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Hayley Dawson
04-19-2013, 9:47 AM
I know, lots of people ask this. I'm feeling a little over my head though.

Background: I'm a techshop RDU member, which closes permanently tomorrow. I had started a little side business that was making me some spending cash etching glass there and doing some work with wood/acrylic. Given the amount of inquiries I have going with zero advertising, I was about to really ramp up the whole thing into a real business. And, then tech shop is closing, which, means now I need laser access if I am going to do anything with this.

I've tried to do some research online and, figure out what my needs are, but I'm still confused on a few things.

1. Are Rabbit and Hurricane Lasers chinese produced, already imported, and then US supported? Is the quality of support good?
2. FSL, Epilog, ULS, Rabbit, and Hurricane....are the choices for already in the US lasers from hobby to small shop level correct? or did I miss someone? (I say small shop as I know there are some massive industrial lasers out there as well..)
3. I know I absolutely, positively, have to have a reliable rotary attachment - i know FSL, Epilog, ULS have this. Do Rabbit and Hurricane?
4. Does anybody have a rough idea what yearly maintenance costs are? I know there's purchase price + sales tax + freight + rotary + I'll have to inquire about other individual fees + blower tube + air compressor (right?), but that doesn't tell me how much per year it will cost me to run it. I know there's the power cost, but i'm not sure how often folks are budgeting for tubes, or....other things that I'm not sure what they are yet?
5. I hear things about water cooling and chillers, it's my understanding that Epilog and ULS lasers..dont have these? Do you have to have those to run? I thought air assist/ventilation was the large external to-the-purchased-system requirement.
6. I am more creative, than mechanically inclined, more software than hardware oriented (I program by day, and create things at night) - am I in over my head considering one of these at all? I can follow directions and trouble shoot some basic things on computers and other equipment, but some of the discussions on various forums are well beyond my capacity to quite get. I do not CNC outside of laser-use or reverse engineer anything really, nor do I have access to a shop anymore where i could fabricate a lot of custom parts to fix/replace things.

Based on some research I know I do not want an FSL laser. After that though, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by choices. I am familiar with Epilog systems in terms of what I've already used. The budget starts at $9k for what I have to throw at this, but... if $9k will not get me a laser that suits my needs I'd rather find out the price of one that will and work that out instead. I saw a few systems on usedlasers based on another thread here, and that looks appealing truth be told in that I could get a 60W Epilog (which is what I'm most familiar with in addition to a 40 or 45 and the 60 really made a speed difference in my work) EXT for less than a new 60W Helix, but...that's still a lot more than $9k and I have no idea how reputable buying from that site is.

So if anyone has advice on...whether I am in over my head entire in ability to keep it up and running, and whether there is a buisness appropriate middle ground somewhere between $9k and $25k?

Oh- for the budget, i mean as purchase price w/ sales tax and most of the fees for the laser itself. I'm budgeting extra for the rotary, delivery, and air compressor for ventillation (or if i'm wrong that it's an air compressor, what I should be getting instead).

Thanks all.

Richard Rumancik
04-19-2013, 10:15 AM
Hi Hayley and welcome. From what I read I would suggest that you look for a used "mainstream" laser that is perhaps a few years old. You might have to wait a few months and put out some inquiries but for $9K budget you should be able to get something reasonable. Do you really need 60 watt? If you are doing this part time I would think a 30 or 40 watt might get you going. Lots of members here do not have 60 watt machines.

The air compressor is for air assist used in cutting to clear debris and smoke. It is "high" pressure and low flow. The blower is used for ventilation to exhaust smoke. It is very low pressure but very high flow. The air compressor should cost less than a couple hundred dollars and the blower probably less than $500 depending on what you get (if you read prior threads there is a wide variety in blowers used.)

Usedlasers.com is one possible option (Access). Rob Bosworth used to post here but he hasn't checked in for a while. Diane Bosworth wrote numerous articles for trade magazines over the years - many of the articles are on the website. Also check out laserresale.com. and Kijiji and eBay. Something might come up close to where you live. Also talk to reps - they might be upgrading someone and if they have a customer for a used laser might be able to swing a deal.

Most lower power North American/European lasers are air cooled. When you get above 50 watts you may need water cooling (depends on laser) which requires a chiller to cool the water. Chinese glass lasers need constant water flow or the glass tube will crack in seconds. The Chinese "chillers" are not sophisticated from what I hear - like aquarium pumps and water tanks. You would have to check out what your system needs for cooling. Real chillers can be expensive but it might be possible to rig up a chiller using an air conditioner, bar fridge or such. But you might need a bit of technical help if you want to DIY.

Rodne Gold
04-19-2013, 10:56 AM
Richard The low cost chinese chillers used with low powered (60w and below) tubes like the CW3000 are utter junk..albeit it must be said that they do work....mine has been going for 2 years of heavy production... the Cw5000 and above chillers used with the higher powered tubes (like a reci 80w) are pretty decent but cost $450 as an "upgrade".
Hayley , If you want comprehensive info on chinese lasers , read the sticky tips and tricks thread at the top of the forum
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?181819-Chinese-laser-purchase-Shenui-Laserworks-tips-and-tricks-thread
the pros and cons and the answers to most of your questions are there.Stay away from any laser that has the word "hobby" in it or its advertising.

Mike Null
04-19-2013, 11:54 AM
I agree with Rodney. The information you're looking for is already on the forum and some reading and seaching will turn it up.

Paul Phillips
04-19-2013, 12:51 PM
Hi Hayley, welcome to the Creek. (BTW, I have a daughter named Hayley spelled the same way).
Let me see if I can break it down for you, Universal Lasers Systems (ULS) and Epilog are the 2 American made Laser machines, Trotec is made in Germany and considered the best/fastest, GCC/LaserPro are made in Taiwan and considered equal in quality to US brands. Most of these use air cooled lasers and metal sealed laser tubes which are considered the best quality and are therefore most expensive. In comparison there are many Chinese laser Manufacturers and quality tends to be hit and miss, they mostly use glass laser tubes which usually don't last as long and support can be difficult. Some people import direct from China (but this can be a lot of work) and have found some decent brands such as Shenhui. Then there are a few companies that have set up here in the US, to distribute and support Chinese built machines, the good ones will take the machine and test it-fix it before selling it and they offer local support as well. Hurricane comes to mind as one that has a decent reputation and i know there are others. If you are interested in US made, you should talk to a local rep and ask questions. You may consider looking at getting it financed as well.
I know this response is oversimplified to some and has generalizations, don't mean to offend anyone, just trying to help someone new who seems to have a lot of questions.
Good Luck.
Paul

Keith Outten
04-19-2013, 1:43 PM
Thunder Laser (http://www.thunderlaser.com/) is one of our newest advertisers here, you might give them a call.

Mike Null
04-19-2013, 2:59 PM
Trotec is made in Austria.

Lucy Lee
04-19-2013, 11:17 PM
Hi Hayley,
For Epilog ,they use air coller metal laser tube ,so chiller no need ,why if 9k budget maybe short for this kind machine ,but if change to Co2 water coller glass tube ,9k is enough ,

Best Regards



I know, lots of people ask this. I'm feeling a little over my head though.

Background: I'm a techshop RDU member, which closes permanently tomorrow. I had started a little side business that was making me some spending cash etching glass there and doing some work with wood/acrylic. Given the amount of inquiries I have going with zero advertising, I was about to really ramp up the whole thing into a real business. And, then tech shop is closing, which, means now I need laser access if I am going to do anything with this.

I've tried to do some research online and, figure out what my needs are, but I'm still confused on a few things.

1. Are Rabbit and Hurricane Lasers chinese produced, already imported, and then US supported? Is the quality of support good?
2. FSL, Epilog, ULS, Rabbit, and Hurricane....are the choices for already in the US lasers from hobby to small shop level correct? or did I miss someone? (I say small shop as I know there are some massive industrial lasers out there as well..)
3. I know I absolutely, positively, have to have a reliable rotary attachment - i know FSL, Epilog, ULS have this. Do Rabbit and Hurricane?
4. Does anybody have a rough idea what yearly maintenance costs are? I know there's purchase price + sales tax + freight + rotary + I'll have to inquire about other individual fees + blower tube + air compressor (right?), but that doesn't tell me how much per year it will cost me to run it. I know there's the power cost, but i'm not sure how often folks are budgeting for tubes, or....other things that I'm not sure what they are yet?
5. I hear things about water cooling and chillers, it's my understanding that Epilog and ULS lasers..dont have these? Do you have to have those to run? I thought air assist/ventilation was the large external to-the-purchased-system requirement.
6. I am more creative, than mechanically inclined, more software than hardware oriented (I program by day, and create things at night) - am I in over my head considering one of these at all? I can follow directions and trouble shoot some basic things on computers and other equipment, but some of the discussions on various forums are well beyond my capacity to quite get. I do not CNC outside of laser-use or reverse engineer anything really, nor do I have access to a shop anymore where i could fabricate a lot of custom parts to fix/replace things.

Based on some research I know I do not want an FSL laser. After that though, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by choices. I am familiar with Epilog systems in terms of what I've already used. The budget starts at $9k for what I have to throw at this, but... if $9k will not get me a laser that suits my needs I'd rather find out the price of one that will and work that out instead. I saw a few systems on usedlasers based on another thread here, and that looks appealing truth be told in that I could get a 60W Epilog (which is what I'm most familiar with in addition to a 40 or 45 and the 60 really made a speed difference in my work) EXT for less than a new 60W Helix, but...that's still a lot more than $9k and I have no idea how reputable buying from that site is.

So if anyone has advice on...whether I am in over my head entire in ability to keep it up and running, and whether there is a buisness appropriate middle ground somewhere between $9k and $25k?

Oh- for the budget, i mean as purchase price w/ sales tax and most of the fees for the laser itself. I'm budgeting extra for the rotary, delivery, and air compressor for ventillation (or if i'm wrong that it's an air compressor, what I should be getting instead).

Thanks all.