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View Full Version : Buying A Chinese Laser - the FULL story for those looking to make a purchase



Adam Less
06-29-2016, 6:04 PM
I apologize in advance that this will be a LONG post (EXTREMELY LONG). But then, it is intended for those, like me at one point, who are wading through the endless info trying to determine which laser to buy. I wanted to recite my story in detail as there is so much information and (mis)information that floats around, I wanted to help others who are in the position I was in, hopefully make a decision easier for them.

I will preface this long accounting of my situation by stating it IS just one person's experience and I can't say that the experience will be the same for everyone. But there are certain things I discovered, going through the process I went through, that proved some of the 'tips' and 'advice' I'd received to be completely false or inaccurate.

I'll begin at the beginning. :)

Some Background (read if you want)

For thirty years I have been a marketer. By that, I mean I have been a designer, writer, creative director and brand developer in and around the ad agency business and media in Canada. I would say I've been fairly successful at it.

I owned a small/medium market ad agency for ten years, handled local, regional and national account work. Today I run an independent consultancy and do quite well at that. I also work around the sports industry (marketing) as does my wife (retail) and we are all VERY involved in various youth sports with our kids (hockey, soccer, baseball, field hockey, etc). So, that's all the background. I set this up to give context to what launched me on the path I've chosen to undertake.

For the past several years, I've grown tired of working in intangibles and have really had a fantasy to work with something tactile. In other words, make something physical and 'sell' it. I don't want to abandon what I do now, but want to start building a sideline business I can grow and, who knows, maybe even transition into full time. At least build something my kids might take over one day and build.

My wife suggested we look at the trophy business. Part of my work is with a sports league and we have done so much work with youth sports as well, she made the point that there is a lot of trophy and award work out there. Add to that my considerable rolidex of businesses with which I have connections, all of whom make name badges, plaques, etc.

The idea had some merit. But it seemed very foreign and somewhat arbitrary compared to the work I've been doing for 30 years.

Then I started reading up about it and about the modernization of the business, with the move into lasers. Everywhere I read, the same thing came up over and over; the two hardest parts of the business are marketing and learning the software.

Wait a minute, I'm a 30 year marketer and I've been using Corel, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc for three decades!

I started to realize a laser engraver not only provided an opportunity to explore getting into the awards and trophy business, but also offered other possibilities, including the potential to develop and sell our own products!

Could this be the opportunity I've been looking for?

And so my journey began in January, in earnest.

Doing the leg work

Because it tends to be the way I do things, I started researching. I read everything and anything I could, including scouring pages and pages of posts on here and elsewhere. I watched videos. I spoke directly with reps from almost every laser company, including the domestics (Trotec, Universal, Epilog), Chinese manufactures (mostly by email - I won't bother listing them all) and several of what I'll call hybrid suppliers (ie. chinese lasers sold and/or serviced here in North America). These would be your Rabbit Lasers, Redsail (who have a reseller/service person in Ontario, Canada), Full Spectrum, etc.

I also contacted trophy and substrate providers in Canada and the US.

Then I booked a trip down to Vegas to the APA (Awards and Personalization - which use to be Awards and Recognition) international show. I went so far as to research every exhibitor in advance and determine exactly what questions I wanted to ask each when I got there.

At the show itself, it was like Candyland for laser engraving and customization. I had no idea there were so many options for materials, trophies, etc.

I spent the first day going booth to booth, learning everything I could. I also took the time to visit the Trotec and Epilog booths and take a first hand look at their machines (I'd never seen a laser engraver in person before, believe it or not). I also had an opportunity to speak with the GCC folks and folks from a Chinese direct manufacturer and look at their machines.

I should point out that in the meantime as this is going on over several months, I am also continually emailing and calling different suppliers, hounding them with questions, asking for quotes, etc.

Of most note is the extreme polarization of US laser vs Chinese laser camps.

US laser users/fans will tell you nothing but bad things about Chinese lasers and Chinese laser fans will tell you US lasers are a ripoff for the cost. They often veil those statements with feint praise here and there so as not to seem too biased. But the bottom line is, if you ask a US laser advocate a question that contains the words 'Chinese' + 'Laser' what you'll hear back, regardless of what the question is, is "Why buy a chinese laser? they're nothing but trouble - You get what you pay for. Buy US"

I could recite all the nightmare scenarios you read, but that would make this needlessly longer than it already is and if you're reading this and have done research yourself, chances are you'll have read them all anyway.

I made a comparison spreadsheet at one point (comparing as closely as possible wattage, size, etc from one machine to the next as I could) with every pro and con of every laser manufacturer I had researched, all with price comparisons attached.

The bottom line is - I did as much research as I could humanly do and considered ALL sides. Then came time to decided how much money I wanted to spend!

The Bottom Line on the Bottom Line

For a number of practical reasons (space being among them and what I perceived as my realistic needs) I settled on needing something in the 18" x 24" range. A happy medium for wattage seemed to be the 60w (in glass tube measurement) range. I didn't need pass through. And I'd managed to compile my basic want lists - honeycomb tray, red dot, air-assist (which basically was standard most of the time), etc.

For pure ease of ordering/delivering/servicing I checked out my domestic laser pricing first.

To get into what I would consider an entry level machine with my specs, with a Trotec I was upwards of $25k+ (CDN dollars). Epilogs and Universals were pretty close to the same one way or another. Then I had to consider their laser recharging costs were, according to everything I'd heard, anything from $1,500 - $2,500! I envisioned being a couple of years down the road, in the middle of a job and suddenly needing a laser recharge and having to fork out thousands of dollars unexpectedly.

I also, frankly, didn't have $20 - $30k sitting in the bank to hand over. Keep in mind the laser isn't the only cost I would have to consider. I would need some sample trophies, a starter set of substrates, shears, etc. Plus there would be some money to spend retrofitting an area in my basement to do this work.

I've been in business for myself long enough to know that the best recipe for failure, starting a new venture, is to start off with the burden of overcoming debt right from the get-go.

I wanted to only spend (at least initially) what I could afford in cash. We also decided we didn't want to 'rent' a premise to do the work in. We wanted to start in our basement and that way, again, not incur additional costs until we had built up cash flow and contracts to support them.

Leasing a US machine was an option, but again it started me off with monthly payments to absorb and pay back.

After a great deal of back and forth, and in the face of overwhelming advice on forums like this not to stray into the devil's lair and purchase a Chinese laser, I found myself left with no other choice but to do just that. I had the choice of risking $25k or more (which would have to be financed) or under $5k (which I'd pay in cash).

Here's the comment (actually made by a domestic laser seller) that was the tipping point for me. He said, you want to buy a US laser because they retain much of their value. After all, their used machines were still a good $10k - $15k at least. The Chinese machines, on the other hand, he pointed out, you'd be lucky if you could even get a few hundred dollars for, used. So when I asked how much I might expect to sell my $25k laser for a year or two down the road, he said I should be able to get upwards to $20k. So, I'd lose $5k. If I buy a Chinese laser and I give it away, I lose $5k. Added to which, I can get rid of my Chinese laser in about five minutes if I give it away free. I could be sitting for 6 months or more trying to sell my used US laser for $20k to get the balance of my money back out of it.

I had read some good things about Weike lasers and had some great emails from them when I was doing my research. I also learned that a great many resellers sell what are effectively Weike machines. I had explored others, like Redsail and Thunder Laser, etc. but I just seemed to read more consistently good things about Weike than the others and Weike's pricing seemed more competitive. That said, it meant ordering from China, which scared the @#%&* out of me!

Nonetheless I forged forward with Weike.

Dealing With A Chinese Supplier Directly

I just did a count and since beginning correspondence with Weike, Nina (their rep) and I have exchanged no less than 73 emails! But here's the interesting take away - almost all were ME asking HER questions! they weren't problems, or communications breakdowns or any of the other 13,000 nightmare scenarios you'll read about on these forums. In the beginning, many were me just prodding and poking for information, which Nina was glad to provide and promptly! there is a time difference but if I emailed her after 6pm PST my time, I would often get a response within 5 minutes. Rarely did a response take more than an hour.

Through our price negotiations, I continually changed my mind, adding or changing options, and each time Nina happily adjusted quotes and in many cases included the odd little option I'd tack on at no extra charge.

Though Nina's English was a bit broken, I never had any issues understanding her correspondence, nor did she have trouble understanding mine. I've had people I deal with in business here at home I find more difficult to communicate with than Nina.

I realized after a couple of weeks I was procrastinating out of fear.

I had been so scared off of buying from a Chinese manufacturer (after everything I'd been told by many on forums and dealers of US machines) that I was convinced I would a) lose my money b) be mired in months of ugly import red tape and costs c) receive a machine that was damaged, didn't work and needed all kinds of tinkering with d) would be stuck with software that was virtually unusable, didn't work and was incompatible with everything e) get a machine with the wrong power, wrong wattage, wrong something and maybe even electrocute myself f) all of the above.

Finally, my wife nudged me and said "Just buy the damn thing already!".

So I did.

I sent an eTransfer for half the amount due and Nina right away assured me my machine would begin its build right away.

I knew going in it would take approximately 3 - 5 weeks to build the machine and then I'd be looking at a lengthy period while the machine traveled by ship to the port, which is in a city about 300 miles away from where I live. Then I would have to figure out getting it to my home (and into my home - turns out my doorway was 2" too small to accommodate the machine being brought through. Something I learned later, but more on that further down). I was in no real rush, so I was prepared to wait.

And So The Nightmare Begins...Or Does It?

I should mention I have NEVER shipped anything from overseas, especially not a several hundred pound, crated piece of equipment. I am also not one of those people with 'contacts' overseas that can help. I didn't know what a forwarder was or how transporting something from a port worked. I've never even seen a Bill of Lading I don't think... at least, if I have, I didn't know that was what it was!

I was nervous. Id read that customs can be a real issue. Id read that paper work is always screwed up. I'd read that there can be all kinds of hidden charges. Id read that shipments are often delayed days and weeks (and even worse) when they come from overseas.

Not knowing what to do and how to go about dealing with the shipping, I contacted Nina who assured me theyd take care of everything. I had nothing to worry about. Yeah famous last words right?

Time went on and I became more and more excited and more and more anxious.

After several weeks, close to the completion of my machine, Nina sent me a bunch of hi res images of the machine being prepared and tested in the factory. It was like seeing your new babys ultrasound pics.

I went around showing the pics of my new machine to friends. Im sure they were thrilled.

Finally came the day the machine was ready to be shipped out of the factory. Nina contacted me for final payment of the balance owing, which I nervously forwarded right away via eTransfer.

It turned out there was a small hold up (two days) while Weike waited for some Canadian Government certification to be forwarded to them as it needed to be included with the shipment documents for customs.

I really wasnt sure what the next step from my end was, but I knew I needed a customs broker, so I called one I found online.

The woman at the brokerage was fantastic. I explained I knew nothing and she walked me through the steps.

She told me what Id need in the way of paperwork when the shipment arrived (commercial invoice, bill of lading, etc.) and that the bill of lading would need to be the original. She told me that a forwarder, who is contracted by the manufacturer shipping the item, would be responsible for removing the shipment from its container and putting it in the warehouse at the port. She also explained as my shipment would only constitute a portion of what was in the container and therefore it may take a couple of days for the crate to actually be removed from the container and placed into storage awaiting customs release.

She explained that she then would work on getting the item released and explained what potential setbacks may occur, including a potential inspection of all items in the container by customs for which all recipients of whatever was in that container would share the total cost, which could be in the $2,000 range. Again, my item being less than 1/10th of the container load, the worst Id be looking at is an extra couple of hundred dollars.

In total, I was looking at about a $450 cost from the moment the shipment arrived in port to the moment it was placed on a truck for delivery. That included taxes and brokerage fees.

She then advised I call a transport firm to arrange pick up from the port when the shipment became ready for release.

She recommended one and I contacted them. They gave me a price of just over $150 to transport and told me they would be available to pick it up on whatever day the shipment was to be released and they would have it here (in my town) the next day.

This all seemed WAY too easy given everything Id read.

My Ship Comes In Literally.

I had been following the ships path using an app Id downloaded on my phone. It was endless fun logging in and seeing where my ship was from day to day.

Finally, my ship arrived and I was informed by the customs broker that the shipment should be released within the week. It turned out to be good timing for me as I had a couple of days off around that time to get the laser uncrated and into my basement.

While I had been waiting, I had discovered (an oversight on my part) that the laser is 33 wide at its narrowest point and my doorway, with the door removed was 32 wide. I fortunately had a big 4 x 6 window out to my driveway in the room in which I planned to place the laser. My plan was to pick the laser up at the trucking warehouse in my pick up, back up to the window, with the window removed, manually (using several guys) slide the laser through the window opening and place it in the room. Yeah, uh no.

More on that further on.

Sure enough, within a few days the item was released, like clockwork the trucking company picked it up and the next day, as promised, the item was in their local depot here.

The next morning I went to the depot with my pickup and they promptly forklifted the GIGANTIC crate in the bed of my truck.

I hadnt really known what to expect but the crate was bigger and more daunting than I had expected. I had also learned that the laser was about 350 pounds. Suddenly, the reality of lifting this off my truck started to sink in. That was exacerbated when I learned two of my three helpers had now cancelled on me and I was due to drive out of town with my truck on business the next day this meant, one way or another, I had to figure out how to get the laser off the truck and into my home in the few hours I had, with just two of us.

I pulled into the driveway and immediately started uncrating. My expectation was to see inside a jumbled mess, with screws on the ground, items displaced, etc.

Instead, I was shocked to find everything meticulously packaged and in place, clean, organized without a single issue. The crate came undone easily and in minutes I had the various boxed accessories (5000w water cooler, extra glass tube, etc) off the truck with just the laser exposed.

One thing I had read which DID turn out to be the case is that these lasers come shipped, coated in a fine oil/grease. It seems to be on everything, which makes handling it a bit tricky. Its not like its caked on, just an ever-so-slight slick here and there.

Anticipating having to lift this bohemith over the days leading up, I had asked a number of people familiar with this laser if the legs could be removed (including asking Nina at Weike). I was told no, the legs are permanently attached.

To my pleasant surprise I discovered not only are they removable, but easily so with four simple bolts easily accessible from each side panel.

Myself and my buddy decided the best course of action was to remove the laser from the legs and take each off the truck and into the basement separately.

We also decided not to remove the window and instead tip the laser on its side to get it through the doorway.

I had been given endless feedback that everything would go wonky if the laser was tipped, things would go out of line, the laser would be damaged, wiring would become disconnected, etc more nightmare stories.

We managed to get the laser into the basement (it was HEAVY) and set back up on the legs without issue. Nothing appeared to move. Everything appeared intact.

Finally, the laser was in place.

On a note about quality, I have to say how impressed I was by the machine. It is built extremely sturdy and finished really nicely. It doesnt look clunky or cheap and there arent the unfinished parts Id expected. After all, this is a machine that was just several thousand dollars before shipping and probably $30k less than the equivalent (size, wattage, etc) US machine.

Even my buddy commented on how cool it looked.

Once the laser was in place, I unpacked the blower, compressor, etc.

One oversight had to do with the blower. Reading so many horror stories about the inadequate Chinese blowers, I took the advise of a user on here and purchased a blower from the link sent to me. Turns out that the blower I purchased had a 4 opening while the laser vent is a 6. Concerned about messing with the blowers input/output power and volumes by using a reducer, I chose instead to go with the supplied blower with its 6" connections instead, which worked like a charm. A bit loud, for sure, but frankly no louder than the other one I had bought.

With the laser in place and the accessories all unpacked I decided to leave the laser for a few days as I had to cut an opening in my wall and set up the vent, and didnt want to test anything out until then. (in truth, I was afraid to try it I was convinced, from what Id read, the other shoe would soon drop and Id discover the horrible mistake Id made purchasing a Chinese laser the minute I turned it on!)

The Moment of Truth

The first thing I did was install the software that came on a DVD in the laptop Id set aside. I made sure I had the 32 bit Windows 7 installed and not the 64 bit, as Id heard LaserCut 5.3 didnt work in 64 bit. I had planned on using Adobe Illustrator on my Mac to do all my work then bring it into LaserCut on my PC laptop, which from everything Id read was glitchy at best.

Nonetheless, I forged forward.

I installed the software, which actually turned out to be very easy. I did cheat and watch a Youtube video on installing LaserCut, but it was easy enough.

I then inserted the dongle in the laptop and opened the program up.

Voila, it was working.

I then watched another video on how to use LaserCut, which is really about as simple as it comes.

In Illustrator I created a simple graphic and converted it to a dfx file. I saved the file to a thumb drive and took it over to the PC. I imported it into LaserCut and there it was!

I took some of the elements and set them as one colour, designating them as an engraving path, with a particular speed and power setting. I took one other element (the box around the graphic) and designated that in a different colour as a cutting path, with its own speed and power setting. All seemed just fine.

Rabbit Lasers site has a basic power/speed settings guide that can be used as a general rule of thumb setup for engraving/cutting different substrates. I used that guide.

Ha. The software worked!

Now it came time to set up the laser.

I had already gone in and removed the zap straps carefully holding the belts in place and cleaned away some of the yellow grease residue, which Im assuming was a protective or preservative spray of some sort.

I checked inside all the panels and underneath the cutting platform. Everything was in place and seemed good.

On top of the laser I placed my laptop, which I then ran the Weike set up video on. Its a bit rudimentary and everything is subtitled but it was easy enough to understand. And by stopping the video at each stage of setup, I could set things up then move to the next stage very easily.

I took my glass laser tube from its very well packed box and installed it. I hooked up the water hoses, compressor, blower, etc.

One thing I had been warned against is the amp drain this may have and that a 15 amp circuit wouldnt be enough for the blower, compressor, laser, etc.

In anticipation of that, Id spoken to a local electrician who I had on stand-bye to come in and install a new 25amp fuse and corresponding correct gauge wiring should it have been needed. (it turns out my 15amps ahs been fine for all of it)

For that reason, I plugged all the accessories into a separate surge protected power bar and the laser into a different socket. Not really sure why, as both the bar and the laser are ultimately plugged into the same circuit, lol.

I turned the power bar on and all the accessories functioned great. I turned on the laser and low and behold, it started up!

I opened the back panel to check there were no bubbles in the glass tube and there werent.

After the initial set up, which took about 10 seconds, the control panel was ready to use. I figured it out quickly and was able to slide the laser head around the X an Y axis with no troubles. I ordered my laser with a motorized Z axis and was able to raise and lower the platform with ease. I expected it to be jerky, but it was surprisingly smooth.

So the next challenge was mirror alignment, naturally I expected everything to be out of whack. I did the masking tape tests with the laser and found that the alignment all the way along was about as accurate as I think Id ever get it.

I was ready to give the laser a try.

Once I knew the machine was working, I connected the USB cable inside the side panel to the laptop and installed the driver as shown on yet another Youtube video Id watched.

The driver didnt install the first time, so I deleted it and installed it again and it seemed to be just fine.

With the dongle inserted, I opened LaserCut and the file I had imported from Illustrator ta couple of days earlier.

I placed a piece of wood I had bought from the local craft store on the honeycomb tray inside the laser, adjusted the Z axis so my auto-focus met up with the substrate and everything was set.

I downloaded the artwork to the laser, which took seconds and appeared, as advertised in the control panel. I hit test on the control panel and discovered, after it ran a quick run around the bounding box of the job that I needed to move my substrate slightly to centre the artwork on it correctly.

Once I was happy, I hit start.

To my COMPLETE shock, it engraved and cut PERFECTLY, first time!!!

The precision and detail was astounding. Way better than I had expected. Id heard all these things about Chinese lasers cutting ok but not being so good at engraving.

Not the case for me. The little engraved plaque Id made (graphic and text) looked fantastic. Not a single flaw. I decided to push my luck and made 4 more of them. I made a few minor adjustments to the setting to get the engraving a bit deeper and the next ones looked even better than the first.

In Summation

Over the next several days I ran all kinds of tests from more wood projects and trophy plates to a little acrylic LED lit sign (with a laser cut stand I made) for my son. I have made several gifts for people and continue to come up with more ideas to try. LaserCut has worked without an issue, and I find the whole process super simple.

I had originally figured it would take me three months to learn the machine before I'd be able to produce anything professional or take on an engraving job. Honestly, at this stage, I feel ready now.

One thing I had done early on is purchase a number and variety of substrates from Trotec, who were amazing to deal with by the way. They processed my order at 5pm one day and the substrates were delivered from out of town to my door by 1pm the next day! Trish at Trotec in Vancouver is fantastic!!!

Another little note about Trotec. Ive intentionally not bad-mouthed any particular laser manufacturer, though I had several experiences that would have warranted me doing so. That said, I do want to give a shout out to the folks at Trotec. As I had with every other laser seller Id spoken with, I explained my needs to James at Trotec and explained my hope to cut my teeth with a simple, inexpensive laser at first and build up enough cash from it to get into a better quality laser down the road. James was the ONLY laser rep who didnt challenge me on that and try to put me off buying a Chinese laser.

In fact, James agreed that the route I was going would probably be a good one for me for all the reasons I had stated and he encouraged me to continue the way I was going, purchasing from China and that hed be there when I was ready to upgrade.

To Trotec and to James, when the time comes to upgrade, and that may be mere months from now (though I'll still keep my Weike) I WILL buy a Trotec Speedy laser. Your integrity and support has earned my future business!

Bottom line is I have had my laser run numerous jobs over the past month now without one glitch.

In fact, stupidly, I sent a job to the laser last night and decided to be clever and adjust the scan gap to .01 with a very slow, deep engrave. It took two hours!!! And pushed the laser to its limits for sure. My chiller even rose to close to 25 at times.

But it did the job (looked fantastic mind you at that high resolution) and is still running today.

So theres my story. I know a number of people on here will now start ripping it apart and I want to say, for the record, I have no affiliation with any related business at all and my experience is mine alone and may differ from others.

But the reason Ive taken the time (away from my workday, which Ill now pay for having play catchup lol) to write this long recitation is because I know there are others like me out there, overwhelmed with everything theyre reading, not knowing what to believe or not to believe. Who knows, maybe the next laser experience out of China will be the nightmare some have suggested. And who knows, maybe my laser will blow up a week from now. Ill tell you one thing though, if my tube goes, Ill be a lot happier spending a couple of hundred dollars replacing it than a couple of thousand dollars recharging it! (I actually have a spare so I wont need to)

And I wont doubt there are things Ill discover my laser cant do that others can, or issues Ill have that others, better quality ones, wont. But I could replace this machine 6 times and still be under what it would have cost me to get a US machine. It works, the software works, it is well made its everything Id hoped it would be and more. Getting it here wasn't much tougher than shipping something bought on Ebay.

Yes, down the road, I DO plan to buy a US machine, when I can afford it and when productivity becomes a necessity to do so (in other words when Im that busy that I need to at which time Ill also have no problem affording it).

In total, I have only had one issue with my purchase. The issue was that I had ordered, as part of my package an extra set of lenses. Keeping I mind I changed my order repeatedly before placing my final order.

The lenses didnt arrive. When I contacted Nina, she agreed to send them out at their shipping expense. They are on their way now.

So, hopefully this will be helpful for some. US machines ARE great. Ive seen them and theyre terrific. But for those out there who simply cant afford one, dont assume there arent good, viable and VERY satisfying alternatives! I am trilled with my Weike thus far and looking forward to using it moving forward!

Kev Williams
06-29-2016, 6:37 PM
And it just gets easier the second time... :)

Bill George
06-29-2016, 6:51 PM
Wow I am impressed, great write up!

David Somers
06-29-2016, 6:58 PM
I have also been very happy with my Chinese laser purchased directly Adam. Been a good machine and the sales person was excellent to work with and we have kept in touch since then.

The one thing I might have suggested for you would be to not purchase a spare tube. They do have a shelf life and if you dont need it in the relatively near future you may find the gas has leaked from it when you actually need it. Better to simply order on when and if you need it and be prepared for the downtime. Unless you are a business with no tolerance for a bit of downtime of course, in which case the extra tube may be good.

Congrats!! Hope you continue to have a great experience with it!!

Dave

Wilbur Harris
06-29-2016, 7:20 PM
Good writeup...I don't think you left anything unwritten about the thoughts and concerns of anybody that has considered buying a laser directly from China.

Adam Less
06-29-2016, 8:04 PM
I have also been very happy with my Chinese laser purchased directly Adam. Been a good machine and the sales person was excellent to work with and we have kept in touch since then.

The one thing I might have suggested for you would be to not purchase a spare tube. They do have a shelf life and if you dont need it in the relatively near future you may find the gas has leaked from it when you actually need it. Better to simply order on when and if you need it and be prepared for the downtime. Unless you are a business with no tolerance for a bit of downtime of course, in which case the extra tube may be good.

Congrats!! Hope you continue to have a great experience with it!!

Dave

Thanks Dave, and you're probably right about the tube. To be honest, I had already negotiated it into the package when I first went around with Weike and just figured I'd leave it in there. Really it was a contingency for a faulty first tube. My thoughts were if I got a damaged tube or a faulty tube that conked out within the first month or two, I'd have a second one at the ready to keep going. Frankly, for the inexpensive cost of a glass tube, if it doesn't last until when I need it, with what I saved on the laser, a couple of hundred bucks for another tube is no big deal.

Bob Davis - Sturgis SD
06-29-2016, 8:07 PM
Adam,

This will be valuable information for many new visitors to this site. Thanks for taking the time to make such an informative post.

Bob

Jeff Body
06-29-2016, 9:24 PM
Thank you for taking the time.
I enjoyed learning from your experience.

Keith Downing
06-30-2016, 4:59 AM
Great write up, my only complaint: where are the pictures?!

I'd love to see the machine and full setup you ended up with, having a Boss (chinese laser) myself.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so you probably actually owe us 6 or 7 to even things out in this case. :)

Oh, and do you also mind sharing your total cost door to door? Always curious what the "real" numbers are compared to Boss and Rabbit laser, both of whom I normally advocate for pretty strongly.

Matt McCoy
06-30-2016, 12:34 PM
Good one. Happy to hear the legs were removable. ;)

Enjoy.

John Blazy
06-30-2016, 1:42 PM
Thats a great story - hope it stays good. The bottom line is that most people that need a laser are not rolling in the dough. We have no choice but to purchase Chinese, or go without. PERIOD!! If the US makers are sick of losing business to China, having to resort to trash talking imports, then they should import from a chinese company themselves, tune the machines to their specs and then introduce that laser as their "economy" line of lasers. Or call them whatever cool name they want, because I would have bought a chinese laser imported into US and backed by a US company, and since Ray and a very few other companies do that, I went with them. I would gladly have paid a tad more for a chinese laser with one of the big three names on it, but it was not available.

The only situation better than this was when I bought my Rabbit, and Ray did all the work you mentioned that you had to do (import, deal with customs, all the way to setting up my machine personally).

Amos De Pasquale
06-30-2016, 3:26 PM
Thank You for an informative article; one thing that gave you great advantage, you already knew how to use photo software,(Corel, Illustrator etc) That was my biggest bugbear--what do I click next? what is a dxf, or ai or???, even LaserCut you made sound simple but I struggled with it. Amos

Ragenna Prince
07-11-2016, 8:27 PM
Thanks for sharing. Just purchased mine....to be received Wednesday. Hope mine will be as to set up as yours.

Henri Sallinen
07-13-2016, 5:02 AM
Thank you for a very informative post! We are currently looking into chinese built lasers, mainly G Weike, so this will come in handy!

Bill Reibelt
07-14-2016, 6:54 PM
I bought my machine 4'x3' from a US supplier and found the machine was made in china, That was Ok. The tube (90watt) failed after three years, the Us cost would have been $1500 plus freight to Australia but checked with G Weike (the manufacturers) and the cost delivered to the door was $850.00. I have been very happy with my machine and they and the USA company was great as well getting small tech things sorted at the start. I had no problems with the machine problems were my not understanding how the machine worked. Great to hear another happy person with a Chinese made machine.

Don Nguyen
07-19-2016, 12:23 AM
Great write up. Read through the whole experience. Your experience may eventually help me weigh in on which direction to go with my own laser machine in the future.

What kind of security does on have when buying a machine from China? In the sense that you are sending them cash essentially and you have no way of protecting yourself in case something happens right? I can understand if the payment is made through paypal or your credit card, then at least maybe they can step in to help in case something goes wrong. Do Chinese based companies usually not accept paypal/credit card payments?

Bill Reibelt
07-20-2016, 4:11 AM
I believe that there is a limit that they will accept Paypal payment of $25,000.oo. This is apparently set by the Chinese Government. I feel safe to use Paypal and not my credit card.

Dave Stevens-Vegas
07-22-2016, 9:54 PM
Great write up. Read through the whole experience. Your experience may eventually help me weigh in on which direction to go with my own laser machine in the future.

What kind of security does on have when buying a machine from China? In the sense that you are sending them cash essentially and you have no way of protecting yourself in case something happens right? I can understand if the payment is made through paypal or your credit card, then at least maybe they can step in to help in case something goes wrong. Do Chinese based companies usually not accept paypal/credit card payments?

This isn't a China only issue. Sending anyone cash that you don't know or haven't vetted, US, China, Europe can be dicey. In the US your only recourse might be a lawsuit. I have Chinese suppliers and contractors and all of them accept Paypal and a few that's the only method they take. After dealing with them for a few years now I'd be comfortable paying them as I would any supplier in the US.

G.Wieke is solid and reputable and won't screw you over. What can be an issue when importing from overseas (this includes UK/EU as well) is the return of defective or warranty items. If you need to have a board swapped under warranty and the shipping cost isn't covered it can be spendy getting it back to the origin. And in the case of Europe/UK the return shipping back to you isn't exactly cheap while from China shipping to the US isn't that expensive considering the distance. They have the scale and consolidation of outbound freight to the US like no other place in the world. I can get a couple kg shipped from Shenzhen for less than I can ship from Vegas to New York.

Gary Hair
07-22-2016, 10:37 PM
G.Wieke is solid and reputable and won't screw you over.

Up until January of this year I would have agreed with you completely, not any longer. They screwed up on 3 fiber machines I bought and it took weeks to get them to ship the parts to make the machines right and I ended up paying for shipping as well as duties/customs - none of which would have been paid if they would have built the machines right in the first place. I'm not a G. Weike fan any longer and will make sure everyone knows how they screwed me on this.

Adam Less
07-22-2016, 10:48 PM
In answer to the question, I had no security but I did my homework and learned that Weike was a reliable and credible company. For the $3,500 CDN it cost me, I was willing to take a chance. What I paid for my Weike laser (which is continuing to run great) wouldn't have covered the taxes on a new, equivalently sized and powered US made machine!

Don Nguyen
07-23-2016, 2:33 AM
This isn't a China only issue. Sending anyone cash that you don't know or haven't vetted, US, China, Europe can be dicey. In the US your only recourse might be a lawsuit. I have Chinese suppliers and contractors and all of them accept Paypal and a few that's the only method they take. After dealing with them for a few years now I'd be comfortable paying them as I would any supplier in the US.

G.Wieke is solid and reputable and won't screw you over. What can be an issue when importing from overseas (this includes UK/EU as well) is the return of defective or warranty items. If you need to have a board swapped under warranty and the shipping cost isn't covered it can be spendy getting it back to the origin. And in the case of Europe/UK the return shipping back to you isn't exactly cheap while from China shipping to the US isn't that expensive considering the distance. They have the scale and consolidation of outbound freight to the US like no other place in the world. I can get a couple kg shipped from Shenzhen for less than I can ship from Vegas to New York.

Thanks for the response. I understand it's a risk when buying outside of anyone's country, but the thread was regarding specifically a Chinese machine, so that's what my question was directed/focused on.

One of the reps I had talked to from Gweike in the past said they did not accept credit card or paypal (wkquiven skype user name), which I thought was odd, because I ended up getting an e-mail from another rep that stated they do accept paypal payments. Not sure why the first rep would say that they don't accept it when they do.

Joseph Shawa
07-23-2016, 1:50 PM
Thank you for all that.


I too bought a Chinese Laser 600x400 60Watt.
Though I didn't have a "nightmare" it has been a bit of a bad dream.


The machine came as part of a larger order on a container. My friend imports electronics so the total cost of shipping was less than $20! No customs fee either : )


I Paid in advance. YIKES!
I think in general the Chinese companies are honorable and want to maintain a reputation.
One very odd note: They seem to not want money going directly to the company- I assume for tax reasons.
So I sent my $ directly to the rep (scary and odd), either via Western Union or PayPal (there is a small % fee).
I think that going through AliBaba might be good as you can get a little protection and maybe even get points if they take a credit card.


Same Chinese plywood crating.
Neatly packed.
Same oily coating.
Screws on the machine were NOT tightened well. Company says it was the motion during shipping. With the solid packaging I seriously doubt it.
My z-axis operation was noisy.
Mirrors were COMPLETELY OUT OF ALIGNMENT. Easy 2 minute job now, but it took me couple of hours unguided.
The long bolt for adjustable foot leveler was sharp and cut through wiring insulator on my Y-axis wire causing the machine to GO CRAZY at random times.
I am pretty mechanical but that one took me over a week to figure out as the shorted wiring was routed on the back side of the bolt in a hard to reach corner.
I bumped and broke the glass nub on the tube and degassed it before I could try it out! Extra 300 bucks right out of the gate : (
The table was uneven so cutting was inconsistent. How hard would it have been to adjust that at the factory? Easy fix once I looked for the problem. Simply adjust Z-axis bolts on at a time then reattach belt.
Green power button on top failed. Company sent a new one. Free except postage.


Communicating using Chinglish (Chinese English). VERY difficult.
If I asked more than one question at a time I usually only got 1 answer and would have to re ask the other questions again. I finally started numbering and highlighting and asking for replies to EACH QUESTION....only partially effective.
Emails were NOT read early in the day so by the time I got a reply I couldn't follow up until the NEXT day.


I am not sure if everyone has this problem but if your design is drawn exactly on an axis the controller goes CRAZY or Soft Stops.
The mA setting on 60W power supply was set too high for the tube so running at 100% deteriorated my tube very quickly.
KNOW YOUR mA SETTING for the longest life and make the setting permanent ON THE MACHINE so you don't accidentally burn it out with the software settings being too high....more about this later.


I cut a bunch of plastic. Engraved wine bottles and glasses. Had fun until the tube wore out. Had to cut plastic on windy days or I'd stink the neighbors out.
Plastic smell stick to snow!


I took a break for about 6 months until I was ready to buy another tube.


Ordered another tube and power supply in Jan 2016.
This time went for 150W tube and power supply.
New lenses too. I wanted the longest and shortest focal lengths available.


The Tube and Power supply and lenses came quickly <1 week. No customs intervention or fees.


Tube arrived broken. : (
Fortunately it was insured. ALWAYS SHIP INSURED!!


Up until now I have going through my original machine manufacturer at this point but will NEVER AGAIN.
I will buy from the tube manufacturer directly. Here's why:


The packaging was very amateurish.
Yes, it was in a cardboard box which in turn was in a LONG wooden case but I suggested softer padding on the ends as they had this long heavy tube suspended in the middle but only a thin piece of hard foam on the ends; which is where the tube was broken.
Seems it should have been better protected.
But it was insured and a new tube would be on it's way shortly.


The insurance claim went through and they ordered another tube from the tube manufacturer.


The original high quality tube was mysteriously "Not in Production" and they suggested another brand. A cheaper brand. FOR MORE $!!!!!
When I contacted the tube manufacturer and asked them about their "production problem" they said there wasn't a problem.
I gave them the name of the company I was working with and Magically the company informed me the very next day that the tube had arrived and was ready to ship after they tested it.
Suspicious/dishonorable behavior I'd say.


I asked them to package it with more foam this time.
They did and sent pictures but they just packed more foam at the ends tightly against the tube which would actually decrease the shock absorbtion.
Well they MUST know what they are doing, right?
Nope.


The second tube got hung up in customs, cost an extra $50 and then arrived broken!
Broke in the same place as the first one; at the neck.
So again they get the insurance $, order another tube, test it and package it.
THIS TIME though, I asked for pictures and sent pictures of how I thought it would better be packaged.
Again they wanted to pack it the SAME STUPID WAY!
So using my mechanical ability and my claim that I was an "Egg Drop Champion", I suggested that they wrap around the ends of the tube with foam leaving a hollow core.
"Can't do it. We don't have a large enough inner cardboard box. That is what the manufacturer supplied"
So I tell them to wrap the outside of the ends of cardboard box with foam instead of the tube.
They send me a picture and tell me it is going to be an extra $200 because of the diameter and length increase.
I ask them to go around only once and use compressible foam.
Now it is only 60 bucks extra.
You would think they knew how to safely ship a laser tube. NO?
Overall I think they make out on the crappy packaging because they made a profit on the tube THREE TIMES!!.
They got insurance money for the 1st shipment which was bigger so shipping was more and then charged me the extra for shipping the 3rd.


So the tube finally arrives INTACT!
YEAY!


I build a wooden extension to accommodate the longer tube, put the power supply in and it immediately blows a fuse when I turn the machine on....again and again.
I look for a short or sparks. Nothing. I play with this problem for a WHOLE WEEK.
I try to get some help from the company but all of a sudden they want nothing to do with me and won't respond to my email.
I call the laser tube/power supply manufacturer and they claim it is a controller problem.
"If the laser fires when I press the "TEST " button then "The power supply is working"
They refered me back to the company I bought it from if I want a replacement.

So I talk to headquarters and they say it IS a power supply problem.
Manufacturer tells me to talk to the seller.
Seller won't respond!
No one will respond!!!!
I am on my own..... but will have my revenge.


What was happening is this:
The machine would turn on without the power switch being on and would function normally.
The fuse at the outside main and at the back of the machine would both blow when I pressed the green power button on top of the machine.
Turns out that even with the machine off the laser was firing continuously if the power supply was in contact with the case/ground.
I found that out the hard way! OUCH!!


I order another 150W power supply from a different manufacturer.....
It arrives quickly and...same problem, nearly.
Fuse blows but no continuous firing.
DANG!!


Now it might have been my own lack of attention to details but I bought from the same company because I would assume everything would hook up the same.
The plugs are the same.
The letters on the controller plugs are the same.
Same with the power plug....but WAIT!
Two of the wires are reversed. REALLY ?
This is like having to check the wires on your hard drive power cables before attaching them. They only go one way!
I rewire the power plug and BEHOLD! No more fuse blowing.
The laser fires normally! Almost.
The first power supply still fires the laser briefly upon powering up or down.
Then second one works great.


In the middle of all of this power supply switching in and out my Y-axis stops working!
The second power supply seller tells me it is a Y-axis controller failure and wants to sell me a new one.
Turns out I bumped the rotary switch accidentally.
Because he was wrong about the problem and I didn't buy the controller from him he seems to be standoffish now.
Another supplier that won't talk to me. LOL


I had been doing some test cuts with the machine turned off.
The new tube is 150-180 watts.
The power supply is matched.
I was told to limit my power setting to 90-95%.
The built in Ammeter on the machine showed 30mA at that setting and so I did some testing at that power.
LOVED the POWER!!
All was good for awhile but then the laser power seemed to be diminishing.
I switched between power supplies and still had diminished power.


Well DARN if the 30mA reading was just the pegged out reading and in fact I was running the tube at near full power of around 48mA!!
I have WASTED MY NEW TUBE!!! : (


Turns out that at only 65% limit on the machine I get 28mA which is the recommendation for long tube life.
Only occasionally should it run it at high power.
Well it cuts just OK now but not like it did out of the box.....more like a 60 Watt tube.
I am using the very shortest focal length lens which makes up for some of the lost power on thin material.
The cutter head doesn't hold it properly so I need to order a newer more adjustable lens holding cutter head.


I shared a lot of negative stuff and lessons I have learned in hopes that someone else might have it a little easier.


REVENGE TIME
I am going to sell the 1st power supply, the one that doesn't work properly and fires by itself, on Ebay
I am going to give names and full details.
It doesn't work perfectly and don't expect anyone else to buy it so I am going to jack the price up to $600. If the companies don't want to see their names associated with a crappy product they can get together and buy it back from me so the listing goes away....hush money! : )

Bob Davis - Sturgis SD
07-23-2016, 8:46 PM
Joseph,

That's a sobering story. Others may differ but for me, I wouldn't want that laser if the cost were zero. I'm toying with the thought of getting a Chinese laser just to cut plywood. But I'd want some US support when things go haywire.

Wide range of of experiences on this thread.

Bob

Joseph Shawa
07-25-2016, 2:28 PM
Well, it is working well now but had I known about this forum it may have been a better experience.
I wouldn't discourage you still.

Joseph

Julian Ashcroft
07-29-2016, 5:40 AM
Joseph,

Wide range of of experiences on this thread.

Bob

Sorry to hijack the thread, but I was in your store in Sturgis a few weeks back, on my holiday driving across the USA, very impressed by the products you produce.

Bob Davis - Sturgis SD
07-29-2016, 8:14 AM
Sorry to hijack the thread, but I was in your store in Sturgis a few weeks back, on my holiday driving across the USA, very impressed by the products you produce.

That's great. If I knew you were at the store I'd give you a workshop tour, lol.

Bob

Dave Sheldrake
07-29-2016, 8:48 AM
Sadly I have to agree with Gary, Weike used to be one of the best but given the number of emails I'm getting of late all saying pretty much the same things as Gary mentioned and asking if I know how to fix their machine as the seller isn't responding I wouldn't go near Weike these days with somebody else's barge pole.

In the recent past I've seen them agree distributorships then undercut their own distributors if people buy direct, prices depend on how close to the end of the month it is (and if the sales person has reached their targets) hence the reason they don't like prices posted. A $5,000 laser can be as much as $500 either way depending on when you buy and what that particular reps figures are for the month.

The company structures in China are very often different to what folks may believe, in effect you have no way to get to anybody in a position of authority unless you are buying considerable numbers of machines and make it a condition that you speak to middle management. Upper echelon management are not approachable (no matter what title your sales rep has) unless you actually go there personally to deal with it all.

I have a lot of Chinese made machines and while they do exactly what I need them to do I'm also under no illusions that importing direct is often a quick path to nightmares for both support and quality control.

If you must go Chinese import buy it, use it, when it breaks buy a new one.

Another common fallacy is that home supplied Chinese machines are always better, in the Uk there seems to be a new "Machine builder" every week popping up and a similar amount vanishing with peoples money when there are problems. Much of the problem is the difference between an import at $1,800 that can then be sold on at 3,000 with a new paint job from companies that understand lasers about as well as I understand landscape gardening. They seem to operate on the principle that to be a "Laser expert" you only have to know 5% more than the person you are selling to. We probably have a dozen or so Chinese made machine vendors here and yet the only one I would buy from is HPC in Halifax (No I don't work for them)
When you visit a factory and it has a pile of spares that put the local electronics outlet to shame and another large building full of machines (some of them very big very expensive machines) that they have paid for (no 30 day accounts with China) you can be pretty sure you are onto a safe bet.

Klaus Madsen
07-31-2016, 3:01 AM
Hi Adam

Thanks so much for your writing and valuable information. I'm sure it will help and encourage a lot of people to go for a Chinese laser.

It could have been me who have been writing that story because I was in exact the same situation and finally also went for buying directly from China. I was actually going to buy a Thunder Laser when because I had only been reading good things about them. Also, I saw on AliExpress that their prices was good. It turned that they have a reseller here in New Zeland, and he wanted 3 times the price they sold them for directly from China. So they didn't want to sell one to me, which is kind of ok because it would not be fair to the reseller. So I was looking for an alternative and ended up buying a machine from Redsail Laser. I bought a M900 with a 100W RECI tube and 900x600 work table. I haven't got the machine yet, it should have arrived the Port in Auckland here last Friday, so I am expecting it here at my door anytime next week. I have been as nervous as you reading all the stories about buying a China machine, but the fact is, that people nearly never write about their positive experiences so we only see the bad ones. And that is exactly why your story here is so good, so many thanks for that. I just hope my experience will be as good as yours.
Thanks
Klaus

Keith Winter
07-31-2016, 9:23 AM
Joseph that sounds like a rough go of it.

It seems that your problems stem from a common point though, each time you bought the parts from the cheapest guy you could find. Recipe for disaster. Then being hostile to them to the point where mutiple vendors stopped replying to you, and not reading up in how lasers worked so you were using the wrong MA settings blowing tubes didn't help matters much either.

I feel for you, it must be frustrating, but there are a lot of self inflicted wounds in that story. A little patience and not always buying the cheapest thing can go a long way. I understand your frustration, China vendors can be extremely hard to do business with, but next time researching in advance each and every Chinese vendor you work with vs going with the cheapest may help things go more smoothly.

Joseph Shawa
07-31-2016, 4:44 PM
Yes and no.....
No, not the cheapest in fact I could have gone cheaper but I did aim low. I never could find a rep who responded in decent English.
I never, NEVER, was hostile. They just couldn't figure out the problems presented and took the easy out. It was only by being a bit conniving that I finally received an intact 150 Watt tube.

Yes, a lot of self inflicted wounds but these forums would have helped and hopefully my pain will bring a better experience to someone else. There really is no reason to have to be a trailblazer in this day and age.
Even alignment videos were scarce and those were poor. There are a couple of good ones out there now.
I wouldn't even have guessed to bring the milliamps down as the tubes and power supplies were matched. Why would the manufacturer not warn you? Well, they get another sale out of it if they are lucky I guess. In the case of my recent tube, even the recommended rating was too high and I didn't figure out the meter was pegged until I brought it down to 60%. These are tidbits that should be distributed with every tube.
I will try to write a buyers guide and maybe we can all chip in pearls of wisdom.

Kev Williams
07-31-2016, 5:44 PM
Fortunately I had a very good experience buying the cheapest machine I could find. Twice... $2900 for a 1390 including the air pump, blower and chiller? I got it totally option free just to keep the price down. A big inconvenience of that was to not include a lowering table, that would've been worth the $500... However, that inconvenience allowed me to modify the machine to engrave things up to nearly 36" tall.

What I've figured out about Triumph is it seems they pretty much build machines to order. They had to build my 1390, and they also put together my fiber to order. And both were tested. The 1390 came to me ready to run, all mirrors were dead on the money. I had to level the table a snick was the only adjustment needed. They tested the fiber for 2 days, and it came ready to go. No engraving adjustments needed at all. I did have to align the red box to the engraving, and that was it. I also know I'm their first USA customer to buy a fiber laser. --or at least the first in a 110v version...

Both machines are 'shelf' machines. I've seen the fiber with other names on them during my research. The 1390, they build the box, and build the gantry setup from basic aluminum extrusions for the rails, that move on roller bearings and SS rods imbedded in the extrusions, the same steppers most others use, etc... but because they put them together and used them to make sure they worked before shipping them, the 'hand-built' nature seems to work. Are they perfect? Not really, but the flaws I've found are minor. Other than the broken stepper wire in the 1390 it's been a great machine. And regardless of whether or not the gantry setup uses 'optimal' parts, after 2-1/2 years it's engraving quality will still nearly match my 'metal' lasers. And I see every reason to believe the fiber will give me the same good service :)

But-- that's just my story. I found a very bad story about them in this forum too:http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?224072-My-(bad)-experience-with-Triumph-Laser-Machines

Not to do with the machine in general it seems... and Note that Triumph did refund the price of the machine, but still... there's always some bad to go with the good.

Dave Sheldrake
07-31-2016, 6:46 PM
the biggest difference though Kev is you are a pretty switched on experienced machine user :)

Keith Winter
07-31-2016, 8:17 PM
the biggest difference though Kev is you are a pretty switched on experienced machine user :)

Good point Dave. Lots of things can go wrong on a laser, that only experience and/or good friends help can fix. I know I'm still learning from you guys. :)

Rodne Gold
08-01-2016, 4:55 AM
I have been going thru Yarde Feng of longtai lasers for my new machines
He was R&D manager for Shenui and moved on , I have met him face to face and bought a LOT of his new employers products, I would rather follow him than the company..so did so

The lasers he supplys run very well, are superbly constructed , arrive all set up etc.. and are also well priced.
Support is excellent , Yarde just goes team view with your puter and checks it all remotely


The biggest problem is that folk buy lasers without any prior experience .. like corel , rdworks , how a laser works , what it works on , material properties, what business plan , what your market is etc etc
Its kinda like a total newbie buying a lathe and a mill and hoping to establish a general engineering shop within a week or 2... not going to happen..

My advice ..DO NOT buy a chinese laser if you are not prepared to get your hands a little dirty and you dont have any prior tech know how or skilz and are not prepared to fiddle a bit...but it's gonna cost you almost 5x the price...

Bill George
08-01-2016, 7:33 AM
I have been going thru Yarde Feng of longtai lasers for my new machines
He was R&D manager for Shenui and moved on , I have met him face to face and bought a LOT of his new employers products, I would rather follow him than the company..so did so

The lasers he supplys run very well, are superbly constructed , arrive all set up etc.. and are also well priced.
Support is excellent , Yarde just goes team view with your puter and checks it all remotely


The biggest problem is that folk buy lasers without any prior experience .. like corel , rdworks , how a laser works , what it works on , material properties, what business plan , what your market is etc etc
Its kinda like a total newbie buying a lathe and a mill and hoping to establish a general engineering shop within a week or 2... not going to happen..

My advice ..DO NOT buy a chinese laser if you are not prepared to get your hands a little dirty and you dont have any prior tech know how or skilz and are not prepared to fiddle a bit...but it's gonna cost you almost 5x the price...

Great post Rodne. The last two paragraphs need to be required reading for all the new folks before they buy. When I purchased my Chinese laser I was well prepared but so many come on this Forum and the first sentence is " I got this laser off eBay and now....." .

Adam Less
08-10-2016, 12:38 AM
Have to say how I love that my thread was eventually hijacked by Chinese laser haters, as I knew it would be.

Several months in now and my laser has worked flawlessly. And Weike has been very good with follow up. I noticed shortly after receiving the shipment that an extra set of lenses were missing. Without even questioning it, Weike not only sent the lenses, they shipped them DHL (at their cost) and I received them about three days later. I don't get things that fast even from the states.

Again, I'm sure there are people with horror stories. There always are. And they give the impression that you are virtually doomed to repeat their experience. I know the immediate response to that comment will be that people like me give the impression that you should expect my experience to be repeated.

But the fact is, people come to forums to complain not praise. For every person with a complaint on here, there may be a hundred with none. That's because most people don't flock to forums to share 'positive' stories. Let's face it, how many times has something gone wrong and you hear someone say "I'm going to write a letter" or "I'm going to talk to a manager". But how often do people say that when they are satisfied with their product or service?

That's why I wrote the OP.

I'm sure others will continue to post their own 'cautionary' tales, but my only advice to those thinking about buying a Chinese lassr is to remember, there are thousands of Chinese lasers out there. Because a few (even a few dozen) come on here with problems, doesn't mean there aren't hundreds or thousands out there like me who have had nothing but a positive experience.

As a postscript to this story, 6 months later I'm still waiting for the follow up from the Epilog rep I spoke to. Even after bumping into him at the ARA show in Vegas and reminding him to follow up with me, I never heard word one from him.

So, US or Chinese lasers, they all have pros and cons and all have service triumphs and disasters in their wake.

Good luck to anyone going the Chinese laser route. Feel free to PM me with any questions!

Bill George
08-10-2016, 8:40 AM
Adam I just want to thank you for doing the OEM post and follow up. Just hoping all those newbie people read it before they order.

Keith Winter
08-10-2016, 10:56 AM
Adam, most of the people you refer to as "Chinese laser haters" actually have Chinese lasers and have been members of the forum for many years. Rodne, Dave, and Kev in particular have had Chinese lasers for over 10 years. And many of the others who replied had Chinese lasers at one point even if they don't now. No one is trying to "hate", rather share experience learned over many years and many different interactions on this forum.


I think Rodne said it very elegantly...



The biggest problem is that folk buy lasers without any prior experience .. like corel , rdworks , how a laser works , what it works on , material properties, what business plan , what your market is etc etc
Its kinda like a total newbie buying a lathe and a mill and hoping to establish a general engineering shop within a week or 2... not going to happen..

My advice ..DO NOT buy a chinese laser if you are not prepared to get your hands a little dirty and you dont have any prior tech know how or skilz and are not prepared to fiddle a bit...but it's gonna cost you almost 5x the price...

Kev Williams
08-10-2016, 1:22 PM
I've had metal lasers since 2002, I've only had the glass Triumph since November 2013...

Anyone would be hard pressed to find evidence that I'm a glass-laser-hater... ;) -- all I try to do is state facts and opinions as I see them, and usually they're sugar coated with praise. I didn't complain much when mine was screwing things up, I knew it was just something simple, and it was (broken wire to the stepper)

In % of dollars spent to dollars earned, my Triumph is the stand-alone king around here. It's made it's money back several times over in the 2-1/2 years I've owned it. And while my other machines have too, it took a lot longer to do so.

Glass lasers do have their limitations when compared to metal lasers. They also have their strengths, like basic cutting and certain wood engraving. Costs to fix or replace are a major plus too. Glass lasers are essentially 'Dixie Cup' machines, typically costs less to replace the whole thing than the cost of a tube replacement of many metal lasers.

:)

Bert Kemp
08-10-2016, 3:37 PM
Adam I think you may have the wrong idea about this forum. If you read thru the posts and not yours but the posts in general , You really don't find a lot of people complaining or praising for that matter. What you find here mostly is people asking questions about a problem their having and people giving answers to those questions. I think most of us here would agree that were a problem solving forum and we give options also based on the questions asked. Our opinions may very greatly from what personal experience, and if we had a bad one we say so and if we had a good one we say so. So you have to read thru and kinda make your own comparison chart. Weigh all the good against all the bad and then make your own decision .Whick I guess you did, but seems your taking all our opinions out of context.:)


Have to say how I love that my thread was eventually hijacked by Chinese laser haters, as I knew it would be.

Several months in now and my laser has worked flawlessly. And Weike has been very good with follow up. I noticed shortly after receiving the shipment that an extra set of lenses were missing. Without even questioning it, Weike not only sent the lenses, they shipped them DHL (at their cost) and I received them about three days later. I don't get things that fast even from the states.

Again, I'm sure there are people with horror stories. There always are. And they give the impression that you are virtually doomed to repeat their experience. I know the immediate response to that comment will be that people like me give the impression that you should expect my experience to be repeated.

But the fact is, people come to forums to complain not praise. For every person with a complaint on here, there may be a hundred with none. That's because most people don't flock to forums to share 'positive' stories. Let's face it, how many times has something gone wrong and you hear someone say "I'm going to write a letter" or "I'm going to talk to a manager". But how often do people say that when they are satisfied with their product or service?

That's why I wrote the OP.

I'm sure others will continue to post their own 'cautionary' tales, but my only advice to those thinking about buying a Chinese lassr is to remember, there are thousands of Chinese lasers out there. Because a few (even a few dozen) come on here with problems, doesn't mean there aren't hundreds or thousands out there like me who have had nothing but a positive experience.

As a postscript to this story, 6 months later I'm still waiting for the follow up from the Epilog rep I spoke to. Even after bumping into him at the ARA show in Vegas and reminding him to follow up with me, I never heard word one from him.

So, US or Chinese lasers, they all have pros and cons and all have service triumphs and disasters in their wake.

Good luck to anyone going the Chinese laser route. Feel free to PM me with any questions!

Adam Less
08-11-2016, 1:13 AM
Adam I think you may have the wrong idea about this forum. If you read thru the posts and not yours but the posts in general , You really don't find a lot of people complaining or praising for that matter. What you find here mostly is people asking questions about a problem their having and people giving answers to those questions. I think most of us here would agree that were a problem solving forum and we give options also based on the questions asked. Our opinions may very greatly from what personal experience, and if we had a bad one we say so and if we had a good one we say so. So you have to read thru and kinda make your own comparison chart. Weigh all the good against all the bad and then make your own decision .Whick I guess you did, but seems your taking all our opinions out of context.:)

Not taking the comments out of context, taking them the way they come across.

I was new on here months back when I was starting out looking at what to buy. It seemed every question, no matter what it was about, wound up with someone 'warning' me and others about Chinese lasers. Sorry if you don't perceive it that way, but that's how it came across to me anyway.

To the point where I was so freaked out about all the problems I'd encounter with buying and owning a Chinese laser I was so concerned I almost chose not to buy one, certain it would be a disaster all round.

In the end, the process was simple, I spent less than $4,500 CDN in total, including taxes and shipping, I've had great after sales service and my machine's run flawlessly and continues to impress me from engraving trophy plaques, to cutting acrylic LED lights to engraving driftwood. It's been fast, error less and even the control panel on the machine has been a piece of cake to use.

I only came on and posted this to give 'the other side' of a story I keep hearing on here. There are many, like me, unable or unwilling to drop $30k (CDN) on an entry level machine who may come on here and get the sense they have no other choice.

I discovered that's not the case and want to let those people know you CAN have a great, smooth experience buying a Chinese machine.

Anyway, my post is there for anyone who wants to, to read and take away from it whatever they want.

My final word on their will be a thank you to this forum for all the incredibly valuable information I've gleaned from here. Notwithstanding what I perceive to be a bit of a pro US anti Chinese bias to the forum (just my perception) the info is great here and being able to access the knowledge bank that you all possess has made the whole process much more comfortable for me. So thank you all for that.

Doug Hoffman
08-11-2016, 9:07 AM
I think a lot of the seemingly anti Chinese laser attitude comes from the quality of low end Chinese lasers. The sub $400 K40 type, and the cheap knock off ebay clones. Many people love those machines, but you are buying a project, when you buy one of those machines. I imported 2 different Bodor lasers this year, a 1300x900 and a 600x500. Both have been great. Yes, they are many times the cost of the ebay specials, but I bought these to DO projcts, not AS a project! I am not anti Chinese, I am anti throwing my money away on junk! I don't care if the junk is Chinese or US, junk is junk!

Adam Less
09-22-2016, 4:53 PM
Update time...

So it's been about four months since this original post. I have used the laser, over that time to produce all kinds of 'experimental' pieces, from wood products to acrylic. I've done a few trophies and basically played as much as I can to get as comfortable as possible with the machine and the LaserCut 5.1 software.

Just as a quick aside, I really don't get what all the fuss is about re LaserCut. It's been perfectly fine for me. I design on illustrator on my Mac. Transfer the file via thumbdrive to my laptop hooked up to the laser. Open the artwork in LaserCut and away we go. I guess if you were trying to actually design in LaserCut from scratch that would be a bit of a nightmare, but if you've spent time using graphics (and especially vector graphics) software, LaserCut is really very easy to use.

So, the laser itself. Put simple - ZERO issues.

It continues to work perfectly every time. I continue to be stunned by the results.

I did have one issue which I thought was a laser issue. I was cutting acrylic and kept finding these repeating pattern of marks along the edge of everything I was laser cutting in clear acrylic. I cleaned the lens and the mirrors and still kept getting the problem!!!

Then I realized, the pattern matched, in distance, the places where the honeycomb pattern met on my honeycomb tray! Note to self, don't use the honeycomb tray laser cutting acrylic! LOL I guess the laser must have been hitting the joins and reflecting back up into the acrylic each time.

Anyway, just because I've had several people message me about my machine, asking how I'm liking it and wanting some feedback because they're looking at Chinese machine purchases, I thought I would provide a brief update. I'll do this again in a few months time.

I don't check my messages on here often, but feel free to leave me one and I'll happily get back to you WHEN i eventually see your message!

Keith Winter
09-22-2016, 10:23 PM
How did you fix the honeycomb issue, what do you use as and now?

John Noell
09-25-2016, 7:27 PM
I have been going thru Yarde Feng of longtai lasers for my new machines...
Do you have an email for him? I am thinking about getting another laser and would like a quote.

Jerome Stanek
09-25-2016, 8:14 PM
I had the same problem with cutting acrylic on a honey comb bed. I cut the same part out all the time so I just cut the part smaller out of some scrape and use it to hold the good part up off the bed

Erik Goetheer
11-25-2016, 12:20 PM
Adam I just want to thank you for doing the OEM post and follow up. Just hoping all those newbie people read it before they order.


I'm a newbie (this is my first post) and I love this topic! :) As I also love 100's of other topics here at SMC, about all kinds of interesting and educating stuff. Thank you all for sharing your (professional) knowledge and experiences with machines, suppliers, cutting and engraving. :cool:

Andy Butters
11-30-2016, 4:42 PM
Wow!!!

Most of our posts on here are "Chinese"!

Your post was a "Trotec"!!

You did everything right, google/YouTube research, actual face to face / trade show research, negotiations direct with the suppliers and then finally a purchase. That's why your story has a happy ending because all of the leg work you put in before actually buying!

Ps one interesting thing you brought up was the expense of replacing the laser or having it recharged. My Universal 30w laser is 7 years old and putting out 32 watts. Cost of replacement always needs to be balanced against frequency of replacement, but there is much less information regarding that out in the wild.

Adam Less
12-03-2018, 11:09 AM
So... it's been a couple of years since I posted my original post on here and nearly three years since my J. Weike 6040 laser showed up at my home. For those who read the original post and may be interested in finding out how the machine is running a few years down the road, the answer? Flawlessly.

As I reported in my last follow up over a year ago, the machine doesn't run continuously every day and this is not my primary business. I actually run three businesses and the laser stuff is really the sideline one.

That said, I have used the laser quite a bit and am still on my original tube. I clean it routinely and don't abuse it.

The laser has produced everything from cutting boards and acrylic LED lights to EVA foam costume parts and backlit instrument panels. I've literally not had a single hiccup.

The only issues I've had have been either user caused (like the other day absolutely banging my head against the wall because the laser would barely cut my acrylic piece... I sent the project three different times and figured I'd FINALLY run into a laser problem, only to eventually realize I'd had a brain freeze setting up the file and set the cut layer to 90% speed and 10% power and not the other way round) or computer based. My computer is an old PC laptop (because the Lasercut software won't work on newer operating systems) and the laptop is a piece of crap.

I'm currently exploring getting into some new software in the hopes I can find something that doesn't require changing the controller. I'm looking at LaserWeb and LaserBurn. They look good and may work plug and play with my machine. I'll see. That said, I find LaserCut easy enough to use. I do all my designs in Adobe Illustrator and import the cut files into LaserCut to do the final layer settings and send to the laser.

From my own experience I would not change a thing and would still highly recommend going my route as long as a) you are prepared to do some leg work and some research and b) recognize the potential challenges (even though I didn't really have them) and can justify them on the basis of risk vs reward / cost vs benefit.

I love my machine. She's my baby and she is an endless muse for my creativity and at times a welcome partner in my many project adventures. Hopefully some of you have the same experience and the same success I have had and don't let the naysayers stand in your way!

Bert McMahan
12-03-2018, 12:33 PM
Thanks for the update! (Do you perhaps mean LightBurn instead of LaserBurn?) ;)

Adam Less
12-03-2018, 5:46 PM
I think I do, yes. Sorry.