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View Full Version : So what's the deal with the small "benchtop" chinese lasers?



Josh Reet
09-29-2010, 5:52 PM
Howdy everyone,

Just a visitor from the "wood" side of SMC.

Quick question that obviously labels me as a clueless newbie:

What's the deal with the chinese 'benchtop' laser engravers I see on ebay for $1200-1500? Do they work at all? I'm not looking to open a shop or do production, just use as a hobby toy and perhaps do some little one-off things for friends. Wood, anodized aluminum, stuff like that. I'm not looking to make tombstones or trophies or any of that.

From what I have read, I know that all the chinese machines require some jumping through hoops to get them to work and that service is non-existent for the most part. But I guess what I'm still wondering is if these smaller machines actually do work. Does anyone here have experience with them?

Finally, there's no sense in suggesting that I get an epilog or some other higher end machine. Without a lottery ticket winner, I'm not spending $10K+ for my uses.

Thanks!

Larry Bratton
09-29-2010, 6:38 PM
Josh,
Many people are having success with these Chinese manufactured machines. Actually there are a good number of members here that use them in varying configurations. If it's going to be a hobby and just something to mess around with..I say go for it. I suspect though that some are better than others and a little research would be in order. Good luck.

Ross Moshinsky
09-29-2010, 6:45 PM
It's the same as any other unregulated Chinese tool. You get a lot of value for your dollar, but quality control is suspect and support depends on the vendor.

If you want one of these, find a US vendor that is close enough to drive to. That way if it becomes a paper weight you can drive to their location and resolve any issue face to face. Not saying this is the case, but expect it to only last 2-3 years. If you don't think you'll get enough value in 2-3 years, then don't buy it.

Mike Null
09-29-2010, 9:05 PM
Tong Li, a member of SMC, is also an advertiser here and seller of a very interesting line of laser engraving machines.

I suggest you send him a pm to get more information.

Dee Gallo
09-29-2010, 10:06 PM
Josh,

The first question you should answer is whether you are a mechanical kind of a guy. I had one and sold it not because it didn't work (the guy who bought it is working it just fine). I sold it because I did not have the mechanical know-how or confidence to make it work for me - I wanted a press and go machine. Also, at the time only one very poor software program was available. I think that is changed now, but I had no interest in fighting with a primitive program when I was proficient with more mainstream ones.

Read up on the posts, look at the examples people have made, you will see the results are as good as the operator... same as with any laser.

Lasers are a lot of fun and useful tools in a woodshop. If you get one you can use, you'll love it.

cheers, dee

Josh Reet
09-29-2010, 10:13 PM
Thanks for the advice so far.

However, I'm hoping that someone who has used these specific smaller models will chime in. Most of the people on SMC seem to have larger units. And understandably so, since many seem to be doing production work. But that's not the direction I'm aiming.

Again, thanks so far.

TONG LI
09-30-2010, 12:49 PM
If you can send me a photo of the machine, I might be able to tell you more.

Basically the low grade small desk top laser machine using nylon rollers running on metal tracks which are not designed for the roller (not fit very well, so the precision is bad, and wearing is fast).

The software takes time to figure out. Last year we tested with a couple of models, all not seelable by our standard. However there is higher priced ones using software and control board called rdlasercut which is passable, can be used.

Tong Li

Josh Reet
09-30-2010, 2:46 PM
<deleted> No point in leaving the rest of this post if the ebay links are removed. Anyone who is interested in seeing the types of machines I'm talking about can search ebay pretty easily I suppose. They are all over the place.

Joe De Medeiros
09-30-2010, 3:29 PM
I went to a local demo for one of these in Toronto, total junk you would be better off trying to find an older machine from one of the name brands. They seems to pop up from time to time, just keep your eyes peeled and be ready to jump on it, they go fast.

TONG LI
09-30-2010, 10:03 PM
<deleted> No point in leaving the rest of this post if the ebay links are removed. Anyone who is interested in seeing the types of machines I'm talking about can search ebay pretty easily I suppose. They are all over the place.

Josh, that's the very low grade laser machine which you do not want to use for business, maybe ok for hobby. The machine was originally designed for rubber stamps. It might cost you more labor than the cost of machine.

Tong Li