Making a decision based on any manufacturers advertising is not a comfortable feeling, its like buying a car and the salesman just wants to make a sale.

I purchased an Epilog Legend Model 24 with a 35 watt power supply, auto focus, air assist and the rotary attachment. The auto focus has been a disappointment and I have disabled it as it can be hazardous if you make the mistake of using it doing rotary work. I also purchased a vector cutting table which I felt was very expensive considering how poorly it was constructed. I did receive a new vector table from Epilog when I complained for three months and it was even worse than the first, it was out of tolerance (surface flatness) by an eighth of an inch.

Sounds like I'm trying to convince you to stay away from Epilog but that isn't really the case. My engraver has worked flawlessly for three years and the machine is really quite impressive. Amazingly accurate and capable of producing incredible quality work, Epilog should be on your list of machines to evaluate.

I have also spent some time talking to the Universal Rep in Fredricksburg Virginia and I hope some day to be able to vist them and see a demo of their machines. Sadly there isn't a Pinacle sales office anywhere close to my shop that I know of, I would also like to see their equipment and how well it performs. I know that there will be another laser engraver in my future and I try to keep up with the new models as best I can. The Epilog benchtop machines are recommended highly by those who have purchased them recently, in many ways they can be a better value than the larger machines.

Your right about lasers providing endless possibilities, they are the most versatile machines I have ever seen. You can make a very handsome living if you can market your engraving services, like woodworking or anything else the bottom line is always marketing.

Glen Peters
12-02-2004, 12:18 AM
Hi Dave

Welocme to the Creek.

I have a LaserPro M-25. Got it 2 yrs ago and it has done everything that I have asked it to do within its capabilities.

Had I known 2 years ago what I know now, I would have made my purchase differently. It came as a package with everything you need to start engraving immediately, laser, oder reduction system, vector cutting table, rotary engraving fixture, air assist with compressor and software. Here is what I would have done to save some money.

1. I would not get the oder reduction system with the charcoal filter. Mine had a speed control which went ka-put so I replaced the entire thing with a $100 dust collector I got on Ebay and just vent everything outdoors. The amount of smoke and fumes is not that great and will not cause a problem with the neighbors. If you see smoke coming out of the outdoor vent you probably have a much bigger problem than air polution. If for some reason you are unable to vent to the outdoors, then you definately need the filtration. The filters and activated charcoal are expensive and need to be replaced frequently.

2. The vector cutting table was quite expensive for what it really is. It is nice to have if you do much cutting. You can make something similar much cheaper.

3. My rotary engraving fixture is still in the box it came in, never used. From what I have read, most engravers don't use theirs very much either. I would wait until the need arises before I would invest.

4. Air assist for me is a must. The price of the compressor was a bit high in my opinion. You can use a small compressor without a tank similar to those used to inflate soccer balls, inflatable pools or car tires. Need to install a water separator or you will be squirting water on your work on those humid days.

5. My system came with Engravlab software. I have never used it. I, as many do, use Corel Draw and Photopaint (which is part of the Draw suite) or Photoshop. If you do any photos you will definitely want to get Photograv, expensive but well worth it.

With the money I would have saved by providing my own exhaust systen,making my own cutting table, not buying the rotary engraver and software and providing my own compressor for air assist I could have gotten more wattage on my laser.

If the vendor provides onsite setup and training with the purchase, take it. I didn't and found the initial learning curve quite steep.

I am very happy with my Laserpro system. Tech support had been great. I am not familiar with Universal or Epilog so can not make any comparisons. Just my 2 cent on my experience.

Saw on gccworld.com that there is a new Laserpro model just launched. Haven't had a chance to check out details.

Glen

Doug McIntyre
12-02-2004, 2:48 AM
I have a very reliable ULS machine along with Corel Draw and Photograv. You shouldn't need any other software and a home made extraction system should be easy and effective as long as the extractor is powerful enough and quiet enough. I wouldn't bother with a cutting table at all - I got a very useful tip from a U.S. sourced video recommending 'egg-crate louvers' as a substitute. They are the plastic 'grills' used in flouorescent light fittings and you could probably source them from your local electrical retailer - the smallest grid in white plastic is best and just one piece lasts forever - I made the mistake of buying a box full - they will be now passed on to my descendants - hope they can find a use for them.

Doug

Kevin Huffman
12-02-2004, 10:07 AM
Hello Dave,

My name is Kevin Huffman. I am one of the Pinnacle Laser Techs. I am sorry I didn't reply to your post faster, I have been out of the office for the last couple of days sick.

I am sorry to hear of your plant shutting down. But you are correct, with a laser engraver your possibilities are endless. I like to say your imagination is your limit.

But to answer your questions. What happens if the laser tube dies is, we get you a new one. Send it to you and walk you through installing it. There are 4 bolts that hold the laser tube in place and it is pretty much a direct replacement. Then all you have to do is a minor beam alignment. You can visit www.laserpin.com (http://www.laserpin.com/) on the tech support tab, under the image information section there are some video's that show you how to do it. You can take a look them to see how easy it is. Usually the whole process of replaceing a tube takes no more than 1 1/2 hours. If for some reason the installation or beam alignment process can not be completed by the customer we can send a tech on location. But I do have to say this 95% of the repairs that have ever been done on these machines have been done by the customer. Not because we are lazy and don't want to do it, but because it is much faster. If we overnight you the part, you install it you are fixed the next day. If we have to send out a tech it take at least a week to get all the reservations set up. More down time for you.

Again, 95% of the time any problem that can occur with this machine can be solved over the phone and/or sending you a part.
If you ask many of the Pinnacle Laser User on this web site you will see that we don't have to many problems with our machines.

As Glen has mentioned he has a Laserpro 25, which is the exact same machine as our M Series. Both Are made by a company called GCC. I just looked in our system we do have a Glen Peters who bought a M-Series 25W. It may just be the cold medicine talking but I am pretty sure we have talked before. Which means he would have bought it through us. I don't know at this point. My head is pounding to much.

If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to post here or give us a call, one of us techs or a sales person can answer any questions you might have.

George M. Perzel
12-02-2004, 12:52 PM
Hi Dave;
Welcome to the world of laser engraving/cutting. You may find that your plant closing was the best thing that ever happened to you-not much consulation now, but focus on the future.
I got into this business as a hobby adjunct to my woodworking when I retired-turned it into a small side business which keeps me busy as I want to be with plenty of time for trying new things with this machine- I have a LaserPro Mercury 60 watt unit -have it for nearly 18 months now and still marvel every day as to what it can do and still finding new things.
I purchased my unit directly from the LaserPro rep (Scott Faulkner) in the northeast (I'm in the Rochester, NY area) who provides terrific support and did a great job training me in one day.As an engineer, I spent easily as much time as you did researching various units and came down to a choicebetween the Laserpro, Universal, and Epilog units. I am convince that all of the units (at that time) were pretty much equal-small differences but the pros and cons kind of balanced out. Ended up with the LaserPro because:
1. Got a great financial deal on a higher power unit plus accessories from LaserPro than I could get fom Sign Warehouse(Pinnacle/LaserPro), Epilog , or Universal.
2. Liked the ability to move the head of the unit by hand and position it anywhere-saves a lot of time. The other units did not have this at the time-don't know if they do now.
3. Unit was built like a tank-very sturdy construction-easy to clean optics

Post Purchase

1. Laser tube went down 2 weeks after I received the unit- they Fedexed me a new one overnight and it took me about an hour to install-no problems since then except losing a few focus probes through my own negligence.
2. LaserPro documentation is horrible but Scott has always been there if I had any questions. Understand Sign Warehouse has tried to improve the service manual but have no experience with them.
3. Don't buy oder reduction unit, rotary unit, cutting table-as someone said above, far less expensive alternatives are available and a little ingenuiy goes a long way-this is not rocket science.

Good luck-whe is PA are you? If you're close feel free to cal and /or visit as I'm more than willing to answer questions or discuss issues.
George M. Perzel
LaserArts

Dave Strickler
12-02-2004, 1:42 PM
Thank you all for the information, especially on which accessories are not necessary. I am still wondering about the rotary attachment, as I would like to have the ability to engrave glasses and bottles, either with the laser alone or in combination with sand blasting/carving. I have several friends who are restaurant or bar owners, and they have all expressed interest in having their glassware engraved.

George, I live outside York, Pa. I may very well take you up on your offer once I am further along in this process. Thank you very much for the offer.

Kevin, thank you for your input. I hope you're feeling better soon!

Doug, Glen, Keith, Gary, Ted, Aaron, thank you for the great info. What a great group of people on this message board!!

I'll keep you posted on what I decide and on my adventures along the way on this intriguing journey. :)

Dave

Kevin Huffman
12-02-2004, 2:52 PM
Hey George,

There are some new instructions for the rotary attachment that I think would help you out a bunch. Unfortuneately I can not add them to this website. Just send me a PM with your email and I will email them to you.

Same thing for you dave or anyone else, if you want to see what an exert from our manual I can email you it too.

George M. Perzel
12-02-2004, 3:15 PM
Hi Kevin;
Thanks- would like to see them.
George
perzel@frontiernet.net

Kevin Huffman
12-02-2004, 3:18 PM
They are coming to you now.

Rodne Gold
12-03-2004, 2:51 AM
All lasers in the same price/power/speed class do the same thing , some have a few bells and whistles but essentially ALL can accomplish the same type of work at the same speed.

In terms of buying a laser , the number one thing to look for is support and a no quibble warrantee (especially on the source)The mercury is an older generation model, It works real well and is pretty reliable. We had 2 and traded up to 3 x Explorers.

In the laser world , time is money and the Explorer's are blindingly fast , they will allow you to double your output over a Mercury. The small premium you pay over the Mercury is totally outweighed by this. I see there is a special at www.laserprousa.com (http://www.laserprousa.com) on 30 watt explorers , $17.999.00 , that looks like a GREAT price for the machine. Its a ton less than I paid in South Africa.
To Qualify my post , I'm not a salesperson , but a heavy duty user and it makes no difference what machine you get to me so take what I say in that light
You will be hard pressed to get objective views from salespeople or for them to even reveal the "issues" of their machines , and beleive me , there are issues associated with all these lasers, no matter who makes them (and the same holds true for other machines in the sign trade)
We apply a 1/2 x 2 rule when purchasing anything , 1/2 the advertised performance claims and double the claimed running costs etc and if it still makes financial sense , go for it.
In general , tubes are either sourced via Synrad or Coherent (usa made) , some of the GCC machines use a Rofin Sinar tube but only the high powered models.
The Mercury uses a Synrad source , and we found these to be a little flaky and had a few replaced when they blew RF boards but that was early on.
The Explorer uses a Coherent Deos source and we have found the beam quality on these to be a lot better. Early explorers had a lot of problems (underated power supply , cooling problems in extremely hot environments and cleaning the collimation lens was very difficult - some of the coherent sources failed to to QC problems) but these have been sorted out. I'm in South Africa and even here , the dealer sorted out ALL issues in a day or so , we were never down for longer then 24 hrs. I lose around $1200 a day or more not having an operational laser so for me this level of service is VITAL!!!!!
Speed with good quality engraving and power are the other 2 areas that give you the best bang for the buck. Upgradebility is a red herring of sorts , going for more power wont necessarily give you faster turnarounds. Most stuff will engrave at far less than 100% power even with a 25 w machine , so if you are NOT using 100% power , you would use 100% speed. Its only on heavy cutting applications where more power will allow a faster processing time. If you do want to upgrade an existing machine to give more productivity , one would really have to upgrade both the source and install a twin head , which of course will 1/2 your max size of engraving. Upgrading to a better or inherently faster machine with more power is a far more viable option.

The laser you buy depends on your applications , the money is to be made in actually fabricating stuff or doing speciality work , merely engraving gifts etc doesn't give you a great return on investment. The laser should be working 8 hours a day and needs to have the "balls" and reliability to do so. If you intend to do a lot of cutting , power is everything.

Lasers are relatively high maintenance machines , careful cleaning of the optics , mirrors and motion system is vital for consistent usage , power fluctuates when optics are dirty and you have to fiddle with settings to get the same effect , thus easy and quick access to ALL the optics is vital , the more the laser "protects" the optics and motion system , the better.

DO NOT buy a laser that uses stepper motors without a closed loop positioning system. Stepper motors can lose steps and cannot sense where they did so , once it loses a step , all engraving is out of register.

Beam quality is also an issue , even tho one laser might be rated the same as another wattage wise , one might be a LOT quicker and better due to better beam quality , especially in cutting. Power density and spot size go hand in hand and the optic system determines this. There are other factors in terms of beam quality too , but good optics and stable mirror platforms are a must. The beam is aligned in 3d space in lasers , each mirror can be adjusted in 3 planes and the longer the path of the beam from the source , generally , the better the beam quality. This is a double edged sword as the longer the beam path , the more fiddly alignment becomes and small changes can decrease power substantially. Taking lenses and mirrors out continually can easily shift alignment , thus the more solid and rigid the optic mounting system is , the better.Motion systems generally all work well and most seem to be reliable.
Be careful about being swayed by bells and whistles , a lot of the touted stuff is really of no effect or is relatively unused. We have never used 3d engraving in any paying job (have fiddled) , neither have we used stamp making in anything but for own internal useage (its smelly , messy and one offs are not profitable in terms of time and setup and multiple stamps can be made far easier and cheper with polymer systems)
The pass thru features of the mercury and explorer have been useful once or twice , but are hardly a deal breaker. Its dangerous to use an open laser , there is no fume eaxtraction and you have to defeat the safety interlock)
We do use the Rotary attachment a little , but its also not an essential unless you planning to do a lot of glass , and lasering on glass is not the same as blasting , the effects are rough. The GCC rotary attachment is disgusting (as is its manual) and need modifications to work really well. Its VERY difficult to centre stuff on it.
Even massive table sizes are somewhat inconsequantial , the bigger the table , the more precise alignment has to be otherwise you start getting power drops at various points of the table , worse at the lower right. 99% of our jobs dont require the 1m x 500mm table size of the explorer.
Cutting tables are essentials , we either use the supplied one or just put blocks of pex on the table to support stuff (using an anodised ally sheet beleow to protect the table , we also are making a pin rest type table.)
What you really want to do to in making your choice is see the lasers in action , see how easy it is to accomplish a sort of task you would want to do and check quality. DO NOT be swayed by canned tests , use your own graphics and material etc .
You want to see the laser cut a series of circles and check the very small ones are indeed circles and not elipses , you want to see the laser cut a block of 8mm pex or so and check that the sides are straight and nicely polished. You want to laser a raster grid over the FULL extent of the table and see the grid is truly vertical and horizontal and has crisp edges and is the same depth over the table and that no lines look shattered or out of register. You want to do the same thing with vector lines. You want to engrave very small text , like 1mm (or less) at various speeds , especially top speed and look a the text quality. Get a magnifying glass and loup to examine this. You also want to see how well the machine integrates with the design package you use (most ppl use Corel)
You also need to time the various machines , so you need lets say an a4 image and ask the various vendors to laser it into acrylic , make sure they all use the same resolution and get "real" times
Advertised speed claims are bull as they don't reflect true speed , the laser head has to accellerate and deccelerate and albeit at top speed it might be real fast , it might take some time to get there. Apart from that , you want to cut a few squares and make sure they are the same size left to right and top to bottom.
Tube replacement is a snap , we never did an alignment when replacing one ........BE VERY CAREFUL about tube warrantees , make sure there is a no quible time based warrantee , NOT time based on laser hours etc , but time based on time. IE 3 years is 3 years despite the usage of the machine.
Air assist is a must and the Explorer has a very good system whereby you can swivel the air jet to take into account different lenses etc , the air must go where needed. We did not like the Mercurys Air assist as it required very serious filters in line with the air to stop oil and moisture as it pressurises the chamber where the lens is and air without filtering condesned oil and water on the lens and contaminated it and led to its damage.
An efficient extraction system is a must too , apart from the extraction fans (which you can get easily and fairly cheaply) the machines extraction path from the bed is important. It must evacuate smoke , dust etc away from the beam path and must do so quickly.
We have been very happy with the GCC drivers for our machines and they allow us a lot of flexibility for positioning , we can engrave from a centre , reset home positions , manually position etc.
They have lots of features and both the drivers and firmware of the machine are easily upgradeable and GCC do a fair amount of development and often release upgrades.
Be aware that the Explorer will only run on XP - but then if you are buying an expensive laser , a decent upgrade to your home puter or a decent puter is a must.
Positioning is ALSO an issue , as the laser uses a visible diode to show where the beam will be. This HAS to be perfectly aligned to the beam itself ALL ACROSS the table. Its not part of the laser beam itself and requires a seperate alignment. Auto focus is also a must and it must be accurate , we found the Mercury and explorer AF to be pretty good.
The major issues we had with our mecurys were the sources (not GCC's fault) and the alignment. I always thought the mercury and the explorers mirror housings to be a weak point , they could be made sturdier. we have replaced a couple of X motors on both machines , which is no big deal , the explorers X motor failed due to us not lubing the X bearing rail , there was no instruction to do so and the bearing ran dry.
If you want to make money from day 1 , you need a little training , make sure the supplier is conversant with and supports the software you want to use , make sure they will install the laser and train the operator to a competent level.

There is another aspect to all this , and that is the business plan , DO NOT buy on the hope you will do well , do your homework. Who else has lasers in your area , what do they charge , is there custom in the area , what would YOUR competitive advantages be over other ppl in your area. Do you have working capital , are you going to set up a home office , how much money are you going to devote for marketing , do you have a marketing plan , do you have a direction you wish to go , are you going to hire a helper, what financing options are avialable , have you projected income , how are you going to price , do you have engraving experience , are you familiar with different materials , do you have suppliers lined up and so forth..
Creativity and thinking out the box is the way to make money on a laser , they are absolutely amazing tools!!!

Bruce Larson
12-05-2004, 2:37 AM
I have just upgraded my system from a 25 watt Epilog Mini 18 to a 60 watt Legend 24EX machine (got it today) and will just drop in some personal comments for what they are worth.
I have had my 25 watt system for about 8 months and have found that the possibilities are totally mind-boggleing, and have used the 25 watt as a fairly reasonable way to get up on my learning curve.
I am fortunate to be close enough to major distributors of the 3 major players in this size range, to have personally visited them, and have seen, hands-on, the dog and pony shows of all three brands.
GCC is sold by numerous people, and under numerous different names or organizations, which try to say they are "the best laser system in the world" if they are sold under one name. Under another name they say that a 12 watt system is powerful enough to do everything that you will want to do, and will make you rich and famous. The ability to easily pass large items through the laser may be its largest advantage for maximum flexibility, however the M series machines are very slow at 42 IPM maximum raster engraving speed. Their new Explorer series improves this to 80 IPM, but at a far higher cost.
Universal has an excellent machine in their higher end machines. I have not fully explored all of their features and benefits, but they are again, a high priced machine to get these speeds and powers. I don't feel that their smaller machines have the speed or quality, or will have the long term durability that a small Epilog system has. This is only my personal opinion, based on many years in a management manufacturing environment.
For most beginning users, my personal opinion is that an Epilog Mini machine is hands down the most feature packed machine on the market. As it comes out of the box, it is ready to work, and installs as easily as a dot matrix printer. At $10,000 for a 12 x 18 25 watt machine, you need buy nothing else except a $150-$200 dust collection system, and an inexpensive air compressor (only 30 PSI is required for the air assist) to begin making parts. If you later want to purchase the $1200 rotary attachment, it just plugs in and runs. It does however have a learning curve to get the best results with it. If your budget can stand it I would suggest you buy NO LESS than a 35 watt system to begin with, and a 45 watt will do most jobs well. They have recently introduced a new 12 x 24 table size in the Mini series.
The upgrades if you buy a 25 watt system and try to upgrade later, are not economically feasible, and will lead to weeping and gnashing of teeth over not puchasing enough power initially.
The 24EX and even larger 32EX systems can be had up to 120 watts and run at a maximum engraving speed of 120 IPM. The difference in throughput is amazing due to this higher speed. Again, this speed and power comes at a significant cost.
I may sound like an Epilog employee or salesman, which I am not, but I have voted with a very substantial amount of cash dollars from my own pocket, and feel that I have done my homework.
The very, very, very most important thing to remember always, and make sure you never forget; is that it is not the power or speed of the machine which will make you a sucessful business owner, it is your MARKETING ability.
Everything else is incidental.
Sorry to be so long-winded, but hope this may help someone down this very interesting path. This site is one of the best sources of information out there, but before you buy, try to go to some of the many seminars out there and learn everything you can about CorelDraw, as it is your most important tool.

Mike Mackenzie
12-24-2004, 12:22 PM
This is a quote that I believe in.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE WORLD THAT SOME MAN CANNOT
MAKE A LITTLE WORSE AND SELL A LITTLE CHEAPER. AND
HE WHO CONSIDERS PRICE ONLY IS THAT MANíS LAWFUL PREY.
IT IS UNWISE TO PAY TOO MUCH, BUT IT IS WORSE TO PAY
TOO LITTLE. WHEN YOU PAY TOO MUCH, YOU LOSE A LITTLE
MONEY - THAT IS ALL. WHEN YOU PAY TO LITTLE YOU SOMETIMES
LOSE EVERYTHING BECAUSE THE THING YOU BOUGHT WAS
INCAPABLE OF DOING THE THING IT WAS BOUGHT TO DO...
IF YOU DEAL WITH THE LOWEST BIDDER, IT IS WELL TO ADD
SOMETHING FOR THE RISK YOU RUN, AND IF YOU DO THAT YOU
WILL HAVE ENOUGH TO PAY FOR SOMETHING BETTER.
THE COMMON LAW OF BUSINESS PROHIBITS PAYING A LITTLE
AND GETTING A LOT. IT CANNOT BE DONE.

This applies to laser equipment as well, You will get what you pay for.

Josh Kotval
02-02-2005, 2:19 PM
hi my name is Josh
and i have a Engraving buisness ihave been in buisness for about 6 months and i admit i still dont really know all that much about lasers as some of these pros do but i will tell you that i ahve a universal X2660 with a 18X32 engraving feild. but i am not very happy with it. my sales rep said he would be the best and give me as much attention as i wanted. no i know that isnt a problem with the machine but i will forwarn you that you should make SURE your sales rep isnt there justto make another buck. i wish i would have gone with the laserpro because for one it is a much cheaper machine and two i think it can do everything my expensive universal can do if not more. i hope this helps and email me if i can be of any more help.

thanks
josh

speed11816@yahoo.com

Mike Mackenzie
02-02-2005, 3:47 PM
Dave,

The most Important issue you will have to deal with is who and where the person is that you will be dealing with. Regarding training, support, and service.

You absolutely need to get demonstrations with the equipment. In my opinion this is critical. Then compare the quality from each system. GET THINGS IN WRITING

Then compare system to system on these forums you may not get the entire picture. You have got to see the systems operate and know the people or Reps you will be dealing with from the day you purchase until the day you leave this is important!!!.

You should also find out how much replacement parts will cost you when they need to be replaced. (Laser Tubes, Motion system parts,etc.) Get this in writing.

If they don't want to put these things in writing then it should help you to decide.

I will tell you that we operate a sales and service office for the Universal systems and I can honestly say that they are great systems.

The other systems that are mentioned are good as well this is why it is important to get DEMOS from them all then decide.

Good luck with your decision

Supersport RC
02-02-2005, 5:40 PM
Hello, I am looking at purchasing a laser engraver, and
I have a question on the Pinnacle M-Series,
I think I have read This is the same as the LaserPro Mercury series?
Pinnacle has 25 watt & laserpro has a 30 watt unit. So I am not sure how to compare them, and I'm not sure what the price differential is.
but which one is a better unit? and if they are the same who has better service?

Thank you.

Rodne Gold
02-02-2005, 11:32 PM
Not to rain on anyone's parade here , but you should have a look at the Explorer as well , it's almost 2x the speed of the Mercury and also has a larger table size , we upgraded our 3 machines from the Mercury to the Explorer and almost doubled our output.(there is a new machine out called the Spirit which seems to be the direct mercury replacement - as always , a new machine might be fraught with niggles as were our explorers but these were sorted out quite rapidly by the mnfgr). In the laser world a speed increase is WELL worth while , and the explorer engraves at the same if not better quality than the mercurys almost like getting an extra machine . Always get the most power you can afford. Watts arent always watts , it's power density that counts , IE a 50w machine that concentrates its energy into double the area a 25w machine does is sort of equivalent to the 25 watter. We found that 30 watts in the explorer was more than a 5w incease over a 25w mercury. The mercury uses a synrad source and the explorer a Coherent deos , we find the coherents beam quality to be better. Your mileage may vary (YMMV)

Rob Glasco
02-03-2005, 10:19 AM
just to clear up a something

Mercury lasers use both synrad and deos tubes, 12-30 use synrad, 35 and up use Coherent deos air cooled and 100w deos is water cooled
Explorer laser use Coherent Deos tubes and 100w is water cooled

another thing to think about, it is better to use anything over 50W with
220v-AC

Mike Mackenzie
02-03-2005, 1:40 PM
Josh,

If there are some problems with your local Rep please do not hesitate to contact the Apps lab at Universal (1-800-859-7033) You can talk with anyone there to disscuss your applications, comments, or problems. Universal wants to help so please take advantage of them.

I would also like to offer any help that I can as well. The reps in your area are usually very responsive we will try to find out what happened.

Josh Kotval
02-04-2005, 11:49 AM
thank you for offering to help.

i guess i got a little carried away and i talked with my rep this morning and got things cleared up i think.
so going back to the original comment whatever you decide that will work for you will be fine. i just tried to help.

im sorry to anyone i offended.

Victoria Larsen
09-19-2005, 8:51 PM
Hi All,

New member here. I am considering a different brand of laser. I'm on my 2nd Universal system. Was actually one of the very first people to buy their first ULS 25 eons ago and now have the PS25.
I've been looking in to other brands partially because the support has gone down at Universal since George Wendell left, but also for cost.

I am considering the Pinnacle but am concerned about Corel Draw easily being used with this equipment. I work with my current cut files and don't want to have to change a thing to get up and running with new equipment. (All line art).

Who here can give me an opinion about it and who might be using it currently?
I am running Corel 10 at the moment.
Personally, I don't want the learning curve of a new software program.

Also, I've seen you all mention the fact that there's no need to buy the "cutting" table with the Pinnacal (I'm assuming it's an additional option rather than standard equipment). I do mostly vector cutting... so if I didn't want to purchase that additional table, what would I use instead? Any ideas?

Just FYI, I have not been unhappy with my equipment from Universal at all. And anyone wanting to get ahold of George Wendell, do let me know. I tracked him down!

Rodne Gold
09-20-2005, 12:24 AM
the GCC drivers are designed for Corel and integrate real well , no problems there at all. Also accept acad , illustrator etc files quite easily. We even send word documents!!!
You can elevate the stuff you cut any way you like , the idea is to keep it off the table surface. I dont think the cutting table is an option with the GCC machines - ours came with cutting table , spare mirrors , air assist and the rotary attachment. We elected to purchase and use our own exhaust blower and had shop air. The cutting table is useful if cutting thin stuff with small bits or if cutting something into small pieces. elevating the stuff yourself means you have to make sure its very level.
I don't know the other laser drivers , but with reading between the lines etc , it appears the GCC driver is pretty much up there with them all or exceeds em. Some very nice features are that you can begin engraving from the centre of an item , top to bottom , bottom to top and can move the head by hand and start engraving from where it is.
Some other useful features are the sorting routines which optimise the engraving as well as the cutting (cuts inside stuff first) and there is a cluster feature that dramatically cuts down engraving time if there is a bit of space between engraved elements.
I must just make one comment , I run 3 lasers and bought all the same machine and all the same power for a reason. We have 2 design statiions and 2 operators and either of them can send any file to any one of the lasers or to all 3 and queue it , all at the same settings using the same driver.
One doesnt have to make a decision which laser and use some other driver etc - makes life a lot simpler.
Personally , I would stick to a system that I know and trust and have had good service with - but thats your choice :)

Peter Vasic
09-20-2005, 1:27 AM
Do not simply buy on price...never...unles you have written guarantees/ warrantees from the suppliers..some are snake oil salesmen..


The machines are all basically equivalent, what it comes down to is support.

Dont kid yourself, In this game, it isnt as simple as using a desktop printer..Do not believe the reps on this....unless they are guaranteeing to back up their words...demand it in writing. If all the machines are around the same price..he who backs his guarantee and reputation in writing is the only person you should buy from..

There are a number of good distributors on these forums they all sell different machines...in the end...it isnt the machine or the price...it is the back up service.

If you are new to this game, they ( the unscrupulous ones ) will see you coming, so its not as simple as buying a toaster from the department store, if it doesnt work, the store usually replace it or repair it under warranty...in this game it dont usually work like that ( except for repairs under warranty)and thats another story ( down time etc).

There are "heaps of traps for young players" in all the machines, so beware...go with the best recommended service and support guarantees every single time.

regards

Peter

Victoria Larsen
09-21-2005, 9:11 AM
Hi Fellas,

I appreciate your responses.
I did order a Pinnacle yesterday.
Actually felt delighted with the information and answers to my questions.
They have some options that Universal doesn't have that I am thrilled with.
And the fact that it will instantly work with Corel Draw with no issues is a blessing for me since I have over 400 designs already in use through Corel.
I did take the advice previously written and didn't order all the extras. I don't see a need for them either.
I also liked that the bumper-bumper warranty is a year longer than what I recieved with Universal as well.
The new machine is supposed to be here in just a few days so after I get it used to it, I'll let you know what I think.
You guys are great!
I refered the Saw Mill to a number of people I know in the Industry.

Victoria

Bryan Rowell
12-02-2008, 8:06 AM
Hi Kevin Huffman ,

My name is Bryan Rowell and I am from South Africa . My father in law has the older Mercury L-12 . We are batteling to get a service manual for this unit let alone spares here in South Africa . Receintly we got a second machine that was burnt . It caught fire and damaged a lot of parts . I am trying to refurbish this machime for my father in law . I need to get a repair manual for this machine so I can order the parts . Here in SA the agents will not sell me this repair manual . Can you perhaps help me . The model number is Laser Pro Mercury M-25 and the serial number is B09222 . My e-mail address is bryan.africatek@amap.co.za

Angus Hines
12-02-2008, 9:20 AM
Well I have seen the Epilog run never ran one but it looks like a high quality piece of equipment.

I can say I have a Pinnacle Explorer II ZX and I'm very happy with it. So Happy I have a new Pinnacle Spirit GX on the way. Hopefully be here by the 15th (Kevin make it happen....LOL).

As for support from SW and more inparticularly Mr. Kevin Huffman, awesome help you can call he returns his calls, you can e-mail you will have atleast a "Let me look into it" with in an hour and an answer in a couple of hours if not then by the end of the day at least.
He's currently got some part s off my machine diagnoseing a issue with a motor mismatch thing that some how happened in Tiawian.

As for the SW sales staff. I highly sugesst you start right with the General Manager of that department because he's the only one that going to still be there the day after you buy your machine then you will get kicked around the office until they replace your salesman. In other words there sales staff turns over more than your local 7-11.

If it wasnt for Kevin H. holding there entire laser department together. I would be a LASERPROI.COM customer.

I hope Kevin can get somebody at his office that cares to read this.

Andy Wingfield
12-02-2008, 3:36 PM
Hi David,

You might want to take a look at the Trotec Speedy 300 series of lasers.

Regards,

Andy Wingfield
913-486-6341
WanLaser

Kimberly Connor
12-02-2008, 8:54 PM
We purchased a Pinnacle ZX-Series back in August and we love it. Haven't had any problems at all and unlike a lot of people we use our cutting table and rotary a LOT. We had some jobs come in for duck calls and paintball guns and the rotary is a must for them!

We have also worked with Kevin on several occasions with questions and I have to say he is the BEST!!! They have always been there to help when we had a question.

We have a 40 Watt and have been very pleased with the results that we are seeing. Of course we would love to get the 100 Watt eventually and if things keep going the way they are now we just might get to do that next year.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that we love our Pinnacle! Good luck in your decision.

Killor Perez
02-12-2009, 8:27 AM
just to clear up a something

Mercury lasers use both synrad and deos tubes, 12-30 use synrad, 35 and up use Coherent deos air cooled and 100w deos is water cooled
Explorer laser use Coherent Deos tubes and 100w is water cooled

another thing to think about, it is better to use anything over 50W with
220v-AC

Hello, I have a old Mercury L-30 Machine with a Synrad 48-2 ..Works well but
Would it be possible to change the laser tube for a coherent Diamond G100 or G50?:confused:
because the laser tube synrad 50W.
I saw that two units of just 25W and I see that the motherboard of Mercury can only drive on a single laser.
Thank's

Albert Nix
02-12-2009, 9:04 AM
Hi, I have an 40W MII With the Rotor attachment that I bought from Signwarewarehouse and love it for glasses mostly but have used it for other round objects. You would be suprised at what you can engrave on a baseball. If you are serious about engraveing with the rotor go ahead and buy all 4 lens. You need the air assist and the vector cutting table at least. I have had mine for about a year now any problem that I have had has been learning curve issues. Kevin is a great tech and has help me through a lot of issues. What I did learn was that lap tops are not the ideal computer and even though the MII states 120v or 240v, wire for 240V as I do not think it will reach full power on 120v.