View Full Version : Need guidance for buying used engraver

Kent Iler
06-28-2011, 8:15 PM

We have a Fab Lab that has 2 Epilog lasers. There is quite a queue to get through to use them, though.

We were thinking if we could get a used one in good working order that it would be worth it.

I've also been reading about the lasers from China and Rodne Gold's trip. I am very technical from a computer perspective, but have very little knowledge about laser technology. We are looking for a laser for engraving and cutting thin material.

Any suggestions or recommendations would be appreciated!

Also, is there a way to minimize the "burned" edge when cutting wood, or what's the best way to get rid of it when trying to assemble a wood craft?

Thank you!


Joe Pelonio
06-28-2011, 8:34 PM
More power allows you to run at a faster speed an minimizes the char. You can wipe the edges with rubbing alcohol, if you can't avoid it. Watch out for use machines, many a person has bought one only to find major problems costing a lot to fix, even after watching it in action.
If you were more laser-literate you could probably tell, but I'd suggest you take someone with you that has more experience, or buy from a respected dealer. The main problem is that a tube can go out with no notice and most models have no hours meter to tell you how old it is. If you do go Chinese you may find a new one for less than a used name brand, but read the many posts on them first so you know what to expect.

Bruce Volden
06-28-2011, 8:48 PM

If I were you, I would come up with a file that addresses all aspects of laser usage, to include, cutting wood or plastics and rastering a fill in certain areas. Make it a big one that covers at least 50% of the laser "bed". Doing so will tell you if the laser bed is "level" and there is NO power dissapation across the bed. If you observe no areas of marked decrease of power you're pretty much good to go from my perpesctive. But the most important thing would be to read through (using search) the SMC engravers forum on things you may be interested in doing. Lasers are so unpredictable in their nature--something as small as a "dust bunny" in the belting or encoders can have you believing the machine is "ruined". I can tell you these things as I have bought a used laser---way before there was any help on the internet!!! Would I do it again?? Yep.


Dan Hintz
06-28-2011, 8:56 PM
Check the Classifieds section... right now someone is selling a 20-25W laser (Epilog, if memory serves), a rotary engraver, and a fume collector... all shipped for $2,300. That's a mighty fine deal on a used system, especially if you're just starting out...

Tim Bateson
06-28-2011, 9:04 PM
Charing can also be reduced by using thinner wood with air assist & using just enough power & speed to cut through.

...Watch out for used machines, many a person has bought one only to find major problems costing a lot to fix, even after watching it in action...
I've had a used machine for over 3 1/2 years with no issues - the UPS driver even dropped it off the truck onto the road... literally. I didn't buy mine from the manufacturer, but they have been fantastic, even when I had self-generated issues.

Buyer beware is very true, but there are some very good deals to be had.

Kent Iler
06-28-2011, 10:14 PM
In researching, I saw that Rodne said "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."

What wattage is recommended for doing engraving and cutting (maybe 1/4 wood)?

Are they all water cooled?

BTW, Tim, what brand/model did you get?

Thanks for all the feedback!


Tim Bateson
06-28-2011, 10:56 PM
...BTW, Tim, what brand/model did you get? ...

Epilog Mini 24 – 35watt

Scott Challoner
06-29-2011, 12:18 AM
If you already have two Epilogs, I would probably stick with them. That way you don't have the learning curve of a new machine to deal with. Google used lasers. There's a company here in Wisconsin that sells them called Access Business Solutions. I believe they are a member of this forum, but I haven't seen them post in awhile.

Rodne Gold
06-29-2011, 12:25 AM
If you have a fab lab being used by a lot of different people , I would look for a laser that is the SAME as the other 2 , so you dont have to teach or explain another driver , dont have different settings and dont have to design differently bearing in mind which laser you are going to use. Not sure a chinese machine is suitable for this application in terms of users , not in terms of ability.

80w Reci glass tube is fine for wood engraving and cutting , its really only at very high speeds that the glass tubes have very low power firing issues , if you drop scanning speeds they fire at very low power fine. You would generally not be engraving wood at very high speeds and very low powers anyway.
All are water cooled , but I really dont see water cooling as an issue , you get a chiller , hook it up and away you go , the lasers come with flow sensors so if the chiller or chiller pump fails , the tube wont work so you wont damage it. they will give a water pump failure message when this happens,

Kent Iler
06-29-2011, 12:26 AM
The one I saw in the Classifieds is a Gravograph:

Have no idea about how well it works.


Kent Iler
06-29-2011, 12:30 AM

I want to clarify - the laser we're looking to purchase would be for me. Right now the only access we have for a laser is at the Fab lab, but the waiting in line is sometimes horrible. I don't have the budget or need to cover a $10K+ laser, but for $2-5K, I may be able to justify it to myself at least! I wouldn't need to keep the same format as the Fab Lab either from a file perspective. If I buy a laser, it would be so I wouldn't have to go to the Fab Lab anymore!



Rodne Gold
06-29-2011, 1:18 AM
Then get a chinese one , 600 x 900 with a high quality 80w tube and spares as well as freight will be under 5k.

Mike Null
06-29-2011, 6:51 AM
Do some serious investigating before you buy anything Gravograph--they are not an easy company to do business with and probably won't give you free tech support as many others do.

On the other hand it may be a machine made by ULS for them and ULS may provide tech support.

Kent Iler
06-29-2011, 8:38 AM
Any recommendation on which one to buy?