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View Full Version : on the lookout for a laser but clueless, please help



James Higgon
03-01-2012, 4:21 PM
Hello, i have been on the lookout for a budget laser for some time now to engrave, leather, plastic and anodised aluminium, and probably alot more in the future. Im a complete novice and have never used an engraver or any of the software in my life. I am mostly looking at hpcs range as i noticed they have a forum and probably have the best backup and after sales service?
I have my eye on both the ls3020 and ls3040, has anyone any experience with either of these? the 3040 is almost double the price and to be honest im not really sure of the difference between the two. Considering my main aim is to only engrave not cut do you think id have much need for the 3040? also are there any other machines i should be looking at for around the 2500 mark (preferably less though) ?
Also how easy would you say im going to find setting up and using a machine? im not great with computers but am mostly (for now at least) only after pasting images into software and having it engrave it, and also engraving text.
any help is greatly appreciated as i dont seem to be getting any closer to a decision on my own

Joe Hillmann
03-01-2012, 4:24 PM
I don't know anything about either of those two lasers, but I have never met a laser owner who wishes they bought a smaller or less powerful laser.

Gary Hair
03-01-2012, 4:33 PM
hpcs looks to me like a reseller of Chinese produced lasers. There is enough info here at SMC to order one yourself and potentially save quite a bit of money. If you need the support they provide, assuming they provide worthwhile support, then it may be worth the extra to have them around. However, there is enough support here that you may not need them. Just a thought.

Gary

john banks
03-01-2012, 5:33 PM
I looked at HPC and imported a Shenhui directly, getting better results than could be produced at the HPC demo and all in just over half the price, but with a lot of tweaking required to achieve this.

However, given your stated experience level I would not recommend this route without a lot more research, and a supported purchase and setup through HPC may be just the ticket. They have a good reputation in the UK.

LS3040 runs Lasercut (software and controller in the machine) which is a world better than the LS3020 controller which partly explains the price difference.

James Higgon
03-01-2012, 5:43 PM
i would love to import but as you say, with my lack of experience i fear id just end up with something that i cant use. So lasercut is actually built into the machine? this means i dont need a computer i assume? is it easy to import images and save work on because all of the stuff i do is going to be repeat jobs

Michael Hunter
03-01-2012, 6:03 PM
I visited HPC Laser last autumn and was impressed.
They know the machines well and seem to sort out all the Chinese QA problems before they ship the machines out to the end users.
They also hold the spares, so you don't need to order lots at the beginning (as you would if you imported directly).

Their forum is potentially useful, but be aware that there are a few nutcases that post regularly - things like the tubes only work well below 8 deg C (which is rubbish), but written with great authority (that one got me going, being unfamiliar with glass tubes).

The LC3020 is cheap because it is tiny! The A4 bed size is too small for sensible use.

To be "not great with computers" is rather a downer. In common with other Chinese lasers, the HPC ones work from a control program (rather than just looking like a printer and working with any software). The control program allows great control over the operation of the laser itself, but could be quite a steep learning curve for a complete novice.
You will also need some mechanical knowledge - even if you get HPC to help fix any problems, you still need to be able to describe the problem satisfactorily.
Note that you WILL have problems - everyone does when they start off, whichever machine they choose.

If you are serious, make an appointment and go to Halifax - see the machines in operation.
Take a photo file on a memory stick and get them to show you the steps needed to prepare and then engrave it.

PS - Add your location to your details! Many (most) forum members are States-side and won't have a clue about HPC.

George M. Perzel
03-01-2012, 6:54 PM
Hi James;
With all due respect, suggest you spend a week reading multiple posts on this forum regarding newbies and startup. You definitely need a computer as laser itself is totally incapable of designing and/or formating jobs for production. Yes, some lasers will allow you to store jobs so they can be repeated without computer intervention but initial job must come from somewhere-a computer.
Read, research, and then read some more-this is not rocket science but you do need some basic capabilities to start with. Good Luck
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

James Higgon
03-01-2012, 6:56 PM
hi, yes i intend to go up there soon. Quite a distance from me in Essex though so when i do go up there ill be buying at the same time more than likely. Is it still hard to use even if i just import images?
He said he would give me a lengthy demo, as long as i need really, so i was going to film it all.

Steven Cox
03-01-2012, 7:19 PM
hi, yes i intend to go up there soon. Quite a distance from me in Essex though so when i do go up there ill be buying at the same time more than likely. Is it still hard to use even if i just import images?
He said he would give me a lengthy demo, as long as i need really, so i was going to film it all.

I agree with Michael and George, without the graphics/computer knowledge you are going to be fighting an up hill battle. I'd suggest you do a few in depth courses on Corel Draw before buying a laser and first see if you have enough skills to drive the software. Also if you are not a "hands on" type of person that's able to trouble shoot things then your probably giong to be wasting your time & money.

To put it in prospective, I've been in the graphics industries for over 25 years when I bought my laser over 2 years ago I spent the first 3 months playing with it, researching and reading lots from these forums before I produced anything commercially. Because my business is a while U wait service in full view of the public I wanted to be sure that it at least looked like I knew what I was doing.

Rodne Gold
03-01-2012, 8:30 PM
I would not import a machine with your level of experience and knowledge and neither would I go for the cheaper machines as these might have a smaller bed than others but they are also built using really cheap components - you can pick these up at well under $500 in china - most so called chinese mnfgrs have em in their model range but dont actually make em or even push them much as they are generally trouble and the profits in selling em don't cover the hassle they have with the users.

James Higgon
03-02-2012, 2:45 AM
Not exactly what i wanted to hear. I dont want to just give up though. its only the most basic of work i intend to do so im sure i can get my head round that but the reliability issues do scare me

Rodne Gold
03-02-2012, 3:36 AM
I have looked at HPC's site , the 2 machines you mentioned are the cheapest and junkiest you get from China... the only model I might consider , but probably not cos its double the price of the same from china is the 6040.

James Higgon
03-02-2012, 5:31 AM
Ok thats those machines out of the question then. Is there anything better, albeit with a small bed, available if i was to up my budget to say 4000?

Michael Hunter
03-02-2012, 5:40 AM
You might have a look at the Rayjet. It is very small, but (compared to the small Chinese machines) high quality and designed for ease of use.

A while ago they were pushing these on a pay-as-you-use basis. Pay an up-front deposit and then buy hours of use as you need them. After so many hours, the machine is yours to keep. I did not do the sums carefully, but it looked as though it worked out about the same as the cost of a loan to buy the machine outright.

PS Forgot the most important bit about the pay-as-you-use scheme : if you don't get on with it, you can just give it back with nothing more to pay.

Rodne Gold
03-02-2012, 5:41 AM
4000 quid can get you a VERY nice reasonably well built laser with a ton of spares , good software etc Ex china with a DIY import. No handholding via the supplier - but the good ones pretty much have online tech advice and seem to be ok with warrantee - sort of...
You might , you might not find it a challenge - if you are a total box of rocks when it comes to mechanical stuff - it might be more difficult?
You really have to read back about 2 years of masses of info on the very topics you raised. Search for "chinese lasers" or terms like that
There really is a lot out there - read first , see whats involved , make up your mind...

Vicki Rivrud
03-02-2012, 9:29 AM
Hi James,

IMHO: File preparation is 85%, knowing your equipments ideal settings is 10%, lasering is 5%.

Laser equipment is NOT plug and play. Chinese equipment & the controller software can be challenging when you import directly. You will need to learn new skills & read past post & practice, practice, practice.

Many things to consider.
Time differance, replacement parts, damage in shipment, setting up your "space & electrical", the "Chinglish" and lack or slow communications etc. It is not for the faint of heart. Now with that said, if you are a handy person you could do it. If you artistically inclined or like to sketch or have scrollsaw skills, you will bring those skills to this technology.

Instead of direct importing, you could purchase a chinese laser from someone here in the states that has already imported it and offers training, setup, support etc. There are several reputable vendors, you have to do your research. IF you are handy & self-sufficient a Chinese laser is for you however if you need so much help right NOW, then look at the Epilog, etc.

But more importantly, if you have no background in design, art, graphics, drawing etc you will be frustated. You will have to learn new softwares, such as Corel, or Inkscape or Illustrator or CAD or a host of others available.

I am most comfortable with Corel, Photograv & Rhino - in the beginning I only had "business computing skills" so I had to crawl before I took my first steps. I had an artistic background but not on the computer so I learned from scratch and continue to learn something new each day.

One of my biggest mistakes was trying to learn all the softwares & all the techniques and I was pulling my hair out & getting mediocre results. Some told me it was my cr*ppy chinese equipment and I almost scrapped my machine until I zeroed in on what most of the "free samples & resources" found on the internet, where processed with and honed that skill. One step at a time, one type of project at a time. Lots of "waste" material, lots of learning, trial & error but I made it :)

So lasering is just like using a printer - you have to prepare your file, photo, project then know what settings work with your equipment - before sending it to print.

Remember too, that daily maintenance, alignment etc, will be required to keep your machine running & performing in optimal condition.

Don't get discouraged, just go into this "eyes wide open" and read what others have posted, post questions then decide what is right for your needs.


Take care,
Vicki
JR Laser Solutions

James Higgon
03-03-2012, 4:24 AM
Thanks for all your advice, im actually in the uk though. wgat do you think of the hpc ls1290. I see a used one 10 months warranty remaining for �4400?

john banks
03-03-2012, 5:07 AM
If 4400 for a 1290 that is good, importing a new one from China without spares would cost that minimum once you paid vat duty shipping fees etc

Michael Hunter
03-03-2012, 7:40 AM
The LS1290 is a serious machine (a bit different to the tiddlers that you started asking about!).
Even if the machine is being sold because it has some problems, at that price it is a real bargain - if you don't want it, let me know because I might be interested in it as a backup to my Epilog.

While it is a bargain, you still need to have that demo first, to make sure that the machine will do what you want and that you will be happy dealing with the software and the inevitable machine adjustments. Otherwise, you will be selling it on again in a few month's time.

James Higgon
03-03-2012, 1:45 PM
unfortunately the seller of that machine just got back to me and it is now sold, but he said:

"Hiya, The item was not from HPC. My friend sold it this morning.

On a side note, I deal in CNC machines and order many from China; I can if you are interested, order a laser machine for you at the same time. Delivery would be from 45 to 60 days BUT you could save a lot!

e.g.
The price of the same specification machine would be 4200.00 Inclusive (Invoice would be for 3500 + VAT)
(Includes CW-3000 chiller, air blower and extraction fan, all tubes/hose etc, Lasercut 5.3 Software)

A set of a spares comprising spare 80w Laser Tube, Belt, 3 Mirrors & Focus lens would be 400 Incl. VAT if required (RECI V2 Tube).

Also to consider: A 80w 900x600 bed machine would be 3240 Inclusive (Invoice for 2700 + VAT), The spares set being the same price.

Both machines have a motorised up/down table. Two types of Cylinder devices are also available at 225.00 each.

Prices above are on a collect from Leeds, West Yorkshire basis. I can advise cost of delivery or you could hire a transit/Luton van to save costs. Hiya, The item was not from HPC. My friend sold it this morning.

On a side note, I deal in CNC machines and order many from China; I can if you are interested, order a laser machine for you at the same time. Delivery would be from 45 to 60 days BUT you could save a lot!

e.g.
The price of the same specification machine would be 4200.00 Inclusive (Invoice would be for 3500 + VAT)
(Includes CW-3000 chiller, air blower and extraction fan, all tubes/hose etc, Lasercut 5.3 Software)

A set of a spares comprising spare 80w Laser Tube, Belt, 3 Mirrors & Focus lens would be 400 Incl. VAT if required (RECI V2 Tube).

Also to consider: A 80w 900x600 bed machine would be 3240 Inclusive (Invoice for 2700 + VAT), The spares set being the same price.

Both machines have a motorised up/down table. Two types of Cylinder devices are also available at 225.00 each.

Prices above are on a collect from Leeds, West Yorkshire basis. I can advise cost of delivery or you could hire a transit/Luton van to save costs. "


All sounds very interesting, is the smaller 900 x 600 machine also worth getting as the price is alot more affordable for me.

Rich Harman
03-03-2012, 2:17 PM
Unless the person offering to order it for you is going to also offer support for the machine I think you would be better off contacting Shenhui yourself. I think you would save a bit of money. Not all Chinese machines are equal, which company makes the machines he is offering to import?Do not get the CW-3000 chiller. The CW-5000 is what you want.

James Higgon
03-04-2012, 3:47 AM
The machines are by gmlaser. are they any good?

john banks
03-04-2012, 5:35 AM
They might be fantastic. The advantage of Shenhui is that you have the experience of others on here who have used them and can vouch for their product and service.

For the price that used HPC machines go for on Ebay, you can tell that most UK buyers are scared silly of importing a machine themselves from China.

For us the initial negotiations by email were a bit protracted, mainly to nail down the spec even though we wanted very similar to many "Western" purchasers, and to get the price down a little (they have gone up).

The shipping costs went up on the water as there was a second box with a noisy, oily compressor which is useless to us and cost more to ship than it is worth.

Arrival, unpacking went OK. The promised parts arrived with the odd substitution of a lens spec in our spares which is fine.

On turning on, there was a water leak (5 replacement part locally), the moving parts crashed into the casing at the back (added a bracket) and front (told the machine it was a 1280 not a 1290), table wasn't level (oiled jack screws and reset their position). After 4 weeks a stepper motor driver went bad and was replaced in 2 working days from China at no cost to us.

Our case was probably typical teething troubles for an imported machine. If these things scare you, don't import directly or have someone make it land on your doorstep without support. Had I not spotted and corrected these things I would have had poor results, repeatedly knocked out alignment, machine damage from collisions and water leaks, hopefully the alarms to show low water would have saved the tube. Had my wife (who has typical business computing experience, and whilst not technical has a first class honours degree in Chemistry and an MBA) been setting this up herself without support (from a company or in this case me and although I didn't do lasers before this, previous experience of engine control was well matched and readily transferable) it would have been a disaster. Even now if she received the machine again with another random set of niggles I think it could be tricky, although if she had to she could now do it herself with some phone support.

I would sum up her technical ability like this: if the network doesn't work she might just say it doesn't work and click a few buttons, she wouldn't know what the lights mean on a router, how to reset a router or know what an IP address or how to get into its configuration, if I asked her if she'd seen a BSOD she wouldn't know what that was, if a computer won't boot she wouldn't know how to fix it, she asked the other day how to change her home page. On the other hand with training she is learning well.

You need to work out where you fit on the technical ability scale to work out what of this you can take on and how much support you need. Some of the UK companies will spend a few days training you on your new machine on site if you spend 30k with them and you'd get a great machine with incredible build quality.

She went on a course and used one of these 30k UK machines. It didn't have water cooling and the tube couldn't be overpowered by the user, the head would never have hit anything, and it had been installed professionally. The result of this with good supplied software already installed on a supplied computer was a turn key operation which is a completely different kettle of fish. We only went for direct Chinese import because of the feedback on this forum and the knowledge that I would be able to set it up/maintain it. This combines knowledge that an engineer would find routine (eg knowledge of cooling, airflow, electronics, interfaces, wiring, control systems, optics), but would rightly make anyone else cautious to avoid frustration, machine damage or personal injury.

James Higgon
03-04-2012, 5:48 AM
Thanks for your reply. My technical ability isnt great, so im starting to think id prefer to pay more for a small cheap machine that i can get shown the basics and have uk support, rather than buying a good machine that comes with a list of problems that i cant sort, so end up selling it.

James Higgon
03-05-2012, 8:34 AM
Hi again can i ask for peoples opinions of the Hpc ls4060?

john banks
03-05-2012, 8:57 AM
The 6840 is the newer version. But both are a good option and may have just the support you need.

James Higgon
03-06-2012, 4:22 PM
thanks John, any other opinions? as if its seen as a good machine i think im going to purchase it. They are going to give me full training and installation too

matthew knott
03-06-2012, 6:03 PM
theres one on ebay if its a hpc that floats your boat! LS 4060 HPC Laserscript, ive seen this one for sale before and i think its being sold by an employe of HPC (dont quote me on that). We looked at hpc and they seemed ok, you are paying a big premium for a chinese machine, but its scary as hell ordering from china, till you do it, then its fine :)
We opted for a epilog ex36 that cost 3900 second hand and it works great after a tube refurb and new lens,
Good luck which ever way you go.
Heres a link http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Laser-cutter-engraver-LS-4060-HPC-Laserscript-/260971579964?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3cc31e4a3c
Matt

john banks
03-06-2012, 7:07 PM
That very one (using the same picture and from the same seller at least and a similar description) was sold for 2207.17 on 13 Nov as I enquired about it.

matthew knott
03-06-2012, 7:36 PM
Yeap, i inquired about it to, i think the guy selling deals in used HPC lasers so it might be who ever purchased it now doesnt want it for legit reasons and has purchased it back again. These hpc lasers do seem to hold their price. I actually think with all the chinese lasers (us europe also) that even at the shenui prices they are to much. If you look at the replacement part prices, (tube cheap, stepper driver cheap, belt, main board cheap etc) they are the heart of the machine and cost very little to buy. If you remove these from the equation you are paying a fair bit of cash for some welded sheet metal, i wonder if the pricing is based on being way under half a US/europe spec machine, i guess its what the market will bare. I think they are still good value compared to high spec machines, I pulled the whole of our epilog machine apart and rebuilt it and when you think new it costs more than a good new car i do wonder how they justify the price. Guess as a tool you can make good money from them and thats the key to charging the prices.

James Higgon
03-07-2012, 2:36 AM
Wonder what happened there then why he sold it but now is selling it again. If it sold for 2200 originally think i need to haggle a bit

john banks
03-07-2012, 6:48 AM
I found that for many laser machines on Ebay (like many other things) that the starting price is more than you think they are worth. Like unsold and overpriced houses they tend to linger. When you interact with the sellers they don't seem interested in dealing, but worth trying if you want a local purchase.

A "decent new car" is perhaps considered to be a Focus diesel? I was shocked to read that these things now cost 20k, mind you it is very easy to get an Epilog to that price in the UK, for something with little power and quite small. Pound has devalued and things are getting expensive. Or I'm getting old and starting to moan.

James Higgon
03-10-2012, 3:18 AM
I contacted the seller about this. He hasn't got back to me like he said he would, so I called him again and he didn't get back to me again. doesn't seem very keen to sell. And their customer service comes across very poor.
Are their any other lasers under 4k available in the UK you would suggest?