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Stephen White
06-04-2016, 2:15 PM
We own a pottery and I am buying a laser cutter/engraver to primarily deep engrave high resolution logo graphics into acrylic plastic and wood to make finely detailed stamps.

The size will be 3"x4" and these stamps will be used to make an impression on a similarly sized piece of clay (badge) and these badges will be placed on a hand thrown pottery mug or beer stein at the same time the handle is added.

The depth of the engrave needs to be at least 3mm and even 4mm or 5mm might be preferred on some images. Clay shrinks by as much as 20% when it dries and fires twice to over 2000 degrees so deep engraving is the only way to go.

I can only afford entry level machines and since this is my first cutter/engraver experience I thought I should steer clear of cheap imports. I don't have time to tinker around and need to be up and in production mode as quickly as possible.

I am currently leaning toward this one with an upgrade to the 60W co2:

https://www.bosslaser.com/boss-ls-1416.html#.V1MZnrn2a01

I have queried the company twice with no response yet, does anyone know if such deep image engraving will work with this laser cutter?

I would appreciate any additional feedback on my project and recommendations. I already know that the very best solution would be a much more expensive 100w unit but I just cannot afford it. This boss with the 60w upgrade is about as much as I can spend. Would one of the other entry level machines be better suited? I was at one time considering the full spectrum.

David Somers
06-04-2016, 2:41 PM
Stephen, Hopefully others will step in who have more acrylic experience than me, but I think you might be happier engraving Corian than acrylic for this purpose.

Also, unless you have other needs specifically for a laser have you thought about doing a CNC instead? Or.....perhaps a small micro sandblaster? The beauty of a sandblaster if you are working primarily with pottery projects is that not only could you make your stamps using it, but you could also blast designs into the pottery itself AFTER it has been fired if you want. Then you avoid the shrinkage problem. Form your piece from the wet clay. Then fire it. Once cooled before you glaze it sandblast it and then glaze it and refire.

Just thoughts.....

Dave

AL Ursich
06-04-2016, 3:08 PM
My first thought was... Whooooooo Nelly.... Throwing money at a business challenge can be big risk.... I would put the brakes on the purchase until you do a little more R&D.. Research and Development...

First I would try to find a local Laser to test your "Theory" and run some samples... Like posted above a CNC or even a Rotary Engraver may be more likely to produce the "Tool" you need to press the mud... The Laser has it's down side.... Burning up the Acrylic does not always give you a perfect cut and that cold melted blob sitting on the surface needs to be cleaned off... The Laser just does not make the plastic just go away as smoke... It sometimes just melts it into a mess....

That is where a CNC or a Rotary Engraver comes in... For the size and DETAIL you are trying to get... My money would be on a used Rotary Engraver... It HAS the ability to do the detail and HAS the resolution. I cut plastic sheet stock with my CarveWright hobby CNC but it does not have that good of a resolution and rounded corners are a little "Choppy". A Rotary Engraver like a STAR 912 or 9 x 12 inch would do what you want...

And remember Cast Acrylic can be cut or engraved but the same design in Extruded Acrylic will MELT and the cooling plastic freeze to the bit making a big MESS and damaging the machine. Think about using Corian Scraps too...

Good Luck,

AL

Mike Null
06-04-2016, 3:43 PM
I have engraved acrylic for essentially the same purpose you're trying to achieve. Cast acrylic should do the trick but it will take several passes. Corian will work too but it is even harder to achieve a deep engraving.

I don't think you can achieve highly detailed engravings with a rotary machine but it would be faster and cheaper.

Stephen White
06-04-2016, 4:47 PM
Thanks Mike, will check out cast acrylic.

Al, thanks for the input. I will take into account. We are by and large talking about using this cutter/engraver for making the stamps for mugs and tumbler badges and there are a number of folks using lasers cutters to make and sell these stamps to potters. Its a mainstay of studio potters to personalize items for companies, individuals and lines (think garden or holiday theme) from time to time. We throw the mugs on the potters wheel just like a thousand years ago and then add pulled handles and possibly these stamped badges.

These stamps cost around $120 to have made and we are getting ready to do a large line of mugs that will utilize a large number of these stamps, 50+ and could run into hundreds. Most folks sell wood or acrylic I think and they need to be deep for potters as I mentioned for 20% shrinkage.

Dave, thanks for the thoughts, as we get deeper into this we may well employ some of your suggestions for mixed media art. Our production stuff is done in batches of 10-15 at a time and spending that much time on an individual piece would have to be one at a higher price point than $25 mugs would be. This cutter is for the badges though and I want to be able to achieve the same quality as the ones we order out.

We are both very good with tech, I have a great deal of experience with hardware and program computers professionally and my partner was a graphics designer for 15 years before potting full time so there's that. The design software of choice will be illustrator but we could use Corel or something else if needed.

Can anyone explain to me why none of the specs for these machines list depth? When doing my R&D I see that getting to 3mm needs 'deep engraving' but none even seem to cover this. Can I assume since the BOSS will cut up to 1/4" that engraving a res detailed image 1/8" can be done?

When you say two passes do you mean run it once at 1/16" and then again for another 1/16th?

Mark Taylor2
06-04-2016, 7:36 PM
Stephen,
I'm not a commercial laser type, but are any of your suppliers local? Just a thought to go visit one and see what and how they are using it. I would tend to think a CNC mill/engraver might be your best bet.

Bert Kemp
06-04-2016, 7:45 PM
I think the reason you don't see depth mentioned is for one it will very so much depending on material. Also for making stamps you will most likely be rastering and not vector cutting, so 2 or more passes will be required to get the depth your looking for. I'd also stay away from FSL. I have heard they were doing better so I sent them some questions to answer and they would not answer my questions, they gave me the run around.So as far as I can see there the same ol same ol

AL Ursich
06-04-2016, 8:12 PM
Mike, thanks for the correction on the rotary engraver. And Stephen is way farther along in the R&D than I imagined... Sounds like a plan....

Good Luck,

AL

Mike Null
06-04-2016, 8:33 PM
Al, I think it all depends on what the "detail" is. Some things would certainly make more sense with a rotary.

Stephen--depth is dependent on power, speed and material. I have a 45 watt machine and it takes 2 or 3 passes to get 3mm on cast acrylic. I could do it with two passes but over powering the material sometimes yields bad results.

Scott Marquez
06-05-2016, 1:13 AM
Stephen,
Can you post pictures of some of your current stamps, that might give us a better idea of the depth and detail of your desired results.
thanks, Scott

Stephen White
06-05-2016, 12:20 PM
Thanks everyone. Here are some examples. We don't have any like this yet as we have been using the scrapbook stamp maker (4th pic) for basic stamps such as garden badges and nice artwork (see attached) but stamps are not deep enough to do logo images and too much detail washes out on many of them. We have a Zing KNK and although we haven't tried it, this would not get us deep enough for a 3x4" high res logo image with the shrinkage, too washed out and with placement manual I don't think the multiple passes will work on this machine, right?

The first three are examples from the web of what I want to achieve and the last is the little stamp maker we currently use but not deep enough for detail to do images on clay with the 20% shrinkage.

338625338626338627338628

Thanks everyone for your help, it is really appreciated!

Stephen White
06-05-2016, 1:59 PM
I just wanted to add that although the making of these high quality pottery stamps is primarily driving this purchase it also will now provide a host of other uses in our business and may well add other small revenue streams. Pottery is a very labor intensive, low revenue business. You do not open up a pottery to make money but rather you open a pottery because you love making pottery and you try like hell to piece together enough revenue streams to make a meager living.

So this is just a first project I want to do with a laser cutter/engraver so I don't want just the best narrow solution to my project.

(although I am an equipment junky I do try to at least start out with a problem looking for a solution instead of the other way around :-)

Could anyone tell me something about this entry level BOSS?

Bert Kemp
06-05-2016, 2:30 PM
I can't tell you about the Boss But I have a Rabbit 60watt and their very similar machines and near the same price range. My bed size is 600x400mm or approx 24" x 16" engraving area is a little less but close enough. So far it hasn't given me any mechanical trouble after a year and a half. I use it maybe 20 hours a week . Doing the type of work you looking to do it will take several pass's to get the depth . You'll want to use lower power to keep the acrylic from melting. I've made a few small stamps from delrin and they came out just fine. Just remember its not going to be quick doing what you want to do but it will do it.

Scott Marquez
06-05-2016, 5:26 PM
Here is a crazy thought, would you have better luck with a 3D printer, which would build tall letters rather than trying to burn away material??
Scott

Bill George
06-05-2016, 5:40 PM
I would ditto the 3D printer and it could do pictures one and two without an issue. Its something you could start and walk away from. I have a MakerGear M2 which I believe is top of the line.

Bert Kemp
06-05-2016, 6:03 PM
another thing I see your machine comes with a 3000 chiller. this is not a real chiller it only keeps the water at room temp. Get a price with out the chiller and use a bucket of water with Ice jugs. For what your doing and the amount of time the laser will be used this will work fine. If you find your going into full production 6 or 7 hours a day with the laser then a c 5000 chiller would be in order. I've been using Ice jugs for 4 years and my water is always around 62 to 68 F

Rodne Gold
06-05-2016, 7:01 PM
Laser is the wrong tool for this for the 3-5mm depth.. 3d printer or rotary type engraver .. rotary preferred

Stephen White
06-05-2016, 7:40 PM
I get that it would work but I want the additional benefits of lasere cutter/engraver for other projects later. Just not interested in 3d printing for pottery although I am sure there are more than a few studio potters doing some wonderful things with 3d.

David Somers
06-05-2016, 8:05 PM
Stephen, How about taking one of your stamp designs to a laser engraver and paying to have them cut it for you while you watch. That way you can see how well it does? Proof of concept? Or, if you live in a halfway decent size town see if there is something called a maker shop there? They are places where you rent time on a variety of machines like a laser or a CNC, woodworking equipment, etc etc. They normally offer some sessions to get new folks started on their equipment, and for an additional fee can provide you with a guide who can walk you through things. Something they offer as much to safeguard their gear as to help you out, but the net result is the same. See if the laser is actually the right tool for you for this work?

If all you want to know is what the BOSS is like do a quick search in the forum on BOSS. You will get a fair number of hits on their machines. I don't have on personally. I bought direct from China. But overall my impression is that folks are generally pleased with the company and their machines. A few problems, but not to the point where I hear alarm bells in my mind when I think of them.

Dave Stevens-Vegas
06-06-2016, 3:07 AM
Guys, laser cut pottery stamps are pretty common. The OP wants to do what others in the space are already doing. He's not trying to reinvent the wheel.

For the OP, the lower cost machines you get in the US ($10k or so or under) are going to be imported from a handful of manufacturers in China. The quality is pretty good. By going with an importer here you can get some better software, perhaps electronics and support to lean on. Boss, Rabbit, FSL all have similar business models. They import the machines, set them up, add specific features such as software or electronics and provide support. I got mine from FSL. They did what they said they would, more or less when they said they would but in terms of application or material specific support they don't really have any. For any of the imports figure $7-10k with the chiller, exhaust, small compressor, an extra size lens or two plus some shipping for a 24x18 to 36 x 24, 60 to 80 watt.

Check out the forums here and other forums, you'll need to Google. You'll be good with any of those importers, the defining difference will be support and the details of the interface of the machine. The folks here aren't familiar with your app (though they are generally a good bunch) so you're probably going to need to find some application specific support from other pottery types or stamp makers.

Rodne Gold
06-06-2016, 3:27 AM
Prices have dropped substantially , 4 x exceptional 600 x 400 x 60w lasers cost me $10 k FOB - $2.5k a laser and they are superb , we brought them in in september last year and they are still operating flwlessly .. they are used for at least 6-8 hours a day...
20w fibre galvo cost me $6k door to door including airfreight and I am thinking about a 1 kw fiber cutter , 2m x 3m , quoted price is $32k
got rid of all my "westernised" lasers and have gone chinese for everything

Bob Davis - Sturgis SD
06-06-2016, 8:59 AM
Those first two pictures look suspiciously like Delrin, we use Delrin to engrave dies for stamping leather. To get that kind of depth on my 100 watt machine, 2 inch lens, it would take many passes, 4 to 6 passes I suppose. And another 6 passes to cut. For leather stamps we don't go that deep, but the detail you can get is astonishing. Then we stamp using 25 tons of pressure. Those Delrin dies are indestructible.

Bob

Stephen White
06-06-2016, 1:05 PM
Thanks everyone, lots to consider. I am however getting a little nervous about Bosslaser though as I have posted several times on their sales contact form with no response. If not for you guys bringing me up to speed on much of this I would have moved on. Their machines seem to be fine and I wanted to go with one of these stateside importers for the first laser while I learn the ins and outs of this 'new to me' technology. Sounds like its about a 1500-2grand premium. Normally sales is very fast so it gives me pause that they have ignored my pre-purchase questions for a couple of business days. Hope the support is more responsive.

Yeah I want the laser/cutter for other projects in addition to this one. I'm sure my world will include some of this other equipment over time and I have no doubt they will open up other possibilities.

I am going to be doing stamps as needed and it taking a long time with multiple passes to get to 3mm is not a problem at all, it is all for in-house use and wouldn't matter if it takes hours to make the stamp. The other uses will more than make up for this one taking a long time too do.

The most important thing is to have that astonishing detail that Bob mentions. We can and do actually make perfectly nice rubber stamps with that little $100 scrapbook stamp maker and the detail is very nice for the vast majority of badges. It's the finely detailed, high resolution of many logo graphics that need this upgrade.

Would any of you recommend a newbie like me going directly with a Chinese model? If so, which one. The plus of course is that for the same money I could get more machine or for less money get the same thing without the stateside support. If I am understanding all of this right the power will be a defining factor on how long this deep engrave takes to complete a stamp and if I ordered one directly I could get into a 100W machine and knock these out in the 6 passes Bob mentions. The one I am looking at from Boss is a 60w.

Rodney would you recommend your Shenui to a laser newbie? As I mentioned I am tech savvy and have worked with a lot of computer hardware if that matters.

here's a post I read that made me only consider stateside companies, I realize its from 7 years ago and things may have improved greatly or this particular company was just a really bad company:
http://www.synthfool.com/laser/

my take away from articles like this was that many of the machines are fine as long you know your way around the tech to handle the shortcomings and/or make adjustments.

Kev Williams
06-06-2016, 2:14 PM
havent' had time to read all these replies, but I've been engraving injection molds for 40 years, and acrylic mold masters for around 10 years for guys who make cast iron cookware. I've tried using a laser many times to make acrylic masters, and I simply can't get decent results with a laser. For one, a laser beam leaves no draft angle, which is required when molding almost anything, so the molded part will release. Also, when raster engraving, there's always tell-tale bumps at all vertical edges unless you run a second vector pass- which will remove the bumps but deepen the edges. Another issue is is engraving depth, a laser's depth is 'variable' at best. Rotary engraving depth is dead-to rights flat and near perfectly equal when using a depth gauge. And the bottom of the engraving is the top surface of what you molded...

Rotary tool cutting with at least 20 of draft is almost essential for any mold engraving more than .010" deep. Machinists get by engraving their own text by engraving very shallow and/or using ball-end mills, if the end product allows for it. Some use engravers tools but suffer a lot of tool breakage due to low spindle speeds..

As for high-detail, I can get better detail with a cutter tool than with any of my C02 lasers.

I engraved this Glock slide last week, retirement gift for an officer- These things are supposedly 64 Rockwell hardness. The "Salt Lake City" lettering measures .031" tall. As small as this is, the tool tip is actually fairly wide so it wouldn't break. I can sharpen carbide tools with a good tip to around .003" diameter, about half the diameter I engraved this slide with... A C02 beam diameter is typically .005-.006" diameter.

338709338710

Laser engravers are wonderful tools, but they're not for every job to be sure...

Gary Hair
06-06-2016, 3:47 PM
As for high-detail, I can get better detail with a cutter tool than with any of my C02 lasers.

Wait until you get your fiber Kev, you'll likely never use a cutter tool for that kind of engraving ever again! That badge looks good, but with a fiber you'll be able to mark in at half that size with better detail and in half the time.

Kev Williams
06-06-2016, 6:09 PM
Oh yeah! I'm hoping to be using my tool machines only FOR injection molds in the future. But I'll always have metal work I can't do with a fiber (size, mostly).

I have a few parts here that were fiber etched, pretty amazing the detail.

Now if only they could engrave acrylic mold masters! ;)

David Somers
06-06-2016, 7:11 PM
Stephen,

Shenhui is generally regarded as a good product with good support. Rodney can confirm since he has worked with them recently.
I bought from Liaocheng Ray Fine Tech. I have been very pleased with their laser and CNC and with the sales person, Blanca Yan, who I worked with.
Others here can give direct testimony as to their experiences.

The things to think about with a direct purchase are....
Are you familiar with importing or will you be better off using a broker to help you. I used a broker and was glad of it. Others have done it themselves and done fine.
Are you willing to deal with the dateline and time zone differences with a Chinese direct purchase, and for support. And also be aware that there are a number of holidays in China that care lengthy and EVERYONE shuts down for.
I have had no problem dealing with my company for tech support and questions. But we worked almost all by email which made translating and cross checking easier. A phone call (skype) was harder due to the language barriers, but I am used to this from other things and had no problem. You do need patience though. And...since this is for a business, what is your tolerance for dealing with a company that is that far away in terms of distance and date and time shifts? I have no problem. I think you are probably OK since you are using this to make die's that will be used to make other things and this is not your main manufacturing tool.

A laser is not that complicated, and if you are tech savvy you should not have problems. Be aware that their manuals are sometimes badly, sometimes humorously translated. I got a simplified Chinese copy of mine from them and then use several on line translators to go over it when the English version they gave me makes no sense. Using several translators and comparing is often helpful. But this does take some time. If that is an issue you might be better dealing with a US company so you have tech support in the US, from native English Speakers, and from people who are in our relatively limited time zone spread.

The parts for a Chinese direct machine or for a US modified Chinese machine are all pretty much the same. So once you have the machine you can order parts from where you want.

I do like my machine. It does what I ask of it and For less than the cost of a US modified machine I was able to buy a Chinese direct laser and a CNC and have it shipped here and paid for the Customs fees all for WELL under what the US machine would have cost me. I would loved to have bought a Trotec but the cost was far beyond my ability to justify it. As was the Epi and ULS machines. I would love to have bought from Rabbit USA. But again, the added cost was hard for me to justify given what I do with it. I felt very badly not being able to work with Ray Scott and folks at Rabbit. Good people. But this has worked out well for me so far and I am pleased with my choices.

Hope this helps you a bit. Mostly you have to balance your tolerance for risk and delay with a Chinese direct machine versus the convenience but added cost of a US modified Chinese machine. Sounds like your comfort with tech stuff gives you a higher comfort level for a Chinese direct laser. But only you can answer that. BTW. My background was as an IT person for the National Parks so I am also very comfortable with a wide variety of tech stuff. Again, hope this helps!

Dave

Dave Stevens-Vegas
06-06-2016, 7:15 PM
Prices have dropped substantially , 4 x exceptional 600 x 400 x 60w lasers cost me $10 k FOB - $2.5k a laser and they are superb , we brought them in in september last year and they are still operating flwlessly .. they are used for at least 6-8 hours a day...
20w fibre galvo cost me $6k door to door including airfreight and I am thinking about a 1 kw fiber cutter , 2m x 3m , quoted price is $32k
got rid of all my "westernised" lasers and have gone chinese for everything

The prices are pretty good. In single units I've seen 60 watt 6040s for about $3500 landed and imported. I bet you can get a good deal on a four pack. The only thing that's not a commodity item is the firmware/software and with projects like LaserWeb are making that a reality.



Thanks everyone, lots to consider. I am however getting a little nervous about Bosslaser though as I have posted several times on their sales contact form with no response. If not for you guys bringing me up to speed on much of this I would have moved on. Their machines seem to be fine and I wanted to go with one of these stateside importers for the first laser while I learn the ins and outs of this 'new to me' technology. Sounds like its about a 1500-2grand premium. Normally sales is very fast so it gives me pause that they have ignored my pre-purchase questions for a couple of business days. Hope the support is more responsive.

There are stories of pretty much all the US importers taking a while to respond. The difference in pricing can more like 40-50% more than importing your own depending on the machine. I went with FSL for the same reasons you are looking at US importers with the advantage that they are here in Vegas and I needed the machine "like yesterday" when it came time to buy. We were doing production at Techshop and had trouble booking enough time on the machines so getting one ASAP was a primary consideration. If you can hold out the month or so the machine is on the water and deal with getting it imported you could be ahead of the curve. With community support and having the ability to learn (or already know) how to use the basics of a CNC tool (jogging the axis, which axis is which, being able to focus and set up your machine) you'll be fine. The computer interfaces with the machine like it is a printer so the tool chain isn't as convoluted as it might be on other tools so that shortens the learning curve.

It's going to boil down to how comfortable you are getting it in the country and setting it up vs. paying someone a premium to take care of that for you.

David Somers
06-06-2016, 8:03 PM
Stephen,

One thought on Rabbit. They are in Ohio. I dont know where you are. But they will deliver your machine, and take the better part of a day setting it up on site, and going over it with you to get you started. They have been doing this since they found it really reduces their tech headaches compared to when they just shipped it and it was up to you to get it going. So you get quite a bit out of their premium price. And they are good folks to work with. I should also say that while I considered them very hard, I do not own one and have no association with them financially or otherwise. For what this is worth. For a first machine this might be a real benefit to get up and running quickly.

Dave

Bert Kemp
06-06-2016, 8:53 PM
To add to what Dave said, I actually picked my Rabbit up in Ohio, but I spent an entire day there so Ray could teach me how to run it. In the almost 2 years I have had it I've had to call for support twice and both times it was something stupid I messed up:eek: The first time was my first day I got it home and set up , about a week after I was in Ohio and I forgot how to import the file to laser., the second time I had set the power to low and laser would not fire. I didn't know it would not fire if set a 5% power LOL If you decide to talk to Rabbit call them on the phone they get hundreds emails a day and its impossible to answer them all but they will answer the phone.

Keith Winter
06-06-2016, 9:46 PM
I'm going to recommend something completely different than all the others are saying. My recommendation would be you go with a CNC but it doesn't sound like you want to do that, if you must go with a laser I would recommend you buy a second hand Universal / Trotec / Epilog mini or whatever the bed size is that you need for the following reasons.

1) The Chinese software is simple and works well but it doesn't always play nice with Corel / illustrator, if you're doing a lot of detailed work you will waste a lot of time making it work on the Chinese when it would be just plug and play on a us laser. Layers in files in particular cause a lot of issues in translation to Chinese lasers.

2) If you get it and decide it's not the right tool for the job you can easily resell a US laser, not so much a Chinese laser.

3) I know those with Chinese lasers may dispute this, but US lasers are much better for precision engraving. Chinese are great at cutting but very average at detailed engraving. You've mentioned this is important multiple times.

Just my two cents

Stephen White
06-06-2016, 10:45 PM
It sounds like you guys do fine going direct and it is tempting but it also sounds like it can be a time sink as well from time to time. Right now time is gold for me so paying the premium to make this one less thing I have to dink with.

Yeah Rabbit is coming up a lot. Man their site is dated and really gave me pause for such a large purchase of essentially a modified import. But folks really seem to like them and they sound like they go the extra mile.

Anyone recommend a particular model of theirs?

They really don’t charge extra to deliver a laser and set it up?

One question I have though , If I really do have to make 16 passes to get a logo deep engraved to 3mm how long do you think that will take with a 60w laser such as the entry level Boss?

Keith Winter
06-06-2016, 11:15 PM
It sounds like you guys do fine going direct and it is tempting but it also sounds like it can be a time sink as well from time to time. Right now time is gold for me so paying the premium to make this one less thing I have to dink with.

Yeah Rabbit is coming up a lot. Man their site is dated and really gave me pause for such a large purchase of essentially a modified import. But folks really seem to like them and they sound like they go the extra mile.

Anyone recommend a particular model of theirs?

They really don’t charge extra to deliver a laser and set it up?

One question I have though , If I really do have to make 16 passes to get a logo deep engraved to 3mm how long do you think that will take with a 60w laser such as the entry level Boss?

Chinese lasers engrave at about 1/3 to 1/4th the speed of a Trotec so.... A 3x4 engraving to 3mm will take probably 6-8 minutes a pass on a Chinese assuming you have enough power to go full speed. You'll need to slow that down even more if you want high detail.

Rodne Gold
06-06-2016, 11:49 PM
I have my Shenuis still running flawlessly for almost 5 years...only thing we ever replaced are the tubes

However I followed shenhuis R&D guy , yarde feng to his new company , liaocheng longtai lasers. I bought my 4 from them last year .. and they are definitely a step up from the shenhuis of 5 years ago and at the prices are exceptional..

We treat our lasers as consumables , not investments , they got to do the job at hand..and if they last 2 years at full tilt 6 hours a day , let alone 5 , that would be good enough.
if you interested in the longtai's , skype yardefeng and chat to him..he knows his stuff.

David Somers
06-06-2016, 11:56 PM
Stephen,

Truly. I would have happily bought from Ray Scott at Rabbit if my use justified that added cost. They are good folks and stand with their people. Ask Bert here. He is a recent Rabbittite!!! Rabbitter? Hmmmm. Buyer of a Rabbit?

One thing with the laser and engraving. Dont go above 80 watt for a tube. Beyond that you may find your ability to come down in power enough to do delicate engraving is really limited. Seems like 80 Watt is the sweet spot if you need a balance of cutting capability and engraving capability. Below 80 the balance shifts to engraving. Above that it shifts to cutting. Just more thoughts to ponder on. A number of folks, Dave Sheldrake particularly, are very fond of EFR tubes over RECI. Same type of tube. Different manufacturer. That is what I have and I have been very happy with it so far. But I also have no point of comparison. Dave Sheldrake can fill you in if you PM him or if he catches this post.

In terms of models at Rabbit. Go by the bed size and tube size you want. That will dictate the model. Is the place you use it accessible through a wide door? If not, talk to Ray because one of his models can be broken into a top and bottom half for narrow doors. The other is a bit less expensive and is a one piece unit. Also, think ahead. Do you need any exceptional depth capabilities for your table? That was a factor for me and I can get 36" Z height on mine. But I had to ask for that. Do you need a rotary device? If you buy from China I would almost say buy one regardless. Inexpensive from China and doesnt affect your shipping/Customs cost. Dont buy a spare tube. You can get them easily here in the US. But do have spare lens and mirrors and perhaps belts. Talk to your company about power needs? 220? 110? How many dedicated circuits do you need? Chiller? Cooler? Or just a waterpump and a gallon container of ice in a bucket of water. Blower to move the smoke out? Or will you need to do a filter because you cant run a hose outside? If yes.....look in the forum for a thread by Dan Hintz on a homemade filter that folks seem to have luck with.

Fire extinguisher. CO2 if possible. Check your fire extinquisher shops for a used one to save $$. You will also want a little spray bottle for water like you might use to mist plants. That will take care of almost all fires if you are watching the machine. Which you should be BTW.

Gotta run. Holler with more questions for folks!!!

Dave

Dave Stevens-Vegas
06-07-2016, 4:04 AM
1) The Chinese software is simple and works well but it doesn't always play nice with Corel / illustrator, if you're doing a lot of detailed work you will waste a lot of time making it work on the Chinese when it would be just plug and play on a us laser. Layers in files in particular cause a lot of issues in translation to Chinese lasers.

Good post.

Another thing I liked about the FSL is they use their own US developed software and a controller manufactured for them. While the software is not as as comprehensive or as complete as my first choice ULS or the Trotec or Epilogs we used prior to buying our own it's not bad. It presents itself as a networked ethernet printer and I haven't had any significant issues interfacing from Corel, AI or Autocad though we primarily use Corel.


The speed differences and engraving quality can be issues depending on the application. I also miss some of the features of the name brand machine software. It engraves well enough for what little engraving is done and cuts well though sometimes a fair amount slower than what we were getting from the name brand machines. Another issue I've had is consistency during production runs. A new ULS in about the same config was quoted at $27k but that included them bringing it to me, setting it up and showing me how to use it though at that point we had a couple hundred hours on the machines. In the end the $10k I spent on the FSL was a good investment and for what I'm doing it made more sense than getting the ULS (though I really wanted the ULS at the time). Were I a full time engraving shop rather than a parts producer I don't know that I would have made the same call.

Stephen White
06-07-2016, 9:00 PM
ha ha, you guys are going to grab a rope and have a necktie party. Just got off the phone with full spectrum and although he agreed it would do the deep engraving it would likely take hours, wear out the tubes fast and he was overall pretty unenthusiastic about it.

If I switch from laser to CNC what would you guys recommend I look at.

That if anyone is still talking to me :)

Dave Stevens-Vegas
06-07-2016, 9:43 PM
I'd get another opinion to confirm. When I did my FSL demo they first told me my file was corrupt (I'd been using it for about a year and half at that point), then told me that the melamine samples I brought weren't a good laser material even though I'd cut a few thousand parts prior to that time. It turns out they were having some sort of computer issue at the time. I wouldn't use them as a primary source of application support.

Call Ray at Rabbit and see what he says.

Bert Kemp
06-07-2016, 11:18 PM
I think its been mentioned before , go to a local engraver or a makerspace with a file and material and see for yourself or send one of us a piece of material and a file to test run for you. You also said other people have this done with a laser talk to them see what they say. I"ve said it before and I'll say it again FSL is not worth dealing with or talking to IMHO. They won't even answer my questions .

Chris J Anderson
06-07-2016, 11:31 PM
Sorry - I haven't read the whole thread, but to make the stamps you desire I would...

1- Buy a chinese 6040 router.
2- Make sure you run it from a parallel port on an older Win XP pc, don't use the USB connections they supply. Use Mach3 on the PC to comm with the 6040 router.
3- Buy Vectrics Vcarve, the limited 600x600mm version will be fine.

Vcarve has all of the software you need to make the stamp reliefs etc.
I have 2 Lasers, 1 Rotary engraver and the chinese 6040. I would use the 6040 for this, the VCarve software is perfect. It gives you plenty of options for milling out the material, text options etc. You won't need Corel etc, Vcarve will do it all, then you generate the Gcode files and Mach3 will convert those to steps on the 6040.

Its a bit convoluted and has a few extra steps, but is by far the best way and cheapest option I feel.

Hope this makes sense.

cheers,
Chris

Stephen White
06-08-2016, 2:10 AM
OK here's what I went with, CNC Shark with laser engraver upgrade. The whole thing with the laser upgrade and touch pad came in just under 4k. Just watched a bunch of video's and very excited. I certainly see how if we go down this path we will likely end up with a number of tools you guys have mentioned (rotary engraver, 3-d, laser engraver/cutter). The laser upgrade on the CNC I am sure is a very low powered tool. It was an $850 feature and figured it would offer some Laser capabilities to compliment the CNC carving. As many of you mentioned throughout I guess the CNC will handle this job much better. 3mm deep engraving I guess is just too much of a stretch for a 5k laser cutter budget. To go laser it just seems like I needed to get much more of an expensive one than I could afford.

Oh well I can dink with this laser addon and learn the ropes on CNC carving :-)

Thanks everyone for all the input. Thanks Chris, I think my new setup will be pretty much what you said.

Any shark owners here?

Dave Stevens-Vegas
06-08-2016, 2:34 AM
For the Shark owners reach out to the CNC forum here. CNC routers operate in a similar manner so what you learn on one is likely to work on another particularly with respect to how different tool types cut and the application of those tool types. A CNC router isn't quite as easy to use as a laser cutter but with something like Vcarve it's not too difficult to get up and going. I use a couple of different Shopbots, depending on what's available and had a Shapoko with a Dewalt trim router which is basically about what you are getting.

The laser attachment on those isn't much to speak of. Same with the 3D printer option. You can spend less and get a much better, more flexible 3D printer.

Stephen White
06-08-2016, 12:29 PM
Yeah it's apparently a 3w, it was a head scratcher ordering the attachment. It's a $850 cost and not sure it will add much to projects. I could take the $850 and add a buck fifty and get a 40w import laser but right now I have zero space for or time to deal with a solution without a problem. Since I don't have a laser though, the attachment opens up some light duty engraving/cutting for my projects and the two other things I wanted the laser for in addition to the stamps was to be able to cut very small thin wood into earrings for our jewelry rack and be able to lightly etch an image onto dry clay. If we ever decide to make stamps for other potters with the CNC we could also lightly engrave our company name in the handles and that's a nice touch.

I'm pretty happy about all the new (new to me) tech I'm catching up on. Obviously knew of the space but this is my first need to research and buy. For just over 4 grand I think I got a lot and once we make our 40th stamp we have broken even on the equipment in pure cost and that's not even taking into account the number of emails and back and forth time that ordering 40 stamps for a third party would take.

It is astonishing to me the level you can get to in each of the 3 areas (CNC, Laser, 3D) for under 5 grand and if you can punch it to 10 whoa.

David Somers
06-08-2016, 2:05 PM
Congrats Stephen! Hope this works great for you.
Register on the Vectic web site. They are the ones who make your software. They have a lot of great tutorials and videos and their tech support folks are really helpful. Good software. And keep in mind that the software you are getting from them is a subset of their higher level software, so if you need to upgrade from a feature standpoint your base of knowledge carries forward.
And, although it is not an ideal package for laser work, Vectric will work fine on a laser compared with Corel. You simply stop before you create a toolpath with the software, and then export the file in a format that is supported by your laser. Since the laser unit is a product of CNCShark I assume they have this all described for you. Anyway....you should be able to focus on just the one package.

Hope this realllllly works well for you. Good luck
PS
Look for a local CNC group, or a maker shop. They can provide a lot of local help and resources.

Dave

Keith Winter
06-08-2016, 5:47 PM
Good to see you back Rodne, haven't seen you in awhile! 5 years flawless is incredibly impressive!


I have my Shenuis still running flawlessly for almost 5 years...only thing we ever replaced are the tubes

However I followed shenhuis R&D guy , yarde feng to his new company , liaocheng longtai lasers. I bought my 4 from them last year .. and they are definitely a step up from the shenhuis of 5 years ago and at the prices are exceptional..

We treat our lasers as consumables , not investments , they got to do the job at hand..and if they last 2 years at full tilt 6 hours a day , let alone 5 , that would be good enough.
if you interested in the longtai's , skype yardefeng and chat to him..he knows his stuff.

Bert Kemp
06-08-2016, 7:32 PM
Speaking of not seeing someone for a while Is everything ok with Scott Shepard? haven't seen him in a long time either


Good to see you back Rodne, haven't seen you in awhile! 5 years flawless is incredibly impressive!

Keith Winter
06-08-2016, 10:23 PM
Speaking of not seeing someone for a while Is everything ok with Scott Shepard? haven't seen him in a long time either

Spoke with him about a month ago all is going well. He's been busy I think.

David Somers
06-08-2016, 11:16 PM
Thanks Keith! He is one of my favorites. Though I have to admit the list is lengthy now. Tooooooo many good people on this forum! <grin>

Thanks for asking Bert. I was wondering too!

Kev Williams
06-09-2016, 10:51 AM
I must admit I'm a bit worried about Shep myself-

Paul Phillips
06-09-2016, 11:07 AM
Yeah, I was thinking about him last week and sent him a PM but haven't heard from him yet, I hope he's ok. It's kind of amazing to me that you can get to know someone and consider them friends when you've never actually met them but just read their posts online, although I did talk to Steve on the phone back when I had many questions about purchasing my first laser, he and many others on here are some of the best people I've met! David Somers you're a kick, love your sense of humor and I'd love to hang out and learn woodworking from you if I lived near by! And if anyone is ever in the Palm Springs area be sure to stop by and say hi.

Mike Null
06-09-2016, 12:17 PM
Steve is doing just fine. I'm sure he appreciates your thoughts. Business is very good for Steve right now so he must prioritize his time.

Stephen White
06-09-2016, 8:50 PM
Congrats Stephen! Hope this works great for you.

Dave

Thanks Dave! I am downloading the VCarve and PhotoVcarve demos now. It comes with the desktop version but will likely upgrade to the VCarve Pro. (but not planning on Aspire). We already have Illustrator so hoping to use that to create my vectors.

Actually I posted my last post with my cart ready to checkout once I found my wallet and then that last exchange with Dave Stephens made stop and think this through a little more. I was getting the original Shark for 3k and I started to upgrade to the HD3 extended bed for 5k and adding the laser for $850 along with another grand of add-ons and tables etc. I was approaching a pretty big number and had a small project lined up for it.

The bill was getting huge and I was going way overboard and just feeding my interest, not buying a tool to get a project done. I tend to go large b4 I should with things like this and causes me to either over buy or even worse go in the wrong direction. I was reviewing my order realizing I was going to be carving relief stamps on a small 3"x4" piece of wood on a huge CNC machine that will take up half my shop and I have never even used one :-)

I decided to dial it back to the shark kid brother the Piranha FX (12"x14" travel bed) without either the wimpy laser and 3d add-ons. It uses the same software as the Shark line and I just added the touch plate and photoVcarve software add-on. The whole thing out the door was 2k shipped.

This way I can concentrate on making my 3"x4" pottery stamps and get an entry education in the CNC world. If I go large later then this smaller CNC will still have usefulness for smaller projects like my stamps. If my next project is better suited to a laser then I can come back around to that.

Lots of options just need to think with my head. Thanks again everyone for all the help. This is a great group here.

I will definitely take your advice and look around for a CNC group or maker shop. Then I can test drive (as many have suggested here) the bigger ones before I peel out some serious bucks.

My wife loves to see me cycle through this stuff, went from a 6 grand laser that I really just wanted but did not need to a 2 grand setup that pretty much perfectly matches my current needs and was of course her initial input.

Bert Kemp
06-09-2016, 8:55 PM
Thanks Keith, I was out most of today so just got to checking in now. Glad he's busy and nothing else.


Spoke with him about a month ago all is going well. He's been busy I think.

David Somers
06-09-2016, 11:07 PM
Great to hear Stephen!! Let us know how this goes and how you like the Piranha. When I bought my laser I bought the same sized "table top" CNC from the same place (900x600). Been very pleased with. Kind of mid sized table top unit (at 700lbs...had to make a heck of a table top for it! <Grin>) and have had a lot of fun with it. Havent made anything big with it yet, but have a number of things drawn up ready to go when I get some free time. They are a kick to play with. Holler if I can help you with anything. You will like Vcarve Pro. Nice package. And like I said, you might look at just learning it well and using it for your vector work for a laser eventually. It is very capable. Just export your vector out in a format you want rather than continuing on to rendering a Gcode toolpath. Might help reduce your learning curve, unless you are already really conversant with Illustrator of course.

Good luck!

Dave

Rodne Gold
06-10-2016, 3:00 AM
Im still around , still moderating and "lurking" .. have concentrated on my business
I have been hands off the lasers for many years.. I leave em to my staff to run and program , thus am a bit out of touch.
A lot of questions here are repeated over a time cycle , lots of others keen to contribute.

We have moved into a 10 000 sq ft showroom/factory , in a secure business park , the move last year took a ton of my time.
New website and new processes taking me away from lasering , set up a framing department , turned the CLLT dept from small to big , established a party/wedding/function hiring and advisory service , got big into 21st key wholesaling , partnered with a rigging/signage co , gave 25% of my business to my long time employee


However our 20w fibre came recently (exceptional priced . speak to Yarde Feng) , So im "back" into lasering getting to grips with what it can do.


Im 56 , not in the greatest health (diabetes) so come into work at 7.30 am and go home at 2.

I am massively into hifi and audiophillia so spend a ton of time listening to music at home .. I actually built a dedicated room for 2 channel stereo. Sold my yank muscle and turned the proceeds into speakers :)

Don Corbeil
06-10-2016, 10:37 AM
Thanks Keith! He is one of my favorites. Though I have to admit the list is lengthy now. Tooooooo many good people on this forum! <grin>


+1 I second that comment

Paul Phillips
06-10-2016, 12:49 PM
Im still around , still moderating and "lurking" .. have concentrated on my business
I have been hands off the lasers for many years.. I leave em to my staff to run and program , thus am a bit out of touch.
A lot of questions here are repeated over a time cycle , lots of others keen to contribute.

We have moved into a 10 000 sq ft showroom/factory , in a secure business park , the move last year took a ton of my time.
New website and new processes taking me away from lasering , set up a framing department , turned the CLLT dept from small to big , established a party/wedding/function hiring and advisory service , got big into 21st key wholesaling , partnered with a rigging/signage co , gave 25% of my business to my long time employee


However our 20w fibre came recently (exceptional priced . speak to Yarde Feng) , So im "back" into lasering getting to grips with what it can do.


Im 56 , not in the greatest health (diabetes) so come into work at 7.30 am and go home at 2.

I am massively into hifi and audiophillia so spend a ton of time listening to music at home .. I actually built a dedicated room for 2 channel stereo. Sold my yank muscle and turned the proceeds into speakers :)

Glad to see you're still around Rodney, thanks to you and Steve especially I learned much from you guys when I first joined the site. FWIW, I'm 54 and was borderline type 2 a few years ago but was able to get back to normal by changing my horrible diet, not the answer for everyone but amazing what you can achieve by eating right!

David Somers
06-10-2016, 2:01 PM
Also glad to see your avatar back on the forum Rodney!! Missed you! Exciting news about the move and increased business!

Dave

Chris Edens
06-11-2016, 9:28 PM
Those first two pictures look suspiciously like Delrin, we use Delrin to engrave dies for stamping leather. To get that kind of depth on my 100 watt machine, 2 inch lens, it would take many passes, 4 to 6 passes I suppose. And another 6 passes to cut. For leather stamps we don't go that deep, but the detail you can get is astonishing. Then we stamp using 25 tons of pressure. Those Delrin dies are indestructible.

Bob


I was told that Delrin is the best material to use for these stamps. The delrin will last a real long time. The die will not round off over time.

leland huang
06-21-2016, 5:23 AM
Hi Dave, you know each step about import job from China. I advice to buy extra laser tube, no other parts. It is dangerous to ship laser tube alone no matter how you pack it. Small laser tube, short laser tube, say 40-60w is safer. The damage is caused by rough handling. For other parts, easy to be shipped.

I think EFR laser tube is better now. Reci laser tube is famous because its warranty time was 10 months while other brand warranty was just 3 months. But now EFR warranty is 12 months, while Reci warranty is still 10 months.

Jerome Stanek
06-21-2016, 6:32 AM
Hi Dave, you know each step about import job from China. I advice to buy extra laser tube, no other parts. It is dangerous to ship laser tube alone no matter how you pack it. Small laser tube, short laser tube, say 40-60w is safer. The damage is caused by rough handling. For other parts, easy to be shipped.

I think EFR laser tube is better now. Reci laser tube is famous because its warranty time was 10 months while other brand warranty was just 3 months. But now EFR warranty is 12 months, while Reci warranty is still 10 months.

Buying an extra laser tube is a bad idea as it may not work when you need it and the warranty will be gone as it starts from the date stamped on it. Tubes lose gas over time sitting on a shelf.

Bert Kemp
06-21-2016, 10:08 AM
Storing a laser tube for a long period of time is not good. It can lose gas over time just sitting. Also the warranty is started from date of manufacture not from when you install it. Not a good idea to buy a spare tube.




Hi Dave, you know each step about import job from China. I advice to buy extra laser tube, no other parts. It is dangerous to ship laser tube alone no matter how you pack it. Small laser tube, short laser tube, say 40-60w is safer. The damage is caused by rough handling. For other parts, easy to be shipped.

I think EFR laser tube is better now. Reci laser tube is famous because its warranty time was 10 months while other brand warranty was just 3 months. But now EFR warranty is 12 months, while Reci warranty is still 10 months.

leland huang
07-15-2016, 3:40 AM
Buying an extra laser tube is a bad idea as it may not work when you need it and the warranty will be gone as it starts from the date stamped on it. Tubes lose gas over time sitting on a shelf.

I understand your idea. But the fact is it is hard to find express which can get laser tube insured since it is glass. We tried many packing ways, but still over 70% was broken during transportation. I worry about shipment.

Both storing a laser tube and shipping a laser tube are not good. It depends. If it is easy to buy laser tube in local market, then no need.

Jerome Stanek
07-15-2016, 6:38 AM
I understand your idea. But the fact is it is hard to find express which can get laser tube insured since it is glass. We tried many packing ways, but still over 70% was broken during transportation. I worry about shipment.

Both storing a laser tube and shipping a laser tube are not good. It depends. If it is easy to buy laser tube in local market, then no need.

Here we have several places that sell tubes that you can have in a day or 2

Rodne Gold
07-15-2016, 7:27 AM
I can echo the risks sending tubes via airfreight.. we have had 3 shipments, and no matter how they are packed, they all arrived broken.. we buy locally .. at a premium.. they bring in the tubes via sea freight .. airfreight is the issue.