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Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 10:44 AM
Hello everyone. Iíve been reading your posts and enjoying this wealth of knowledge. Thanks for sharing! Iíve been dying to jump in with questions and hopefully some insight soon but it took about a week to get signed up so I could post. That is finally sorted out and Iím happy to be here.

I donít want to start another ďwhich laser should I buyĒ thread but I do have a few remaining questions about lasers on my short list that Iím hoping someone can help with. Links for both are posted below, they are the 60watt units from Automation Technologies (Automation Technology?).

The primary use out of the gate and the deal maker/breaker is the size and quality of 1mm to 2mm text that can be engraved on wood. Iím informed that I have to pay for a sample and Iíd rather not do that if Iím going to lose $100 if I donít like what I see. Specific questions that could not readily be answered from the owner follow. Iíd love to hear from anyone who owns one of these and any extra info youíd like to share is greatly appreciated.

1) Most important question - How legible is text, sized in the 1mm-2mm range, engraved on wood? Wood to be used will vary and would include curly maple, figured walnut, figured oak, and probably stabilized burl (could be a new can of worms there).

2) The larger, higher priced laser below appears to include the following that is not listed with the lower priced unit.
a. DSP control system

b. Water Chiller 3000w

c. Larger cutting/engraving area

d. Faster operation (?)

The question here is, what does the DSP controller get me? All I could find was that it enables vector cutting and raster(bitmap) engraving in the same project. Could that not be achieved with the Laserwork(s) software that is included or does the software only support that feature if the hardware is present?

3) I want a seamless ďprint driverĒ type capability which will allow me to print directly from Corel Draw and it seems that the Corel plug-in for Laserwork will allow this. Can anyone confirm? Is this similar (in functionality) to FSLís RetinaEngrave?

Here are the links to the two units:


CO2 Laser Cutter and Engraver With Auto Focus, 60W, 20 X 12 inch: http://www.automationtechnologiesinc.com/products-page/laser-engraving/co2-laser-engraving-machine-60w



60W CO2 Laser Engraving Machine, auto focus 24 X 16 inch: http://www.automationtechnologiesinc.com/products-page/laser-engraving/60w-co2-laser-machine


Iíve not found a comprehensive review of either of these, perhaps because they go by other names. I will be happy to post a review if I end up with one as it appears there is definitely a need.

Thanks again,
Brett

Jerome Stanek
09-10-2016, 10:54 AM
When I was looking for mine I went to Automation and they did a test cut for me for free. Call and see if John will test for free. I have one of their 60watt units and like it. If you tell me what kind of wood I would run you a test.

Gary Hair
09-10-2016, 10:59 AM
1) Most important question - How legible is text, sized in the 1mm-2mm range, engraved on wood? Wood to be used will vary and would include curly maple, figured walnut, figured oak, and probably stabilized burl (could be a new can of worms there).

Wood being what it is, you are not likely to get acceptable lettering in that size from any laser, especially on any figured wood or any wood with open grain like walnut and oak. I have a $30K++ Trotec that will out-engrave virtually any Chinese laser but lettering that size would be mediocre at best unless you are using very clear maple or mdf or something similar.

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 11:29 AM
Wood being what it is, you are not likely to get acceptable lettering in that size from any laser, especially on any figured wood or any wood with open grain like walnut and oak. I have a $30K++ Trotec that will out-engrave virtually any Chinese laser but lettering that size would be mediocre at best unless you are using very clear maple or mdf or something similar.

I got this (see attached) from a Trotec and consider it acceptable. Lower case letters are 1.75mm tall. Wood is figured English Walnut.

343823

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 11:30 AM
When I was looking for mine I went to Automation and they did a test cut for me for free. Call and see if John will test for free. I have one of their 60watt units and like it. If you tell me what kind of wood I would run you a test.

I spoke with John yesterday and he wanted $100 for a sample and said he'd refund if I purchased the laser. If it's not good enough, I'm out $100.

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 11:33 AM
When I was looking for mine I went to Automation and they did a test cut for me for free. Call and see if John will test for free. I have one of their 60watt units and like it. If you tell me what kind of wood I would run you a test.

Thanks, I greatly appreciate that! Any light colored hardwood you have handy is fine. I posted a sample pic in response to another post. That is figured English Walnut. Any relatively figured, open-pored wood would be a good test as it's sort of worst case scenario.

Matt McCoy
09-10-2016, 11:45 AM
I spoke with John yesterday and he wanted $100 for a sample and said he'd refund if I purchased the laser. If it's not good enough, I'm out $100.

That is what you would call a "Don't Bother Me" fee. How much did it cost to talk to him on the phone? :)

Dave Sheldrake
09-10-2016, 11:52 AM
the 20 x 12 is a Shenhui SH350D. That's an $800 laser

1mm text on wood using a 50.8mm focal length lens is going to be dreadful when produced using a DC tube (a cheap tube that is used in those machines anyways)

Neither of those machines are good value and are roughly 3x what it costs to import the same machines direct from Shenhui

Bill George
09-10-2016, 12:14 PM
The machines they have for the most part are still in a box, the ones they have on the Showroom floor I would assume are for display only. I purchased one from them a couple years ago and sold when I purchased my ULS and it worked fine. I have autofocus on the one I have now, never used. John can be a little surly at times, especially when you have a problem.

Jerome Stanek
09-10-2016, 12:40 PM
I tried 1 and 2 mm on some poplar and the 1 mm you can not see and the 2 mm is barely readable due to its size. If I use a magnifier I can read both

Doug Fisher
09-10-2016, 1:08 PM
As an aside, just this week Automated Technologies started advertising on Craigslist selling units that appear to be the same as ones being sold on ebay for a significant upcharge. If Bill is correct and one is just getting a machine still in the box that hasn't been taken out and tested, that is quite a premium to pay.

Kev Williams
09-10-2016, 1:10 PM
I'm not afraid to do something for nothing ;)

From my Triumph just now--

Wood is a piece of 1/4" maple sitting under the machine-
Font is plain Arial
Speed=400mm/s, power on the light was 12% which just grazed it- I had to go over the bottom 3 lines a second time-- deeper cut done at 25% power
gap/res setting: .05mm (equates to 508 lines per inch)
Just used my 2" lens, could've maybe gotten a bit better with the 1.5"...

My poor old Sony F707 just doesn't like to focus like it used to :(

343828343826343827

Keith Winter
09-10-2016, 1:23 PM
Wood being what it is, you are not likely to get acceptable lettering in that size from any laser, especially on any figured wood or any wood with open grain like walnut and oak. I have a $30K++ Trotec that will out-engrave virtually any Chinese laser but lettering that size would be mediocre at best unless you are using very clear maple or mdf or something similar.

Gary nailed it! :) On wood 1mm will be near impossible to read clearly.

Keith Winter
09-10-2016, 1:25 PM
I am continually impressed with your triumph Kev! Looks really good at 2mm. Question I have is how much would you charge to come tune in my Thunder machine like that ;)


I'm not afraid to do something for nothing ;)

From my Triumph just now--

Wood is a piece of 1/4" maple sitting under the machine-
Font is plain Arial
Speed=400mm/s, power on the light was 12% which just grazed it- I had to go over the bottom 3 lines a second time-- deeper cut done at 25% power
gap/res setting: .05mm (equates to 508 lines per inch)
Just used my 2" lens, could've maybe gotten a bit better with the 1.5"...

My poor old Sony F707 just doesn't like to focus like it used to :(

343828343826343827

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 2:00 PM
I tried 1 and 2 mm on some poplar and the 1 mm you can not see and the 2 mm is barely readable due to its size. If I use a magnifier I can read both

Thanks Jerome! To clarify, the 2mm is barely readable due to size but not due to lack of detail? Did the letters look fairly clean (like on this photo)...

343829

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 2:02 PM
I'm not afraid to do something for nothing ;)

From my Triumph just now--

Wood is a piece of 1/4" maple sitting under the machine-
Font is plain Arial
Speed=400mm/s, power on the light was 12% which just grazed it- I had to go over the bottom 3 lines a second time-- deeper cut done at 25% power
gap/res setting: .05mm (equates to 508 lines per inch)
Just used my 2" lens, could've maybe gotten a bit better with the 1.5"...

Thanks Kev - this is great! Which letters are 1.5mm high, the CAPS or the lowercase? This was done on your 80w triumph? I'm not familiar with that machine (but I'm still researching what's out there).

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 2:22 PM
343830 sorry bluury phone photo.....2 mm on baltic Birch top and bottom vector middle 3 raster
Rabbit 60 watt

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 2:35 PM
343830 sorry bluury phone photo.....2 mm on baltic Birch top and bottom vector middle 3 raster
Rabbit 60 watt

Thanks Bert! Blurry yes, but the middle raster samples appear that they would be acceptable to me. What chinese equivalent is this model? I doubt I would want to take the chance to import one on my own but it's nice to be able to compare apples to apples.

Kev Williams
09-10-2016, 2:36 PM
The CAPS are the size listed, so the lower case is pretty small-- :)

In my software (LaserSoft/PHcad) are various settings, one set shown below, these are the "crafts parameters".
The ones I painstakingly took many hours fine tuning are the 'carving backlash' settings.
The settings shown are the defaults. My actual settings, for whatever reason, must be entered in negative numbers.
The faster the speed, the higher the negative numbers.

The first time I engraved anything, some 1/2" text @ 500mm/s, the right-left firing was over 1/4" away from the left-right firing!
When I started making the default (positive) numbers larger, it just got worse!

--The backlash settings fine tune the alignment of the left-to-right sweep laser firing to the right-to-left sweep firing.
I have different values from 100mm/s to 800mm/s in 50mm increments. Took me over a year of initial settings
and on-the-fly tweaking to get it to where it is now. I'm totally happy with the engraving, and I haven't had to touch the
settings for over a year.

I've always found it a bit odd that backlash settings are rarely if ever brought up on the board. I'm assuming that the other software
out there everyone else uses must have these settings dialed in pretty good in the defaults. My machine came across the pond
with all pieces intact and all mirrors perfectly aligned, but I had no choice but to figure out how to fix the radical offset problem!
:)343831

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 2:49 PM
This is a Rabbit Laser purchased in Ohio from Rabbit Laser USA great machine good USA support
Oh and if you ask them for samples I'm pretty sure they won't charge you a 100 bucks:D


Thanks Bert! Blurry yes, but the middle raster samples appear that they would be acceptable to me. What chinese equivalent is this model? I doubt I would want to take the chance to import one on my own but it's nice to be able to compare apples to apples.

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 3:02 PM
I engraved lower case they are legible with a magnifier I could not hold the camera steady enough to get a good picture.

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 3:03 PM
This is a Rabbit Laser purchased in Ohio from Rabbit Laser USA great machine good USA support
Oh and if you ask them for samples I'm pretty sure they won't charge you a 100 bucks:D

Unfortunately, the Rabbit didn't make the short list due to price. No doubt these are also imported machines, I was just curious how similar it was to the ones imported by AT or possibly even made by the same factory. It does appear that there are quite a few manufacturers over there though. Yea, $100 for a sample is a great way to put off a potential customer. I bend over backwards to win business. AT must be doing just fine if they are actually getting paid for samples.

Jerome Stanek
09-10-2016, 3:31 PM
Bert 24 point is about 8.5 mm 3 point would be closer. 1 mm is just a little over 1/32 of an inch

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 3:36 PM
Keith even if Kev came and tuned your machine it would most likely last for one job. Sure your alignment maybe be good for a while. But good tuning is clean lens, clean mirrors, level table, precise focus, correct speed and power settings for each job. You can't just tune it up and have it run all jobs perfect, its a constant working at all the above that makes the machine preform well.


I am continually impressed with your triumph Kev! Looks really good at 2mm. Question I have is how much would you charge to come tune in my Thunder machine like that ;)

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 3:39 PM
OK but the letters are 2mm in height, I wasn't real sure what the op wanted, size in height of point size . I'm thinking I can make any pt size as large or small as I want. But maybe not, back to the drawing board.:D


Bert 24 point is about 8.5 mm 3 point would be closer. 1 mm is just a little over 1/32 of an inch

Brett Winston
09-10-2016, 3:43 PM
If I can replicate what is in the photo then I would be happy. The lower case letters measure approximately 1.75mm in height. Not sure what point size was used.

343835

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 3:51 PM
My corel only goes to 6pt 343840343842

Tony Lenkic
09-10-2016, 4:01 PM
Bert,

If you enter text as point did you know that you can customize it to measure in inches or metric values?

Dave Sheldrake
09-10-2016, 4:42 PM
It does appear that there are quite a few manufacturers over there though.

There are actually very few, most of the machines go out to other distributors / assemblers who build and name them for their own needs. Once you take into account the small number of controllers / belts / bearings / rails / motors etc etc the only real difference between Chinese machines is the cabinet quality and the way they look.

AT are nothing special, no different really to any other Shenhui distributor who has their own stickers put on machines.

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 4:51 PM
not really familiar with text size vs pt size and all that, just that the op wanted 2mm text I assumed that was the size he wanted and thats what I made the height to be. I guess I have incorrect assumptions, because I can make any point text any size I want. I'm gonna back out of this conversation because I have no idea what I'm talking about. Sorry to the OP

David Somers
09-10-2016, 5:02 PM
The one thing I have done to improve very small lettering is to go through the process of changing my lettering from a raster letter to a vector only letter that is eventually center lined. (basically Corel outlines your letter with a hairline vector and then fills it with raster to create a solid letter) You can only get so small with that approach. For what that is worth. Changing it like this is tedious at best. But it does help with small stuff. I would hate to have to do this with a teeny tiny copy of War and Peace however.

David Somers
09-10-2016, 5:19 PM
Sorry....Having one of those CRS days. Couldn't remember the name for the type of font I just described. But it just came to me. Called a Single Line Vector Font or a Stick Font. If you thought of it as being a vector font like I descrived above, but with a single line running through the center you would have the idea. There are singleline font generators on the web you can access for little $$ or for free. See if that helps.

Jerome Stanek
09-10-2016, 5:51 PM
I guess what I am saying is that 2mm will be just a hair over 1/16 of an inch tall

Bert Kemp
09-10-2016, 5:58 PM
The letters I engraved are 2 mm tall and they are legible. I didn't think we could have so much controversy over 2 mm text :confused:


I guess what I am saying is that 2mm will be just a hair over 1/16 of an inch tall

Kev Williams
09-10-2016, 10:02 PM
Font size entered and ACTUAL size engraved aren't the same--- HOWEVER, Arial and some other fonts are VERY close in relation to point size vs actual size (when moving decimal points). Example, using 24 point Arial, the letters A, B and D come out to .239" tall, and C comes out to .247" tall. But that's just ARIAL. It's all 'font dependent' and all font's vary.

But know this, do NOT trust Corel's "inch" based font sizes. The same Arial ABD and C charcters entered at .25" actually measures only .179" and .185" respectively--
that's more than a 25% (over 1/16") size reduction even on the larger rounded letters!

This pic below is of the job I laid out to engrave that piece of wood. I resized all the lines of lettering to exactly what is shown by entering the exact height I wanted into the 'size' box.
You can see I chose the one line of 1.5mm high text. For reference, 1.5mm = .059"
Note the displays circled in red, the point size is listed as 4.53. I would have expected point size to be closer to 5.9 to match the inch size, but the ratio fell quite a bit with the reduction in font size, from 24 to 4.5 points...
Note the 'actual' size circled on the left is 1.501mm--- This IS the font's actual size, and is what the laser engraved.

Not shown, I changed the text size unit from 'point' to 'inch' just to see, and it shows the text size to be .082". That's not even close to the .059" actual text size--

you MUST use the size box to know what your ACTUAL text size is! :)


http://www.engraver1.com/erase2/fontsizes2.jpg

Tim Elmore
09-12-2016, 10:55 PM
The machines they have for the most part are still in a box, the ones they have on the Showroom floor I would assume are for display only. I purchased one from them a couple years ago and sold when I purchased my ULS and it worked fine. I have autofocus on the one I have now, never used. John can be a little surly at times, especially when you have a problem.

Would agree with this. I bought from AT, happy with the machine but when the tube failed at 11 months it was a big hassle to get a warranty replacement - even though the website said 1 year warranty when I bought it. He sent a 2 year old tube as the "warranty replacement", with corrosion on the terminals. There website has since been updated to be a 3 months tube warranty, last I checked.

Aside from that, happy with the machine itself. Easily 2000+ hours on it. GWeike 6040N.

Bill George
09-13-2016, 9:02 AM
When you always buy the cheapest and shop the same way your a sitting duck for the cheap CR@P coming out of China and a lot of it is sold on EBay. Those folks always come here to ask, why does my cheap laser not work??
There are Good Chinese lasers being sold and some sold with USA support but they don't make your buy list... then good luck. There are used made in USA used machines on the market and they are being compared with the lowest of the low Chinese lasers. Check with your local Trotec, Epilog and ULS dealer for trade ins.