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Rodne Gold
05-25-2011, 11:06 PM
Excitement reigned today as i got to work to find a huge truck in my loading bay with 2 massive crates aboard. My 2 lasers, a 1200x800 80w RECI tubed and a 600 x 900 60w conventional glass tubed laser had arrived. Excitement soon turned to "p----ed offness" As I discovered that despite us asking the shipping co to use a pneumatic drop tailgate type truck to deliver , that had used a normal type truck and had placed the lasers aboard using a forklift. Considering we dont have a forklift , depite having at least 8 ppl that could manually lift the crates , we couldnt get em off. The truck driver suggested WE hired a forklift and I just told him to go back and use the right truck.
I had to leave work early , but we were promised delivery by 3 pm , so I will see today whether the lasers are at work waiting to be uncrated.
This thread will be a detailed documentation in respect of setting the machines up and commisioning them. The first instruction I have given my staff is to photograph the crates from all angles in case there is any signs of dropping or damage. I will be uncrating later today and will photograph it all whilst checking to see that all the bits I ordered are all there.

Bruce Dorworth
05-26-2011, 2:13 AM
Rodney, thanks for all of the info... I just picked up my Chinese laser today. It is an 80 watt with a cutting area of 4' x 3' or 1200mm x 900mm. What is the difference in the lasers in your two machines? My laser is a glass tube. What limitations should I expect.

Are you going to document setup and documentation?

Did you get a rotary attachment with these lasers? I got one with mine, but it is weird, it has a four jaw chuck at one end, and a pointed cone at the other. With no way of leveling them. I have no idea how you use this with a glass or bottle.

Bruce

Rodne Gold
05-26-2011, 2:48 AM
The one tube is a conventional $180 60w , 800-1000 hr life , the other is an 80w RECI tube with an 8000 hr lifespan and far better control re engraving and cutting and beam quality ($500)
The limitations of the 80w glass tubes are that they cannot really fire well at VERY low powers , they are really more suited to cutting and less highly detialed engraving than lower powered glass or RF co2 tubes.
I got 2 rotary attachments , one like yours and another that uses knurled rolletr to rotate the items, I am just unpacking now , will have a closer look to see what adjustments can be made or how to modify them for holding different items.
You could replace the pointed cone with a ruberised pad or something like that..in the next week or so will come up with my mods...
I am going to document setup , unpacking , commisioning , software , ease of usage and so on.
Just had a look at the lathe type rotary , the pointed tail stock on mine is on a bearing that seems pressed into the end plate , I will probably make another end plate to replace that one for objects that cannot be gripped by the tailstock or make a better adjustable system that the tailstock fits into. and acts as an "extended" end plate.

Bruce Dorworth
05-26-2011, 4:22 AM
Thanks for the prompt response Rodney. I will watching this thread closely.

Since I am a newbie I will asking a lot of less informed questions, so please try and bear with me. I guess I should have asked a lot of these question prior to buying my laser. Does the power supply have any bearing on the laser. I mean if I wanted to switch to a better laser should my current power supply be able to handle it?

I ordered my laser through Sunnic, it is an Argus. What brand is yours? How is your documentation?

Thanks,
Bruce

Rodne Gold
05-26-2011, 4:57 AM
Bruce , Mine is from Shenhui laser , look at my thread "Despatches from China" , i was at the factory etc.
You would need a new power supply to use the RECI tube , its costs about $150 or so.
I had copies of the software before hand , and documentation is a little Chinglish , but good enough.
I have unpacked everything right now , all is 100% and everything I ordered is there and was very well packed , no damage at all.
Their tech support is superb , their tech guy speaks very good engrish and can answer questions of a highly detailed nature , he is on skype and e-mail , never waited any length of time for an answer.

Rodne Gold
05-26-2011, 5:53 AM
195909lcd panel small laset195912emergency switches etc195915head195908knife edge table195911inside machine195914electronics195910600x900 laser195913mainboard

Some pics of unpacking and checking contents and spares
In these albums
http://img831.imageshack.us/g/dscn1097j.jpg/
and
http://img52.imageshack.us/g/dscn1119w.jpg/
Warning , tons of images.
When you view em , use the sort by oldest button to see a semblance of chronological order.

George M. Perzel
05-26-2011, 6:35 AM
Hi Rodne;
Thanks for sharing info and detail-am anxious to see your comments regarding operation and results when you get them fired up. Do you have spec sheets on the lasers or can you point me to web location for company info? Thanks
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
05-26-2011, 6:50 AM
195922side view of mechansim thru access hatch195921more mainboards etc195920side view of 600 x 900195919inside where power and emergency switches are195918side view of gantry with mirror holder195917electronics hatch/panel195916honeycomb table195923view of electronic to front
George , google liaocheng shenui laser

Rodne Gold
05-26-2011, 6:53 AM
195931flow safety switch195929laser power supply195928flow safety195926limit switch and table raising mech195924rotary195925rotary chuck195927rotary tailstock195930rotary length adjust

Dan Hintz
05-26-2011, 6:59 AM
Wow, that was fast, Rodney... glad to see a higher level of integration (SMD components rather than through-hole) is becoming the norm, same with USB. I'm working fast and furious on a set of beefed up cabinets so I can get some equipment off of the floor and free up some room... for more equipment ;)

George M. Perzel
05-26-2011, 8:35 AM
Hi Rodne;
Just read thru your entire "Dispatches from China " thread-great narrative and really appreciate you sharing. If I read correctly, you just got back home around May 24th and your laser shipment has arrived already? Wow!!!
Will keep looking for updates-thanks
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
05-27-2011, 12:57 AM
Hehe , I WISH the delivery would have been that quick , I ordered and paid for the lasers 6 weeks ago , it takes a month to ship em to South Africa.
I must say , I am really impressed so far with the machinery , everything I ordered has been delivered as per specification. The only dissapointment was that my machines do not have the latest software and the new mainboard , this is not a big issue as the new mainboards (motherboards) are drop in and cost $220 or so, the basic functionality hasnt changed but the new software has some nice frills. When my machine was being built , the were still testing the new stuff. Gonna try to get em to send it to me free - I will pay the DHL shipping.

However having a nice machine that is not up and running is academic. They did test the machines in china and align em , but I have no doubt that we will have to realign the optical system as they tubes are removed for transport. I have some preparatory work to do before actually getting them going , like hooking them up to our shop air (the compressor they supply is pretty much mickey mouse compared to our shop air) , I have to get some distilled water for the chillers and get them hooked up to the tubes , I have to hook up the blowers to the exhaust system , I have to prepare an earth spike for them and then have to set up a dedicated puter to run the 2 machines.
There are also some modifications I wish to do 1) to change the belt drive motorised table to a chain drive as the belts slip , Vincent de klerk did this on his machine.
2) To implement a micro leveling system for the table. Albeit the table is level or nearly so , there are 2 different types of sub table supplied , a honeycomb and a table with parallel "knives" (like long blades) , due to the large table size , both of these sub tables are not perfectly flat as can be expected to to frame flex etc , so we are making and easy system to level them
Both these mods are going to be incorporated in future machines from the factory by the way
In the older models of these machines , the tubes were mounted in V blocks and you had to shim them to align the tubes , they now have a stunning mounting system that is far more adjustable and easily so. I will take pictures of that.
On monday , we intend to see if we can get both machines fired up and running , and I will play with settings and so on , I think the mods will take a few days to implement , but we should be up to full speed and best practice by Friday.
As an aside , I am in the process of ordering a 80w Co2 galvo machine with a 250 x 250 , a 200 x 200 and a 100 x 100 marking field lenses and am also ordering a rotary axis to go with it. Was thinking of a YAG , but there are quite a few ppl here where I am with a galvo YAG , all fighting over a piece of the promotional marking markets pie - no one has a co2 galvo and we recon that considering a high proportion of the stuff we do is smaller than 200 x 200 , the fact that we can work 10x faster , even tho we might have to do a lot smaller quantities each time we load , its still a win win situation.
Even on our bigger machines , there are articles we have to load in one at a time. Cost of the galvo is real cheap as well...under $7k with a single lens and rotary , the lenses to change the marking fields are $770 each.

Just as an aside :
Here's the price our local guys charge us for my Spirits vs the price of spares for my machine from China
ZNSE Lens 15mm diameter China price $22 (I ordered 6) , local price $600 each (Im going to use the chinese ones in my spirits same focal length and diameter)
Mirrors Chinese price $25 (they are not the gold plated ones we use tho) Local price $300 - the chinese mirrors would probably work in the spirits too
Motors - Chinese stepper $45 , local price servo $600
Motherboard - Chinese $250 - local price for spirits $800
Tubes - 80w Reci 8000 hr tube $500 - 30w Synrad $4000 for reconditioning..

Rodne Gold
05-27-2011, 3:47 AM
195999large laser196006lenses196001blower196005blower196004mir ror holders and head196000flat rotary196003rotary end

Rodne Gold
05-27-2011, 3:52 AM
196013normal tube end196011normal tube other end196010reci tube label196009reci tube end196007reci tube optical coupler end196008stepper motor196012stepper motor driver
,

George M. Perzel
05-27-2011, 9:41 AM
Hi Rodne;
Fascinating narrative and detail-thanks
1. Can you manually move the head to position it like the GCC units?
2. Will the lenses and mirrors work in the GCC Mercury?
3. I have contacted Shenhui and am considering order similar to your two units.
4. What options do I have-power, tables, rotaries, etc.
5. Did you see demos of some of the larger gantry type units?
Thanks
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
05-27-2011, 12:26 PM
You can move the head manually , jog the head , set the jog factor , set a co ordinate from home or start in 10 different positions on the job
. . .
. . .
. . .
IE any of those positions relative to the engraving to be done

You can tell it to go back to the start point , home or stay where it finished once the job is done

It uses stepper without feedback , so you cannot pause a job , move the head and then get it to resume , you can just pause.

We tried the 50mm lens I ordered for $22(15mm diameter) in our spirits and it works just fine , even used one of the mirrors , works just fine.
They can give you the lenses in any diameter so one of their cheaper lenses will fit the mercury

Power is limited by tube length , the smaller machines cannot use lets say a 130w tube , unless you have it sticking out somewhere.
I saw the double (top and bottom) die board cutting lasers work , didnt see any very large scale machines working tho.

There are many options
This is what I suggest
1) Uprated chiller if you using an 80-100w tube , from a cw3000 to a cw5000
2) Reci tube and not a cheap glass one
3) Motorised table , not a manual one
4) Red dot pointer to be coincidental with the beam path , the ordinary red dot is just a diode near the head and dioes not go thru the lenses and mirror path
5)18mm lenses and not 15mm ones
6) Knife edge and honeycomb table , get both
7) you get 2 rotarys , you can see em in my pic , buy both , they round $325 for both (1 is $180 the other is $140)
8) Get these spares: tube , tube power supply , a full belt sat , a stepper , 3 mirrors , 2 spare lenses , a 40mm lens , a 50mm lens , a 70mm lens , stepper motor driver , motherboard , led panel , red dot pointer , bearings
9) Tell em to set the machine up so the origin is top left (nearest the beam exit) and not top right
10) Ask them to make a removeable inspection hatch at the left side of the machine where the beam exits , just like on the other side
11) get a stronger blower if they have one
12) throw away their air assist , its rubbish ,you need a much better compressor than they provide
13) They will paint your machine any colour you want , we went blue/grey , but you can have purple/yellow if you want
14) with packing , tell them to put NOTHING on the honeycomb table
15) make sure they get your voltage of your country right
16) be careful of low shipping costs that they quote - rather get your shippers to ship the stuff to you ... not sure of the american way , we just got a FOB price and let our shippers do the rest
17) You generally pay 30% up front and the rest when they ship , I elected to pay it all up front , I am a trusting soul - ended up they owed me $81 for some reason or another , when I was there they wanted top pay me back in cash , I told em to keep it and credit my next order.
You can really be confident dealing with em

Be aware that the bigger the table , the more trouble you will have with it being level , we are making a micro levelling frame , so dont be tempted to go for a massive machine , limit yourself to a 1200x 800 or a 1300 x 900
Also dont be tempted to go for a potent tube unless you intend to do mostly cutting , the more potent the glass tube , even reci's, the less ability you will have to do very low powered engraving , be aware too that these machines arent superspeedsters , so trying to go real fast with higher engraving powers to compensate for the fact the engraver wont fire properly or well at very low power setting wont work that well.
If you want the best balance between engraving and cutting , an 80w reci tube is the answer.

An 80w 1200 x 800 set up with all those "upgrades/options" , including spares and both rotaries shouldnt cost more than $6k

One thing I noticed today with my machines is that they are not completely sealed , they have a slot front and back , almost like a permanent pass thru on the gcc machines , not sure whether that is a blessing or a curse , means I can feed thru long object , but will most likely wreak havoc with exhaust , but easy enough to seal with a strip of perspex. I would either specify or not specify that..depending on what you want.
You cant add the slot if you dont have it , and as I say , easy to seal if you dont want it. You could use a roll to roll feed with the slots if you were cutting rolls of fabric etc.
Heres pics of the "slots"

196033196034196035

George M. Perzel
05-28-2011, 2:06 AM
Hi Rodne;
Thanks again for providing a wealth of information and advice. You probably saved me a month of effort - I owe you big time, my friend.
I'm still trying to absorb everything you said and am blown away by the number of different machines and variants on the Shenhui website-awesome.
One quick comment regarding the front and rear slots-ideal for me as I make oversize maps on plywood.Is the slot opening such that I can slide a piece of 3mm ply through the machine with the head in focus
Will a 100watt RECI tube fit in your large machine and is it available?
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
05-28-2011, 2:37 AM
George, Im not sure whether the slot will allow head focus as I havent tried it , however I would imagine so as there are 2 ways of focussing , you can move the lens assembly on the head piece up and down or you can use the table up and down, Apart from that , you can use different lenses.
I didnt notice the slots till looking at my pics , I am stopping off at my place today to pick up some stuff , so will check. On looking at my one pic of the small machine in my first posts , it appears the head clears the "slot" , but unlike my bigger machine , there appears to be no slot at the back of my smaller one..
As to the 100w+ tubes , you have to get the 1300 x 900 machine to use it
Heres the Reci site if you want more info on their tubes
http://www.recilaser.com/2010/en/index.html
I asked a lot of questions re power and the balance of delicacy vs power as the difference tween 80w and 150w is not huge money wise , but after lot of thought , decided that the 80w was fine, its still 50w up on my other machines
Most of my work would involve engraving and at most , cutting 10-12mm acrylic on the odd occasion
View it as a sort of decision you would make with an engraver and a cnc router , a big cnc router wont engrave and a small engraver wont route , you can strike a good balance tho.
A lot of the machines on their site are variants on base models with different configurations to suit particular industries , they also tend to advertise the same machine in like 6 different categorys, like textile cutting laser, perspex cutting laser, advertising industry laser, sign making laser and so on.

Rodne Gold
05-28-2011, 4:46 AM
Just went into work and looked , seems the slot is a default on all machines , my small one has got a back slot too , and yes , you can slide thick stuff in and maintain focus, plenty clearance for stuff up to maybe 1" or thicker and the table can be raised to support thinner stuff that would bow or sag. I didnt remember seeing it on Vincent de klerks machine as he had blocked his off with some vinyl. Not too sure I will ever use the slots , as I have used pass thru maybe 2-3 x with my Explorers , but its a nice feature to have. I recon one could maybe even adapt a spare stepper plugged into the Y axis as a feed mechanism for a Roll to Roll cutting system if you wanted.
One other thing you must bear in mind is that the big machines are BIG - even the 900 x 600 dwarfs my explorers which have about the same bed size , you must make sure you can actually get them in your premises , I would hate to transport one of these up stairs and they certainly wont fit thru a std doorway.
Nice thing is that they are way easier to work on than the GCC machines as there are latch type hinged hatches all over the things so you can get at components or adjust stuff

George M. Perzel
05-28-2011, 8:50 AM
Hi Rodne;
Thanks for info and warning on the size-already told my wife that kitchen area is in jeopardy of being converted since she doesn't seem to use it much anymore...., and that's when the fight started!!
Just received the price list from Shenhui and am blown away- I can buy 8 machines for the price of a Spirit GX and still have enough cash for two weeks in Barbados!
Granted, not quite apples to apples but enough desired features are shared-actually some significant advantages with the Shenhui machines.

Sounds like the slots will work out fine for me.
Are you familiar with double headed systems?
Do they use two separate laser tubes?
Are they strictly for engraving/cutting multiples of the same object or can they engrave halves of a larger image in half the time?
All the videos I have seen seem to show cutting/engraving duplicates.
Did you get both the regular lens and the imported lens? Any apparent difference or too early to tell?
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
05-28-2011, 11:07 AM
There are 2 types of double headed systems , one where there is a tube that fires from either side of the machine onto each of 2 heads that move on the gantry and that move in unison , I think the big advantage is doing multiples. You could probably engrave 2 halves of a big graphic IF you can match up the 2 halves exactly , i forsee problems....

The other type has a static head pointing up and one pointing down at each other , the workpiece moves inbetween them and they cut/engave it both from the top and bottom , ie double sided engraving , they seem to use this for die boards and real thick stuff , its a MASSIVE machine. Their 650w YAG metal cutting machine works more or less the same , but only a top noizzle/head , the workpiece moves on this huge bed of spikes , that machine consumes 18kw power and uses gas (02 etc assist) , that is a SERIOUSLY big machine. That have some other lasers there , a big Rofin Sinar and a trumpf they use for making their parts and which are now idle as their yag seems to be the ones they use now , saw it cutting 5mm steel circles , was impressive.

I got the regular lenses , they were real cheap , I looked at the ones I got and cant tell the difference between them and the ones in my GCc machines , I didnt know they had imported ones at the time , had I known that , would have gone for them. My 18mm lenses were $30 - so I bought every focal length they offered ;)
I bought 6 x 15mm lenses as replacements for my spirits. I cant see the imported lenses being THAT much better... but I also dont think they were that much more than the "local" lenses ( I seem to have a figure of $50=70 in my head), so will get a set with my Galvo when it comes.

As to cost comparisons , well the only real issue I saw with a machine with the conventional glass tube (not reci) i that you can't get quite the detail you can with the GCc machines and top engraving speed was about 1/2 or a little more , however the cutting edge quality and smoothness were actually a LOT better then my GCC's. I have no doubt that if Vincents machine , that I saw and "tested' had had it's settings "tweaked" and optimised , it could have done better on the engraving side , but he has one main cutting application and it works very well so hasnt fiddled much , I am intending to optimise big time.

I am also not too sure that all the Corel graphics I have designed with the GCC's in mind will translate flawlessly or without some shuffling around to the new laser , its no biggie to us tho.

When at the factory , I went thru the software and it is almost TOO configureable in terms of fine tuning the machine , you can for example , just for NON cutting movement , set ramp accleration speed , set the linear speed and then independantly set the slow down speed and all that type of thing , it actually could be confusing. I can send you the software manual if you pm me your e-mail.

So getting back to cost , well the machine is so well priced that if it for some reason is a total dog , which it isnt , then you havent lost the farm on it , and even if it really only works a year or 2 and then becomes "worn out" , you just buy another..... $6k for me for a years work is real good value , means the machine costs me round $20 a day and can easily generate 5-10x that a day.

Probably also get a significant amount back when you sell it to the iron scrap merchants , it will most likely be crushed , sent back to china and appear as a kettle or even the casing of your next laser from China.....

I can tell you this , that it is unlikely that I will ever buy a "mainstream" machine again , certainly nothing the size and power of a 1200 x 800 80+w as it just not affordable...

Jiten Patel
05-31-2011, 4:54 AM
Incredible post Rodney. I am very very temped to go this route when we are ready to get ourselves a flatbed.

What will you be using your galvo for?

Rodne Gold
05-31-2011, 8:10 AM
We are commisioning the lasers as we speak , its not quite as simple as plugging it and pressing start.

For one thing , you have to drill a hole in the ground (we went thru a concrete reinforced floor - took us like 2 hrs with the wrong type of drill)and put in an earth spike and cround the machine chassis to that.

The ducting we use and the ducting supplied are different diameters , so we had a bit of work to do prior to hooking up the exhaust blowers in teerms of reducers and running around for ducting to match our PVC vent pipes.

The chiller supplied with my smaller machine is a piece of sh-t... its a box with an aquarium pump in it , a old capilliary type temp gauge and a stupid fan to blow on the water - you might as well just use a bucket of water and submerge the pump. The Cw 5000 chiller at $350 extra (for the big machine) is another story , that is good kit. Im sorry I didnt go for that one for the small laser , but they said the cheap cw3000 chiller is adequate - we shall see.

Non of the bearings/whatever is lubed , there is some issue sending lube in the package , so we have used white lithium grease to lube em and light oil on the fast moving parts.

The tubes and machine have to be hooked up to the chillers and run for a few hours to remove all trapped air etc.

The tubes have to be put into their tube cradles, have to be hooked up to the low and high voltage leads and adjusted as to alignment, the cradles are like adjustable gymbals so it's fairly easy.
We had to make a hole in the enclosure and the first mirror holder , the reason for this is that we want the red beam pointer and laser to be coincidental - and the way to do this 100% is let both of em shoot out 4-5m and adjust at that point , not essential to do this , but why not? It makes alignment much easier cos you dont need to fire the laser , just use the red dot pointer.

We are also being a little anal and are using laser and digital levels to check and level all the slides , mirror holders , gantrys etc - to the nth degree. doing the same to the main table.

One small problem with my big machines knife blade table , the knives are a touch too thick and need some filing or small grinding to fit into their slots , not too much of an issue , I am not really planning on using this table.

At any rate , we are at the point of actually firing the tubes , which we will do tommorow , all we have to do after that is mirror and red dot alignment (easy) and hook up the puters and test out the software.

I would say its about a 2-3 day job to really get everything perfect. I would NOT recommend this laser to anyone who is a totally 10 thumbed newbie and only wants to press a button , you must be a *little* handy....

We still have some mods but those can wait , the main one being changing the belt drive motorised table to a chain drive.

Jiten , my reasoning behind the Co2 galvo is that we do a ton of plates and smaller item engraving , the galvo is cheap and will take much less time to do lets say 20 small plate and cut em out (of nothing thicker than 1.5mm -more like 0.8mm rowmark flexi type material) than my other machines that scan, freeing them up.
A 200 x 200 marking field will allow me to do lets say 4 columns and 8 rows of plates 45mm x 22mm or the like. Apart from that we manufacture and engrave a lot of wood and acrylic products , using the big lasers to cut thicker stuff and doing the engraving on the galvo for these plaques and awards will also be quick - I have lots of labour , so having someone feed the galvo onsies and lining em up and pressing the button is not an issue. The software to run the galvo is very very good for industrial type engraving , bar coding , serialisation and so forth , opening up a new high speed / high volume marking market for us.
In essence the galvo would be a high speed small item processor - almost 50% of my production falls within "small" items.
At it's price , its well worth taking a chance on...

One of the things that has impressed me is your wedding invites etc , it's a field I would like to explore , however I really do not want to have to start a business model from scratch - its not my core business so would be something of a side line , so here's a suggestion to you..
Perhaps you can sort of establish a franchise or liscence a business package - designs , marketing , paper types , technology etc - I might be interested in something like that .. Im sure there will be many others as well. There are folk here doing similar type things but nothing I have seen touches your stuff...

I recon if you get a flatbed and a small print and cut machine like a roland , you can actually expand your line hugely , full colour printing on vinyl , cloth , paper , larger format cutting and engraving combined with the galvo cut paper and so on , I think for a creative guy like you , the sky is the llimit.

Ian Franks
05-31-2011, 10:43 AM
Rodney
I have being sitting quietly in Johannesburg and absorbing your posts. We bought a 50w chinese laser to help with our cupcake wrapper side of the business.
We used to print wedding invites in our print shop but discourage this as our system is not slick enough to deal with them in way that leaves the customer happy. We are considering this again but need the system in place to deal with the endless artwork changes, even had it when the press is running and then there is another change. Then deal with the inevitable thanks for the job can we have a discount.

Are there any SA regulations wrt lasers and emissions that you know of that we should comply with.

Dan Hintz
05-31-2011, 12:36 PM
need the system in place to deal with the endless artwork changes, even had it when the press is running and then there is another change. Then deal with the inevitable thanks for the job can we have a discount.
Ouch, Ian... are contracts not handled well where you are? Customers should sign a contract/quote that lays out what they are providing you, what you are providing them, and what charges are involved for any changes. The charge can be based upon time spent fixing things, materials lost, etc. Discounts at the end are a non-starter... you both agreed to a price in the beginning, and asking for a discount after the work has been done should not even be entertained.

Rodne Gold
05-31-2011, 12:51 PM
Perhaps there are some regulations in SA, however never heard of them . These lasers we have , albeit being told there are safety interlocks , I can't see em and you can run em open. I would imagine that workmans compensation would give you a hard time if one of your employees got injured due to the laser , either blinded or severely shoicked. I think your biggest risk is HT voltage shocks , albeit if you have a good ground and have insulated the tube terminals , this shouldn't happen , the next risk would be being blinded by a stray beam , however lasering with the lid closed would stop that and other injury. Only real thing I have been able to find is this
http://www.vantagemedifest.com/images/sa_guidelines.pdf
I think with wedding invites , one needs to charge outrageous prices , in the range of R50+ per invite with a minimum job of R1500 ($8 and $200) to take into account the bride , the groom , their parents and relatives who will all want to have a say in the design , colour , texture etc of the invite. Kinda what we call a F Off and Die price ... so high that either you FOAD or if you accept , the profit is worth all the aggro you gonna have to endure do the job :)
We do certificates and have more or less the same problems , however we print them on a VERY good canon photoquality a3 printer that takes different weights and textures of paper and just design in Corel , normally quite small qtys and no one seems to balk at prices of R25-35 for a run of 20 A4's , even better , we often frame them in some way or another , this adds substantially to the profit. We just e-mail a proof and get the customer to sign off , once it's approved , it takes a few minutes to do the run. If the customer changes artwork after signing off , they pay again.

Ian Franks
05-31-2011, 1:05 PM
Ouch, Ian... are contracts not handled well where you are? Customers should sign a contract/quote that lays out what they are providing you, what you are providing them, and what charges are involved for any changes. The charge can be based upon time spent fixing things, materials lost, etc. Discounts at the end are a non-starter... you both agreed to a price in the beginning, and asking for a discount after the work has been done should not even be entertained.
Dan
We always give a written quote, just weddings are very emotional for the families. Now we only print if we get the artwork. It just creates too much tension if we do it any artwork. For our normal customers they understand signing off a proof. We never entertain discounts once the job is finished just this does get to you. That is why you have to be very slick upfront.

Jiten Patel
06-01-2011, 6:32 AM
Rodne, I am flattered mate. our business model is pretty strong, but is still in development and I don't think we are business savvy enough YET, to franchise our brand out. Also we want to build the brand into a name which is known and develop the product line before we take any moves like that. but when we do, you will be the first to know.

Ian, weddings are very emotional. We deal with Brides (or bridezillas sometimes) all day long. You have to be extremely calm and patient and explain all the options and go through everything with a fine tooth comb. We have so many options, sometimes it's mind boggling. 180 different card types and colours, 100's of design options and sizes and styles and and and and and! So before we go to print or laser anything, we are for a 50% non-refundable deposit with the remainder being paid before shipping or collection.

Rodne is right, you do have to charge quite high prices, but saying that, laser-cutting doesn't come cheap and it looks incredible, so therefore warrants the price tag. Our average order ranges from 500-700 and our highest order so far has been 5000 with the lowest being 200. It's all about marketing though. You can have the cure for cancer, but if no one knows it exists, what's the point!

Rodne Gold
06-01-2011, 8:48 AM
Jiten , I think you have a emminently marketable product right now , the only issue you really have to consider is if promulgating your package cuts your own throat , IE takes your own business away. Its very difficult to "wholesale" and retail as well. However we also have the same problem with some of my materials and products , and if I do supply wholesale , I only really supply outside my area and do tell those that I supply to that I "retail" in my catchment area.
As you rightly said , having a product without marketing is like winking at a woman in the dark , only you know what you are doing , thus if you do "franchise" you have to really provide a business and marketing plan.

We have test fired our lasers today , havent hooked up the software yet , but have done all the alignment (which for us was a snap , as we often align our other machines , so are well used to the procedure , basically the same on all lasers.)

I have includes some pics of some lines that indicates the spot sizes of 'em , we tested both chinese machines , the 1200 x 800 reci 80w tubed and the 900 x 600 ordinary 80w glass tubed machines at the WORST point on the table , bottom right , the part furthest from the beam.

Watching the tube while the laser is on is kinda like Star trek stuff , you see the beam of rose/purple light in the tube , luke walker and light sabres come to mind.

The light line was done by the reci tubed machine at 20% power , the 2 darker lines were the chinese lasers at 70% power , the 2 small squares were done on our 30w RF synrad tubed spirits at the closest place to the beam


As you can see the spot sizes are EXTREMELY acceptable , this is a macro shot and has been resampled for display so results don't show that well , however by eye (and with a 10x loupe) it can be seen that the low powered (20%) reci's tube output is the same if not a bit finer than the RF tubes , the higher powered reci (70%) is a little better than the "cheap" 80w tube and is wider than the spirits at 70% power , however 70% power on the spirits is 20w , while 70% on the reci is 50+ w and the heat affected zone is larger.
All in all , far better than I expected for "cheap chinese glass tubed" machines.
I will post a lot more results , niggles , glitches , pros and cons in the next few days - but things look very promising.

Dan Hintz
06-01-2011, 9:15 AM
Rodney,

Awaiting burn results from your galvo unit... :)




Jit, you have a PM...

Rodne Gold
06-01-2011, 9:27 AM
Dan , that will be at least 6 weeks to 2 months away... :)
the real proof of the pudding will be actual engraving results with real files , not just lines..remains to be seen what thruput is like , large area engraving , photo's , small text , circle smootheness, thin and thick material cutting and so on....
What concerns me most right now is the translation of exisiting Corel files into their drivers.. we shall see if it is indeed seamless and if not , how much modification is needed. Ah well , I shall spend some time fiddling and putting the machines thru their paces , generally when doing this on any machine , I start at the "impossible" end of the scale and work down to the easy end , that way I know what the machinery CAN'T do and its limits.

Gerhard Fourie
06-01-2011, 9:32 AM
I have often contemplated using the red dot in the same way as you are describing. I have a Chinese machine of very similiar construction as yours and would appreciate more detail and even photos how you achieved this.

Ian Franks
06-01-2011, 10:18 AM
Jit
Looking at your sale values there is money in wedding invites. We have done cupcake wrappers for weddings and money is not the problem. That is why it may be worthwhile looking again at wedding invites but pricing them with loads of design/customer time. IE get out of the printshop pricing mode. Then just smile nicely at the customers.
We only cut once the order has been paid and offer credit card payment on the website or EFT. Customers also come in to our shop and can pay there as well.

Rodne Gold
06-01-2011, 10:47 AM
My laser fires thru a beam combiner , its a sort of lens/mirror at 45 degrees that is combined with the first optic mirror , its near the optical output of the tube before the first mirror.
What you actually have to do is drill a hole in the mirror holder back plate , remove the mirror and make a hole in the side of the machine , then you fire the laser at a target about 3m away and adjust the tube or the mirror holder or the red beam to make the red pointer co incide with the burn. that is really if you want to be totally anal about it , otherwise just align the red dot the same as the laser at the 2nd mirro , it should be quite accurate.

Some red dot pointers do NOT follow the beam path , they are not before the first optic , you cant do anything with thise.

Rodne Gold
06-04-2011, 5:44 AM
Well , after a little fiddling to get the lasers set up (I wanted to run 2 lasers off one computer and send the same file to either within the cutting software which is not as easy as just having one laser attached) I finally got both running as I wanted.

Software installation (I don't have the latest version but will soon be getting it and the hardware required to run it) is fairly straightforward but not as seamless as I would like , the manual in good chinglish is still not idiotproof (I am rewriting it to be so) and some steps are a little confusing or not explained in detail. All the relevant instructions are there , but some vital settings are not highlighted enough.

I have Corel 11 and X3 installed , I would not recommend 11 as I had a lot of issues trying to use it with their driver , X3 was a lot easier to getting the Corel plug in/vba thing to work.

I haven't fiddled much yet , but one of the things i was trying to do was to see what 4-5pt text looks like on this machine (on perspex) and initially I was getting very poor results , however after tweaking some settings (there are a zillion settings . not for the faint hearted , you can control this machine to the nth degree) and slowing down a little bit , I got exceptional results , far better then my GCC's output at that size , I have a 10x loupe and inspected with that as well as by eye. As can be expected , output of very fine detail at maximum speed is compromised , slowing things down helps , however larger text and solid items exhibit extremely good results. Inspecting a solid square , I was blown away with the smoothness and lack of banding , lines or ridges , the output on perspex when inspected under 10x was as good as sandblasting with the finest grit , one could just make out the lines of the laser scan , but this is under 10x magnification!!!!

I have yet to see how this machine copes with complex existing Corel files , the plugin seems to do conversion to an AI file on the fly and then uses that in the driver. I do foresee that I might have to make some adjustments to work flow , but that will be something
I will have to live with. I didn't expect 4x the machine at 1/4 of the price , compromises are a part of the deal.

There are still some small things I am discovering that need to be improved hardware wise , the machine has a small recessed panel in front with 4 large knob type power/emergency stop switches , one for the machine itself, one for the laser ,one for each of the blower and air pump .
They will need to be dumped and replaced with smaller easier to use switches as the recess is too crowded to operate em easily, no biggie. I spoke to the factory about this and they said when I have done mine to my satisfaction , that they will implement this in their new builds.

It must be said that the factory is extremely proactive in a lot of respects , mails are answered very promptly , Provisional invoices are issued as quotes , they will answer any technical query you have with your build in detail (They are on skype so you can get answers instantly)
Setup and technical issues once you have your machine are easily solved in real time and if you really run into problems the factory tech support will "invade" your puter and offer remote assistance. They are keenly following my suggestions for improvements to their machines. This kind of performance is what mainstream buyers want and expect.

The main issue with chinese machines is "trust" , trust you will get a decent product after paying (their terms are30% upfront and 70% when the machine is loaded) , trust you will get some support , trust that warrantees will be honoured , trust that the machines will do what it says on the label. So far , all my expectations on these have been met or exceeded.

I was quoted $350 for new mainboards and LCD panels to run the new software , my machine builds were completed before the new stuff was implemented so were not delivered with em. The factory is sending me 3 new mainboards , 3 new lcd panels and the new software via DHL , and have requested I send my older stuff back (3 cos I had also ordered a spare , 2 on my machines , 1 spare set). However all I have to do is pay shipping both ways , I think this is a very fair and equitable deal...

My overall impression so far is still that these machines are a total bargain , I cannot see what can possibly really give rise to hardware issues and even so , spares are a joke re pricing.

I was quoted around $20 000 for a 40W mainsteam machine with a 750x500 bed , I have got a machine with double the power, more than double the bed size at 1/4 of the price.
I am spending the next week , when time permits (It's a little hectic at work right now) putting the 2 machines thru their paces and will post pics of output and will detail the operational aspects and report on any bugs.

I have to say something abut Vincent De Klerk , who brought in a machine before me and who let me look at and test on his before buying mine.
He helped us commission our machine and set them up on the computer , he spent 3 mornings with us , forgoing his own business to do so.
His help was invaluable and demonstrates the thing I like so much about this forum and it's laser community , the willingness to help other , give back and share and the altruism that is plainly evident. Vincent , you are a STAR!!!!

Bruce Dorworth
06-05-2011, 8:06 PM
Rodney, thank you for doing such a great job explaining this.. I have a lot of question about setting up and using my Chinese laser, and rather than bog down this thread can I just email you dirrect? my email address is bruce at dorworth (bruce@dorworth.o) dot org

Here are a couple of chiller questions: On the chiller there are two connections, one labeled inlet the other labeled outlet. On the laser the are two connections labed the same way. Should the outlet from the chiller go to the inlet on the laser, then the outlet from the laser would go to the inlet on the chiller?

My chiller has a temp gauge on it, is there a recomended temp that this should be set at?

Thanks in advance,
Bruce

Vicki Rivrud
06-05-2011, 9:54 PM
Hi Rodney,
We absolutely love our "Chinese" laser!

We Imported it to Florida USA almost 4 years ago. 150 watt 1200 x 900 table. We did learn the hard way that the 3000 chiller will deplete the life of the glass tube as it doesn't have the real capacity of cooling here in hot humid Florida. Barely able to work for 3 hours without having to shut 'er down for an hour then start back up. We upgraded ours to a CW5200. Works like a charm now. We use distilled water & anti-freeze and have yet had to change the contents after 6 months. Even with distilled water in the 3000 we had to cycle the water out completely & replace - got pretty costly. I was actually putting slim ice cubes in the chiller trying to cool down the bulb with the 3000.

Also it is a real nightmare to purchase a replacement glass bulb - we've had 2 insurance claims with DHL/UPICC , because of broken tubes in shipping. We now have established a working relationship with a great Chinese Bulb manufacturer and they have arrived well packed and no breakage. It is actually the inner part of the tube that will shatter like ice if jarred or dropped in shipping.
The laser purchase started out to primarily cut 1/4 wood (1/2 ply is a challenge so we purchased a 100mm lens and a long adapter from Rabbit USA) for our remote control airplane business but I branched out into a more creative side after reading all the great posts at SMC for inspiration.
I am engraving granite, crystal, glass, acrylic, mirror & wood, brick & tile, cutting paper & fabric as well as etching denim - you just have to play & experiment and write it down as sometimes lasercut will not keep you settings but rather defaults to the last file used. It can be frustrating & make a mess of a project. I always do a sample cut even if it was done before and double check my log! I keep a log book for all my projects! Scan gap or DPI is another factor too! Everything is 1 bit ( black & white) with no greyscale capability - photograve has helped give my engravings some tonal affect's there are ways & the Stucki filter too. Sometimes doing a vector cut instead engraving does a better job instead of simply engraving.

The current version of Lasercut 5.3 doesn't work seamlessly with Corel X4, actually Leetro told me it really only works with Corel 12 & AutoCAD 2000. They tell me they are working on a new version and hopefully it will do better.

File prep has been the most important step for me. I do all my creative work in Corel and then export as a dxf for use in Lasercut. All our cutting files have been done in DesignCAD or Rhino also exported as a dxf -autocad 200 and imported into lasercut. So we pretty much use lasercut similar to a print driver rather than do anything heavy duty in it.

You will find that aligment & leveling will have to be done quite often. I am also having to work on power compensation for distance on table. The laser does not cut well farthest from the source when trying to cut an entire piece of wood - can be frustrating when it doesn't cut all the way through when trying to maximize an entire sheet!

I laughed when I read your phrase "Chinglish" - when I first started using Lasercut I had no clue what "Conner" power was until I realized they meant Corner power. The manuals leave much to be desired but after going over it several times it makes more sense each time. Since you already have a good foundation using lasers it should be alot easier than it was for us. We had no background in this niche so we learned by the set of our pants - trial & error and I read everything I could get my hands on!

All in all, support from our factory was good to begin with and we imported a 2nd machine, but if you do not continue to buy something,their support dwindles.

I seem to learn something new everyday with this laser and lasercut! Features I didn't realize it had and then it also have some quirks & limitations. I just find a way around it either in Corel or CAD.

I look forward to you "direct red beam" remedy & future post.

Gook luck and keep those post coming :)

Sunny Florida - Vicki - JR Laser Solutions

Rodne Gold
06-06-2011, 12:45 AM
Hiya Bruce , yep output from chiller to laser input and vice versa. The CW3000 chiller is absolute junk , if you have a 60/80 + w tube it's not at all adequate , a cw5000 chiller is the real mccoy, but is normally $350-450 more as an upgrade. The 3000 can be replaced by a bucket and an aquarium pump its so basic. You need to keep the water temp below 35c or thereabouts . I was actually thinking that for $400 , one can either buy a local model or get an old messed up chest freezer for $100 and fill it with ice and run a coiled water tube thru to the machine for real chilling....even adding a decent radiator and some fans to a 3000 would be a help.

Vicki , it's good to hear that 4 years on , you are still going well with your laser. The ones I have use RDcam as a "front end' , I have fiddled with the package and its pretty good as a design package , as I said , the corel interface/plugin looks like a glorified importer. I really wanted to use these lasers to do a slightly different type of job from our existing ones , and might have to design specifically for them which may or may not be an issue but we have many other machines and cannot always use the same files/programs for them and they all have different ways of dealing with the design package anyway. Our tekcel uses profilelab/engravelab , our Isels use autocad, lasers use Corel , large format printer uses corel but its main "interface' is a wasatch rip and so on...

I asked the mnfgrs about the antifreeze and they said it's not needed , but I have spoken to users that say its more of an an anti corrosive. I have a hi po car building workshop and we use antifreeze in radiators to stop ally heads corroding but more importantly to raise the boiling pt of the water as this combined with a pressure cap elevates the boiling pt to much higher than normal and this stops the car overheating due to steam pockets. By far the best mixture for tranferring heat is actually plain water...

As to the levelling thing , we were very anal when setting up , checking everything was level with respect to the floor and to the actual table , losing serious power as you get further along the table could be indicative more of the table not being level than alignment.
Adjust your head so it just skims the table surface and check the gap doesnt vary at diff points on the table. Easiest to microadjust the table - even if you like 1/20th" out , it will affect things.

The RECI tubes are superbly packed , the other tubes not so well , but pretty well , obviously the Chinese have learned overkill here is the answer....

All lasers are really 1 bit devices , either on or off, the various drivers interpret greyscale , photograv is actually a far better and more consistent way of doing so for a laser than may drivers. If you search for the "gold method" , you will find an alternative (read free) way of acomplishing the same thing as Photograv ... I actually use Pgrav in my setup as it's easy for my staff to use. Works very well for complex clipart too , avoiding converting fades and odd colours as well as stopping hidden vectors and all other nasties surfacing.

In lasercut , is there no way you can save any parameter files? Perhaps look at where Lasercut saves its default config files and then create different "master" directories for the "parameter" set you wish to work with. IE a directory for wood , 3mm perspex and so on , load lasercut from these ?

Bruce Dorworth
06-06-2011, 1:10 AM
Rodney, thanks for the prompt response. My laser came with a cw5000 chiller. So at least they did something correct. I bought a rotary attachment and they sent me the one like yours with the 4 jaw chuck. What does your other Rotary look like? Is there a place to buy a 3rd party rotary attachment?

Bruce

Rodne Gold
06-06-2011, 2:04 AM
This is what my other rotary looks like , I have yet to try em , not even sure where they connect up , they came instructionless , however both were under $350 combined , so thought I may as well get em...
We hardly use the rotarys with our GCC's , so it's not likely we will use em much.
Seems all the chinese lasers use the same type of Rotary , probably some town out in the sticks making only rotarys - seems to be the chinese way , one city , one product :)
Im sure you can use any other rotary form another laser so long as you use the stepper from your laser supplier on it. My GCC's use servo motors with shaft encoders , that wont work on the Chinese machines. My rotary section in the chinese driver has menu for setting the amount of steps per revolution , so obviously its fairly configurable.

Bruce Dorworth
06-06-2011, 4:29 AM
Thanks Rodney

Bruce

George M. Perzel
06-06-2011, 6:26 PM
Hi Gang;
I just saved about $30,000-thanks totally to Mr. Rodne Gold, whose pioneering spirit, tenacity, determination, and attention to detail caused him to investigate the Chinese Laser capabilities rather than just dismiss them as poor copies of western technology.
Some of us are old enough to remember when "Made in Japan" represented cheap value and low quality- amazing how quickly that has changed. I am afraid that the same perception exists today in the minds of many when "Made in China" is uttered. That perception will too change in the not too distant future when China becomes the dominant economic power.
OK- enough of the Nostadamus stuff
Rodne is, and has been for many years, one of the leading laser gurus on this forum. His knowledge of the field and related sciences knows no limits and his advice is accurate, detailed and tempered by years of experience in the trenches. He is careful and precise (he calls it anal) when venturing into new territory and searches for answers with a bent towards the practical and what the market can bear.
Bottom line- he's a man who can be trusted to provide sound advice and honest opinions. I was 24 hours away from plunking down $40K for a new laser with only slightly more capability than I have now. After reading Rodne's "Dispatches from China" and sending him a barrage of questions, I am buying the same machine (big one) that he bought, except mine will be a double head-double RECI laser tube setup. I am also purchasing a raft of spares . Total for everything = $7200 plus $1.6K for ocean freight, customs clearance, and ground freight to my door.
Is it all rosy and right? No- I have a new machine to learn and new software to wade through, but, I'm still young enough to like the challenge and excitement; besides, you can only do so much fishing!
I will post progress on my machine as a followup to Rodne's-I figure I'm about 8 weeks behind him in the learning cycle and will be eagerly watching him as he plows new ground. Finally- Thanks, Rodne-really appreciate your help and support.
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Rodne Gold
06-06-2011, 11:42 PM
Well, the real "pioneer" that sparked all this is Vincent De klerk , if it was not for his posting this thread
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?155522-Very-impressed-with-Chinese-laser-cutter.
I might not have really sprung into action quite so readily , he really was the one that took the big risk. As much as vincent's post helped me make up my mind to take the leap of faith , hopefully mine will enable others to make even better informed decisions

Both him and I are convinced that we are being ripped off in terms of equipment. If you actually look at a laser and the components used to make one , there is no earthly reason that they should cost as much if not more than a luxury car....
I especially think that mainstream tube mnfgrs are the worst offendors in this respect.

It must be said at this stage that the machines we have and what you are ordering are not really rolls royces at bicycle prices , there are some issues and if you are expecting absolute prefection in terms of construction/engineering , ease of use and software , you are not going to get it. This machine is not plug and play. However if you are expecting a piece of junk that will fail in 3 hours and is totally useless , assembled in some run down barn in rural china by peasants with straw hats who work 18 hr days for a bowl of rice you cant be further from the truth.

So far , the construction issues and the integration with corel issues are a minor inconvenience and not major stumbling blocks and wont change workflow to any huge extent. On the plus side , there are features these machines have that some mainstream vendors would gain a huge competitive advantage if implemented. For eg , there is kerf width compensation in the driver, which to me is a far more valuable feature than 3d engraving
Surprisingly enough , the chinese software/driver appears that it too has 3d:
From the manual :" Outputdirect: On the grayscale bitmap, grayscale graphicsfor the actual output, where both the deep color of the laser energy, laserenergy where light color small." - lol , - Welcome to Chinglish :)
I take this to mean that if you enable output direct in greyscale;/bitmap processing, then power varies from high for dark areas to low for light - will try it out
In reality the biggest single problem is the relatively poorly written and poorly explained manuals. I have read them many times now and am discovering a lot more "buried" information each time. The difficulty is that the software cannot be "trial run" without a machine attached, so to really get to grips with things , one has to experiment and it's a lot easier then to work out what things really mean.
I havent really done much work on my mainstream machines for years , having operators and designers , the new machines are also exciting to me in that it is a new challenge and a new system to master.

Richard Rumancik
06-07-2011, 10:51 AM
. . . Both him and I are convinced that we are being ripped off in terms of equipment. . . I especially think that mainstream tube mnfgrs are the worst offendors in this respect.

I don't have enough information to say that North American suppliers are charging too much for equipment; they are probably charging what required based on their costs of labor and materials and doing business internationally. The economy in China is obviously much different than North America. GCC is based in Taiwan, Republic of China, which is not the same as mainland China. Their economy is probably closer to that of North America or Europe, and you will see that their pricing on the LaserPro series is in the same ballpark as ULS, Epilog, Trotec, etc. (Perhaps it is still a bit lower; I haven't compared recently.) But as you market internationally the price goes up. You need to support parts depots, technical staff, marketing, translators to prepare proper manuals, etc etc. And those people want to be paid North American/European wages. A distributor who needs to stock machines, and fly all over the country with a machine going to trade shows, needs to be paid. So I would expect that as the Chinese companies enter the world markets for laser systems, the prices will go up along with all the additional expenses.

Same goes with the tube manufacturers. Is Synrad charging too much? I don't know - if it was so easy to make a metal sealed laser tube, and they are making so much money, why isn't everybody doing it? I don't understand why the Chinese only supply/manufacture glass tubes. Surely the old patents on the metal sealed tubes have run out - maybe the Chinese would be a few years behind the latest technology, but that would still be better than glass tubes. Rodne, did you discover any Synrad type clones on your travels? If not, why do you think they don't offer them? I think the glass tubes are a significant weak point in the Chinese systems. The life is too low, they require fussy cooling systems, and they are too difficult to handle and ship.

Rodne Gold
06-07-2011, 12:59 PM
I saw machines with chinese RF tubes , I think there is one manufacturer in china , the tube was not like any other I have seen in terms of housing etc, It wasnt high powered. 30w?
I didnt bother with it as the mnfg of my machines only uses it in their galvo's as their flying head machines are optimised for glass tubes and they have the benefit of much more experience with em.
I dont think the transport or cooling are much of an issue , my tubes(4) all arrived safe and sound and hooking up a chiller is not rocket science. It seems that undercooling and overdriving the glass tubes are the causes of failures.
The cost of a higher powered glassed tube , even a premium one with a 8000 hour life and 1 year warrantee is extremely cheap and the tube is extremely simple, the cost of a 80-100w tube is $500 for a premium and $150 normal (3 mo warranted) I pay $3500+ as an exhange deal on a synrad and or a coherent 30w with a 6 mo warrantee - would hate to think what their 80-100w would cost...$7k?

The worst of my experiences with RF tubes is actually their lifespan , I really havent ever got near claimed hours on any of the almost 15 tubes I have used in my lasering career. I too havent had flawless reliability with any of them.

As an aside , I think both my glass tubes , a cheapy 60w an an expensive 80w actually outperform my RF tubes when it comes to how good the engraving looks. Of course cutting is a no brainer , the higher power tubes really work well.

If the traditional mainstream laser pricing/distribution model is becoming outmoded , the co's need to react to whats happening out there and offer cost effective solutions , which they clearly arent doing
They must be able to reduce costs dramatically as R&D and tooling costs must be long amortised , its not like anyone is offering anything substantially better than 5 yrs ago....
As I have said before , if you want a plug and play rolls royce machine and need to be hand held , a chinese laser wont suit you..but give it time .. they will get near..

Scott Shepherd
06-07-2011, 3:42 PM
I'm unsure how anyone thinks the US, or European companies CAN compete with those prices? When someone can sell you parts cheaper than you can buy the materials, how can you compete? You can't have people pay YOU to come to work for them. It's all done with a huge mask on and we, as buyers, tend to hold our nose, close our eyes, and hit the "Buy now" button on it, knowing full well that if we really thought about it, we'd not do it because it's not a level playing field. When China devalues their currency to a point that no one can compete and their workers drop dead at 40 because they worked in the granite factories Rodney posted photos of for 20 years, breathing dust that slowly kills them, how can we compete?

They have no safety concerns for the people (or little, when it comes to hazardous materials), they pay people next to nothing, and they devalue their currency. Do I blame Epilog or Universal for not being able to compete with that? No, I don't.

Also keep in mind, buying a machine for $15,000 (that's about what a 45W cost these days), gets you a machine plus life time support for free. Free. I bet if these companies had to support their products on the level Epilog and Universal do, and pay their people a fair wage, they wouldn't be so inexpensive.

It's apples and oranges to me.

I'm not saying anything about the quality or their ability to engrave by any means. They probably do a decent job. However, let's not pretend this is a fair competition and that it's the US manufacturers that are taking advantage of us. That's miles away from the real fact on why they are so inexpensive.

Hilton Lister
06-07-2011, 4:54 PM
Let's face it, if a competitor buys a chinese laser, after you have invested in a mainstream one, their initial costs are going to be far less than yours. They can then afford to undercut your pricing, and if their marketing is good, you will have to drop yours
in order to retain your client base.
My laser is nearing time for replacement, so I have to seriously consider a chinese built one. I have been watching these threads with great interest and can't thank Rodney enough for all his information.

Mike Null
06-07-2011, 5:25 PM
This has been an extremely informative and useful discussion. Please take care not to let it sink into a political storm that will cause deletions or closing of the thread.

Vicki Rivrud
06-07-2011, 8:21 PM
HI Mike,
Nicely said.

Back when I first came to SMC I got slammed a couple of times for having a chinese laser - getting what you paid for, not American , blah blah - So I have seen a big shift in acceptance of the Chinese lasers - now that the ecomomic winds have changed so.

So much of what we use is made in China - heck turn your keyboard over - made in china. We really researched hard before importing our chinese laser - so much of what the Made in America brands are actually "Assembled in the US" of foreign components.

We have imported several laser machines and this December imported our 1st CNC Router. All machine were well made and the factory worked very closely with us on our specifications.
From Sunny Florida,
Vicki

Dan Hintz
06-07-2011, 8:37 PM
Back when I first came to SMC I got slammed a couple of times for having a chinese laser - getting what you paid for, not American , blah blah - So I have seen a big shift in acceptance of the Chinese lasers - now that the ecomomic winds have changed so.
Vicki,

I think you're seeing a change in level of acceptance because the Chinese machines are getting better, not because of economics. Ten years ago Chinese lasers (what ones existed) were hard to find in The States, and they were pretty much junk. Fast forward to five years ago and quality control was still a complete crapshoot, but they were learning, and the machines could be made to work with some serious cajoling. Fast forward to today and the manuals are more easily understood, quality control has improved, drivers and mainstream program integration has improved, etc. They are not only improving their machines drastically, they have improved the workflow, and a poor workflow is one of the biggest killers to a sustained business model.

Scott Shepherd
06-07-2011, 9:25 PM
I don't think anyone in this thread has said they are poor quality. Not a single post that I saw.

I don't say you should or shouldn't buy one. I think Rodney has said it over and over, that it's not a plug and play unit. That, in fact, is exactly what dozens have said over the years. That's not slamming the Chinese machines, that's being honest. They aren't and Rodney expresses that repeatedly. That may be fine for you, but it may not be fine for someone that's not "handy" with figuring things out. No right or wrong, just different, and if you know that going in, you'll be fine in both cases.

My statement wasn't meant to be political, but just raise a simple fact, you can't compare the pricing for the 2 because they are playing under the same rules. When the material cost for an item here is more than the entire part cost, material, machining, and assembly, we're not comparing apples to apples.

I'd be willing to bet that 3 of those machines would have a tough time keeping up with one Trotec in raster engraving. If you were vectoring, the 3 Chinese would probably take the Trotec to school on production. A 45W Trotec was running around $17,500 not long ago, so they aren't as much as they used to be.

It all depends on what you want to do with it. If I was rastering, I'd probably buy the Trotec, if I were vector cutting all day, I'd probably buy 3 Chinese machines.

Just my opinion. I have no problems with anyone buying one, two, three, or a dozen. Buy all you want.

Rodne Gold
06-08-2011, 7:32 AM
I am really fearful of this thread devolving to something with nationalistic overtones , so lets not really go there
I will just give my take on things as I saw them in China as to how stuff is "cheap"

its not underpaid overexploited workers and a govt sponsored low exchange rate entirely, IMO its a huge combination of factors , the cost of living there is cheap , expectation of labour is not as high as in western countries , the state promotes business and builds fantastic infrastructure for manufacturing and business , the economys of scale are enormous , there are very few middlemen , work ethic and productivity are high and so on. They pay the same for their imported commodities that we in the west do , they just convert them a lot more efficiently.

Yes , there are inequities compared to highly sophisticated western norms , but nothing worse than in my country or india. Never saw the type of slums and beggars/vagrants etc that I see here and other places
The only thing that really bothered me in China was the level of pollution , even driving out 100 miles into some rural areas , there is a miasma of grey mist , its pollution.
The govt are clamping down big time on those that refuse to see to the safety of workers , draconian penalties are implemented , like 20 years in Jail etc.

Anyway , thats besides the point , one has to do as ones conscience dictates as to purchasing and it's admireable that there are folks out there who will support their industry/country by buying locally. We have the same problem over here in SA with a number of industrys , like clothing. cheap chinese imports are doing the local industry in , the consumers are driving this tho. globalisation is great in some respects but really bad in others.

Getting back to the lasers , as Dan so rightly points out , workflow is a pretty vital part of the picture and over the last few days , we have been experimenting with this as well as putting the driver thru it's paces. In common with a LOT of lasers , the intricacies and vagaries of the driver have not been explained in the nth degree of depth and it has taken quite a bit of time and head scratching to work out where we have gone wrong and what does what and what affects what...

Albeit you can work directly from corel, autocad (and now Cadian with the new software) , it still is somewhat of a kludge solution as all the cad packages port in one way or another to Laserworks or RDcad (diff name , same package) . By far the better way to work is to use Corel to design , export to ai and open laserworks and control the laser from there.

The fly in the ointment is that most lasers will have a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface from corel , IE whats on screen will engrave as you see it. Its not the same with these lasers as they do not see , for eg , a line with width as having width. ANY closed object is treated as a solid filled object in this driver and lines cannot be "rastered" as they will all be hairlines. It will give an error if you say to process a line in scan mode.

So if you want lines with thickness , you need to use Corel to convert object to outline and use that .. alternatively , it's pretty easy to convert the graphic to a high res bitmap and then just engrave that. Its no issue to have cutting and bitmaps and vector entities in the lasers driver and to process various colours or layers all in one go.

At the end of it all , all the lasers we use DO convert to 1 bit bitmaps when doing scanning , all lasers are actually a "dot matrix" printers in scan mode.

The laserworks design package supplied with the machine is pretty much ok , good for designing simple stuff so Corel should still be the design interface. The driver that controls the laser is very powerful , far more powerful than any I have come across. Just about everything is configurable and you can do some amazing stuff with it.

To put it in a nutshell , one can change your design philosophy in Corel to cope with this machine or just use the "old" way and have to do a further conversions for really complex cdrs. What really worked well was converting greyscale etc via Photograv , the driver itself has various types of conversion , but photograv works exceptionally.

I am not concerned at the change of workflow , there are some amazing features that will cut down seriously on processing time that will more than compensate.

We design on Corel for our CnC router and we need to do similar conversions for lines with thickness - so it's no biggie.

We have discovered some REALLY great features , for eg

You can give it a material size and it will self array a single element or group to most effectively fill the size of material available

It is real easy to set the order of cuts or layers or even entities it cuts/engraves first

Optimisation is stunning , you can actually tell the software to simulate the laser head path and amend it if you wish , it does a sterling job automagically of cutting down engraving time

You can compensate for kerf width inwards or out

It has a trace function for black and white bitmaps as well as a scanner interface

It has a "dot" cut function , IE you can cut a line using dots- you can configure the dot time , the dot length and the distance between dots , IE set up a very delicate PPI or dashed perforation , will be very good for wood to minimise charring

You have many options where to start the engraving relative to absolute home and from which point in the graphic to start engraving and where to end once it finishes

If your power goes off in the middle of a job , when you power up the machine , it asks whether you want to carry on the job where it got disrupted

You can get the co ordinates of the head at any position

You can pause the job and jog the head away and it comes back to where it was on resume

There is a pen up function , IE it can move the table down when it starts automatically and raise it up at a certain point , to clear lips on deep dishes etc. You can set this manually and allow the machine to read the various co ordinates and path and it stores this!!

There is an autofocus option

It has a stamp mode

It has a quasi 3d mode

You can set ramp speed , acceleration when no laser is firing and when it fires and compensate for any backlash

It has a job estimator , in terms of time , before you do anything.

It also reports total x distance travelled , Y distance , total time on , total laser time and so on.

You can download your files to the laser and run it stand alone - also use a flash disk or a HD

You can set both speeds and power very easily on the fly

It has a function that can either dot all 4 corners of the extents of a graphic before or after it engraves it, it can do a dry run of the extents or you can tell it to cut the extents (a rectangle surrounding the engraved graphic) and tell it how much white space you want it to leave.

You can order the direction of the cut, not just the order and define the start point of a cut.

You can tell it to start the cut outside the element to be cut or inside it , for eg if you want an absolutely perfect circle , you tell it to start the cut on the sheet outside of the circle and to cut the circle , without any start or endpoint notches. Vice versa if you want a perfect hole

You can raster in the X and Y direction , ie left to right and top to bottom , you can choose to fire bidirectionally and unidirectionally in both modes

You can raster bottom to top or vice versa

You can tell the machine that you have some sort of feeder and set all sorts of feeder parameters.

You can tell it to close all unclosed curves where endpoints are a certain distance from one another and to conver any entity that is lines into a closed curve and set the smoothness of that curve

You can use ACAD SHX fonts (lots of single lines here)

You can engrave a vector graphic and tell it to cut the outlines (or vector engrave at high speed to clean up edges)

It has a cluster mode where small spread out elements will be done one at a time instead of sweeping the whole graphic left and right.

You can delete overlaps , so if you are cutting a matrix of rectangles , it will delete all overlapping lines if you stack em with all the sides touching each other , ie it wont cut rectangle after rectangle , it will only cut coincident lines once , a huge time saver.

There are many more "features" , we have yet to discover what they all do...

Bad thing with our machines is you can run em open , they didnt come with safety interlocks albeit the mainboard has a function to use em , when my staff uses the machines , i will install the safety mag switches.

The exhaust of the lasers is really really VERY good , even if you have the door open , the smoke dissapears , you have to loook closely to see if the machine is actually engraving as there is no smoke - it's whipped out .

Scott Shepherd
06-08-2011, 8:07 AM
If anyone is reading my posts as nationistic, then you are misunderstanding my position. I do not suggest you only buy from your own country in my posts. In fact, I recommended a machine built in Austria for fast rastering. I also said I'd buy Chinese machines if I were vector cutting.

I have bought and owned Chinese made machines, used them in daily production until I made enough money to buy Japanese :D I repeatedly said buy the one that fits your needs and Rodney has done an excellent job at explaining how his machine works, which, might be perfect for some, and not so easy for others. A really great review there, Rodney, thanks for sharing.

Ross Moshinsky
06-08-2011, 9:22 AM
Rodney:

I have a lot of experience in what you are talking about with the conversion between a Corel/Illustrator file to another piece of software. We use Gravostyle for rotary and laser work and sometimes exporting from Corel or Adobe is a huge PITA. Every path needs to be perfect. If anything is slightly open, it won't import properly. It's a huge annoyance. There are a lot of tricks to get around this.

Export the graphic as a high resolution JPEG/PNG into Inkscape. Vector trace it. Then go and import the AI/EPS file in and add true vector text. Not a perfect fix, but it's a 5 minute fix instead of a 1 hour fix.

I also strongly suggest you do your text layouts right in this software. It's frankly a waste of time to do it the other way around. It's very easy to miss the grouping of an "o" or an "e" and the whole job is ruined.

If I had to be frank, this sounds like a direct rip off of Gravostyle. A lot of the same features. We use Gravostyle about 98% of the time to do our work. Occasionally we'll get a whole plaque setup by the customer in an AI or EPS. In those circumstances we'll just run the whole job from Illustrator. Although there are a lot of frustrating things with Gravostyle, there are a huge number of time saving features. Variable text is the best feature the program has over Corel/Illustrator.

Vicki Rivrud
06-08-2011, 9:59 AM
Hi,
We use the automotive (not RV) anti-freeze & distilled water to prevent the algae growth. The bulb has been nice and cool - have been engraving bricks & granite lately - for what seems like hours, without a problem. I also cut cupcake wrappers & fabric so I can go from one exteme to another without a hitch. With this new freon based chiller, we now have experienced condensation, so we are adjusting the settings so its not too cold. Cooling is no longer an issue.

Lasercut has a quirk, even when the ecp file is saved, when the file is reopened, sometimes the last file used or the default settings appear instead of the settings that should have been saved.

Initially I used save this file(to name & create the ecp file) then, if changes are made , Instead of saving the file, I have found that when I have finished with a ecp file, I select "new file", (instead of exit,close,save, save as) which will ask me if I want to save changes to file, select yes and then the workspace is cleared and ready for a new file.

When I re-open my ecp file all my settings are intact. Another little quirk - file names should be no more than 9 characters - if too long, the PAD will not register the file name and a soft error occurs.

There is also another phenomenom I deal with - Laser Compensation for Long Distances - when cutting an entire sheet of wood - for example a nest of parts or puzzles or earring, whatever - even if the machine is level, aligned, focused etc- there are differences in the power especially at the farthest distance from output.

In the Leetro Lasercut manual V1.6 5-2010 there is mention of the power compensation & several adjustments that must be made.


197295

My question to Leetro is "what are these several adjustments needed?" I am awaiting a response.

The rotary device wasn't available when we imported our first laser, but I am looking forward to getting one and learning how to hook up & use. I have found several pdf's on subject at other sites.

Blue skies,
Vicki

Vicki Rivrud
06-08-2011, 10:20 AM
Hi Dan,
I agree to a point - My first laser was great, it did the job that was needed and we didn't know any better & didn't have to pay another laser company to do our work.

After recommending several changes for both the machine & manual, my second laser was even better. At least they are listening. AND getting better. We also just imported a CNC Router and are making recommendations for change even though their "QC" was tight. At least they listen and are eager to learn & please.

I am still using the 4 year old machine and it is working just fine! I found that file prep is 75%, knowing how to handle settings 15% and the machine doing its job - 10%. The only replacement has been the bulb, which came from a bad batch 4 years ago. the bulbs now are a bit bigger and better made.

But I must say - there are many who are now looking at the Chinese laser because the price tag is so different and in these economic time who can afford to over-pay, this was my major point.

We have a business assocate who bought a high dollar 60 watt and when he came to try our 150 watt Chinese laser, that we purchased for a fraction of his, he laughed made the statement Chinese stuff was junk- 4 years ago! Now today when he needs to replace his - it's another story. He found that our Chinese laser could do much more than his model even though he sprung his lungs for the equipment & software.

Again - my referance was not just to this topic post but to several others I have read here at the Creek. Just an observation how opinions are changing.

For someone buying a Chinese laser, today - they have no clue what the quality was 10 years ago - just what the price tag is now & it is so much less than what is available in the states.

Anyway - we are all just trying to share our own experiences to help others not to have to re-invent the wheel :)

Blue skies,
Vicki

Rodne Gold
06-08-2011, 11:45 AM
Ross , your idea sounds great , I will investigate it , easy way to get the islands and fills you need. Text in the laserworks software is basic in the extreme , nothing near corel , however the text imports very well from Corel to the package so will mess around a bit with it all. still early days for us and I have my designer , my workshop manager and myself playing with it all so between the 3 of us , we should get it right :) Oddly enough we thought the software had a LOT in common with Engravelab and profile lab which we use to run our Tekcel cnc off..
25+ years ago , I bought my first CnC engraver/router (isel's) and all we had was Autocad to run it off , had to write my own post processors too - things have come a long way since then..

Vicki , As far as I can see , one can change your operating system quite easily on your laser , it's really the mainboard and lcd panel that seem to control the whole setup , the steppers and stepper drivers , laser tube firing etc are all configureable from the mainboard and its software and can easily be controlled , it all seems quite a nice open system. I have the wiring diagrams of the mainboards at hand , and it all looks quite simple.
I think one of the factors that make these machines so affordable is the fact that all the different brands use more or less the same components and obviously there is one company that specialises in making each of them , my head and lens holder seems the same as most other lasers I have seen , and it was a a "princely" $12!!!!! You really have to make vast quantities of them to sell at that price. One of my engineering pals said he would come in at the $750 mark to fabricate a one off....
I think in your config file , what they mean by several adjustments are that you need to try several compensation figures till you hit on the right one. I havent really tried to see how power varies over distance in our machines as I havent engraved a whole sheet , but doing the same thing with the same settings at different points on the tables gives more or less the same results.
I recon the prime market for the chinese machines are users that have had other machines and are pretty experienced and are looking to expand production at the cheapest cost or just want to have back up machines. One has to remember that 4x machines at 1/4 the max engraving speed of a single will not equal the single , they will have far higher thruput as all jobs vary and not all can use full speed. Plus you have massive redundancy.

Rodne Gold
06-09-2011, 4:47 AM
First Job on the 60w machine , cutting 1 mm thickness PETG 40mm diameter disks (14 000 , as backings for a cheap domed badge)
Cycle time at 80% power on our smaller 60w machine is 6 secs a piece , 1400 minutes or 24 hrs run time... We could get a better cycle time , maybe 4.5 to 5 secs , but the material buckles so we have slowed down and increased power to make sure we cut thru it all.
We making $1.30 per badge , but if we had to cut and supply the discs to a customer , would prolly make round 20-25c a piece , so toal profit would be $2800 minimum ... 2 Jobs like that and 2 weeks processing , we pay for the machine...

Jiten Patel
06-09-2011, 5:39 AM
Just makes so much sense.

So Rodney, we are looking into an XY carraige machine, just to expand our product line. I'm not really an engineer and most of the things you have explained are a little alien to me. How hard would it be for me to get one of these and possibly pay someone to set it up. I would rather give some one who knows what they are doing 500-1000 and sort it and still have a massive powerful fully working machine for maybe 5000? Unless you fancy a free flight to the UK and hook mine up!?!

Rodne Gold
06-09-2011, 6:11 AM
Jiten , I think you can do it yourself
Apart from major savings , it's the best way to learn , you have resources to help you along the way , the factory , remote assistance from the tech , tech via skype , this forum , me via skype and so on.
I would love a free flight , but at the moment , Im "flighted out" from the china thing.... :)
I really cant see how you can lose , go for a single or double headed 1300x900 or 1200x800 with 2 80w reci tubes
Or go for a single headed 1200x800 with 80w and a much bigger machine with 150w (for cutting)
The combo that would be REALLY good for you , imo , is a 80w 1200x800 and a 80w Galvo. Under GBP10k with shipping and spares. You would instantly double production AND add the large format engraving stuff AND add decent thick material cutting...

Ian Franks
06-09-2011, 7:03 AM
we are looking into an XY carraige machine, just to expand our product line.
Jiten we got a 400 x 600 50w chinese machine for our cupcake wrappers bought from a local guy here in Johannesburg. He also has his main business as a tool and die shop. He could then ensure the machine was properly assembled. I am also not a handy type person so this was important for me. The effective width is 325 x 510 as the design is not the best. This works for me. We are just busy our first plywood job cutting and engraving wooden medals.
For big orders we use our bindery staff to load, vacuum and pack the products as an intricate cut takes about 12 minutes for 8 wrappers from one sheet, so this works well for us. With bigger sheets of paper you can get more product out per sheet.

Rodne Gold
06-09-2011, 7:24 AM
You really don't have to be at all that handy, its really a matter of just checking stuff , you don't need anything more than basic tools (and they supply some)a spirit level and maybe a drill.... It's not like its a car that comes in a box of parts... :) hook up some wires and tubes and go...
Tube alignment is the only fiddly bit , but you HAVE to learn that with all lasers and its only the first time thats an issue, it gets eaiser and quicker every time , we can do a full alignment in minutes..
We just got our shipment of rowmark/IpI/gravog/whatever type engraving lams from China , mainly gold/black and silver/black in .8 and 1.5mm thicknesses and have run comparative tests on our chinese/mainstream lasers vs the 4x the price stuff , and there is not difference in engraving or cut edges at all , we randomly pulled out and checked sheets for thickness , for surface consistency , quality of brush finishes , dropouts, dimples etc - no issues at all...

Jiten Patel
06-09-2011, 7:55 AM
I am definitely for that. A second galvo, and a carriage laser. 10k sounds good to me. Just need to put it off for a little while, as we are just trying to build our business model before we make any more investments. People can easily fall into a trap of plugging all their money back into their business. We are doing well, but we need to have a strategy for the next step. What products/materials, workforce, marketing. Once we have that sorted, we will definitely be investing. I'm thinking more the 1200x800 or even maybe a smaller 900x600 to start with.

Hopefully by the end of the year we will be in a more serious position to be able to take the plunge. Honestly can't wait. After spending 2 days using the carriage system and seeing them cut through things like butter, and the detail, it's just incredible. The things we would come up with would be amazing, and I'm thinking more design orientated rather than production/manufacturing. Lowish cost high resale sort of things. Similar to the business model I am running at the moment.

I have to say, Sawmill is the greatest resource I have. I appreciate everyone's input and knowledge on here. Big thank you to you all.

Jiten Patel
06-09-2011, 7:56 AM
Ian, Do you cut your wrappers out of paper or card?? What sort of weights are you working with?

Rodne Gold
06-09-2011, 8:05 AM
Yeh , you need working capital , sinking it all in can sink the business or do you all in :)
Im in a situation right now like that , Im basically buying a whole years stock of goods in one go , have to find the cash to do that, but my alternative it pay more than double on a monthly basis - gonna be a painful few months while we play catch up. Iv'e told Buggatti to delay delivery of the Veyron for 6 months :)

Dan Hintz
06-09-2011, 8:15 AM
Iv'e told Buggatti to delay delivery of the Veyron for 6 months :)
Should have worked with Keonigsegg... they're delaying delivery of my Agera R because they didn't feel the seat cupped my rear well enough, and throwing in a laser-engraved coffee cup for my trouble.

Jiten Patel
06-09-2011, 8:30 AM
Rodney, pleasure before business, always! My Reventon arrived a few months back, wasnt happy with so used it to test my galvo, made for some amazing invitations!. They should be sending a few Aventadors my way to keep me happy. I will do a play by play when I receive them, from unpacking to the first test run. :)

Dan Hintz
06-09-2011, 10:21 AM
They should be sending a few Aventadors my way to keep me happy.
I'm imagining an automotive jousting match, poles sticking out the side windows...

Jiten Patel
06-09-2011, 2:03 PM
Now that I would pay to see! Sounds like we are onto something here. Now all we need to do is pitch it to some seriously rich people!!!

Ian Franks
06-09-2011, 2:07 PM
Jiten it depends on the type of paper but thickest we cut on is 160gsm so between 120 and 160gsm. We tested the heavy board but it distorts on the fine cuts when you wrap it around the cupcakes

Dan Ashlin
06-09-2011, 2:21 PM
Now that I would pay to see! Sounds like we are onto something here. Now all we need to do is pitch it to some seriously rich people!!!

I'm sure I could donate something out of my Aston Martin collection for that. Maybe the DBS v12, they're pretty cheap lol.

Dan Hintz
06-09-2011, 2:39 PM
We tested the heavy board but it distorts on the fine cuts when you wrap it around the cupcakes
Have you tried wrapping the paper (board) around a cupcake-sized rod? Lay the sheet flat, place the rod at one end, and as you roll the rod, make sure the board stays pressed against the rod... same idea behind placing a spring around tubing to be bent, or sand inside of tubing to be bent, to prevent cracks.

Bruce Dorworth
06-09-2011, 8:16 PM
Rodne, I am not having the same luck with my Chinese laser. My salesperson assure me that there would be no problems. Well, her english leaves a little to be desired. I have asked to talk to a technician or engineer but have not done so yet. There is definitely a sense of being stranded.

Early next week I am going to let her on my computer to make sure the software is installed correctly. I don't know that is the problem though. I can move my table up and down, the chiller, exhaust fan, and air compressor all work, but I can not move the laser head or fire/test the laser. Does a computer even need to be hooked up to manually use the laser with the control panel?

I just wonder if there is not a switch, or something is not plugged in or something like that

Bruce

Jiten Patel
06-10-2011, 4:10 AM
Ian, maybe the design needs more tabs? We have really fine designs and they cut fine and wrap fine. We have since taken to using similar paper weights as you as its quicker and we realised you do not need to cut them out of 300gsm stock as no-body really card or paper, just as long as it is good quality paper and matches their theme

Rodne Gold
06-10-2011, 9:48 AM
The laser should fire without having a puter attached , you should also be able to move the head. The laser should boot up when switched on , ie move the heads to the machine limits and then go to its assigned home. Is your laser doing that?
As to laser not firing, well if you have a flow sensor switch in the chiller line and it senses no flow , it wont allow the laser to fire.
The first thing to check is to see if your ground spike is good and you indeed have good ground to the chassis and laserpower supply and mainboard.
You might have a faulty LCD/Control panel or its cable has come adrift?
What brand of machine do you have?
What software are you using and if possible , say what motherboard are you running.

On a more depressing note , unfortunately my mom passed away peacefully this morning , so I'm out of work till Tuesday.
I am not sad about her passing as she was in a very bad place in regard to her physical condition and was living in torment. She had had a good run , being 78 and it was sort of expected.

Jiten Patel
06-10-2011, 9:51 AM
Sorry to hear that Rodne. My thoughts are with you. Chin up hey and as you said, she had a good run and at least she isnt suffering any more.

Dee Gallo
06-10-2011, 10:04 AM
My sympathies, Rodne, there is never a good time to lose a loved one. But as Jit said, she is not suffering anymore, which is horrible to live with.

Peace, dee

Dan Hintz
06-10-2011, 10:23 AM
I'm sure I speak for us all when I say you have our condolences, Rodney...

Bruce Dorworth
06-10-2011, 1:13 PM
My sympathy Rodne, Like you said she is in a better place. At least you were able to spend a lot of good years with her. I will bother you about the laser at a later date after you are able to deal with your current situation.

Bruce

Scott Shepherd
06-10-2011, 1:19 PM
I'm very sorry for your loss Rodney.

Steve

Ken Shea
06-10-2011, 1:41 PM
Rodney,
First post, regrettable it is to offer my sympathies for your Mom's passing.

Ian Franks
06-10-2011, 2:00 PM
My condolences Rodney, it is always hard when you lose a parent.

George M. Perzel
06-10-2011, 4:04 PM
Rodne;
I'm sure I'm speaking for all of us here at SMC when I offer our sincere regrets and condolences on the passing of your Mom. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.
Best Regards;
George and the Gang at SMC

Hannu Rinne
06-10-2011, 5:01 PM
My condolences,

Hannu

Greg Bednar
06-10-2011, 5:33 PM
My condolences Rodne.

Rodne Gold
06-11-2011, 12:15 AM
Thanks all for the good wishes , It's actually a weight off our shoulders that my mom passed on, far easier to deal with this than to watch her deteriorate and suffer.

Rangarajan Saravana kumar
06-11-2011, 12:38 AM
Very very sorry to hear the news, our heartfelt condolences

Rodne Gold
06-17-2011, 5:07 AM
Once again , thanks for condolences ,life goes on.

In the interim we have got our new mainboards and LCD panels and have managed to configure our big machine with the correct parameters to use the hardware and software correctly , it was "sort of" relatively easy.

It appears that ANY machine that is similarily configured to ours , with steppers and a glass tube , can use this as a retrofit control system, EVERYTHINg is configureable in terms of the machines motion etc.

Nice way of doing things , the total cost of the mainboard and lcd panel would be in the $350-400 range , which is not a lot of money.

Understandably , I have not really had the time to mess around and we have a job cutting small items out of magnetic sheeting (we are doing a full colour domed fridge magnet job) so have just run that...

I have found a way to actually re-label the software and roll overs , not just work on the manual , to make things even more "understandable".
I am also looking at a DLL and EXE editor to perhaps improve further on the way things work , albeit I have very little know how in that dept-- another thing to learn...

I have been fiddling with the preview function and it is really great
It basically instantly works out the time the job will take , how much non firing movement there will be , how much firing movement there will be and so on. More importantly it can actually give you a real time (or anything from 0.1x speed to 10x speed) moving representation of the laser head motion and where and how and what power it will be firing , so essentially you can see what you will be getting without running the job. Very nice indeed!!!!
Heres a screenshot that shows the graphic to be engraved (the deeper the green colour , the higher the power level you have chosen is , so you can see if you are way out in your settings - perhaps you meant to have 2% power and you have set 72% , your graphic should be a VERY light green , not dark - and you can correct it),

When you start the simulation , it shows head movement without firing in yellow and when firing in red and it shows the exact path the machine takes whether it be scanning or vector cutting. It alos reports ion head position and power levels if it is varied.

Dan Hintz
06-17-2011, 7:28 AM
If the programmers did it correctly, the button text should be in a resource file that you can edit... is that what you found? Or did you just pony up and edit the EXE... ;)

Rodne Gold
06-17-2011, 9:00 AM
Mainly in an .ini file but some stuff in the exe and Dll's , ini editing is easy , its the exe files and dll files that I'm a bit clueless on , will figure it out some way or another... not sure how much time I want to devote to all this.

Dan Hintz
06-17-2011, 10:28 AM
Rodney,

Google for "Windows Resource Editor"... that should get you some stand-alone programs that will let you edit DLLs. If you have Microsoft's Visual Studio I would suggest using that... you could try their free version, but I don't know if they have locked out resource editing in it or not.

John Barton
06-25-2011, 2:51 AM
Well , after a little fiddling to get the lasers set up (I wanted to run 2 lasers off one computer and send the same file to either within the cutting software which is not as easy as just having one laser attached) I finally got both running as I wanted.

Software installation (I don't have the latest version but will soon be getting it and the hardware required to run it) is fairly straightforward but not as seamless as I would like , the manual in good chinglish is still not idiotproof (I am rewriting it to be so) and some steps are a little confusing or not explained in detail. All the relevant instructions are there , but some vital settings are not highlighted enough.

I have Corel 11 and X3 installed , I would not recommend 11 as I had a lot of issues trying to use it with their driver , X3 was a lot easier to getting the Corel plug in/vba thing to work.

I haven't fiddled much yet , but one of the things i was trying to do was to see what 4-5pt text looks like on this machine (on perspex) and initially I was getting very poor results , however after tweaking some settings (there are a zillion settings . not for the faint hearted , you can control this machine to the nth degree) and slowing down a little bit , I got exceptional results , far better then my GCC's output at that size , I have a 10x loupe and inspected with that as well as by eye. As can be expected , output of very fine detail at maximum speed is compromised , slowing things down helps , however larger text and solid items exhibit extremely good results. Inspecting a solid square , I was blown away with the smoothness and lack of banding , lines or ridges , the output on perspex when inspected under 10x was as good as sandblasting with the finest grit , one could just make out the lines of the laser scan , but this is under 10x magnification!!!!

I have yet to see how this machine copes with complex existing Corel files , the plugin seems to do conversion to an AI file on the fly and then uses that in the driver. I do foresee that I might have to make some adjustments to work flow , but that will be something
I will have to live with. I didn't expect 4x the machine at 1/4 of the price , compromises are a part of the deal.

There are still some small things I am discovering that need to be improved hardware wise , the machine has a small recessed panel in front with 4 large knob type power/emergency stop switches , one for the machine itself, one for the laser ,one for each of the blower and air pump .
They will need to be dumped and replaced with smaller easier to use switches as the recess is too crowded to operate em easily, no biggie. I spoke to the factory about this and they said when I have done mine to my satisfaction , that they will implement this in their new builds.

It must be said that the factory is extremely proactive in a lot of respects , mails are answered very promptly , Provisional invoices are issued as quotes , they will answer any technical query you have with your build in detail (They are on skype so you can get answers instantly)
Setup and technical issues once you have your machine are easily solved in real time and if you really run into problems the factory tech support will "invade" your puter and offer remote assistance. They are keenly following my suggestions for improvements to their machines. This kind of performance is what mainstream buyers want and expect.

The main issue with chinese machines is "trust" , trust you will get a decent product after paying (their terms are30% upfront and 70% when the machine is loaded) , trust you will get some support , trust that warrantees will be honoured , trust that the machines will do what it says on the label. So far , all my expectations on these have been met or exceeded.

I was quoted $350 for new mainboards and LCD panels to run the new software , my machine builds were completed before the new stuff was implemented so were not delivered with em. The factory is sending me 3 new mainboards , 3 new lcd panels and the new software via DHL , and have requested I send my older stuff back (3 cos I had also ordered a spare , 2 on my machines , 1 spare set). However all I have to do is pay shipping both ways , I think this is a very fair and equitable deal...

My overall impression so far is still that these machines are a total bargain , I cannot see what can possibly really give rise to hardware issues and even so , spares are a joke re pricing.

I was quoted around $20 000 for a 40W mainsteam machine with a 750x500 bed , I have got a machine with double the power, more than double the bed size at 1/4 of the price.
I am spending the next week , when time permits (It's a little hectic at work right now) putting the 2 machines thru their paces and will post pics of output and will detail the operational aspects and report on any bugs.

I have to say something abut Vincent De Klerk , who brought in a machine before me and who let me look at and test on his before buying mine.
He helped us commission our machine and set them up on the computer , he spent 3 mornings with us , forgoing his own business to do so.
His help was invaluable and demonstrates the thing I like so much about this forum and it's laser community , the willingness to help other , give back and share and the altruism that is plainly evident. Vincent , you are a STAR!!!!

Thank you to you and Vincent for your excellent research and follow-up. I live in China and IN CHINA it's next to impossible to find out the wealth of information contained on this forum about Chinese lasers. I own a Chinese generic laser and I wish that I had had the advantage of your experience before purchasing it. It is a decent enough workhorse but for the same money I would have much rather gone with a company that has already shown an ability to work closer to foreign standards of service and reliability. For me personally it would be nice to be able to talk to someone in support in english rather than have to go through translators and third parties (I suppose I could get off my lazy butt and learn Chinese).

Over here there are "laser" companies in every city, mostly resellers or partial assemblers all buying from the same sources. It's hard to find out which ones are good to work with. We bought factory direct but the best service has come from the brother of the factory owner who happens to be a distributor for the lasers in the province we live in. Without him we'd be lost sometimes. But without the Creekers I'd be hopelessly lost.

I do think that the Chinese machines often require a lot of tinkering but once set they seem to be pretty reliable. I have seen factories here that run theirs HARD day in and day out with them almost never going down. By the same token the cue making factory down the street opted for the ULS 660s for their cue engraving jobs and they run those almost 24 hours a day (only stopping for meals as no Chinese worker skips lunch).

Anyway, thank you again for this. What I am looking for now is whether it will be possible for us to get away from the Lasercut drivers and into something closer to what I had with the ULS drivers. Judging by your posts and other research it seems as if there might be a way for me to change controller cards and thus get the better drivers that come with that. Am I off base?

Rodne Gold
06-25-2011, 3:39 AM
You can get a motherboard, lcd panel and the software and configure the rest of the machine to suit , you may have to do some rewiring to the stepper drivers or of the limit switches etc , not too difficult. the software will allow you to configure you axes to work correctly and your laser to fire at the right time and so on. Yeh, I know about the lunch thing - everything stops.... :)

Rodne Gold
06-28-2011, 7:39 AM
I have been playing a lot for the last few days and have had some great results and learnt a lot.

I was playing mainly on the "cheaper" 900 x600 glass tubed 60w machine - supposedly the less able of the 2 machines I have but comments etc apply to both machines. I have a spare 80w Reci tube and associated power supply and am thinking of putting it in the cheaper glass tubed machine , its a snap to do... I'll wait till my glass tube gives up the ghost tho.

The engraving , after fine tuning the bidirectional settings is STUNNING... the driver has a backlash compensation for various speeds , by engraving a thin font or line you can get the start and end points of succesive scan lines to line up almost perfectly under 10x magnification.
Text that is unreadble by eye is pretty good at 10x magnification. Even at the maximum practical speed of this machine which is 20" per second , the output is great. However running at 20" per second take 2x longer than 10" per second if engraving small objects , the reason is that it uses a lot more space either side of the small object to accelerate and decellerate , undoubtedly on a long "run" (IE a long run from left to right) the higher speed comes into its own.

Cycle times were on average 2/3rd to 1/2 the time on my spirits at 100% speed at 250 and 500 dpi. The engraving of the chinese machine at max speeds was actually a lot better than the spirits.. I was testing using 1.2mm Arial upper case letters (1/20th of an inch lettering) , barely readable.

I have also tried the kerf width compensation and it works really well , after calibrating the laser in terms of the X and Y travelling the same distance , I cut a 4" x 4" square using the kerf compensation and it was about 0.008" out!!!!

There are some huge advantages to this driver over my current machines , I can set cut ordering exceptionally well and very easily , I can set cut start points where I like and cut directions as I wish , Or I can let the excellent machine optimization do it all for me....
Can delete overlaps or multiple lines as well...so you can stack up rectangles with coincident sides and the machine wont "double cut". Shortens times a lot.

We were cutting small discs out of 1.5mm rowmark material , just under an inch in diameter and at the highest speed we could achieve with the power we have. the issue was there was a small notch at the start and end points , due to the lasers "piercing" at that point , the driver allows both a lead in and lead out , IE it can start the cut outside the circle ,cut the circle and finish outside , all automagically , we got absolutely perfect circles.

Registration on this machine is a snap , the options you have in respect of positioning are bewilderingly manifold. There really isnt a situation where you cant make a plan for perfect registration.

Alignment of graphics is also infinitely configurable , apart from alignment on the page and alignment to each other , you can force any graphic or element to equal the height or width of another or force em to be the exact same size. Not sure where this useful tho.. they wouldn't have put it in if there wasnt some use for that...

You can also do a manual cut if you so wish , there is a virtual control panel that allows you to jog the head , either with the laser firing or not , you can set the jog distance , the jog speed and the power you want. Great for "cutting off" unused materal or making a slot in a wood base etc.

There is a special scanning mode which will allow deep engraving or bass relief letters to be done with a very flat and smooth background , you can modulate the spot size etc , but this shortens power supply and tube life , so I have not used it.

There is a stamp mode , Ramp is used to make shoulders , havent used that either.

One feature which is also great is you can download the files to the laser or use a usb flash disk to store the engraving files (with all the settings etc) and run the laser as a stand alone , one could have banks of these all doing one job and not have to have a computer at all...The laser keeps all the downloaded files in memory even when off.

As to pause , you can pause the machine , jog the head away from the engraving,, inspect it and then press start and it goes back to where is was and finishes. One good thing is that if you press pause , it stops immediately , my spirits want to finish the particular curve or line its on when pressing pause. Even better is that if you kill the power or it goes off midway thru a job , when the laser reboots , it asks you whether you want to complete the job a nd goes and completes it if you say yes.

As a design package , RDcam (or laserworks) sucks big time , it's pretty primitive , useful for simple stuff but nothing much else.

Whats nice is the combine curve , often DXF files and others come in in segments , the program/driver allows you to combine these into single curves and/or force the curve to close.

You also have an option to cut a square around any graphic with whatever white space you want.

Another option is to engrave (scan) and then cut (vector engrave) the outline of the object afterwards , great for cleaning up letters edges or die cutting. No provision for using an offset when doing so , it would have been nice to be able to cut with a "border" , but no go.

Selection of objects is often an issue , you can explicitly group objects , but right clicking on a colour in the layer panel selects all objects of that colour, otherwise you have to pick and shift or marquee select. Not the most elegant thing in the world.
Screen resolution of the grahics are a little "gross" , not as fine and smoothe as Corel.

There is a great option called small circle diameter , it allows you to drop cutting speed for small objects under a user setable diameter , so you can get the best quality and have the best of both worlds , high speed for big stuff , slow for smaller...

We have tried various materials on both machines , the practical maximum in terms of acrylic is 12.5mm (1/2") and output is not that great , 8mm and bleow is a snap. Formica (countertop material) cuts at great speed , 1/4" mdf is ok , a little bit of charring but not too bad. the rowmark/ipi plastics are easily processed.

The machine itself is VERY simple , troubleshooting is easy - we had the 60w machine go out and within 5 minutes had discovered the laser power supply had popped a fuse , the reason is that we had the machine on a dirty line and when other heavy stuff kicked in , we had droops and surges..now on its own dedicated "clean" line , 5 mins later the PS was both in and out and repaired and we were up and running again.

Once again , I have to stress that the online tech support is really exceptional , the tech guy is available on skype and if hes not in office , they will call him , I have never waited more than a few hours (cos of time differences) for an answer to any small query..

I cannot comment on long term reliabilty , but cant see much that can really go wrong , I have spares galore at any rate.
My operators are fighting to use the 2 machines , albeit slower than the spirits for engraving , the cutting ability of the higher power tubes is actually reducing thruput times on a lot of jobs.

The more I use my machines , the more I am determined to replace and add to my existing stuff , Im looking at a 1500mm x 1300mm twin tube/twin head machine with 2x reci 100w tubes. I can either do 2 750x1300 sized pieces simultaneously , or easily remove th one head and use the full 1300 x 1500 table , should be a great cutting/larger engraving workhorse , even if one tube goes out , there is still another!!

Proposed cost of this machine is round $8000 with all the bells and whistels , all the top quality options and spare everything!!

In the next day or so , I will be doing comparative engraving and some torture tests and will post pics of the results.

As an aside , on the china quality issue , I sell a huge amount of medals with customised domed inserts and was thinking of moving from local to Chinese production , my agents took random samples off a production line and sent them to me , at the pricing I was expecting junk , a 50mm medal iweighing an once and a bit is priced at 20c and a 70mm medal is priced at 35c ....
Well, myself and my staff were stunned , the quality is exceptional , plating is very very good and the medals look like thay should cost 10x more. Chunky , with heft and weight and extremely well defined stamping/die casting , each wrapped in tissue paper and bagged in a ziplok.
I had initally considered an order of 30 000 in total but have doubled that now. Weight of the medals is just over 5000 lbs !!!!
I can offer my clients a medal that is at least 3x better and bigger than I have ever produced here at the same price they paid last year..

Ken Shea
06-28-2011, 9:08 AM
Rodney,
An Interesting write.

I believe I have read all the threads in this post but do not recall seeing where you mentioned the controller or driver you are referring to?

Ken

Rodne Gold
06-28-2011, 10:22 AM
Hiya Ken , it's called Rdcam or laserworks and it comes with the machines , I think its written by shenui lasers or adapted by them for a Leetro motherboard , you can find a manual for an older version here
http://www.jinlantrade.com/ebay/sh350dlaserengraver/sh350dmanual.pdf
Its pretty chinglish and the older versions miss a few things the new software has.

Ken Shea
06-28-2011, 12:42 PM
Thanks Rodne
Guess you had mentioned it :)

looks to be superior to the typical.

Bruce Dorworth
06-28-2011, 2:29 PM
Rodne is there a place on to specify steps for the rotary attachment? I entered my steps for x axis and y axis, but when my rotary is plugged in it seems to turn to far.

Bruce

Rodne Gold
06-28-2011, 3:04 PM
I have2 different rotaries with my lasers , havent tried them yet , the driver has place for diameter and another that they call "circle pulse" which is how many pulses/steps is needed to complete one full revolution , their default is 1000??
This is from their manual ,rather uninteligble...chinglish at it's worst......

4.9.2Rotate Engraving


【Enable rotate engrave】:After enable engraving,the actual precision of Y-axis will be based on diameter and step per rotate to auto match the setting of pulse precision ofY-axis. In addition, the work area in the main interface will also change.

【Diameter】:The diameter size of the parts.

【Step per rotate】:The numberof pulse corresponds to the workpiece rotate one week.

The function is to facilitate the users to replace parts, and different size of the workpiece when the workpiece is not very different before use. When the relatively large difference in size of the workpiece, it is recommended to use directly modify the motor step approach to implementation.

Rotary engraving is only when usingthe rotation axis to replace the Y-axis use.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what that all means :)

George M. Perzel
06-28-2011, 3:58 PM
Rodne;
Wow! Now I'm glad I didn't order the rotaries!!
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

Dan Hintz
06-28-2011, 8:48 PM
I have2 different rotaries with my lasers , havent tried them yet , the driver has place for diameter and another that they call "circle pulse" which is how many pulses/steps is needed to complete one full revolution , their default is 1000??
This is from their manual ,rather uninteligble...chinglish at it's worst......

4.9.2Rotate Engraving


【Enable rotate engrave】:After enable engraving,the actual precision of Y-axis will be based on diameter and step per rotate to auto match the setting of pulse precision ofY-axis. In addition, the work area in the main interface will also change.

【Diameter】:The diameter size of the parts.

【Step per rotate】:The numberof pulse corresponds to the workpiece rotate one week.

The function is to facilitate the users to replace parts, and different size of the workpiece when the workpiece is not very different before use. When the relatively large difference in size of the workpiece, it is recommended to use directly modify the motor step approach to implementation.

Rotary engraving is only when usingthe rotation axis to replace the Y-axis use.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what that all means :)
Doesn't seem too bad there,Rodney...
"Diameter": Diameter of the part being engraved
"Step per rotate": Number of pulses for one complete revolution (interesting how their translators get "week" from revolution, ain't it?)
"Enable rotate engrave": The last part is the most odd... it appears the work area in the GUI will change based upon the circumference of the engraved item (like changing the page size in Corel)

If that was the worst of the Chinglish, I'd be happy...

Rodne Gold
06-29-2011, 12:01 AM
Well, i would imagine pulses per revolution is fixed for one of my rotary attachements as that one is a lathe type thing . the other has rollers and the rollers roll the item , so there things might vary as there can be a "gearing" effect if the diameter of the object is bigger or smaller than the roller
I doubt the machine can sense which rotary is being used. I actually don't even know where to plug the things in , just unpacked the rotaries and stuck em away , they come with NO documentation. The GUI does not change at all if you enable rotary engraving , however there is a "test" button you can press when you enter the diameter and pulse thing (obviously to see how much it rotates)
When you look at a simulation screen , it does change when you enable rotary , so you and more or less see what you getting. Im sure one would have to change the page size manually to the actual engraving area for positioning and so on.

I think this will need quite a bit of fiddling to see how it actually works in real life. I hardly use rotaries anyway , so they were just an afterthought when buying the machines , both were about $350 combined so my thinking was at that price , I might as well get em.
I might give one a bash today and see what it does... Maybe there IS some further documentation to em ..will ask my supplier..

Ian Franks
06-29-2011, 4:31 AM
Rodney
Thank for the link http://www.jinlantrade.com/ebay/sh350dlaserengraver/sh350dmanual.pdf (http://www.jinlantrade.com/ebay/sh350dlaserengraver/sh350dmanual.pdf)this matches our panel on the laser and is much better than what we got with our machine.

stan kern
06-29-2011, 1:15 PM
Rodne
i have a similar machine 100 watt with the same cooler (chiller as you) I have had this machine for about 1 1/2 yrs and no real problems.
The key on off lockeable switch fell apart and the computer stopped recognizing the laser but both items should be repaired shortly,
They are well built as you said well packed .
I used antifreeze in the chiller unit 1/2 1/2

Rodne Gold
06-29-2011, 3:02 PM
We also using antifreeze , yellow for the one tube and pink for the other , looks cool when the tube fires and it glows yellow or pink ....

FRED HUFFT
06-29-2011, 3:08 PM
Rodney,
I was working on order for Shenhui SH-G350 Laser when I found your thread and have read it complete. Invaluable info for me!
I have never used a laser, this will be my first. I design and manufacture small, battery operated, hand held electronic test equipment housed in Black Anodized Aluminum cabinets on which I plan to engrave logo, lettering (smallest about 1.5mm letters), serial numbers, etc.

We will use laser mostly for in house production items, it will get light use. Because of cost, I simply could not consider buying a similar US made Laser for this purpose. The Chinese co did not take a sale from a US co, there just would not have been a sale. I think the lower priced machines will open up large new market for small business, in house use.

Hope to finalize my order with Shenhui this week. Regarding your info about the new software and control board revision, I asked my Shenhui sales guy (Pascal) and he said mach will ship with control board Rev 5.0.0, is that the new one? If not what do I ask for?

Here is my Shenhui order so far: (some of this stuff I had to know about and ask for)

Laser # SH-G350, 300x500mm, 50 W Glass,
Auto Focus, Motorized 9.7" up/dn table incl Honeycomb, removable Legs,
Red Dot (I am sure it is not a thru-lens), Upgraded air assist pump,
and I get to pick colors! (as you also mentioned)
ALL THE ABOVE INCL SHIPPING TO PORT OF MIAMI, <$2K ! !

CW-5000 Chiller, std rotary, 1-spare set reflectors and lens

Still considering spare 50W Laser Bulb ($170), etc.

Any and all comments and suggestions much appreciated.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and the great reporting on your machines.
Fred

Rodne Gold
06-29-2011, 4:36 PM
The latest software is rdcam 5 (.0.17) , it only works with the latest motherbord and lcd panel so if you getting that , you up to date.
I would buy a spare tube and power supply as well as a spare stepper motor , you can dispense with the motorised table and the autofocus in preference for the tube/PS if budget is a concern. The Cw5000 is a little overkill , for a 50w, the rubbish cw3000 would do tho if it really gets hot hot hot in summer , it might be marginal , I think the 5000 is like $350 more , you could maybe dispense with that as well in preference to the tube/ps... seems a very good price too.. what can you buy for $2k these days... the machine will be ideal for your application

FRED HUFFT
06-29-2011, 5:25 PM
Rodne,
I'm an engineer and like plenty margin in a spec, the CW-5000 is only costing me $240 more than CW-3000 so I will stick with that. I am frequently guilty of overkill. Our facility is air cond and absolute max room temp would be 85 deg F.
For my purposes, I do not think the RECI tube is necessary, don't need the additional hrs and do not think the engraving will be any better on my cabinets. I am sure we will find many other uses for mach as we learn to use it.
I think I will probably go with pkg as I listed plus the spare tube and P/S & stepper.
Many thanks Rodne

George M. Perzel
06-29-2011, 6:04 PM
Hi Fred;
You may want to check the shipping cost-ok if they (Shenhui) say they will get it to you in FT. Laud at that price but I am skeptical. Otherwise a good deal-Thanks to Rodne, I'm getting a double head-double tube 80watt large bed system from the for $7k (a ton of spares) and $1.6K shipping cost to NY (from my freight forwarder).
Good Luck-you saved a ton of dineros
Best Regards;
George
Laserarts

FRED HUFFT
06-29-2011, 9:14 PM
George,
I have all quotes by email, the transportation from port of Qingdao, Cn to Port of Miami was very cheap when paid to Shenhui, also supposed to include insurance. Would have cost much more through my customs breker. Total pr from Shenhui with spares & accessories should be about $3K, Additional costs in US for Customs broker, 3.5% duty, ISF, FDA, 10+2 and $100 for delivery truck to our facility (only abt 30 miles) should not exceed $500, that's about $3500 Door to Door. Well, that is the plan.
I will let you know how this works out and will be interested in hearing about your delivery and equipment also.
Good luck to both of us.
Fred

Craig Matheny
06-30-2011, 3:19 PM
Rodne,
Thank you so much for your information it is priceless.. I do have a few questions about the software and machines I notice everything you show is in metric you know us Americans we don't do metric does the software offer unit choice? I also cut 1/8" Baltic Birch Plywood on a 45 watt epilog laser 10-12 hours a day looking at the 80 or 100 watt machine do you ever cut this or can you get it there and run some samples I have no issue paying for time and material.

Thanks

Rodne Gold
06-30-2011, 4:27 PM
No choice in the software - you guys will have to join the rest of the modern world and think decimal metric :)
I recon 1/8th (3mm) ply should cut real well with an 80-100w if t cuts with a 45w. my 60w cheap tube cuts a lot faster than my 30w RF based tube with about the same spot size or kerf width. You can get a 130 or150w tube that will really work fast.

Rodne Gold
06-30-2011, 4:30 PM
I used my own shippers, From China to South Africa I was quoted $110 for both of my machines by shenui, Actual cost was $1300 door to door.(freight) , you can probably 1/2 that for a smaller single machine.

Craig Matheny
06-30-2011, 4:34 PM
What I am dealing with is a major space issue and I need to produce 2x that I am now do you see that between your 30 watt and new 60 watt? Basiccly if i have a file that takes 20 minutes now on the 45 will it take 10 or less on the 100watt? This is why I wonder if you use or can get Baltic birch there and be paid to run a test.

Thanks

Rodne Gold
06-30-2011, 4:43 PM
I can probably get 3mm baltic birch here , it might not be the same composition as what you have there. I will try to get some tommorow or monday and give it a bash. i would get a 130w Reci machine if you need the speed in cutting , it will be 2-3x faster than the 45watt machine. Thing is , these machines are quite big , I have explorers at 1m x 500mm working size and my 900 x 600 is bigger than them, on the plus side ,its easy to get to any thing on these lasers.
My 60w laser is about 1/2-2/3rd the speed of my 30w spirits when engraving , so if your file has rastering , you wont save time

Craig Matheny
06-30-2011, 4:54 PM
Which models is the 1 meter x 500 you are talking about? Can I send you a .cdr file to your email account to cut so we can compare apples to apples it takes 12" x 24" wait for it 304mm x 608mm.
Thank you

Rodne Gold
06-30-2011, 5:08 PM
There is only one place in my city that supplies baltic birch ply , not sure if they do 3mm , send me the file at rodgold@tokerbros.co.za
My 30w Explorers have 960 x 495 or so beds
I cant remember the exaxt size. BTW the chinese machines have a slot front and back and you can feed any length thru them,

Rodne Gold
07-01-2011, 3:06 AM
We really didn't like the air assist with these machines , the original air assist screwed into a port in the nozzle and presurised the lens cavity and exited coaxially with the lens thru the nozzle.
For some reason , it created some vortex or other and the lens was getting contaminated a lot , maybe also moisture in the air supply was another contributing factor to the lens contamination.
Apart from that , the coaxial air assist seemed to spread the dust and melt from engraving and cutting all over the surface,
This made us have to do a lot of material clean ups and lens cleans , the issue is that you have to disconnect the whole air assist setup into the bottom knurled part of the nozzle to unscrew it to get to the lens.
We modded it , as the pics show , made a little bracket , used a heat gun to bend the pipe , bypassed the lensbox and nozzle and just used a directed tube , works a charm!!!
We will do this a little more elegantly in time , make a nicer bracket and is a metal pipe with an articulated swivel type fitting so the nozzle can be finely adjusted.

stan kern
07-01-2011, 9:04 AM
by the way ,metric vs imperial you can request a mchine be shipped imperial ,i did
and a few other that have ordered.
The distributor sets it up

Craig Matheny
07-01-2011, 5:15 PM
Good to know I can put away my calculator

Rodne Gold
07-08-2011, 5:52 AM
Not much to update thus far , We have been running both lasers non stop and have had no issues at all with them , I have not been running anything particularily complex or difficult as we have existing orders to fulfill which are pretty vanilla type applications. I have tried a few photographs run thru photograv and they have come out just fine. Same quality as my other lasers.
Most engraving jobs I am running are at 250dpi , which gives a nice balance between speed and VERY accepetable output. One of the vector jobs is cutting lettering out of formica and the 80w is doing a sterling job of it , slicing thru like butter. Another was cutting medium density foam , 1/2" thick , also no issues at all. Stuff like 3mm acrylic cutting is superb , very nice edge finish and very smooth curves. We have been working extensively on the Chinese version of flexibrass and their 1.5mm thick normal Gold/black material , it's very good stuff , as good as anything else out there and there are some stunning finishes available , the thin "flexibrass" is a little thicker than the usual stuff at 0.8mm , a little less flexible but it is a lot less prone to warping when engraving large solid areas.

My workshop manager is on leave this week and I have been busy with other tasks , so haven't really had much time to play with more esoteric applications.
I have 2 sort of semi skilled operators to run my machines , they do fairly low level designing and simpler Corel type stuff , load and determine settings for the machines and so on , they have both taken to the new machines like a duck to water and find them as easy or simpler to use than my spirits or explorers. We have adapted our design process to take the new machines into account in that any Corel drawing with lines with width are now designed as closed curves whuich can be filled as the drivers of these machines do not recognise corel line width. Any line is treated as a cut line.
Next week , I plan to devote 2 or 3 days to trying many other substrates and doing some exhaustive comaprative tests of these machines VS my others in terms of time and quality. I have yet to getting round to cutting wood of any description..we don't do a lot of it normally.

Based on the results I have so far , I am intending to buy a 1500 x 1300 twin head machine.. either 2x 80w or 2x 100 Reci tubes (their twin head machines have 2 tubes , firing opposite to each other at each head) Which would enable me to double thruput yet still have a big bed size.
2 heads will do 2 x 1200 x 700 or with removal of one head , do 1500 x 1300 or so and the pricing is around the $8-9000 mark with tons of spares. I'm especially interested in a machine like this for cutting more than engraving.
Both heads can be "balanced" , IE you can trim the power to each tube so each one outputs the same wattage , one can disable either tube as well. Of course , if one tube fails , you have built in redundancy.
What you can't do of course is let each head do something different at the same time....

FRED HUFFT
07-08-2011, 6:28 AM
Rodne,
I have my order in the works for Shenhui SH-G350 60W and forgot to include the through lens red dot. (has std red dot)
was thinking about ordering the Beam Splitter (only $40) and maybe installing after I receive mach. Does it use the same red laser as standard red dot?
Is it big project to install myself and do I need to order more parts than the splitter?

Is it worth the trouble or should I forget about it at this point?

Thanks / Fred

Rodne Gold
07-08-2011, 7:42 AM
Fred , the beam splitter mounts on the first mirror holder , you probably can retrofit one , but why not call them and ask them to install one. Really the only advantage is to aid alignment as the red beam being coincident with the laser (and it has to be adjusted to be so) allows you to get basic alignment settings easier , its not that accurate as a "pointer" in terms of a non coincident one and there might just be a disadvantage as there is one more optic before the laser beam that it goes thru using the co incident system and one more thing to adjust (the red beam itself). a further "advantage" is that if the co incident red beam becomes fuzzy or blurred , its likely the beam itself is going thru dirty optics or is hitting somewhere it shouldn't, but this is really a pretty minor "advantage"

FRED HUFFT
07-08-2011, 1:28 PM
Thanks Rodne,

I asked about adding the through lens red dot and they were not happy about changing order at this point so I let it go. They may be able to ship my machine next week.
The rep actually told me that they DO NOT recommend the through lens red dot as it is "not as stable" as their "standard red dot". Perhaps they have had a lot of customers having trouble adjusting it??

Your new machines sound like winners! Thanks for all you great posts.

Fred

Rodne Gold
07-12-2011, 5:25 AM
Interesting development , I tried vector engraving on stainless steel with the 80w RECI tubed machine , 65% power and 5mm/sec speed and it worked real well , no cerdec required. Not the greatest pic , but it is not just "marked" , there is a definate ridge in the metal where the beam lasered some material away.
Edit: Tried "solid" engraving (scanning back and forth , like normal , not vector), 20mm/sec , 80% power , came out real well , not the best pic once again , the mark is nice and black, solid text text is 8mm high (1st pic)

Dan Hintz
07-12-2011, 6:27 AM
If you put in a good quality collimator and focusing optics, you could likely increase the speed significantly.

Rangarajan Saravana kumar
07-12-2011, 8:39 AM
Very nice Interesting Development at 80w Reci tube.. How about 5mm character ht ?

Scott Shepherd
07-12-2011, 8:42 AM
Rodney, that's a pretty nasty mismatch in the left size of the "O" on the start and stop points. Do you see that as an issue, or no? I have a lot of small precision parts I cut and that's an issue I have to really watch for. For me, when my bearings are going, I get that same result, but with new bearings, it's a perfect match. Have you noticed much of a mismatch on vector cutting?

Rodne Gold
07-12-2011, 9:07 AM
The stainless piece is slightly bowed and the air assist moved it while it was vectoring the O, I don't have any issues ordinarily. I do sometimes get a small notch when hi speed cutting Rowmark type material , but thats the piercing , a short lead in and lead out cures that.
I do have a spare collimator from one of my Explorers , but there is no real space in the beam path to put it , output from the tube is very near the first mirror.
I can go faster and with less power to get a much finer line , but it is too fine
5mm text wont be a problem , I will try smaller tommorow , the nice thing is that the laser accept SHXtype fonts from Acad , and I have many single line fonts for very small lettering in shx format , I also have some TTF in single line format (stickfont)
Not sure how this type engraving will work for complex logos , but for industrial type engraving , it is more than adequate.
You can go VERY fine, at lower powers and higher speeds , up to 40-50 mm/second and 60% power , but this does not give a really dark black mark , it's more a dark brown to blackish mark.

Zlatko Kursar
07-13-2011, 2:43 AM
Rodne,

please, can you try vector engraving on some piece of brass.

Rodne Gold
07-13-2011, 3:20 AM
I tried it , no mark at all , I doubted it would work as its the metallic composition of the stainless steel that makes it mark black ..
In the meantime I tried to cut thru a piece of 6mm (1/4") pine (maybe the same as baltic birch) plywood , and it did cut thru , but the power being put into the material combined with glues etc made it smoulder and burn at some point and that ruined it , power was 85% and speed was 1.6mm/sec (slow!!!!)
Maybe if I tried a "dot" cut (similar to perforation) It might work better. We do not use or cut this material , so it's really of no consequence to me.

Shane Sura
08-06-2011, 12:15 PM
Hey there..I know the post is a bit dated but wondering what the ShenHui website is? I was able t find the sales contact but wanted to view their site first. When I google search I come up with a bunch of options all saying it is their site.

Rich Harman
08-06-2011, 8:11 PM
http://en.shenhuilaser.com/

Shane Sura
08-06-2011, 9:41 PM
Thanks a bunch!

George M. Perzel
08-15-2011, 5:36 PM
Hi Gang;
It's Here!!!After a number of minor delays , the Shenhui D12180 laser has arrived in Victor, NY
and it's a biggin-main crate was 800 pounds about 200 of which is 1/2" plywood. Partially unpacked it and all looks well-nothing bent or broken and two loose nuts on the bottom which came from somewhere. First impressions:
Skin is adequate but should be reinforced because of the size of some of the panel
Many quick release panels allowing quick access
Still checking if all parts are there
Big Chiller came in separate padded crate
Will send pics tomorrow
Twin 4 yr old grandaughters think the crate would make a neat treehouse-just what I need-another project
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Craig Matheny
08-15-2011, 5:44 PM
Hope you have a large tree

Rich Harman
08-15-2011, 6:12 PM
I'm seriously considering using my crate to build a storage shed.

Martin Coetzee
08-17-2011, 10:04 AM
Hi Rodney,

Am I right in assuming the machines are on castor wheels ?

Rodne Gold
08-17-2011, 10:34 AM
Castors and it also comes with adjustable feet/pads, you can use the castors to wheel it around and then level it up 100% on the pads/feet.

Dan Ashlin
08-17-2011, 10:40 AM
Hey Rodne,
How thick of a piece of acrylic can your 80w handle? Mine was advertised as being able to go through an inch thick piece, but I find that highly unlikely.

Rodne Gold
08-17-2011, 12:52 PM
Practically with the 40mm lens I use , 8- 10mm, with the 50mm lens 12-15mm *1/2"* , it might go thru 1" with the right lens... who knows? I haven't tried....

Dan Hintz
08-17-2011, 1:08 PM
Hey Rodne,
How thick of a piece of acrylic can your 80w handle? Mine was advertised as being able to go through an inch thick piece, but I find that highly unlikely.
It's doable... you may not like the edge quality, but you have to remember that clear acrylic acts like a waveguide, so you can cut thicker pieces than other substrates. With a bit of searching here, you'll find pics of 1" pieces being cut with a 45W system.... very, very slowly.

John Flathers
08-17-2011, 10:24 PM
Rodney,
I am new to this board and to laser machines in general. We are looking at purchasing a Chinese laser and have been reluctant to trust the companies on Alibaba. Thanks for all the great info and pictures. You have really gone above and beyond the call with the amount of information you have provided in your post. This has certainly helped us a lot in deciding on which Chinese company to do business with.
We are just starting out and intend to mostly engrave and cut smaller items so we may not go with a machine as large as yours. Do you recommend any of their smaller machines?
Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us.
John

Rodne Gold
08-17-2011, 10:58 PM
Well, I actually recommend a large machine as you can get more potent tubes in them , the powerful tubes are longer and can pysically fit. Apart from that , the difference in price from a small machine to a big one are not that much. However you must also work out whether you have space for a big machine and can actually GET it into your premises. I would not get a smaller machine than my 900 x 600 x 60w unless space was a major concern.

Just be aware, Despite my "glowing" reports , George perzel that recently got his machine from Shenui had some bits he ordered missing *notably a spare tube* , he dealt with a different person at shenui that I did, they have indicated they would send it on ,but none the less, it's irritiating.
So I suggest , if you do buy from them to write down all the bits you want with NO chance of mistakes and actually ask them or send them a check list for packing and ask for pictures of all the items prior to them sending the machine. Just check and double check and then check again.

Not sure exactly how to make the chinese comply to the more formalised western way of doing business, I have found this with other items I have bought from china
When it comes to one item or just a few , things go well , when it comes to more complex items and multiples of different things , you really need to check
I actually flew over to check on a 40ft container of trophies, crystals and medals i had ordered.
There were 176 different items in various quantities . My suppliers were ok , my Agents were a little lax in terms of responses , shipping and most certalnly didnt fully live up to and speedily do the services they advertised as in sending inspectors to the factories, quality control , funds disbursement to supplier , placing the correct order, warehousing facilities, container packing and so on. you have to be on their backs all the time.

It seems to have all turned out right , my goods were all there , quality was acceptable and they on their way to me and I paid for em. Was my first time dealing with both supplier and agent so I was , understandably , a little antsy albiet I had only paid 25% up front and my agents only wanted the balance when the goods were actually on the water , I still didnt trust them fully on this order

Martin Coetzee
08-18-2011, 6:14 AM
Hi Rodney,

What is your experience with Shenhui.............do they install all the upgrades and "nice to have" as standard on new machines as I am ordering today/tomorrow and do not want to have to retro fit stuff afterwards ?

Martin Coetzee
08-18-2011, 6:32 AM
Hi Rodney,

What is your experience with Shenhui.............do they install all the upgrades and "nice to have" as standard on new machines as I am ordering today/tomorrow and do not want to have to retro fit stuff afterwards ?

Further..........I guess there is no way I can get a 1200 x 800 machine through a normal house door !!!!!

Rodne Gold
08-18-2011, 8:46 AM
There are no sort of "upgrades" and nice to haves they will leave off unless you specify , their stock machine is good enough, you should get the latest of parts they use.
However , when I bought my machines, after a month or 2 after they sent them , they started to use a new motherboard which supported a newer version of the software and they sent me 3 new boards with the accompanying lcd panels , (2 lasers and one spare set) and all I had to do was send the old boards and stuff back. Did it SA post office expedited service , R580 vs the cheapest courier cost of R2500 (R7 to the $) and I thought it pretty decent of em, the new mainboards and lcd panels would have cost me $1000 had I bought them. When I bought , they had a shipping cost of $110 added to the bill which I had already paid , I used my own shippers and got a credit for that and eventually they were owing my $56 odd , they went to great pains to try refund me , I told em not to hassle about it , Even on my 2nd trip to china this yr , they wanted to send the money to my hotel about 2500km from em ...
There are "upgrades" you must have , and some which are more trouble than they are worth. You must upgrade to a Reci tube and power supply and you must upgrade to the Cw 5000 chiller , you can upgrade at much higher pricing to a lower power sealed RF metal tube , which is not worth it.
You can order "imported" lenses , I didnt and am quite happy , but its a cheap u/g so you might as well. I ordered 20mm diameter lenses vs 18mm , dunno why I did , but IMO its not an essential u/g. I also ordered a red dot pointer coincident with the beam , good for the odd alignment but it also places another power sapping 1/2 silvered mirror optic in the beam path - we have removed the optic and now just do without a red dot pointer , it's really not neccesary , you can go for the cheap red dot pointer assembly which hangs off the lens assembly's nozzle.

The laser WILL fit thru a door , BUT you will have to tell them to do you a custom build and NOT to weld the stand/wheels etc on the body , you could then turn the whole laser carcass etc sideways and get it thru an 800 wide door and then ask em to weld plates on the stand so you can rebolt it to the stand.
Just send me a copy of the PI you get and I will tell you if you got anything wrong or have left out something essential

Dan Hintz
08-18-2011, 9:04 AM
I also ordered a red dot pointer coincident with the beam , good for the odd alignment but it also places another power sapping 1/2 silvered mirror optic in the beam path - we have removed the optic and now just do without a red dot pointer , it's really not neccesary , you can go for the cheap red dot pointer assembly which hangs off the lens assembly's nozzle.
Rodney,

You should be losing a negligible amount of power with that optic... certainly lower than anything you could hope to measure outside of the laboratory. If the optic's coating is intact, you should lose way less than 1% of your beam strength. They're pretty darn efficient transmitters at that wavelength. If you ever decide to put it back in, you can rest easily that you won't lose any cutting capability.

Rodne Gold
08-18-2011, 9:39 AM
We actually had an issue with the red dot diode in that it seemed to be overheating or something was splattering on the lens of the diode and thus the red beam was becoming shattered , it happened 2x with new diodes , so that was the main reason for removing it in the first place. I reconed it was something to do with the combiner system , not sure 100% what tho
We gained about a 15-20% speed increase when removing that 1/2 silvered mirror thing
The laser actually fires thru it like this <----\<---- (thats the laser path) and the red beam shoots from the bottom of the \ and is reflected 45 degrees <---\ , it really doesnt look like a quality piece to me? At any rate , it takes 2 small screws to remove it and it's easily replaceable with no disturbance of alignment for either laser or red dot , bearing in mind the red dot is nor really a precsion positioning device and due to nozzle exit , I can see where the laser will be firing , whether i have one or not is no biggie.

Martin Coetzee
08-18-2011, 9:44 AM
I used my own shippers and got a credit for that and eventually they were owing my $56 odd , they went to great pains to try refund me , I told em not to hassle about it , Even on my 2nd trip to china this yr , they wanted to send the money to my hotel about 2500km from em ...
There are "upgrades" you must have , and some which are more trouble than they are worth.

The laser WILL fit thru a door , BUT you will have to tell them to do you a custom build and NOT to weld the stand/wheels etc on the body , you could then turn the whole laser carcass etc sideways and get it thru an 800 wide door and then ask em to weld plates on the stand so you can rebolt it to the stand.
Just send me a copy of the PI you get and I will tell you if you got anything wrong or have left out something essential
Pretty decent of them to go to such trouble to get a few $'s to you.
Turning the machine on its side will not damage the insides ????

Rodne Gold
08-18-2011, 10:01 AM
Well it's all tied up inside for shipping , nothing much barring the X axis and the engraving head that can move and be damaged and they secured (with red ribbon nogal :)

George M. Perzel
08-18-2011, 10:04 AM
Hi Guys;
Martin-if you order the big machine 1200x800, you need 43" of clearance to get it in on its side-splitting it into two sections as Rodne suggested cuts that to 33". Flipping it on its side and removing the casters/levelers gains you about another 4 inches. requesting a two section machine is a good option in either case as the machine is built like a Sherman tank and weighs about the same-now I know where all the steel from the old junkyards went. (Do they still have junkyards?).
I have a crew of piano movers set to move mine into the house-lucky to have double sliding doors with exactly 43" opening. Only issues show far appear to be the missing spare tube, a knife table, a couple of lenses and a wrong blower-all of which I can live without for awhile. Plan is finish electrical checkout, install Rodne mods and a few of my own (lights, vac port, better up-down switch, etc) and then get this sucker fired up!
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Alexa Ristow
08-18-2011, 10:12 AM
Hi Martin,

We have a 900 x 600 mm Chinese ( Rabbit ). Also looked way too big to get through a normal door. Secret is to look if your machine has a joint running parallel to the floor and halfway up the body. if so, it is likely that the bottom half is actually just a large tray for the top half which holds the mechanics. on our rabbit, the only element in the bottom half is the power supply. unplug this, remove a few screws and you can split the machine. Before tilting, confirm that your tube if properly fastened down. Remove the cutting table and secure the gantry with a few cable ties. if you then tape the top door to prevent it from falling open, you can carefully tip the top on it's side. it is now under the 800 mm with of a standard door. just watch out if you have a motor sticking out for the table chain drive.

Good luck,

Alexa.

George M. Perzel
08-18-2011, 10:16 AM
Hi Alexa;
Good tip-dont think Shenhui does this, however. Certainly not on the big machines and Rodne can confirm whether small unit is also welded.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Dan Hintz
08-18-2011, 10:31 AM
The laser actually fires thru it like this <----\<---- (thats the laser path) and the red beam shoots from the bottom of the \ and is reflected 45 degrees <---\
My bad, I had it flipped in my description (fixed)... here's a decent 1" dichroic (they have other sizes):
http://www.ulooptics.com/ulo_optics/products/beamcombinersdetail.asp?partno=10ZBS3-45-R

Rodne Gold
08-18-2011, 11:47 AM
Dan , this thing looks like silvery grey piece of mica , doesnt look like a yellowish ZnSe lens , IMHO better left off :)
The laser bodies arent split, there is stuff mounted at the bottom of the chassis like the Z axis belts and pulleys etc , if you look at the panels where the electronics are , you can see it cant be split , the only option is to provide the body and stands/feet seperate
look at the pics on page one and 2 of this thread and the ones I posted now, you will see , it may looks like it can be split as there is a seam , but its welded , Dan if you look at the one pic of the mirrpr hlders etc , you can see the beam splitter , its that silver thing with the big round collar where the mirror goes in , its slightly loosened off.

Rich Harman
08-18-2011, 2:26 PM
Our Shenhui 1400x900 does NOT have the bottom stand welded to the frame. It is bolted on. If necessary we could remove it, tilt it sideways and fit it through a 30" door. We did not ask for it to be able to do that.

The bottom stand is below the electronics portion and is just a simple frame of square tubular steel - no mechanical or electronic components are attached to it.

Rodne Gold
08-18-2011, 2:44 PM
There ya go , probrem solved :)
I assumed mine was welded , will check tommorow ,George says his is bolted so mine prolly is too

Rich Harman
08-18-2011, 3:13 PM
Before we were able to use our 1400x900 there were two things that needed to be fixed. Actually three but the third was due to shipping damage.

The leveling feet are quite robust however the way that they were attached to the frame was ridiculous. I was able to tear three of them off the frame by hand and the fourth required just a pair of pliers.

205496

The nuts were welded onto thin pieces of steel and those were tack welded onto the frame.

205497

For a machine that weighs a few hundred pounds this is not adequate. I would suggest that when ordering that you specify that these plates are to be a minimum of 3mm thickness.

Here is my fix -

205502

The other issue was with the table. They package the machine with the chiller underneath. The only way to get it out from under the machine is either to lift the machine up or raise the table and remove the bottom sheet (it slides out). Two of the bolts that hold the table had fallen out. When trying to move the table via the control panel the stepper would skip steps. I had to disassemble the table from the jack screws and remove it.

205500

The table is bolted to the aluminum bars which ride up and down the jack screws. There is a fitting on the bar that the jack screw threads onto and that is tightened to the bar. It is a loose fit on the threads so you can move the end of the bar up and down about 15mm. So without anything attached it is angled down slightly.

205503

A bolt is passed up through the bar into this nut. All the weight of the table is on these four points. The result is that they push down on the bars which in turn are deflected downwards and then bind on the jack screws.

There are a number of ways to fix this but my solution was to join the aluminum bars together with a steel channel so that they could not bind on the jack screw.

205504 205505

The table has worked smoothly since this fix and I have not yet had a belt slip, even when reaching the limits, the stepper will skip steps before the belt slips.

George M. Perzel
08-18-2011, 4:22 PM
Thanks , Rich-will check it out
I was wrong-second time this year
The 1200x900 Shenhui I just received IS BOLTED together-NOT welded!!!! Really great news as now my wife and her poker club can move this thing for me!!
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Martin Coetzee
08-19-2011, 7:44 AM
Hi Alexa;
Good tip-dont think Shenhui does this, however. Certainly not on the big machines and Rodne can confirm whether small unit is also welded.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

I have checked with Shenhui and they confirm that the new machines can split below the tray, so this should not be a problem.

I shall just be careful to make sure all moving parts are secured before I tilt it.

George M. Perzel
08-19-2011, 8:39 AM
Hi Guys;
Rich- just checked-large nut is now welded directly to bottom frame member-looks to be OK. Sounds like they do listen to complaints as this is a lot more robust their your arrangement.
Martin-machine can be split into three sections-all bolted together laser tube box, laser table top, bottom frame. However, the retractable cable tray on the right side has a sizeable number of wires going from top box to bottom frame-looks to be a bear to disconnect but need further investigation.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Martin Coetzee
08-22-2011, 10:19 AM
Great ! By the time we are finished one can fit the machine into your shirt pocket !

Martin Coetzee
08-25-2011, 10:02 AM
Rodney,

I see in the manual that you sent me that mention is made in a section of certain passwords to be entered. Can you explain ?

Rodne Gold
08-25-2011, 1:13 PM
There are 2 passwords , one is to set a whole host of operator options , ie so your employee has limited access to the puter or can only operate it a certain times etc - load of hogwash IMO , but maybe someone needs it- you can ignore it. The other is to access various machine paramters by reading the motherboard , chainging them and writing them back to the motherboard and / or to load new firmeware. Its Rd8888 , in all the versions of the software.
If you skype me i can send you all the software etc much quicker than if I upload to a ftp or free file hosting site.

Dan Hintz
08-25-2011, 2:02 PM
one is to set a whole host of operator options , ie so your employee has limited access to the puter or can only operate it a certain times etc - load of hogwash IMO , but maybe someone needs it- you can ignore it.
It doesn't surprise me the Chinese software has such a feature... for many shops, they need it. Chinese manufacturers are notorious for running a "fourth" shift, i.e., an unknown batch of parts created by employees doing a bit of selling on the side. I find it ironic the manufacturers getting so beat up on it are the same ones running their own "fourth" shift on foreign-made parts (e.g., a semi plant running an extra batch of Intel processors with masks that should have been destroyed when Intel said so, yet they "stayed around" for a few extra weeks before hitting the firepit).

Having that password would help cut down on the number of "fourth" shift parts coming out of the shop...

George M. Perzel
09-05-2011, 1:21 PM
Hi Gang;
Contrary to popular belief, I did not take my new laser and flee to Tasmania to escape the turmoil of the USA political and economic scene-although I'm sorely tempted. I apologize for not updating earlier but finally got the machine in the house and everything connected. After a few operating issues , quickly sorted out with Rodne's help, turned the beast on and VOILA!!! ,everything is working!
To recap, I purchased a Shenhui 1200x800 machine, same as Rodne's but with two 80 watt RECI tubes-total cost with spare parts, spare tube, and shipping came to $9314, delivered to my door in a liftgate truck.Usuable bed is about 36x49 inches but also has front and rear doors for pass-thru. Overall machine is 74 wide, 59 deep and 43 high-inches, and weighs about 800 pounds. depth is a bit more than Rodne's because of the 2nd tube. So far:
POSITIVES:
1. Machine was extremely well packed in very sturdy box-which will become part of tree house for grandkids.
2. C5000 chiller came in separate box-also well packed. Chiller is very well made.
3. No damage found in any machine parts or chassis.
4. Frame is made of four sections bolted together and can be dismantled-we took laser tube section off to reduce weight and width to get thru door.
5. Removable panels all over the place makes access easy
6. RECI tubes packed separately each in box and well wrapped with foam.
7. Well designed RECI tube mounts makes alignment easy-although not much required.
8. Machine has casters and leveling feet mounted in welded nuts-not like those Rich showed.
9. Basic table is heavy gauge steel with vents for air flow.
10. Honeycomb table is very heavy and sturdy.
11. Software (RDCam 5.0.18) installed easily and Win7-64 bit computer found machine-after eliminating operator error.
12. Machine came with 40 mm focus lens in each head-very impressed with initial test running 6 pt text on luan-will do comparison with my Mercury next week and post results.
13. Power is awesome-rastered 1/16" deep in luan at 30% power and 100mm/sec-will do wood cut tests and post results.
NEGATIVES:
1. Some spare parts and spare tube was missing-being sent by air express-their cost
2. Switches were not wired as requested-no facility for 110volt power. They were not aware that US homes also have 220 VAC available-although in a bit different config than used in China. they also sent, at no charge, a massive step up 110 to 220 xfrmr-will use as boat anchor for my kayak.
3. Power entry panel required two 220Volt input power cables-still cant figure why
4. No schematic diagrams available-I spent four hours tracing all wiring physically and with meter-now have power wiring diagram if anyone interested.
5. Most wiring color coded but workman must have run out of wire color and used whatever in a few cases.
6. Power control switches work but are not high quality-also do not like front bottom switch locations as easy for little hands to play with. Will change this.
7. Changed air flow to external to head as recommended by Rodne.
8. Metal access panels are a bit flimsy and rear one covering tubes needs rigid reinforcing bar.

More to follow next week. i did not expect to get a plug and play machine but, surprisingly, other than preference mods (110volt air and blower) it pretty much worked out of the box. Software requires a new way of thinking but offers a multitude of adjustable parameters.
Best Regards,
George

Bruce Dorworth
09-05-2011, 1:51 PM
Great news George!!!!! Did it come with one tube already installed, or did you have to install and setup it up? How smoothly does your table move up and down? I have a Chinese laser about the same size as yours, but my table does not move up and down without a lot of noise.

I know I may have read about this, but my age keeps me from remembering somethings and for the benefit of others. What is the benefit of the RECI tubes over C02?

Another feature Epilog has that mine does not have(I don't think) is with your motors turned off you can move the laser head to a location then turn the motors back on and your zeroed. Does this make sense and does your machine do that?

Congrats keep us informed,
Bruce

Rodne Gold
09-05-2011, 2:35 PM
Pity about the missing bits , they still need some lessons in QC , but I'm sure they will follow thru , they were good at sending me some free upgraded hardware and it took a lot longer for us to send stuff back to em then their outward bound freight. Problem with the chinese is face , they will not really want to tell you that they don't understand what you want 100% as this loses em face , so they will do what they think you wanted , rather than admit they a little confused...
Bruce , RECI tubes are guaranteed for 300 days , are supposed to last 8000 hours at 85% duty cycle (vs the 3 month guarantee/1000 hrs of the ordinary tubes) and are supposedly to have better beam quality as well as being able to fire at lower levels than the conventional one. I have a 80w RECI tubed machine and a 60w conventional tubed one , output of either seems to be the same other than power..longevity remains to be determined. Both are glass C02 tubes.
With these machines , you can jog the head to where you want it , and then press "ORIGIN" on the machines lcd panel , it then sets this as the origin of any jobs , even if you switch the machine off , on turn on , it will go to the physical orgin and then go to its "set" origin as a start point. At any head point on the table you can just press ORIGIN to set that point a the new origin , the motherboard remembers that point whether the machine is on or off. You can also instruct the machine to go set X and Y distances from its physical origin as a start point. You can engrave using that start point as the centre , top left , top centre , top right , side left , side right , bottom left , bottom centre , bottom right of the engraving
ie engraving starts from any of these positions on the object

. . .
. . .
. . .
Very flexible indeed for any item you wish to engrave on
You can also tell it wgere to go when finished the engraving , back to pysical origin , back to set origin or just stop where it finished the engraving.

Bruce Dorworth
09-05-2011, 4:30 PM
Thanks Rodney for the info. What I meant by moving the laser head was, with the power off to the motors, you can move the laser head very easy by hand. Then line it up with the center of your material. You would then start cutting from there. On my machine I can move the head with the power off, but not very easily.

How smoothly does your table move up and down?

I wished I had joined the forum about two months later and waited to buy my laser. I would have bought the same laser as George, or maybe a little bit smaller one.

Bruce

Rodne Gold
09-05-2011, 4:53 PM
Very stiff if trying to drag the head with the motor off, unlike my GCC's which freely allow you to drag the head when on. Table seems to move up and down quite smoothly , its not silent tho , but we rarely move the table as focussing is done at the head , the lens slides up and down within an extension tube. I think your argus is pretty much similar to our machines. You can actually "upgrade" your machine to use laserworks and a more sophisticated motion system if you wish by merely changing motherboard and lcd panel, if indeed you think it is an upgrade from what you are running right now , probably cost you $400 or so , you can also upgrade to a reci tube by buying one and a power supply , should cost around $700 for a 80w. You might have to adjust the mounting system of the tube as the reci is fatter so you would have to make sure its output lens fires at your first mirror.
I am keen to get a 1500 x 1200 twin head machine , maybe 120 or 150w tubes , would be a great cutting machine , I like the fact that the twin head machines can either be a single head 1500 x 1200 or 2x 1200 x 750.

Bruce Dorworth
09-05-2011, 9:46 PM
Thanks again Rodney!! Okay, yes I can un-screw a ring around my laser head, then raise and lower the nozzle. so you lower your table and use this method to focus the laser?

The laser I saw like mine when I ordered mine had an LCD panel, and ran off usb. I thought by ordering the same model # it would come with these items. Well my laser came with a parallel port cable no LCD. Do actually think it would work?

I might check with my vendor and see if they sell a replacement.

Thanks,
Bruce

Richard Rumancik
09-05-2011, 10:59 PM
Regarding the question about moving the carriage around manually: I know that steppers will generate a back emf (voltage) if you force them to turn (acting like a generator) so that the electronics that are driving them must be able to accept the energy generated when you force the motors to turn. I don't know if typical servo motors generate back emf or not when spun by hand; maybe GCC has some kind of electronic de-coupling or protection. In any event GCC, allows the user to move the carriage around by hand. If a manufacturer does not specifically say you are allowed to move the carriage by hand, then I would be very careful. Forcing back emf into the driver, if it was not designed to accept it, could cause damage to the driver.

Rodne Gold
09-06-2011, 3:23 AM
Thank for the info , I have tried to move the chinese stuff by hand once or twice , didnt think of the back emf thingy , will just jog it.
Bruce , Im pretty sure you can retrofit a new system , the laser basically has 3 seperate "systems" , the laser and its power supply , the motion system and its stepper drivers and the control system. The control system is seriously configurable and can handle the rest of it with ease , you can specifiy just about any parameter so can easily confugure your machine to work with it.

ron ateah
10-16-2011, 11:05 AM
Rodney and other contributors

I can not tell you how useful this thread has been. Thank you all very much.

I bought a Shenhui SH-G1690 with a 150watt Reci. I have been very busy doing renos to expand my shop but expect to start the machine by the end of next week. I have got a 5X10 cnc router, 4X10 cnc plasma and a small converted mill. All of these I have built myself but I have got no experiance with lasers. Could anyone recommend a good reference book for a small lasers. I have looked around and seen s few books for metal cutting lasers but not much on the small machines.

All the best

Ron

Gary Hair
10-16-2011, 1:08 PM
I have never seen a reference book for lasering but that doesn't mean there isn't one out there. I believe that you will find more information that is useful by starting at post number 1 and read everything here. When you are done with that, or concurrently, join Engraving Etc. and do the same there. Reference books are great but there is nothing like learning from the questions of others. I can't even tell you how many hours I spent here and on EE when I bought my laser, it reduced the learning curve by way more than the hours I spent reading!

Gary

ron ateah
10-17-2011, 11:21 AM
Thanks Gary - I am going to take your advice

Gary Hair
10-17-2011, 1:09 PM
I only have a couple of really good answers a year, this was one of my best... Glad to see you there!

Khalid Nazim
11-03-2011, 9:24 AM
Rodne, you have mentioned doing a mod for micro leveling the sub tables. Have you done that? If you did, can you post some pictures/explanation of how that was done. Also, I did not get the "Red Dot pointer to be coincidental with the laser beam" on my machine although I thought that I had ordered it. Is it possible to change this in my shop if I ask Shenhui to send me the parts. I really like the feature as it allows ease of alignment.

Thanks

Rodne Gold
11-03-2011, 10:25 AM
I didn't have to level my table , but I will ask my pal Vincent De klerk about that , he did the modification to his machine. Dont bother with the co incident red beam thing , we found it was troublesome as it involves a beam combiner with a 1/2 silvered mirror and it saps some power with no real advantage in terms of alignment. We dont use any red beam pointer at all as the nozzle exit shows where the beam will be. I had some issues with the plastic lens on the red diode seeming to get either overheated or having some sort of metal splatter on it when using the combiner on my one machine so removed the system on both , cuts about 20% faster without it.

Khalid Nazim
11-03-2011, 10:52 AM
This is good news. I am ready now to fire up the laser.

Thanks again Rodne.
Regards

Diane Bloomingdale
04-08-2013, 4:00 PM
Help please....

I purchased a 50w Shenhui laser and it came with the flat rotary with knurled roller bars just like yours. I have the laserworks 6.0 software and I can not get the rotary to work. We know its a setting, but we are new to this type of machine.

I clicked enable rotary device, I have it pluged into the y axis, rotary table turned when I turn on the laser and it is resetting , I set diameter, circle pulse is at 1000, but rotary table does not move when I send work to it. Exactly what setting to I need to set for rotary table to work.

Thank you in advance to any help you can give me
Diane

john banks
04-08-2013, 5:01 PM
Even without a change in settings the rotary should rotate when you use the up and down buttons and have it plugged into the y axis (change the plugs with the power OFF).

fred sanchez
07-12-2013, 1:35 PM
Quick question we have a Thunder laser mars 120 at work and someone lost the little focus tool. Cant seem to locate the file to cut one out by any chance does anybody have the file?

Ross minetti
09-04-2014, 5:22 AM
Im getting excited I have been in contact with my receivers and my laser cutter is only days away from Australia and in 8 days it will be here in my shed. WOOHOO cant wait

Ken Shea
09-04-2014, 8:59 AM
Waiting is terrible, never get used to it, hope the days go quick for you Ross :)

Keith Winter
06-11-2015, 3:49 PM
Hi Guys,

I know this is an old thread, but it's packed full of info. Thanks for this Rodne, George, and everyone else that contributed!

For everyone that ordered a Shenui during the thread and those that got Chinese lasers even more recently I have three questions.
1) Do you still have to drive a grounding spike into the floor on the newer ones / is there still a shock risk?
2) How do you like your Shenuis now after having them for awhile? Would you order one again?
3) If you ordered another Chinese laser Shenui or other, what would you do/order differently this time?

Graham Facer
06-11-2015, 4:15 PM
Well I for one would not order a Shenhui again. Maybe its just bad luck but too many issues and also been looking at threads where GWeike machines have a 'toolkit' with useful diagnostic stuff (like resistors to check power supply without tube). Given that they (chinese lasers) are all really very very very similar, I'd chose the other option just because (and Shenhui couldn't ship my brother a replacement tube that worked for love or money - poor packing).

If I had to do again I'd get spare bearings (x4)/belts/2 x PSU's/ and maybe even a 2nd controller. And I'd make sure it had a ma gauge built in for power. I might also see if they had better tubing for the cooling lines too (original stiffens up) and had a good mounting system for the tube - mine is ok but I think better exist.

John Noell
06-11-2015, 8:30 PM
1) Do you still have to drive a grounding spike into the floor on the newer ones / is there still a shock risk?
2) How do you like your Shenuis now after having them for awhile? Would you order one again?
3) If you ordered another Chinese laser Shenui or other, what would you do/order differently this time?

1-I already had a grounding rod in reach and used it. How can a DC tube-based machine made in China NOT have a shock risk? http://www.sawmillcreek.org/images/smilies/smile.gif
2-I like it and yes, I would go with them again (unless I won the lottery, in which case I would probably have a Trotec Speedy 400).
3-Get a spare tube and power supply with the initial order. (And maybe a different size machine with a better exhaust system.)

Martin Smithjr
06-12-2015, 7:03 PM
How did you guys actually purchase Shenhui lasers? I sent them a couple inquiries and never got a response.

Wilbur Harris
06-12-2015, 7:11 PM
johnlaser@163.com

That's the fellow I dealt with and it seemed to go well - better than I ever expected. I ordered the laser, paid, filled out some paperwork for the shipping company, and the laser showed up. Wasn't as quick as buying from Ray Scott (which I genuinely recommend) but I got exactly what I ordered in a shorter time than I imagined.

Bert Kemp
06-14-2015, 3:41 PM
Martin are you looking to buy a laser? Do you want to import or buy one thats already here and ready to go?


How did you guys actually purchase Shenhui lasers? I sent them a couple inquiries and never got a response.

Martin Smithjr
06-16-2015, 2:44 PM
Bert, I want one that's ready to go. I'll look at rabbit laser. I'll probably wait on getting my shop space up and running to avoid a bunch of wasted effort. Thanks for the tip.