View Full Version : Buying laser to cut cork, need advice, LOTS of questions

daniel coyle
12-26-2012, 6:38 PM
I am buying a laser to bring my cork cutting in house. I have several questions after doing a lot of research. Need to be able to cut repetitive patterns in sheets of cork .25" thick or, ideally, two sheets on top of each other to improve productivity. So far:

I have cut .25 inch cork with a 100W kern pretty easily but couldn't cut fully with a 60W Universal on outsourced jobs.

Wondering if anyone out there has experience cutting cork and whether anyone knows if a 150W Reci tube would be likely to cut two layers of it (total thickness .5")

Secondly and more important, would like some feedback on best buy to make. Can't afford USA made. Looked at direct from China machines (Weike, Triumph, Shenhui, Thunder) and at US sales of Chinese machines (Rabbit, Hurricane, Legacy, Morntech, Camfive, Turnkey) I have limited laser experience but have done some valuable research on this and other forums as well as conversations with laser owners. Looking to best understand what to prioritize and looking to get recommendations and warnings about the machines I listed. Leaning toward buying a Weike because I have not gotten that much info on Triumph (though they are attractively less expensive) and because I did not see that Shenhui has FDA certification which, if true, would make it possibly a hassle to import to the USA? I feel I can save myself money going direct with a reputable Chinese company. Thoughts on these options???

So, thoughts on that and on prioritizing (how important is each one) the following features of the lasers:

Red Dot
water chiller
servo vs, stepper
dsp controller (is there a good or bad version of dsp or am i safe with anything that says dsp?)
software (is laser cut 5.3 good? any other stuff i should watch out for?)

Would i lose engraving capability if i bought a 150W instead of 100W?
does it matter that some machines weigh significantly different amounts? is that accurate, does it mean the machines are built better?
I know that is too many questions for one post but that is just where i am at. Any replies are very appreciated.


Rich Harman
12-26-2012, 6:52 PM
I have cut .25 inch cork with a 100W kern pretty easily but couldn't cut fully with a 60W Universal on outsourced jobs.

Wondering if anyone out there has experience cutting cork and whether anyone knows if a 150W Reci tube would be likely to cut two layers of it (total thickness .5")

I have only cut 1/16" cork so far but I would be very surprised if I had any trouble at all cutting through 1/4". I can cut through some 1/4" ply at nearly 60 ipm. Perhaps the limiting factor for the 60W Universal was the focal length of the lens being used rather than available power.

For the glass tubed lasers, the higher the power, the less appropriate for engraving. I think 80W is the sweet spot.

I don't think that cutting two layers at once is going to work well unless they lay together without any airspace at all between them. However, if perfect edges are not required then I am sure you could make it work - with far less than 150W.

daniel coyle
12-26-2012, 7:20 PM
Thanks Steve. The guy who tried it with the 60W seemed to try a few different things and I also had another try with a 40W epilog with similar "not quite" results after playing around with a few things. Not sure if focal length was one of the things they tried.

Saw that you have 2 shenhui machines. I assume you bought them direct. Any problems? How have you liked them? Any reason you didn't choose another brand?

Rich Harman
12-26-2012, 7:38 PM
Who's Steve? :-)

I chose Shenhui largely based upon Rodne's reports of his experience with visiting the factory. Also, for a machine the size I wanted, a mainstream laser was way beyond my budget.

There is a ton of information in this forum about Shenhuis and other Chinese lasers. Spend a few days reading and you will have most of your answers - in detail.

I imported them myself, using a broker. It was surprisingly easy and not as expensive as I would have thought.

If I were to buy another machine I would probably get another Shenhui. Based upon what I have read here G.Weike deserves a look too. However, if I needed a machine primarily for engraving then I would want to get a Trotec.

Dan Hintz
12-26-2012, 8:04 PM
It will cut through, but you're probably not going to like the result... plenty of char, large kerf, etc.

Bruce Dorworth
12-26-2012, 8:05 PM
Dan where are you located? That way if someone is close by you then maybe they would be willing to try and cut some things for. If you wanted to mail me a sample I would be willing to try and cut it for you.

I have a GWeike and have been very pleased with the machine. As for the optimal wattage for engraving I have been told that it is 60 watts. I have an 80 and it is worling pretty well, of course I have nothing to compare it to.


daniel coyle
12-26-2012, 9:55 PM
Thanks Bruce, Rich (don't know how I ended up calling you Steve)

It seems like this forum has a lot of users and fans of Shenhui and that CNC zone has more folks using Weike.
Rich, you say you used a broker? I do and don't know what this really means though i see mention of it often. How does that work and where do you find one? What if you don't use one?

Bruce, thanks for that offer. I am hoping to do a test with a Reci 80 soon here close by. I am in Oregon.

Do either of you know why there is so much variation in the advertised weight of the machines? when similar size machines differ by several hundred pounds (maybe it is just a relic of how they present the numbers) it makes me worry that one is made of tin and the other is steel.

daniel coyle
12-26-2012, 9:58 PM
Dan, thanks. To some extent the product is function over form and the ugly bits (as long as they aren't pure carbon) can be assembled where the sun don't shine. have you cut .5" cork before and, if so, how powerful was the tube?

thanks again.

Rich Harman
12-26-2012, 10:49 PM
The broker can handle everything, not the least of which is getting it through customs. You could do it yourself and save a small amount of money, in return you would get some experience and many headaches. PM me if you want the contact info for my broker. About a year ago I posted what my costs were. I don't remember now but I believe it was about $820 to the broker for everything (except the machine of course), door to door.