View Full Version : Thunderlaser Mars 160

Eric Ucci
12-07-2011, 10:11 AM
I have plenty on experience w CNC machines (routers, mills, etc). I have no experience with laser cutters.
I'd like to purchase one for my shop to allow me to quickly prototype sculptural ideas/design assembly kits for children/ and generally have fun messing around.
I'm trying to understand what justifies purchasing an American machine (Epilogue for example) when i can find a Chinese import at 1/5th the price.
In particular, I'm looking at the Mars line from Thunderlaser that I found on ebay.
I'm thinking that I should get the largest one possible to give me the most flexibility.

Here are the specs on the Mars 160
Price tag = $8,000 (no tax, free shipping)

CE certification and FDA Compliant
Control System: DSP control system
Memory:64Mb Buffer Memory for storing files
Interface:USB connection to PC( Compatible with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7)
Work platform: Fixed honey comb platform
Work Area:1600 X800mm (63.0"X35.4") (260mm for motorized up/down table) (!WOW!)
Pass-Thru Doors:Allow to cut extremely long materials
Laser power: 80W
Laser Type:Sealed CO2 Glass tube laser
Laser Tube life hours: 2000-3000 Hours
Driving system: Stepper motor
Auxiliary equipments: Exhaust-fans, air-exhaust pipe
Cooling type: Water cooling
Operating Temperature: 32 - 113 F (0 - 45 C)
Operating humidity: 8 - 95%
Max Speed: 600mm/S (23.6"/S)
Resetting positioning accuracy: 0.1mm
Resolution: User controlled from 100 to 500DPI(standard model),up to 1000 DPI(High resolution attachment)
Compatible software: CorelDraw X2/X3/X4, AutoCAD
Power Requirements:AC220V (or110V) 10% 50/60HZ
Gross power:<1,500W
Net Weight: 330KGS(727lb)
Gross Weight:410KGS(903lb)
Machine size:2250X1300X1060mm(88.6"X51.2"X41.7")
Packing Size:2450X1500X1300mm(96.4"X59.0"X51.2")
Packing: Plywood Case
Does anyone have experience with this company? All their sample videos,images, and product reviews make the product appear perfectly legit. What could be so bad about this product that I would spend 5x as much for the more reputable brands?

Clearly, I expect quality, service, support, and software to be inferior to a company like Epilogue. the question is "how much worse can it be?"

One side note...
If its American tech support and service that sets them apart, I can go with a company like Full Spectrum who sells Chinese machines at a fraction of others prices and gives you American tech support and service from las Vegas.


paul mott
12-07-2011, 12:10 PM

The operating software of the lower priced Chinese machines often leaves a lot to be desired. The controller and software are usually (dongle) tied together so there is little option other than replace both if you find the software to be poor an not meet your needs. This situation has been addressed by FSE and their system, which may or may not work as well as they claim as there have not been many independent reports on it's successful use yet.
If you decide to go the Chinese route and moving up a cog then it may be worth considering RabbitlaserUSA you may pay a little more but Ray has put a lot of effort into his business and his service is second to none (and a damn nice guy).

Just a thought.


Ken Shea
12-07-2011, 7:35 PM
Eric, Thinking out loud. Price seems high for a 80W You should get the CW5000 chiller The latest controller is the Leetro MPC6535 Control software is Leetro LaserCut5.3 often re-branded and in some instances modified by the laser manufacturer. My version has no help file, not sure what we would do with out the internet, an absolute god send. The exhaust and air pump are not up to what you will be needing, upgrade those from whom ever you purchase from. Support........... well better pretty much give up on that, honestly, I think they try but their thinking is so far removed from what we feel is quality support that all it does is frustrate you. They never seem to ever really get involved in a solution, just one question and one answer on and on, not to mention the language barrier and time zone difference can be a real pain. I quit even asking questions from XYZ-Tech and I will eat any needed repair that would be under warranty, just easier to forget them from my perspective. With the many Chinese manufacturers the quality of components is not bad, the quality of the build seems to be a crap shoot, some are lucky, some quite the opposite, their quality control, while improving is still in the dark ages. Of course there are very likely exceptions but I have read many post from various Chinese manufacturers and the scale of satisfaction is all over the chart from the same manufacturer. I first checked Rabbit laser because they are also in Ohio but they did not have the size I settled on and were several thousand dollars higher in cost for a less equipped unit, in retrospect, might have been worth the added cost, though that argument may never be able to be answered. With me it was Chinese or nothing. You will do well to remember your statement somewhat taken out of context. "Clearly, I expect quality, service, support, and software to be inferior". Ken

PS I did not write that in one long hard to read sentence, for some reason there was no formatting done when it posted.

Rich Harman
12-07-2011, 8:04 PM
I have found Shenhui support to be excellent. They are very responsive and appear to be genuinely interested in making things right.

I am frustrated by some quality control issues though. I don't understand why they can't do better. I had to spend about an hour or so correcting stupid little things on the last machine that should have been dealt with at the factory. The most obvious and unforgivable one is the hole that is cut for the beam to pass through after the first mirror, it was too high. The only way they were able to get the beam through the 25mm hole was to "center" the beam on the very top part of the mirror - even doing that the beam grazed the bottom portion of the hole. It was easily corrected by boring a hole in the proper location, it's not pretty now but it's functional - fortunately it's not where anyone will see it.

I still recommend Shenhui, as long as you you have someone that can spend a little time on stupid things that should have been done better the first time. Literally, one hours worth of (quality) labor at the factory and everything would be great.

Ernie Balch
12-07-2011, 10:00 PM
I just got a 80W 900x1200 Rabbit laser. Ray came out and we spent a day running samples. Everything was included, freon chiller, air pump, Dell computer, LaserCut 5.3 software. I have a windows print driver for AutoCAD and another for Corel Draw but have not yet tried them. I import DXF files and jpg files into LaserCut and everything works as advertised.

I have not found any problems with performance and indeed have been pleasantly surprised with the cutting performance. If I planned to do much photographic engraving I would buy a galvo based system for both speed and quality.


Rodne Gold
12-07-2011, 10:03 PM
If thats the cost of this machine Ex china, its pretty expensive , it will cost you another $1500 to get to the US. The software this machine uses is ok. Things that would worry me are quoted tube lifespan , if its a cheap ($170) tube , lifespan should be rated at 1000 hours , if its an expensive (RECI $500) tube , rating should be 6000+ hours. The vids they provide are misleading as parts are skipped and they not raw footage , been extensively edited and dont show true timings etc.
The website and instructional videos , tutorials etc are not bad , better than most.

I would suggest further reading this board as there is a lot of info re chinese lasers here , look for my threads
Also read this http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?174718-Tips-on-buying-a-laser-from-China
and do a forum search on "china" and "chinese" and then decide what you want to do and who you want to buy from.

Rich , yeh , there is a disconnect in the factories tween managment and floor workers re QC. Ideally there should be a QC list , checked off by the assembler , one by the packer , should include actual test results of YOUR laser etc. I am going back for the Canton Fair early next year , gonna visit and order a new machine from Shenui and am gonna give em a whole long schpiel of what to do/include/test/check when preparing lasers for export to "fussy" westerners :)
The BIGGEST obstacle to overcome in china is their total paranoia re pricing , they would rather cut all sorts of corners to be 1c under the competition , they think pricing is the be all and end all.

Eric Ucci
12-08-2011, 4:02 PM
Thanks a lot for the help to all.

I took a look at Rabbitlaser. they gave me some strange advice that left me feeling uneasy.
1. that plexiglass is extremely toxic and should not be cut on a laser regardless of ventilation. (acrylic, however, is ok)
2. that no 130w co2 laser will cut baltic birch ply thicker than 1/2" in one pass.

I personally witnessed an epilogue 75W co2 easily cutting 3/8" thick baltic birch so this seemed strange to me. While I most likely won't be cutting anything thicker than 1/2", I like to have options.

The thought of having someone answer the phone and speak in my native tongue is comforting. However the added cost associated with the domestic reseller tends to put the price out of my range.

I have been research among several discussion groups and the name Shenhui seams to come up alot as one of the better Chinese brands. I'll go straight to the source and see what luck I have.

Thanks again!

Eric Ucci
12-08-2011, 4:24 PM
One other thing...

I'm seeing more than one Shenhui Laser

Shandong Shenhui Laser
Liaocheng Shenhui Laser

Any difference?

Ernie Balch
12-08-2011, 4:42 PM
Did you look at rabbitlaserusa website? Ray unpacks the laser, tests it and fixes any problems before shipping to a customer. He also includes all the necessary options including the computer.