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View Full Version : What to buy, what to buy?



Kyle J. Britt
07-27-2013, 9:07 PM
Hi all, I'm new to the forum (discovered it in my search for a laser cutter/engraver) so I'm sorry if this question has been asked before and I couldn't easily find it.

I've started a business selling some laser cut and engraved wood products (made of 1/16 inch aircraft plywood) and been renting time on a laser cutter at a local shop to fulfill my demands, but it's getting to a point where it might begin to make sense for me to own my own machine. For cost reasons, I'd like to start with a lower cost unit and work my way up. I'd like to spend less than $5000 on my first machine, all in, and don't mind a used or chinese machine if it will get me off the rented machine and let me save up for a nicer machine.

My only specs are a 12x24 work area and the ability to cut and engrave 1/16" aircraft plywood. I've seen used machines that seem to meet the specs and of course the direct from china machines.

What's the better bet? New and chinese or used? Is there a huge reason to go for a slightly more expensive new machine? Am I opening myself up for abuse by even asking about a chinese machine? Help me, I'm green to laser cutting, so I'm open to any and all advice.

Thanks,
Kyle

Howard Garner
07-27-2013, 9:38 PM
You could keep watching ebay.

This spring I caught a Universal Versa 3.50 30 watt unit, 3 years old for just over 5K
Took aday to drive, see it in action and return home, about a 16 hour trip

The used deals are there, it may just take some time for them to show up.

Howard Garner
Universal Lasesr VL300 and VL3.50, both 30 watt

Dave Sheldrake
07-27-2013, 9:45 PM
Hiya Kyle,

Personally I'd go with new Chinese at that kind of budget. Western machines come up second hand for 3 main reasons

1: They are knackered and the owner wants rid
2: The owner is selling a good machine because he is buying a bigger one
3: The owner is getting out of laser cutting (for any number of reasons)

$3,750 to $4,000 will get you the size you want from China along with some spares like lens's and mirrors.

If you do go western and opt for an RF unit then ask about how long since the last re-charge, when they do need refilling that can run to $2,500 a time whereas most Chinese glass DC tubes can be replaced for under $200 for one of similar power.

Chinese support can vary between excellent and non existant depending on company but G Weike and Shenui are both well known and have good reputations. HX Laser are also great machines (in the US they are sold as Rabbit by Ray Scott of Rabbit Laser), Home grown imported such as Hurricane could be an option but I don't know if John has anything at that price point.

General running costs in consumables are way higher on western machines (I've owned both Western, Japanese and Chinese machines) for example a lens can vary between $30 for a Chinese version or $250 for a Western version (when they essentially do the same job)

Direct comparisons from purists on both sides of the fence are usually flawed, it's like comparing a Ford Escort to a Nissan GTR, of course the GTR is a better car, then again it should be, it costs 5x as much. The biggest downside of Chinese machines is the claims made about their cutting ability, no matter what anybody likes to think a 40 watt laser is NOT going to be cutting 25mm acrylic anytime soon at anywhere near decent speeds or quality.

Same with tube life, I've seen DC tubes last 10 minutes when abused, I've also seen RF tubes go in double figure hours when abused (< 99 hrs)

If I were sat in your chair I'd go new Chinese, at least that way if it all goes tilt you won't lose your shirt on a money pit.

best wishes

Dave

Mike Null
07-28-2013, 9:54 AM
I would look hard for a used Western machine. I want something I don't have to spend my time tinkering with. Chinese machines are cheap for a reason.

matthew knott
07-28-2013, 4:36 PM
I would look hard for a used Western machine. I want something I don't have to spend my time tinkering with. Chinese machines are cheap for a reason.
A good used western machine is OK but there are bad ones out there, and you really dont know what your getting, if you find after 6 weeks it needs the tube re-charging, then a control board and a few optics plus a service visit and maybe a motor (i know its unlikely to be that bad) then your in for a heap of cash. I'm not sure where this idea that you need to constantly tinker with chinese machines to get the best out of them, they are much easier to fix yourself and work just fine.
Another point (i will get in trouble for this :) but people with expensive (western) machines seem very down on chinese lasers, always defending their position, they are better for sure but how much better is debatable, people with both chinese lasers and western often sing the praises of the chinese machines (i have both), and people with just chinese give mixed reviews. I don't think you will get unbiased view as who is really qualified to give one, its like asking whats the best car you can buy (the answer is Porsche!)

Dave Sheldrake
07-28-2013, 5:04 PM
people with both chinese lasers and western often sing the praises of the chinese machines (i have both)

Same Matt, I like Western machines I just don't like how much they cost to get fixed when something goes wrong that on a Chinese machine I can usually fix myself :)


its like asking whats the best car you can buy (the answer is Nissan GTR)

Couldn't agree more Matt :)

best wishes

Dave

Mike Null
07-29-2013, 6:27 AM
That's not a bad argument if you are a hobbyist or have a staff and other machines to take up the slack when one of your Chinese machines needs its frequent maintenance but if you're a one machine operation doing this for a living then it's an entirely different scenario.

With my Trotec I've had one day of downtime in 7 years---tell me about economy.

Mark Ross
07-29-2013, 11:45 AM
What we do is "mission critical". Our lasers print money as we jokingly say. Therefore our units our Epilog and the most a machine is down when something goes south is one business day. We have two 36 EXT's and would not trade them for a container load of chinese lasers.

matthew knott
07-29-2013, 12:47 PM
Totally understand! And if your up and running and making good money from the lasers, the actual capital cost of the laser pales in insignificance. Starting from ground zero buying a western machine is a chunk of change, and honestly the Chinese machines don't need any extra maintenance over what you should be doing to the western machines (optics cleaning & general house keeping). I doubt anyone would seriously regret buying a half decent Chinese machine, they do the job pretty well, and you could always sell it, they tend to be worth more when you sell them as people dont like ordering from China. I would imagine a new Trotec or Epilog would also hold its price very well but will lose some % and that will equate to some hard cash. From what i know 'I' would start cheap and go from there, but that's just me, used western is a gamble and you might get lucky or buy a pup, ask your self "do you feel lucky?"
I always thought it would be great to have a massive warehouse like a KMart full of all the different lasers and unbiased sales staff showing you all the products and the pro & cons so you can see for yourself , but i cant see that ever happening.

Rodne Gold
07-30-2013, 3:36 AM
What you buy depends on your budget. Sub 5k will get you an old mainstream machine with limited power and bed size or a new chinese machine with 2-3x the power and bed size - up to you.

George M. Perzel
07-30-2013, 4:58 AM
It is truly amazing the number of folks who knock the chinese machines and have no experience owning or operating one. I guess you can find unfounded prejudice in every facet of life.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

matthew knott
07-30-2013, 9:49 AM
It is truly amazing the number of folks who knock the Chinese machines and have no experience owning or operating one. I guess you can find unfounded prejudice in every facet of life.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts
Human Nature George, I think the Trotec machines are stunning bits of kit with beautiful build quality but that will never come cheap. As i pointed out just because you have a western machine and would never buy a Chinese that does not make you right,its just your opinion. Several people on here have both or operate Chinese machines and are very happy with them. Most of us dont feel the need to tinker with the machines, they just work, and work pretty good. As Rodne point out, its all in the budget, you pays your money and takes your choice.

Scott Shepherd
07-30-2013, 10:44 AM
It is truly amazing the number of folks who knock the chinese machines and have no experience owning or operating one. I guess you can find unfounded prejudice in every facet of life.
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

That's a 2 way street George. It's amazing how many people with Chinese lasers say how mainstream lasers are a waste, when they've never run a 2013 Trotec, Universal, or Epilog. So it's not an elite club anyone belongs to, it truly goes both ways.

I think the average journey for someone looking for a laser is to come to a forum like this and then start searching for models in the search to see how many issues come up. I think that's how most people pick their lasers. So I'd challenge you to take that perspective, search Epilog, Universal, Trotec, and then Chinese lasers. See which one is riddled with things not working and having to have electronics knowledge to repair them. How many times have you read "be care when tinkering in that area, touch the wrong thing and you can die". Not exactly something Suzie homemaker looking for some part time work wants to get involved in.

A Chinese laser might be perfect for you and your needs. It might not be for me. Doesn't make you right or me wrong. It means we have different expectations and different requirements.

That's not bashing any machine of any origin, that's just a fact. You can't tell someone what machine would be best for them unless you have intimate knowledge of their business model and requirements, something that is rarely, if ever, posted in threads like this.

Rodne Gold
07-30-2013, 12:01 PM
Cheaper lasers are counterproductive to business , the issue is the lowering of barriers to entry in the field. Expensive machines mean less folk can own them and those that do are "serious" about the business and maintaining pricing due to the high capital cost. There really is a finite amount of jobbing laser type work out there and albeit the chinese lasers might be a little more finicky than mainstream , they actually both do the job well. The whole business model gets messed up when the 2 guys on your block buy lasers at 1/5th your price and go after your slice of the pie , no matter how casually they do so.
You can attempt to undercut them , and make no money , or maintain your price and deliver quality and service - but customers are price fickle too.....
I maintain the real way to use a laser and make money out of it is to add value to a core product you sell and be innovative in how you use the tool , just setting up "a laser engraving business" means you compete with the "rats and mice" these days...

Joe Hillmann
07-30-2013, 12:55 PM
I have Universals and one Chinese yag that is a pain

With that said, in your price range I would look at a Chinese machine. I would be worried about any western laser that is the size you need and fits your budget, if it needs the tube charged that right there will cost at least $1000. And I would assume any second hand machine will be needing a new tube right away. Then if you need new belts, or a stepper motor or motherboard, or lens it can all add up quickly.

Whereas that same budget can get you a brand new Chinese machine and a pile of spare parts. And if you do end up needing parts for it, who cares, the parts are cheap(in comparison to a western laser).

No matter which route you go do your homework.

If you are looking at a western machine the companies keep track of them by serial number and if you call them up and ask about the history of the machine they can tell you what parts have been ordered for it. That way you can look for one with a newer tube. I would also ask to see it run before you buy it.

If you end up going with a machine from China maybe you can find someone on the forum near you who has the same machine and would be willing to let you see how it works and if it will work for what you want. Also if getting one from China order from a company with a good reputation.

George M. Perzel
07-30-2013, 1:59 PM
This thread was started by someone asking for advice of what machine to buy. I think he was given some objective answers by most and some unsubstantiated opinions by some- I think he can figure out which is which. I own three GCC machines and have owned a Universal-all are fine machines and really have not read about anyone bashing them other than the occasional outrage when a tube needs refurbishing or the costs of a service rep visit.
We are fortunate to have a number of members on this forum who have experience with both mainstream and Chinese lasers. I would value their opinions and advice much more than those who have only one or the other.
I also have an 80watt dual head 1200x800mm Shenhui which has been a workhorse and allowed me to more than double production in the same timeframe as my GCC Mercury. Contrary to the opinions of some, it does not require "frequent" maintenance. It has 4 times the work area of the Mercury and allows me to split the bed into two work areas or use 90% of the bed for one area. I can now do projects which had to be done in sections on the Mercury. To be fair , the Mercury can do 6 pt fonts a bit clearer than either of the Shenhui heads but I seldom need that level of accuracy. And, yes, the Shenhui is built like a tank and did require three piano movers to get the main section it to my work area. My Mercury is 10 years old, just had the 60 watt Synrad Firestar tube refurbished ($3500) (another story)and originally cost $27K. The Shenhui is 2 years old and came with spare everythings including two tubes (RECI) and cost $9K with shipping. These are facts-not opinions.Would I take a container load of Shenhui's over two comparable mainstream units-you bethcha-now that's an opinion.

Scott Shepherd
07-30-2013, 2:56 PM
You prove my point George. You compare a 10 year old GCC to a new Shenhui. Just because you owned a mainstream and a Chinese doesn't mean you're necessarily comparing things fairly.

Like I said, it fits YOUR business. Good for you. You found what fits your business. I've done over 50,000 parts with a 3 point font. By your post above, I wouldn't have been able to do that job on the Shenhui. So if I had a container full of them, they wouldn't do me any good on that job.

You seem to believe that a Chinese machine is the answer for everyone. I don't. I believe they are a great fit for the right people, and you, obviously, are a great fit for it.

George M. Perzel
07-30-2013, 3:31 PM
Scott;
Have I missed something? Where did I say I think the Chinese machines is the answer for everyone? I am trying to give factual information to someone to use in making a decision. You, on the other hand, have no factual basis on which to make a comparison other than what you read but you are determined to allow your biased opinion, not facts, cloud the issue. Sure, it depends on what you are going to do with the machine-duh.
Have a nice day
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Scott Shepherd
07-30-2013, 4:29 PM
Scott;
Have I missed something? Where did I say I think the Chinese machines is the answer for everyone? I am trying to give factual information to someone to use in making a decision. You, on the other hand, have no factual basis on which to make a comparison other than what you read but you are determined to allow your biased opinion, not facts, cloud the issue. Sure, it depends on what you are going to do with the machine-duh.
Have a nice day
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

George, please clear up what I said that wasn't factual. I seem to recall saying that a Chinese laser might be right for you, and it might not. How's that non-factual? How's that clouding the issue?

I couldn't care less what laser someone else buys. It doesn't change my day or my business one bit. If Chinese machines make you happy, buy a boat load of them, if mainstreams make you happy, get as many as you'd like. I don't care. It's not by business.

But, if you can honestly read this forum and see the large number of threads asking how to run or fix Chinese machines and think they are on a level playing field, I think you're being biased. How many "lasercut" threads do we have to read? I don't see anything remotely in that area on ANY other laser platform. I think it's important for people that are buying things to understand that there's a reason there are so many people asking for help. For the lower cost machine, you get less support. If that wasn't true, then you wouldn't have the large number of threads asking for help.

Some days when I look here, I think the whole front page is people with Chinese lasers asking for help. That should speak volumes to someone buying a machine.

Mike Null
07-30-2013, 6:17 PM
George

I sent you a pm with essentially the same type of comments that Steve made. You don't have to own a Chinese made machine to see that there's a good bit of extra work involved in owning one. Just read the posts on the forum. Still, the Chinese machine is a good solution for many people but don't overlook the warts and call it bias.

Ernie Balch
07-30-2013, 6:42 PM
The choice of machine is simple, buy the best one that you can afford and has demonstrated that it will do the job. That means getting samples run before you buy. If you don't know anything about lasers, buy a new one and try to get some training from the dealer. If you are good with computers, optics, mechanics and electronics and don't mind fixing things yourself you can buy a used system or build your own.

If you are building a real business, with employees it makes sense to get top quality, easy to run equipment. All lasers will have problems sooner or later, most of these problems are solved by replacing parts. Either you will have to do it or a service rep will be required. There is a trade off in time to repair vs cost to repair. Down time in a business can be very painful.

All that said, If you plan to engrave photos, I would buy systems with RF excited lasers rather than DC. If you plan to do cutting I would buy the highest power system you can afford.

ernie

Dave Sheldrake
07-30-2013, 8:22 PM
I would buy systems with RF excited lasers rather than DC

I tend to agree Ernie, RF beams do tend to be better overall quality.

I think it may have been Dan? (sorry if it wasn't) said effectively if you have one machine and it's mission critical, you need something ultra reliable and that is quite true, for me it tends to be run the thing till it dies, maintain what is easy and cost effective, then throw out what is going to cost me time or silly money.

That works for me, it may not fit or suit everybody.

best wishes

Dave

Robert Silvers
07-30-2013, 10:29 PM
I will chime in when my C02 laser arrives and I start to know what I am talking about. At work we have a 50 watt fiber laser for engraving, so I am familiar with the quality and capabilities of that. Your $5000 price point for a 12x24 should be easy as I paid under $6000 for a 900x600mm (~36x24") with a 100 watt Z4 tube, CW-5000 chiller, blower, autofocus, red dot, honeycomb, etc - including delivery to my house.

Look for a 600x400mm model.

Kyle J. Britt
08-02-2013, 11:51 AM
I will chime in when my C02 laser arrives and I start to know what I am talking about. At work we have a 50 watt fiber laser for engraving, so I am familiar with the quality and capabilities of that. Your $5000 price point for a 12x24 should be easy as I paid under $6000 for a 900x600mm (~36x24") with a 100 watt Z4 tube, CW-5000 chiller, blower, autofocus, red dot, honeycomb, etc - including delivery to my house.

Look for a 600x400mm model.
Robert, when are you getting yours, and what make is it from what dealer?

Kyle J. Britt
08-02-2013, 11:54 AM
Thank you to everybody who has posted an answer to this question. Although I haven't made a decision yet, I feel like I am much closer to having the information I need!

Robert Silvers
08-02-2013, 2:57 PM
Robert, when are you getting yours, and what make is it from what dealer?

http://imageshack.com/scaled/large/687/6fdo.jpg

Keith Outten
08-03-2013, 2:54 PM
The idea that you can compare a Chinese Laser to Western brand is ridiculous.

If the western companies could produce a high end machine for 5 thousand dollars they would have been doing it for many years.....it cannot be done.

Now, I'm not saying that the lower cost laser engravers don't have their place. As one who has owned laser engravers from both sources my experience is that anyone who expects to compare machines that represent the extreme edges of the quality range is just not looking at the facts. In my opinion if you are looking for a lower cost laser engraver then you should be looking at the Chinese machines. If you are looking for a high end machine the western machines like Trotec, Universal and Epilog are where you should concentrate your research.

Do you want a family car to drive to work or do you want a race car to enter the Indy 500? I ask this question not because of the speed difference in these two machines but because of the vast difference in precision and the tasks they are designed to accomplish.

Keith Outten
08-03-2013, 3:43 PM
As a follow up to my previous post I really want a Kern Laser next :)
.

Robert Silvers
08-03-2013, 4:12 PM
[QUOTE=Keith Outten;2139545]If the western companies could produce a high end machine for 5 thousand dollars they would have been doing it for many years.....it cannot be done.[\quote]

US companies have to pay a certain wage, by law. Have to pay tens of thousands extra to add handicapped bathrooms, door handles, and ramps to the buildings. Have to vent the paint vapors in a certain way. Have to do FCC and UL testing. Have to pay lawyers a ton. Have to pay accountants so much to deal with the US tax code. Some of this is good (air and water quality). Most of it is bad.

http://www.pololu.com/blog/26/three-and-a-half-months-to-plug-in-our-machines-legally

An Epilog 36EXT is $42,000 plus delivery. The Chinese machine I ordered is the same size and power and was $5,800 with delivery and customs tax.

I have no doubt that the Epilog is 2x as good. It may even be 3x as good (doubt it) - but it costs 7.5 times as much. I don't blame Epilog - I blame govt regulation which makes it too hard for US companies to compete.

Scott Shepherd
08-03-2013, 4:47 PM
Robert, that's an easy statement to make, but one cannot simply compare initial costs of equipment if one wants to do a true cost of ownership.

If you wanted to look at it, you'd have to look at a number of things, like :

1) What is the life span of the machine? If a $5,800 machine last 1 year and the Epilog lasts 8 years, then you've spent more on the Chinese machine.

2) What's the production time difference? If a $5,800 machine runs at 70% of what the Epilog does, then, over a relatively short time, if your machine is kept running 6 hours a day (the Chinese machine), the Epilog can do that same work in 21 hours. So that's 9 hours per week less time. Multiply that times 52 weeks and that's 468 billable hours more, let's say, at $60 per hour. That's $28,000 more you made on the Epilog doing the same work. So the $28,000 plus the $5,800 would get you at about $34,000. That's IF you have 30 hours work. What if you have 40 hours? 50 hours? 5 hours?

3) What's the maintenance cost? How much down time do you have in a year? Count those as lost hours and multiply them by $60 per hour as well. That's lost revenue.

Now, and I imagine some have stopped reading this by now and it'll become evident by some responses, that might all be PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to you and your use for your laser. However, just because it's acceptable in your use, doesn't mean it's acceptable for my business requirements. I think we make most of our money off responding quickly when other's can't. That means our lasers are mission critical. I don't have the time or the ability to troubleshoot electronics issues. To me, any time I spend working on a machine is time and money lost. To other's, they LOVE that stuff. They love taking the covers off and pulling out a meter and probing around. That's great too. I have no problems with that.

I have no problems with Chinese lasers. I just don't agree on some of the analysis that people make that lead them to slamming mainstream lasers. I've mentioned it many times now, to have some real jobs, run them on various lasers and post some real times up and then we'll have facts we can extrapolate into useable data. Until that's done, not much else matters.

Robert Silvers
08-03-2013, 7:24 PM
I don't have my machine yet - so I could be wrong. It could end up a terrible waste of money and never work well. So if that happens, you will be correct.

But at this point with my optimism, and experience with the Chinese (but not Chinese lasers specifically), if I were concerned about downtime I would just buy a spare laser tube, power supply, motherboard, mirrors, and lenses. If that was not adequate, I could buy two or more machines. That all being said, if I were a company of a certain size and not a home user, I would buy the Epilog. Can't get fired for buying an Epilog (IBM). You can get fired for buying a Chinese laser that does not end up working.

As for billing hours - I figured it would be too hard to make money with the laser. It would be great if I could bill hours - but that seems like a lot of work quoting people and having most of them not follow through with projects. If there is some low-hanging fruit way to earn money with it, other than selling products made on it (which is obvious), that would be great.

And if I am wrong, I won't hide it - I will come back and report a bad experience.

Dave Sheldrake
08-03-2013, 8:37 PM
Hiya Scott,


1) What is the life span of the machine? If a $5,800 machine last 1 year and the Epilog lasts 8 years, then you've spent more on the Chinese machine.

The first 6800 series HX laser I purchased is now 5 years old and still running fine, it is however on it's 3rd 40 watt tube (@175 per tube)


2) What's the production time difference? If a $5,800 machine runs at 70% of what the Epilog does, then, over a relatively short time, if your machine is kept running 6 hours a day (the Chinese machine), the Epilog can do that same work in 21 hours. So that's 9 hours per week less time. Multiply that times 52 weeks and that's 468 billable hours more, let's say, at $60 per hour. That's $28,000 more you made on the Epilog doing the same work. So the $28,000 plus the $5,800 would get you at about $34,000. That's IF you have 30 hours work. What if you have 40 hours? 50 hours? 5 hours?

Agreed, that's why in time critical applications 2 machines are better than one.

2 x $5,800 @ 70% efficiency
Total production time 6 hours per day (30 hrs per week)
The Epilog will have to run for 42 hours to produce the same workflow as 2 cheap machines do in 30 hours.
That's 624 billable hours per year (@$60 an hour that's $37,440) add on the $28,000 cost of the machine that's $65,440 peak dollars in the first year. Deduct the $11,600 cost of the Chinese machines $53,840 more I'm going to have to profit by (not turn over "Profit")


3) What's the maintenance cost? How much down time do you have in a year? Count those as lost hours and multiply them by $60 per hour as well. That's lost revenue.

In the last 5 years of using Chinese machines I have lost under 12 hours per year per machine in maintenance time due to faults, such as changing lens's, mirrors or tubes.


Now, and I imagine some have stopped reading this by now and it'll become evident by some responses, that might all be PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE to you and your use for your laser. However, just because it's acceptable in your use, doesn't mean it's acceptable for my business requirements. I think we make most of our money off responding quickly when other's can't. That means our lasers are mission critical. I don't have the time or the ability to troubleshoot electronics issues. To me, any time I spend working on a machine is time and money lost. To other's, they LOVE that stuff. They love taking the covers off and pulling out a meter and probing around. That's great too. I have no problems with that.

The huge difference for me is where I get the machines from, I buy all my Chinese lasers from a UK based supplier who ensures they are all conforming to the required safety legalities, they are all tested and checked for quality before I get them and I have 7 day a week support for want of a phonecall or email. That costs me about 25% more than I can buy the machines for direct but that for me is good value.

Direct imports are something I have never been a supporter of, I've seen too many machines come in faulty, legally questionable, or just outright knackered.

267827

If you import direct and the above turns up...who pays?

The manufacturer? Nope it was fine when they shipped it
The loader? nope they always handle stuff with care
The transporter shipping company? nope, they "have been doing this 40 years mate" and have never damaged anything
Customs & Excise? Nope, her Majesties Officials never make mistakes
The delivery company? Heh prove it, you signed for it.

There are some fantastic Chinese companies who will do everything they can to help you, there are also some truly dire ones that will wash their hands the moment you have any problems. While I'm sure there are also Western suppliers who are hopeless it is far easy to bring action against a company in your own country than trying to litigate across an international border.

On direct imports I have indeed seen a LOT of people have problems, I'm not a big believer in buying shed loads of spares for something that should work out of the box just "in case" it goes wrong.

Just last week I purchased a ZX1850 tube from my supplier in the UK, he dropped by,fitted it tested it and had a coffee and a chat. Job done, back to work. HOWEVER when he initially arrived and unpacked the first tube and removed the + electrode cover cap the end of the tube cracked off (that's a $3000 tube as well) so had that been imported I'd now be sat here wondering if it was going to get replaced or what trouble I would now be having with a machine down and a broken tube. Because I purchased in-country he simply got another tube from the vehicle and fitted that, time lost to tube fault? 90 seconds.
The tube for whatever reason didn't survive a 300 mile trip so the chances of a 1.9 meter long precision piece of glass surviving a 6,000 mile trip probably aren't great.

While I'm a supporter of Chinese machines I wouldn't buy one for business use directly from China.The risk over benefit is simply too high for me.If it's for a hobby or a sideline to a day job ..great..or even as a third or forth machine to toy with but past that in-country support for any serious business is essential in my own situation.

best wishes

Dave

Robert Silvers
08-03-2013, 9:05 PM
The huge difference for me is where I get the machines from, I buy all my Chinese lasers from a UK based supplier who ensures they are all conforming to the required safety legalities, they are all tested and checked for quality before I get them and I have 7 day a week support for want of a phonecall or email. That costs me about 25% more than I can buy the machines for direct but that for me is good value.

Direct imports are something I have never been a supporter of, I've seen too many machines come in faulty, legally questionable, or just outright knackered.

If you import direct and the above turns up...who pays?

There are some fantastic Chinese companies who will do everything they can to help you, there are also some truly dire ones that will wash their hands the moment you have any problems. While I'm sure there are also Western suppliers who are hopeless it is far easy to bring action against a company in your own country than trying to litigate across an international border.

On direct imports I have indeed seen a LOT of people have problems, I'm not a big believer in buying shed loads of spares for something that should work out of the box just "in case" it goes wrong.

While I'm a supporter of Chinese machines I wouldn't buy one for business use directly from China.The risk over benefit is simply too high for me.If it's for a hobby or a sideline to a day job ..great..or even as a third or forth machine to toy with but past that in-country support for any serious business is essential in my own situation.

My $5800 machine would be between $10,000 and $16,000 if I bought it from a US importer, depending on which one.

I imported a lathe directly. It had a problem, and they air-shipped me the parts and paid for a machine-repair company in my area to come and install it. I know that was above and beyond and not saying that is normal.

Scott Shepherd
08-03-2013, 9:10 PM
And if I am wrong, I won't hide it - I will come back and report a bad experience.

I don't think anyone is saying you are wrong for buying a Chinese machine. Certainly not anyone in this thread that I have seen.

Dave, I tell you what, I mentioned in an earlier thread that I had run 50,000 of an item. I was way off. I've run no less than 150,000 of one item for a customer. It's a 3 point, lower case font. I'll put my machines head to head with 1 or 5 Chinese machines and let's see who keeps the job.

Chinese machines have their issues, you've been very vocal on that as well. There are things they don't do well. We're a job shop, we see all sorts of things. Last thing I want, in our business, it to turn down work because of quality limitations of our lasers.

If it were as simple as your math example, then there would be no Epilog, Universal, Trotec, GCC, or anyone else, other than Chinese machines. My point was simply that it's not as simple as comparing purchase prices.

I also know that when our lasers are running, 1 person can't keep up with 2 machines, much less 5 machines. So having 5 machines, running the type of work we do, would require hiring more people.

I don't care what you own or buy. My point that I keep repeating is that what's right for you might not be right for me, what's right for you, might not be right for you. There is no "one size fits all" in the market.

I also think you'd have to admit, your laser knowledge and skill is at the top tier, and that's a LONG LONG way from 99.9% of the people that buys lasers.

Dave Sheldrake
08-03-2013, 9:17 PM
Yea, I agree Rob, I've seen some pretty top heavy prices from US suppliers for what amounts to cheap machines bought direct :(

For anything other than business use I'd say import all the way (at absolute worst you loose machine cost) but for business at worst case I could loose 3X the machine cost in the first month trying to get it fixed. I love Chinese machines but sadly like most of the guys that have posted I really don't want to throw earnings away if things go wrong on an import.

That is of course just me though, different models fit different people.

cheers

Dave

Dave Sheldrake
08-03-2013, 9:23 PM
There is no "one size fits all" in the market.

Bang on Scott :) the manufacturer that can fit that bill will make a LOT of money :) like you though, I don't think it's going to happen any time soon.

That's the main reason I run a rather expensive Mitsubishi to cut metal when there are cheap Chinese alternatives, even the thought of running potentially explosive gasses through something made to a price and not a standard kinda scares me silly :)

cheers

Dave

Robert Silvers
08-03-2013, 9:33 PM
If it were as simple as your math example, then there would be no Epilog, Universal, Trotec, GCC, or anyone else, other than Chinese machines. My point was simply that it's not as simple as comparing purchase prices.

Clearly tons of companies have to minimize downtime and it is worth the price difference. I would like to think that no one is arguing that a medium or large company should buy a $5,000 Chinese laser. On the other hand, there is no way I am buying a $42,000 laser for my home without a clean plan to have it make a profit, and I have no clear plan. For sure I am taking on risk, but losing $5,800 is much lower risk to me than a $42,000 machine that is certain to work, but where I may never find a way to have it earn itself back.

George M. Perzel
08-03-2013, 10:32 PM
Here we go again-same old argument without a valid premise. Chinese machines are cheaper- then they must be slower and break more often.
Scott, lets look at your statements and numbers:
1. What is the lifespan of the machine? Who knows? It's not like the whole thing crumbles to dust and has to be replaced. From actual experience my almost 10 year old GCC Mercury has had the tube replaced twice, once under warranty and once for $3500. X-axis motor once, EProms once, two fans, two auto focus cables (cheap ribbons), one power supply ($650), a set of track rollers, and at least three focus probes. It also had the mainboard replaced ($970) but can't count that as it was due to a lightning strike that came in thru the cable TV/Phone?Internet and wiped out two tv's, the GCC, the Shenhui, two cable dvr's, a speaker system, a router, modem, and harddrive. A real mess. All in all,though, not bad for a ten year old ownership.
The Shenhui? Now two years old. Other than the lightning strike (took out the mainboard, but had a spare -$300, so was back running on that in 1 hour while GCC took three days trying to get the right version of the mainboard) the only problems have been:
A.Bad water sensor-had the Shenhui tech on Skype within 10 minutes of calling who told me how to bypass the sensor and then clean it-have two sensors so no safety issues.
B. Replaced one tube-by mistake-was getting double print which turned out to be loose lens-tube was OK.

Bottom line on lifecycle costs. Who knows? I do know that the Shenhui is much more modular as can be upgraded easily with new tubes, mainboards, etc at a reasonable cost. Never, in ten years , did I get anything from GCC that offered any upgrade other than a new driver. Want something better and faster?-buy a new machine.PLEASE NOTE: I am not slamming the mainstream machines as I do not know what upgrades to existing machines is offered by Epilog, Universal, Trotec and others-someone with more knowledge can comment.


2. Now lets talk about production costs. Let's accept your assumption that the Chinese machine operates at 70% the speed of the Epilog. However, I have a much larger bed and TWO tubes so I can achieve 140% of the Epilog output. So in a 6 hour, 5 day week, I can equal the Epilog 30 hour production in 21 hours.So that's 9 hours per week less time. Multiply that times 52 weeks and that's 468 billable hours more, let's say, at $60 per hour. That's $28,000 more I made versus the Epilog doing the same work. That's IF you have 30 hours work. What if you have 40 hours? 50 hours? 5 hours? Oh, I know, you are going to say that's not fair, but they are your numbers.

3. What's the maintenance cost? Somehow, somewhere you got the idea that owners of Chinese lasers spend most of their time trying to fix a multitude of technical issues that would confound the average mortal. You don't choose to back your statements up with data or facts-you only reference "what you have heard or read". I concede that there are Chinese lasers that are crap, but there are also "mainstream" lasers that I wouldn't touch-read the threads. My maintenance costs?- a bit more on the Shenhui because I have two sets of optics to clean, but for an added $28K per year in revenue I can assure you I don't mind.

We do agree on at least one thing, the Chinese (or mainstream) lasers are not for everyone-it depends on your projected use and business goals. True, if you are going to engrave 2 point font on glass earrings then you may want the high end mainstream unit as a $450 lens will give you a bit more definition and detail than a $50 lens. The problem is that many entry level laser buyers have only a vague idea, or one idea, about what they want to do with the machine. and not enough knowledge or information on the various alternatives or what they can expect of the the results.
It's interesting that you think "we make most of our money off responding quickly when other's can't". Au contraire, monsieur, I make most of my money doing things others haven't thought of or projects others don't know how to do.

I appreciate it that you have "no problems with Chinese lasers", although your rhetoric indicates otherwise. For the life of me, I cannot understand your allegation that "some of the analysis that people make that lead them to slamming mainstream lasers". Where? Give me some examples. Do you mean comparing a $5800 Chinese machine to a $40,000 mainstream machine from a cost viewpoint is slamming?

As a next to final note, Keith, you are way off base saying you cannot compare a mainstream laser to a Chinese unit. Off course you can, we have been doing it on this forum for the last four years and more. As Robert Silver has stated, much better than I can, we cannot produce what the Chinese have done because of labor costs and a mess of regulations geared to killing productivity and competiveness. I remember when Japanese cars were considered inferior to US cars, then saw the complete reversal in the "90's. Why we don;t learn from history is beyond me.
As a final not, Scott, we again agree. It would be great to have a database of lasers and a baseline for testing and comparison. I tried, about a year ago, to start a database of laser users and information. I even offered some incentives to register your laser and specs but was forced to abandon the project because it wasn't fair to the foot-pedaled lathe enthusiasts on the forum who didn't own a laser.
Best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

Scott Shepherd
08-03-2013, 10:41 PM
Here we go again-same old argument without a valid premise. Chinese machines are cheaper- then they must be slower and break more often.
Scott, lets look at your statements and numbers:
1. What is the lifespan of the machine? Who knows? It's not like the whole thing crumbles to dust and has to be replaced. From actual experience my almost 10 year old GCC Mercury has had the tube replaced twice, once under warranty and once for $3500. X-axis motor once, EProms once, two fans, two auto focus cables (cheap ribbons), one power supply ($650), a set of track rollers, and at least three focus probes. It also had the mainboard replaced ($970) but can't count that as it was due to a lightning strike that came in thru the cable TV/Phone?Internet and wiped out two tv's, the GCC, the Shenhui, two cable dvr's, a speaker system, a router, modem, and harddrive. A real mess. All in all,though, not bad for a ten year old ownership.
The Shenhui? Now two years old. Other than the lightning strike (took out the mainboard, but had a spare -$300, so was back running on that in 1 hour while GCC took three days trying to get the right version of the mainboard) the only problems have been:
A.Bad water sensor-had the Shenhui tech on Skype within 10 minutes of calling who told me how to bypass the sensor and then clean it-have two sensors so no safety issues.
B. Replaced one tube-by mistake-was getting double print which turned out to be loose lens-tube was OK.

Bottom line on lifecycle costs. Who knows? I do know that the Shenhui is much more modular as can be upgraded easily with new tubes, mainboards, etc at a reasonable cost. Never, in ten years , did I get anything from GCC that offered any upgrade other than a new driver. Want something better and faster?-buy a new machine.PLEASE NOTE: I am not slamming the mainstream machines as I do not know what upgrades to existing machines is offered by Epilog, Universal, Trotec and others-someone with more knowledge can comment.


2. Now lets talk about production costs. Let's accept your assumption that the Chinese machine operates at 70% the speed of the Epilog. However, I have a much larger bed and TWO tubes so I can achieve 140% of the Epilog output. So in a 6 hour, 5 day week, I can equal the Epilog 30 hour production in 21 hours.So that's 9 hours per week less time. Multiply that times 52 weeks and that's 468 billable hours more, let's say, at $60 per hour. That's $28,000 more I made versus the Epilog doing the same work. That's IF you have 30 hours work. What if you have 40 hours? 50 hours? 5 hours? Oh, I know, you are going to say that's not fair, but they are your numbers.

3. What's the maintenance cost? Somehow, somewhere you got the idea that owners of Chinese lasers spend most of their time trying to fix a multitude of technical issues that would confound the average mortal. You don't choose to back your statements up with data or facts-you only reference "what you have heard or read". I concede that there are Chinese lasers that are crap, but there are also "mainstream" lasers that I wouldn't touch-read the threads. My maintenance costs?- a bit more on the Shenhui because I have two sets of optics to clean, but for an added $28K per year in revenue I can assure you I don't mind.

We do agree on at least one thing, the Chinese (or mainstream) lasers are not for everyone-it depends on your projected use and business goals. True, if you are going to engrave 2 point font on glass earrings then you may want the high end mainstream unit as a $450 lens will give you a bit more definition and detail than a $50 lens. The problem is that many entry level laser buyers have only a vague idea, or one idea, about what they want to do with the machine. and not enough knowledge or information on the various alternatives or what they can expect of the the results.
It's interesting that you think "we make most of our money off responding quickly when other's can't". Au contraire, monsieur, I make most of my money doing things others haven't thought of or projects others don't know how to do.

I appreciate it that you have "no problems with Chinese lasers", although your rhetoric indicates otherwise. For the life of me, I cannot understand your allegation that "some of the analysis that people make that lead them to slamming mainstream lasers". Where? Give me some examples. Do you mean comparing a $5800 Chinese machine to a $40,000 mainstream machine from a cost viewpoint is slamming?

As a next to final note, Keith, you are way off base saying you cannot compare a mainstream laser to a Chinese unit. Off course you can, we have been doing it on this forum for the last four years and more. As Robert Silver has stated, much better than I can, we cannot produce what the Chinese have done because of labor costs and a mess of regulations geared to killing productivity and competiveness. I remember when Japanese cars were considered inferior to US cars, then saw the complete reversal in the "90's. Why we don;t learn from history is beyond me.
As a final not, Scott, we again agree. It would be great to have a database of lasers and a baseline for testing and comparison. I tried, about a year ago, to start a database of laser users and information. I even offered some incentives to register your laser and specs but was forced to abandon the project because it wasn't fair to the foot-pedaled lathe enthusiasts on the forum who didn't own a laser.
Best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas
Best Regards,
George
Laserarts

How to respond to that is a puzzle to me. George, you come to this discussion every time I post assuming I'm bashing your choice. That couldn't be further from the truth. Show me where I said that the cost to maintain a Chinese machine WAS more than a mainstream machine. What I SAID was that it's SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED. That means that it's PART of the equation. If the answer is "Chinese machines are less expensive to maintain", then they answer is "Chinese machines are less to maintain". I never once gave my opinion of if I thought the cost was more or less. I didn't say because I don't know. How you read negative comments into everything I post is something I can't control.

I used numbers as basic examples of how you check the cost of ownership on ANY piece of equipment. If you don't agree with that, I'm sorry, I can't control that. I'm merely saying that you should think about things other than initial cost when purchasing a machine.

IF THAT MEANS IT MAKES MORE SENSE FOR YOU TO BUY A CHINESE MACHINE, BUY ONE. IF IT DOESN'T, DON'T. Not sure how many different ways I have to say that.

The "comments" about quality on items comes from this forum itself. Read the forum. I believe it may have been you that said you can't do fonts less than 4 points. There's a thread now about circles not cutting round.

From the way I read YOUR posts, YOU appear to be the one that says if you buy a mainstream machine, you are a fool, which I strongly disagree with.

I also didn't say YOU make most your money off responding quickly, I said "I" make most our money off things like that. So please get the context right when trying to represent things I didn't say about you or any owner.

Rodne Gold
08-04-2013, 5:48 AM
If you need transport and can't afford a Rolls Royce , you buy what you can and live with any compromises.

Keith Outten
08-04-2013, 2:03 PM
George,

Just because a low percentage of people feel that they can compare apples to oranges doesn't make it viable and it doesn't support a reasonable argument. I stand by my statement that these two types of machines are not in the same class.

What happened in the past with Japanese automobiles could happen again with laser engravers but it could take some time and it is unlikely.

Labor costs associated with western brand laser engravers are a far cry from the 700% difference in cost of the two types of machines. The cost of high end laser engravers is based on the sum of its very high end precision parts. I ran a Xenetech machine for five years and owned an Epilog in the past, neither was in the same class as the machines that Trotec is manufacturing today IMO. So, if I am correct based on my first hand knowledge about the quality of these three machines I am probably correct in my assessment of the Chinese machine I owned. It wasn't a bad machine it just wasn't up to the task for the work in my shop or in the sign shop at CNU. There is no way to compare the 80 watt Chinese machine with the 80 watt Trotec and I owned both machines.

Now, I have no problem stating that if I was a hobby laser engraver or a small business on a tight budget I would purchase a Chinese machine and not even look at any of the high end Western/Austrian Machines.
.

Dan Hintz
08-04-2013, 2:10 PM
If you need transport and can't afford a Rolls Royce , you buy what you can and live with any compromises.

That about sums it up, Rodney...

On another foot, you also choose based upon what you think you can get away with. If you can afford a Rolls, but want to save a bit of money and purchase a Toyota, you take your lumps when something goes wrong...

Robert Silvers
08-04-2013, 2:34 PM
I stand by my statement that these two types of machines are not in the same class.

For sure they are not in the same class.


What happened in the past with Japanese automobiles could happen again with laser engravers but it could take some time and it is unlikely.

It is not the same situation as cars because the Chinese are not trying to make their machines as nice as the US machines. They are going after a different market altogether. If they wanted to make an a $42,000 Epilog they could do it right now. It would not sell for $5,800.


Labor costs associated with western brand laser engravers are a far cry from the 700% difference in cost of the two types of machines.

In reality it is closer to 3:1 for equal quality product.

My friend had a mold made in China for $300,000 that was quoted as $900,000 in the USA. In that case, the product was the same (made to the drawing). I have seen the same 3:1 in products I have experience with.

In summary, the Epilog is probably 2.3x better for 7x the cost and the Chinese could sell something equal to it for ~$14,000.

People are delusional to under-estimate them. They can make nuclear weapons and space vehicles. They graduate 400,000 engineers per year. US is 70,000. The difference between Shanghai and Detroit is like comparing a new Lexus to a 1970s Pinto - I am not exaggerating. The city is like from the future.

Really. Go to China and your world will be turned upside down.

http://img.timeinc.net/time/photoessays/2008/intro_cuts_shanghai/intro_shanghai.jpg

Dave Sheldrake
08-04-2013, 2:38 PM
you also choose based upon what you think you can get away with.

Yup exactly :)

That's what I did,

Firstly I didn't do a lot of research and bought an Epilog then a Universal to cover most of my bases, they were great and did what I needed to do at the time
I wanted to chew out some wooden disks (rather a lot of them) so got a few Chinese machines from a UK supplier.The size isn't +/- microns so accuracy wasn't critical.
I also wanted to mark direct on metals at a decent price (I do very little engraving) so a Chinese Galvo Yag it was.
I wanted to cut some metals but with good speed (as the metals weren't particularly thick) so a custom built Galvo came next (Western made)
I had a need for cutting thicker metals at good speed so two VERY expensive full spec Mitsubishi's was the option I went for. (I later got rid of one as the work slowed down and I'm not in the habit of working machines for McDonalds money)

None of the machines would do all the jobs I needed done (from the few thousand $$ Chinese to the several hundred thousand $$ Mitsu's) so "needs must" in the end.

One thing I have learned, it's a lot easier to buy the wrong machine than it is to buy the right one :)


People are delusional to under-estimate them.

Got that right, the only reason some Western companies still exist is simply because the Chinese manufacturers have no interest in playing with them. They are the worlds second biggest economic power, within 10 years they will be number 1 quite easily.
The pinnacle of the come back story, Apple, world leaders in their small tablet and music players and with massive profits and cash flow available. All made in China.

Like the scene in the film Armageddon on the returning shuttle that won't start, Lev the cosmonaut says "American components, Russian components,.....all made in Taiwan"

cheers

Dave

Glen Monaghan
08-04-2013, 10:04 PM
I would agree about not under-estimating China, but "city from the future?" I spent a month roaming across China, including a couple of days in Shanghai. They have some futuristic looking architecture as you have shown, and fascinating nightly light shows built into the facades of many buildings. But the Jetsons it ain't. I saw an awful lot of yesteryear shoe-horned into that city. In what significant way is the city "like from the future" (other than being intensely crowded)?

Robert Silvers
08-04-2013, 10:43 PM
I would agree about not under-estimating China, but "city from the future?" I spent a month roaming across China, including a couple of days in Shanghai. They have some futuristic looking architecture as you have shown, and fascinating nightly light shows built into the facades of many buildings. But the Jetsons it ain't. I saw an awful lot of yesteryear shoe-horned into that city. In what significant way is the city "like from the future" (other than being intensely crowded)?

I meant that it has a tremendous amount of recently-built infrastructure. Blade Runner was also a city in the future with some really old things tossed in.

Scott Shepherd
08-05-2013, 9:17 AM
I don't see anyone in this thread "underestimating China". I wish we were able to take the origin out of these discussions because it serves no purpose other than to upset people that have machines from there.

I don't think there's anything wrong with comparing machine price functions, features, speed, and quality objectively. I'd love to see some sort of blind testing with all the numbers and then it would remove the emotional part of the conversation.

Rodne Gold
08-05-2013, 11:37 AM
I actually maintain that mainstream machines are overpriced to the final user (as are the tubes) they are not complicated machines and should not cost the price of a mid sized car.

Dan Hintz
08-05-2013, 11:51 AM
I actually maintain that mainstream machines are overpriced to the final user (as are the tubes) they are not complicated machines and should not cost the price of a mid sized car.

I think one item you're typically paying a premium for would be the RF tubes versus glass. The glass tubes are dirt simple to manufacture (comparatively speaking) without complicated (read, expensive) equipment, and there are no patents on the process. RF tubes, on the other hand, require CNC equipment to manufacture to tight tolerances, quality vacuum systems are used, there's the controlled oxidation process involved (omitting the ceramic core tubes form the discussion, which are likely even more expensive to work with), power supply/motherboard components and design ARE of a higher quality level, and there are patents all over the place. Research is continually happening in the RF tube field trying to get that last ounce of power and improve beam quality, which leads to more patents, etc.

A new RF tube is quite often half the price of the entire machine. Lets' take a 60W RF cartridge at $10k in a $20k machine. Now look at glass... sub-$1k in a $5k-$8k machine. From a motor/cabinet standpoint, I don't think the US machines are that much different in price, comparatively speaking, and the price difference that does exist comes down more to labor costs, QC on parts used, etc.

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 11:55 AM
If you consider a used Epilog I know they keep files on the machines they sell. Give them a call with the serial number and they'll tell you all about it. I have a 25 Watt Epilog Radius from 1998 at home and it's still running good.

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 12:11 PM
I don't see anyone in this thread "underestimating China".

Pushing the concept that all of the price difference between a low-cost Chinese machine and a mainstream machine is based on the quality difference is what I meant by underestimating China because they are not being given credit for the things that they do very well. There is a component of them just being exceptionally efficient at manufacturing.

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 12:14 PM
What should we make of these new Z series glass tubes:

http://www.recilaser.com/en/newsInfo/fc9181e83ff4f239013ff53144ef04a5.htm

Rodne Gold
08-05-2013, 12:48 PM
Whats really nice is that you can afford one just to try it , I would maybe splash out $500 to try a 80/100w tube if it is better.. and considering it uses a stock power supply , its maybe a 30 min job to install and align.. and off you go..mods and upgrades are dead easy on these machines due to the modular nature and parts are dirt cheap cos of mass production. To give an example , this part is $12...

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 12:49 PM
This discussion pops up from time to time, sometimes gets a bit heated on both sides... :), The bottom line is both product do similar things, like cars, a lower priced car as well as a higher priced car will both get you to the same destination, how you get there is your choice... If how each handles warranty work or service when you're down and time is a factor (plus you are located in the USA, that makes a difference for overnight shipping) then go with the one that provides that service, Consider the higher cost as an "insurance policy" I know Epilog has a 2 year warranty on tubes so I assume other USA made do also.. If you are more mechanically inclined and price is of a bigger concern go Chinese. On the surface this all sounds like soo many choices and decisions, but really it's not. Make a list of plusses and minuses on each machine, weigh that to what you feel is important and how you plan on using them, then figure the actual value as it fits your needs and I think you decisions will be narrowed down greatly! I have Epilogs, but both are about 7 years old, when it comes time to buy replacements or additional, I will take into consideration all machines out there. In 7 years most manufacturers have improved greatly, that will be weighed against the quality and product I have received through the years from Epilog. Right now I am considering adding a smaller Trotec to my shop, through the years speed is becoming a factor in what I do, so Trotec is now in the mix. I keep both machines busy so service is very important to me. Everyday a machine is down it costs me in time lost and productivity. Once you actually sit down and define what you want to do, and how the machine affects your workflow, you make the choice that best fits you. What works for myself or others may not be the right decision for yourself.

Mike Null
08-05-2013, 1:23 PM
This is just malarkey.
There is a component of them just being exceptionally efficient at manufacturing.

Cheap labor does not necessarily translate to efficient manufacturing. Their quality control and, in fact, their engineering, is sub-standard. That's why there are problems with virtually all brands from China. That's why they have to sell cheaper.

They can be fixed by the buyer but buyers need to be prepared to do some work to get them up and running.

matthew knott
08-05-2013, 2:04 PM
This is just malarkey.

Cheap labor does not necessarily translate to efficient manufacturing. Their quality control and, in fact, their engineering, is sub-standard. That's why there are problems with virtually all brands from China. That's why they have to sell cheaper.

They can be fixed by the buyer but buyers need to be prepared to do some work to get them up and running.

Tha'ts simply not true and its this kind of attitude that will destory european-western manufacturing, its a crazy statement to make! "their"
you cant genralise like that with a country off billions, its like saying all Americans are fat, all Italians are lazy, all English have crap teeth!!
Some extremley high quality engineering is coming out of china, Now I agree at this point in time the Shenui-Rabbit type laser are no where near this, right now they are cheap and cheerfull, do the job very well, but they are not the best (far from it). But this will not remain the same, China as Rodney has always said will produce to a price, at the moment they mainly seem to be aiming at the bottom of the market. I have seen some of their hight end products (fiber lasers) and they are on-par with usa/europe. Thats right now, today!
Also Apple make all their phones, laptops etc in China, Cant accuse them of producing sub-standard kit.
My point is you cant say Chinese engineering is sub-standard as a fact, some is and some is not. Japinese engineering used to be seen as sub-standard as did German (in the UK). We used (along with the USA) pretty much rullled the world on car exports, now we make nothing and i dont think the US car industry is exactly coining it in. Things are changing !!

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 2:07 PM
This is just malarkey.

Cheap labor does not necessarily translate to efficient manufacturing. Their quality control and, in fact, their engineering, is sub-standard. That's why there are problems with virtually all brands from China. That's why they have to sell cheaper.

They can be fixed by the buyer but buyers need to be prepared to do some work to get them up and running.

The truth is in the middle. They sell cheaper both because they are made more efficiently and because they are lower quality and not as well engineered.

There is a 7:1 price difference, and I believe that 3:1 of the price difference is them being made more efficiently, and 2.3:1 of the price difference comes from the US product being that much better. I gave a specific example were the Chinese make plastic injection molds of equal quality to the US for 1/3 the price. Their turn-around time is 4 weeks. Most US mold makers are 8-12 weeks.

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 2:12 PM
With all due respect Matthew, Chinese do not recognize patents and do much reverse engineering to get the finished product. I hope this doesn't turn political, as I see it headed that way..... When the cost for labor is low then manufacturing tends to grow there..... this isn't about any country or state, business goes where it gets the cheapest labor and tax benefits..... now back to work...... :)

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 2:15 PM
The truth is in the middle. They sell cheaper both because they are made more efficiently and because they are lower quality and not as well engineered.

There is a 7:1 price difference. I recently was quoted from trotec a 60 laser that was closer to 4:1 for pricing, that is delivered to my shop. Does a $5000laser include customs, port charges, shipping etc?

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 2:20 PM
i dont think the US car industry is exactly coining it in. Things are changing !!

Ford is doing well. Around 2011 the head of Ford said "Hey, we make awesome cars for the European market, but we have US designs that are not as good. Why not just take the European design and sell it in the US also?"

They started to sell the European Ford Focus in the US, and I bought two of them. The Pope bought one and gets driven around in the back seat (I think he could have splurged for a Fusion or Taurus and no one would have complained). It is the best car of its class in the world.

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 2:24 PM
I recently was quoted from trotec a 60 laser that was closer to 4:1 for pricing, that is delivered to my shop. Does a $5000laser include customs, port charges, shipping etc?

My laser was about $4200 without that stuff. Adding in shipping, port charges, and home delivery with a lift-gate, it came to $5,500. With custom charges, $5,800. The laser company made all of the arrangements. So far I didn't have to do anything except make sure that I had them document everything on the invoice. I wanted the laser to be 220 volt, the chiller to be 110 volt, the LCD in English, etc. They said it sails on the 12th, and will arrive to the port on the 18th, and then customs will delay it for some days.

Mike Null
08-05-2013, 2:53 PM
I am not generalizing--I am speaking about Chinese built laser machines and I stand by what I said.

If you challenge this then I urge to to go through the archives and read every post on Chinese built lasers as I have done.

I am not saying that all Chinese products are sub standard but those which are not are most likely built to specifications from the buyer (Apple in your example) and not Chinese engineered. This is not to say they are inferior engineers but that their goal is low price first.

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 2:58 PM
My laser was about $4200 without that stuff. Adding in shipping, port charges, and home delivery with a lift-gate, it came to $5,500. With custom charges, $5,800. The laser company made all of the arrangements. So far I didn't have to do anything except make sure that I had them document everything on the invoice. I wanted the laser to be 220 volt, the chiller to be 110 volt, the LCD in English, etc. They said it sails on the 12th, and will arrive to the port on the 18th, and then customs will delay it for some days. So about 40% of the cost involves shipping. The only reason I brought that up is sooo many folks buying their first from overseas, don't anticipate that cost. There are "hidden" costs on stateside or overseas. Water chillers, ventilation, vector tables. So it's best for newcomers to do all the research so they aren't surprised. :) Customs is always and adventure....... I have had product held up for over a month which wasn't good... :) Good luck with your machine, I know your anxious to get it up and running.. I hope you ordered some extras as I have read that tubes are sometimes broken through shipment.

Dan Hintz
08-05-2013, 2:59 PM
What should we make of these new Z series glass tubes:

http://www.recilaser.com/en/newsInfo/fc9181e83ff4f239013ff53144ef04a5.htm

I'm not sure what the question is for this...

Reci has been pushing the quality boundary farther than most Chinese companies the last year or so (I'd call them an innovator compared the majority of Chinese companies who are just followers). The link is more easily read when you understand the word "model" should actually be "mode". The higher-power glass tubes have a real problem with shifting away from TEM00 mode, so it sounds like they're making progress along that front. You typically have to get up to several hundred Watts on an RF tube before you start shifting away from TEM00 mode.



As far as using Apple as an example of Chinese quality... that's a red herring. Chinese factories will build to whatever quality level is required. Apple sets high expectations and requires them to build to what I would call "Western" levels of quality. Those same companies (e.g., Foxxconn) are more than happy to build to the stereotypical Chinese junk quality level if the client was not paying good money. Apple gets away with lower pricing due to bulk... a few pennies of profit per item looks good to a company that can just hire more cheap labor to cover the increased throughput. A few pennies of profit on 100 items is easily ignored, so the quality will drop.

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 3:05 PM
I am not saying that all Chinese products are sub standard but those which are not are most likely built to specifications from the buyer (Apple in your example) and not Chinese engineered. This is not to say they are inferior engineers but that their goal is low price first.

True - they will make you any quality you want. The low quality junk that comes from China is the direct result of a buyer demanding a specific price. If you want western quality, then it will be closer to western price (but still much less).

My Macbook, that I bought off Apple's website, was shipped to be directly from Shanghai. The machined aluminum case is flawless - and if I submitted a drawing for that case from some US companies, along with notation saying that any parts with cosmetic defects will be rejected, then bet I would be quoted $2,000-$3000 each *just* for the empty case alone.

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 3:07 PM
So about 40% of the cost involves shipping. The only reason I brought that up is sooo many folks buying their first from overseas, don't anticipate that cost.

I would have guessed the opposite - that everyone fears buying direct due to concern over hidden costs.

I didn't buy any spares, but you can air-ship smaller things.

I just ordered a 360 watt power supply from China and paid $30 for shipping and it comes in a few days.

Scott Shepherd
08-05-2013, 4:14 PM
My Macbook, that I bought off Apple's website, was shipped to be directly from Shanghai. The machined aluminum case is flawless - and if I submitted a drawing for that case from some US companies, along with notation saying that any parts with cosmetic defects will be rejected, then bet I would be quoted $2,000-$3000 each *just* for the empty case alone.

As a machinist, a CNC machinist, and a CNC programmer for metal working equipment for decades, I can assure you that your Macbook Pro case, made in a production environment in the USA would not be $2,000-$3,000. Not sure where you pulled that number from, but it's not even in the ballpark.

If it's so uneconomical for Apple to make computers in the USA, then why is their new Mac Pro that's coming out this fall being put together in Texas?

Robert Silvers
08-05-2013, 4:27 PM
As a machinist, a CNC machinist, and a CNC programmer for metal working equipment for decades, I can assure you that your Macbook Pro case, made in a production environment in the USA would not be $2,000-$3,000. Not sure where you pulled that number from, but it's not even in the ballpark.

Ok, too high. But the products have no tool marks, as I am used to seeing on machined parts.


If it's so uneconomical for Apple to make computers in the USA, then why is their new Mac Pro that's coming out this fall being put together in Texas?

Assembled in Texas. Lots of people will be watching that to see what happens.

Scott Shepherd
08-05-2013, 4:43 PM
Assembled in Texas. Lots of people will be watching that to see what happens.

They'll never be made completely in the USA. No one makes the electronics for computers in the USA any more, other than a few bits and pieces. Cars aren't made in the USA either, they are assembled in the USA, not made in the USA.

I'd rather see them assembled here verses not. Something is better than nothing.

matthew knott
08-05-2013, 4:52 PM
Apologies Mike, I quite agree with your statement in that case, chinese (epilog/trotec style) lasers are cheap and cheerful to date, and still loads of coming out of China, but my point is they are not all bad, and some are quick learners. I think it would be foolish to underestimate them!! well some of them anyway

Mike Null
08-05-2013, 5:12 PM
Matthew

I would not under estimate them. They are successful and they have done a good thing in my opinion--they have forced prices down on mainstream machines.

They have also opened laser engraving to thousands more people around the world who might otherwise not be able to afford such tools.

Martin Boekers
08-05-2013, 5:34 PM
You know, I wonder why they don't have someone on the forum here at SMC to give a presence, they are missing a good opportunity to become an advertiser as many here are buying Chinese lasers.... :)

Keith Outten
08-05-2013, 5:53 PM
Click on the link below and then scroll down and select Thunder Lasers.

http://www.sawmillcreek.org/advertisers.php

Keith Outten
08-06-2013, 12:24 AM
I seriously doubt that anyone underestimates the capability of the Chinese to produce products at just about any quality level. It seems to me that they concentrate on lower cost products because the market share is where it needs to be to make it worth their effort. One third of the worlds population cannot exist on an occasional sale.
.

Robert Silvers
09-30-2013, 2:42 PM
It arrived today. The only extra fee I had to pay was a $329.35 customs fee. So $5850 or so if you include a $20 money wire fee. It even came with a tea set as a token of their appreciation.


http://imageshack.com/scaled/800x600/28/vyq9.jpg
http://imageshack.com/scaled/800x600/844/ir1d.jpghttp://imageshack.com/scaled/800x600/62/juif.jpg
http://imageshack.com/scaled/800x600/542/9tz7.jpg
http://imageshack.com/scaled/800x600/20/w31x.jpg




http://imageshack.com/scaled/large/687/6fdo.jpg

Robert Silvers
10-01-2013, 2:09 AM
First cut:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI99SNdDGsI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI99SNdDGsI)