View Full Version : Universal Superspeed feature

Paul Phillips
12-21-2010, 4:22 PM
I don't know why I didn't notice it when I bought my laser 4 months ago but I was looking at the newly updated ULS website and saw the "Superspeed" feature available on my particular model. Does anyone here have this feature and if so can you let me know how you like it and how well it works? I called Universal and they said that it is available as an add on feature that I can buy for about $1200. but, I want to know that yes, it does truly double the speed when you're engraving before I throw down that much money. For those interested, here's a link to the feature.

Martin Boekers
12-21-2010, 4:50 PM
Ohhhhhh you have one of the new lasers that can use two tubes (as in CO2 and Fiber) I'm drooling:D

It sounds like you have to have 2 tubes running at the same time. Does the $1200 count
the price of the second tube?

Are you running fiber and CO2? If so let us know how you like the fiber.


Richard Rumancik
12-21-2010, 6:27 PM
Paul, do you have the Multi-Wave unit or the regular PLS6? The Multi-Wave is the one designed to accept the fiber laser tube. Yours will accept two tubes but you would have had to have purchased two tubes with your laser system in order to add the Superspeed on top of that. So if you don't already have two tubes, you need to buy a second tube and then lay down the additional $1200. I'm not sure what the $1200 buys because I don't know what trick they used to generate to independent optical paths. Did they do the beam offset by adding some special optics? They need to have a way to make the two beam paths almost coincident, EXCEPT they need to be offset by 1 raster line in the y direction. Which makes me wonder - if it is done in optics, how do you enable the different beam offsets needed for say 300 dpi, 600 dpi, 1200 dpi? For 300 dpi you need the beams to be parallel and .00333" apart. But for 600 dpi it must be half that. Or do they limit you to a single resolution? For vector cutting, it needs to be able to revert to exactly coincident so that the two beams add.

I'd sure like to see a "theory of operation" if anyone finds it.

One thing I noticed - the two lasers need to be identical in power for superspeed to work. Seems like both laser tubes will only accept the identical power level input. So . . . what happens when your two laser tubes start to diverge in power as they get older? You would get darker lines interlaced with lighter ones. Perhaps it would still look fine.

I wonder how difficult a beam alignment would be? With a single beam, if it is off by several thousandths, it usually is not a big deal. But with dual beam you would need to have the second beam coincident with the first or you would have poor beam quality.

Paul Phillips
12-21-2010, 6:57 PM
No, I don't have the Multi-wavelength machine, I just have the Professional series,
I do have two 60watt tubes in my machine though which would potentially make it an easy upgrade but, Richard, you raise a good question, do you have to have identical power in each tube? When Mike Mackenzie setup and tested my machine for me, one tube tested at 72watts and the other at 80 watts so that makes me wonder if they are within acceptable tolerances for that feature, I'll have to call and find out.
Richard, this is it is described on the website-"SuperSpeed – Raster images are formed by laying down closely placed parallel patterns of dots to form images. The patented SuperSpeed option works in connection with the Dual Laser Configuration feature available on some Universal systems to pulse each laser independent of the other. This means that two lines of a raster image can be engraved or marked simultaneously, dramatically reducing raster job completion times and increasing productivity."

Richard Rumancik
12-21-2010, 7:26 PM
With 72 watts and 80 watts you probably would not notice the difference visually. And at resolutions higher than 300 you would get dot overlap which would tend to hide the discrepancies between interlaced beams - I'm assuming that they still give you a choice of all the normal resolutions. Is it difficult to do a beam alignment on this machine? Did Mike Mackenzie do one when he set it up?

Paul Phillips
12-21-2010, 7:37 PM
Yes, mike did a beam alignment and yes, it's relatively easy to do although I haven't had to do it myself yet.
Still curious though if anyone on here has this feature.

Mike Mackenzie
12-21-2010, 7:48 PM
Richard, Paul,

The way the super speed works is one of the combiner optics has a small micro stepper motor that adjust one mirror for the resolution that you choose. All of the normal resolutions are still available. The SS mode is only available for raster engraving when the system sees a vector the two beams are combined into one beam. As for the alignment it is as easy to do with one beam or two. (just to answer your question Richard Yes) he does not have the super speed module yet.

The alignment procedure for twin tubes is align the top tube first and then align the second tube using the combiner optic once the two tubes are aligned the micro stepper controls the resolution or Y axis.

Paul the advantage of the super speed is working with light power materials Plastics, coated metals, etc. it is helpful to have two matching output power tubes but it is not critical.

I have never bolted on the module but I would guess that it is an easy process. In the past all super speed models were assembled at the factory. What this module offers to customers who have these models is that flexibility to add this technology to there existing equipment.

Martin Boekers
12-22-2010, 8:04 AM
Mike, What is the advantage of 2 tubes if you don't have the SS option?

It seems Paul bought his with 2 tubes, are the machines that run 2 CO2 tubes different than
the ones that run a CO2 and a fiber?


Paul Phillips
12-22-2010, 10:45 AM
I think I can answer that one. Some of the higher end ULS machines offer the ability to use two laser tubes of the same type, simply for the benefit of the extra power, you can choose which tube to use in the UCP or you can choose both when you need all the power, great for vector cutting thick materials. The difference with the Multi-Wave machine is that it uses two different types of laser tubes, one fiber and and one C02 so you can effectively switch between metal marking with the fiber, to the more common types of C02 engraving.
Hope this helps,

Martin Boekers
12-22-2010, 11:24 AM
I think I see.

So say you have 2-100watt tubes, can they fire together to increase the power?
I know it probably wouldn't be 200watts but probably more that 100.

Do they fire on the same spot, or does one slightly trail the other?

Or you could say have a 50 watt tube for raster and 100 watt for cutting,
thus saving life on the 100 watt tube.

How do you determine which tube is firing and at what settings? Is there a special
driver for that.

These 2 tube machines are new to me, but I am intrigued by them.


Paul Phillips
12-22-2010, 12:01 PM
You pretty much have the idea, my machine has two 60watt tubes and they are aligned so that they are combined together as one beam, if you need less power, you just turn one of the tubes off but you still have to calculate how much wattage you're using based on one tube or two, ie. you still adjust the power by 1-100% of one tube for a total of 60 watts or if using both, 1-100% of 120watts or in my case, 72+80 for 152watts. Hope that's not too confusing. I think what the Superspeed attachment does is keeps the two beams separate and then either combines or separates them at the focal point.

Kevin Groenke
12-22-2010, 1:17 PM
This is confusing, but here is the deal as I understand it (of course I could be wrong)

X2 and SuperSpeed are 2 different configurations/options. You must have the X2 to get the SuperSpeed.

X2 (now Dual Laser Configuration) (http://www.ulsinc.com/products/features/dual-laser/) gives the ability to run with 2)CO2 laser tubes. This configuration requires a different power supply (ours runs on 220V) and perhaps a different CPU. The lasers are merged by an optics package between the tubes and the interior of the cabinet. The merged beam can then be used as a single beam conventionally or the Dual Head can be used to split the beam to effectively process two identical projects simultaneously.

Neither X2 nor SuperSpeed are required to run a Dual Head: it's just a splitting mirror and a second head (with mirror, lens, cone) which is a slave to the first head via an aluminum tube that screws to both. The maximum X dimension is 50% of the bed with the Dual head installed.

The Dual Head accessory adds a second carriage to the motion system. A laser beam splitter inside the carriage splits the laser beam into two beams, each with half the rated power of the laser. This accessory can simultaneously engrave or cut two copies of an image or pattern, greatly increasing productivity when repeating an image or cutting pattern many times. Laser power available for each copy of the image or cut is half the total power available from the laser, so a higher powered laser is recommended for thicker materials.

Key Benefits:

Produce multiple identical items quickly
Increases both engraving and cutting speeds

SuperSpeed (http://www.ulsinc.com/products/features/superspeed/) is available only on X2 machines. If you can translate ULS's explanation of how SuperSpeed works into plain english, I would love to hear it.

from ULS (http://www.ulsinc.com/products/features/superspeed/)
This feature was developed primarily for raster image applications and requires Dual Laser Configuration. This innovation pulses the two lasers independently, allowing for two lines of a raster image to be marked simultaneously. For vector cutting, the lasers can be joined to take advantage of their combined power.

SuperSpeed – Raster images are formed by laying down closely placed parallel patterns of dots to form images. The patented SuperSpeed option works in connection with the Dual Laser Configuration feature available on some Universal systems to pulse each laser independent of the other. This means that two lines of a raster image can be engraved or marked simultaneously, dramatically reducing raster job completion times and increasing productivity. This feature requires two lasers with the same power level to perform properly. For jobs that combine cutting and engraving, the lasers can be split to increase raster engraving performance and then recombined to take advantage of the combined vector cutting power of both lasers.


Paul Phillips
12-22-2010, 1:33 PM
I'm not sure, but I think you may have the dual head confused with the Superspeed attachment, as I understand it, they are two serarate features although similar, with the dual head being two separate focal lenses spaced apart a set distance as in the picture you posted and the Superspeed being one lens that places the beams right next to each other. Yes, you're right about the ULS explanation being a bit unclear. Under the accessories section of the website it shows a tiny picture of the attachment, not that it helps much.file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Paul/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot-2.png174781



Richard Rumancik
12-22-2010, 1:57 PM
Kevin, I would tend to agree with your assessment. Yes, the dual head options have been around for a long time on many lasers and are independent of the rest of these other options. (I really don't know anyone who is actually running a dual head.)

Paul, I'm sorry that you have been unable to get opinions on the feature from users - you might be the only member here with that platform having dual lasers. Nevermind having the SuperSpeed upgrade. But a few of us are interested in how it all actually works. Perhaps Mike Mackenzie will put you in touch with a couple customers who have bought the system from the factory with SuperSpeed. Mike?

I found the patent number: 6313433. Basically, the laser has a "beam combiner" assembly which consists of various mirrors to combine the two beams. One mirror must allow a beam to pass through, (I think this is mirror 100 in the sketch) yet reflect a beam hitting it from the opposite side. So at this point, the two beams combine and become one beam path, as long as the mirrors are oriented exactly right. If one mirror is not at the "correct" angle then the beams won't combine exactly and there will be two beams at the final lens. Some clever engineer at ULS must have figured out that if you could purposely make the beams diverge, you would have two independent beams. So by adding the micro stepper motor Mike refers, to, they can wiggle one mirror so as to deliberately make the beam paths diverge by a few thousandths of an inch. Then you need to make a driver that sends one raster line to the first laser tube and the adjacent raster line to the second laser tube (simultanously) laying down two rows of dots in one swoop. Then the y-axis will advance two raster lines and plot two more lines on the backstroke. Similar idea as to how an inkjet printer can place multiple rows of dots in one pass.

So I assume that when you get the upgrade you will take out the fixed beam-combiner assembly and replace it with the one that has the stepper-motor controlled mirror.

For vector cutting, the mirror is wiggled so that the two beams coincide. For rastering, they will be offset some amount depending on the dpi you choose. The sketch below shows how it would work for vectoring: the two beams coincide into one. I didn't print the pic showing divergent beams.


Paul Phillips
12-22-2010, 2:41 PM
Thanks for the information and explanation, that helps clarify things a bit at least, of how it actually works.

Kevin Groenke
12-22-2010, 3:41 PM
Good research Richard,

We have a X2660 SuperSpeed and an X660. Most of our work is vector cutting and engraving, so we've honestly never done a comparison of rastering times. However, we have noticed that the X2 SuperSpeed does not seem to have as fine of a vector line as our X660. I always attributed this to the fact that we were cutting with ~120 watts vs 60, but perhaps it's due to an alignment issue with the SuperSpeed mechanism.

Mike Mackenzie - Do you know if this could be the case?

I'll have to look into this: maybe even a call to ULS to see if anything can be done to remedy the matter (if it is a matter).

Paul Phillips - We could probably run a small file on each of our machines if you would be interested in comparing the output and run times.


Mike Mackenzie
12-22-2010, 4:20 PM

It is possible if you know how to do the alignment test then do this unplug the bottom tube then do the alignment test then with the tape still on un plug the top tube and plug in the bottom tube and see if the burn marks are in the same spot. If not then you need to do an alignment if they are then it is not the issue.

I would also check the focus tool try using the tool for the X on the X2 see if it makes any difference. You may just need to calibrate the tool.

Do not adjust the mirrors if the bottom tube does not line up, The mirrors within the system are for adjusting the top tube only. You need to adjust the bottom tube from the back of the system. There is a plate that is removed to expose the combiner optic and this is the adjustment for the bottom tube.

Richard Rumancik
12-22-2010, 5:32 PM
. . . Most of our work is vector cutting and engraving, so we've honestly never done a comparison of rastering times. . . .

Well, for engraving (raster marking) it would seem to me that the speed should increase by a factor of two. If you have one tube (say 60 watt) marking a material it will take x minutes for the raster job. If there are two lasers operating such that two rows of dots are put down at a time, it seems to me that the best you can do is x/2 minutes. But I also found this:

"Up to 500% Increase in Productivity
The X2-SuperSpeed is the flagship CO2 laser platform. With patented dual laser capability and patented simultaneous dual line engraving (four lines with the dual head option), the SuperSpeed redefines productivity. Large engraving jobs can be run up to 5 times faster than on a single beam laser system - truly amazing. The SuperSpeed is an exceptional laser system and if you have a market for the high volume of products it can laser process, the profit potential is stunning.
Up to 500% Increase in Productivity"

Now I suppose if you have BOTH two-heads and SuperSpeed then you could get 4x productivity, providing you didn't need all of your 60 watts to mark. (You would only get 30 watts at each head.)

But I don't know how you would get 5x even if you had both options.

Jim Dawson
02-20-2011, 11:55 PM
we looked at one of these machines..... the idea of having a motor adjust focus scared me..... plus having 2 - 60 watt lasers doesn't translate into 120....

Dan Hintz
02-21-2011, 10:02 AM
I see no problem with using a motor to adjust focus (it's done in digital cameras every day), as long as the motor is spec'd appropriately.

Richard Rumancik
02-21-2011, 12:53 PM
we looked at one of these machines..... the idea of having a motor adjust focus scared me..... plus having 2 - 60 watt lasers doesn't translate into 120....

Jim, not sure what you mean by that - the micro motor is not actually focusing; it is aiming the beam. Although it is a "motor" it is not a stepper in the normal sense. It is basically acting like a galvo motor steers the beam in a galvo laser. The actual motion here is probably much less than a degree. (Could be perhaps 20 degrees in a galvo marking head.) Galvo motors can steer a beam very accurately so I don't have any real concerns that it can't be done well. In the ULS case the motor needs to adjust the optic only when you adjust dpi; after that the optic would be locked down for the job.

Also, what do you mean by saying that two 60 watt lasers doesn't translate into 120. I think that generally it does - have you found an exception?

Neal Schlee
02-21-2011, 1:02 PM
we looked at one of these machines..... the idea of having a motor adjust focus scared me..... plus having 2 - 60 watt lasers doesn't translate into 120....

Our ULS X-2 660 120 watt (2-60 Watt Lasers) with Superspeed output 145 watts when delivered new. After nearly 5 years of use it still outputs 100-110 watts.

We use the SS feature on all acrylic raster jobs. The driver has settings (1-8) for resolution and spacing between the two beams when in SS mode. The higher the number, the higher the resolution and the closer the beams are at the focal point.