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View Full Version : Fiber Laser: 30W vs 50W?



Matt Schrum
04-18-2019, 1:26 PM
The way things are lining up, I'm hoping to purchase a fiber laser this fall. It's purely for hobby use (so, hard to justify, but somehow the wife is on board), so I'll likely be going with one of the budget units off of my favorite online auction site.

Is there any advantage to a 50W over a 30W besides speed/number of passes? I can stretch my budget if needed to get a 50W, but if the only significant advantage is shorter job times, well, I'm not that concerned with throughput. This is for a hobby, not a business. I haven't been able to find much information on the topic, but the little bit I have found has implied that a 30W can do about anything a 50W can, just with more passes.

At the moment I'm not totally sure what my core use will be. Likely some stainless steel and carbon steel engraving, maybe adding some flourishes to a few personal firearms (I'm aware, get an FFL before considering work on guns I don't own). You get the idea-- random hobby projects.

Zach Haag
04-18-2019, 2:15 PM
What is your budget?

I just got a 50w for $5,800 including import/duties ($1,200) off Alibaba. (At least I felt that's a good price) I may have caught a sale though not really sure.

Originally was looking for a 20w and the price seemed really good on the quote $2k so I asked for the price of a 50w and decided to go that route Instead

If I am allowed I will post a link to the manufacturer, he has been great to work with so far.

Kev Williams
04-18-2019, 2:16 PM
I was hellbent on getting a 50w fiber, but in the meantime while price checking I picked up a 70mm lens, which vastly increases detail and power density, plus I've acquired 2 additional 30w units off Ebay, total cost of both was less than one 50w machine. You'll notice in my signature I'm a machine junkie. And if there's any absolutes I've found in my nearly 50 years in this business: 2 slow machines will produce more work than 1 faster machine; Any 2 machines are more versatile than any 1 machine... etc etc... These facts are exactly why I have so many machines. I have nothing against faster/more powerful, but seriously, when I got my 2nd 30w fiber, it made SOOOO much difference in production time that I totally forgot 50 watt machines and picked up a 3rd 30 watter.

I'm thinking you're not really wanting 2 machines, so my advice, get a 30 watter with a 150 lens, then locate and pick up a 70mm and a 220mm lens to add versatility- if possible ;) --depends on the lens that comes with your machine, I'm still looking for spares that will fit my ebay machines, the lens are physically much smaller than 'typical' and I haven't found a source for them- yet...

--The lenses do have compromises, the 70mm only gives you a 2-1/2" -ish square working area. I'm using mine right now actually, and so far, I've never needed more work area. A 220 lens gives you LOTS more work area, but at the expense of some power density for the most part. I just found out last night the 220 lens on my 2nd ebay machine will run out a full 10-5/8" square before I start losing the top-left corner! Factoring a 1" wide plate, laid diagonally I can engrave 13-3/4" in length in one pass! And I engrave rifle barrels very nicely with this lens so the power density loss isn't really that bad.

Matt Schrum
04-18-2019, 10:53 PM
I'm hoping to keep it under about $4K, but I can reach up to $6K if I can justify it. That being said, Kev, I've been following your thread closely (thank you for sharing!) and I completely forgot about lens selection. For what I'm looking to do, having a couple of lenses on hand would likely work great.

Julian Ashcroft
04-20-2019, 3:01 AM
This has got me thinking of upgrading from my 20w fiber laser, you seem to be able to buy a 50w machine for a similar amount to what I paid for the 20w. I put an enquiry on Alibaba and have been inundated with responses from sellers, most prices are around the $5,300 mark and $500 for air freight delivery to my door, with a delivery time of about a week. Some sellers had machines around $4,500, but most of those sellers would only send by sea freight, so a long wait and additional cost to get it from the UK port to my home which involves another sea crossing.

Some communications and quotes from sellers I dismissed straight away, as they were lacking in much info and their replies looked too generic. Out of all the replies I received, I’ve communicated with two sellers, who sent well detailed quotations. One machine included a rotary attachment and also a powered z, but not by software, not sure how much use that would be. One advancement which seems to have taken place is a couple of focusing LEDs in the head, from what I understand when the two dots align, your work is in focus, reminds me of the dam busters for some reason.

i haven’t decided if I’m going to go ahead yet, we will see.

Gary Hair
04-20-2019, 4:18 PM
Powered Z is really handy if you have to change focus a lot. My workday usually includes changing focus 20-30 times to accommodate the variety of parts/fixtures for the orders we have for that day. So the powered Z is a life (and arm) saver for sure. Because I need to get to an exact spot time after time, I mounted a DRO to the Z axis and it gets me to within .01mm very reliably. I would put zero reliability in the "focus leds", they are not likely to be useful in any precision work even if you carefully adjust and align them. For any other purposes they are about 99% useless as you have to have a flat surface to align them to and just seeing the dots is very difficult at best. Get a measuring stick or a DRO and you can be assured of being in focus if you set them up properly.


This has got me thinking of upgrading from my 20w fiber laser, you seem to be able to buy a 50w machine for a similar amount to what I paid for the 20w. I put an enquiry on Alibaba and have been inundated with responses from sellers, most prices are around the $5,300 mark and $500 for air freight delivery to my door, with a delivery time of about a week. Some sellers had machines around $4,500, but most of those sellers would only send by sea freight, so a long wait and additional cost to get it from the UK port to my home which involves another sea crossing.

Some communications and quotes from sellers I dismissed straight away, as they were lacking in much info and their replies looked too generic. Out of all the replies I received, Iíve communicated with two sellers, who sent well detailed quotations. One machine included a rotary attachment and also a powered z, but not by software, not sure how much use that would be. One advancement which seems to have taken place is a couple of focusing LEDs in the head, from what I understand when the two dots align, your work is in focus, reminds me of the dam busters for some reason.

i havenít decided if Iím going to go ahead yet, we will see.

Kev Williams
04-20-2019, 5:34 PM
what you do is, when you know you're in focus, adjust the LED's so that instead of having them converge, which IS hard to see, align the dots so they're side-by-side, about a mm apart. It's easy to see 2 dots, and one being higher/lower than the other is very obvious. Evert time I check against my focus stick, it's right on the money. And speaking of head-mounted LED's, I'm not sure why they bother putting 2 LED's in the head, you only need one angled 'moving' LED since the machine's LED is stationary. That's how my Triumph's been since day 1, the angled LED is mounted to the machine's case...

But I'd LOVE a powered Z-- I recently bought one of those XY hand-crank tables, my gawd, SOO much easier to move the work to the red light than the other way 'round!

Julian Ashcroft
04-21-2019, 2:28 AM
I agree and I also doubt if the LED’s will be that accurate, I use a measuring stick with my currently laser and will no doubt cut another one for this new machine, which I have decided to go for. I’m thinking of getting two lens the standard 110mm and a 220mm.

The company gave me prices for a 60w at $8,100.00 and a 100w at $15,800.00, both beyond my budget.

This is the machine with the z motor being installed.


https://youtu.be/1Lr-Uz_5RXw

John Lifer
04-21-2019, 3:42 PM
Powered z would be nice. Hadn't thought of a DRO Gary, would you mind taking a picture of your setup? I use the two LEDs, (one external) and recently I've been doing a lot of polished jewelry. I HATE the external LED as it is constantly reflecting in my eyes. I've gotten to where I use a piece of blue tape to cover it while I center the engraving.
And Kev, the X-Y table is great. I adjust slightly with it way more than moving the engraving. Especially when I try and keep things center of page.
As to original, I'd get a 30 watt. Even with my 20, I've found very little I have issue with. Speed is fine most of the time, little more power would be nice.

Chris DeGerolamo
04-24-2019, 11:53 AM
I give up...what does DRO stand for?

Matt Schrum
04-24-2019, 2:05 PM
I give up...what does DRO stand for?

Digital ReadOut (think of the electronic scale on a set of calipers)

Gary Hair
04-24-2019, 2:55 PM
I would take a pic John but the back of the machine where the scale is mounted is really hard to get to so all you would see if the lcd on the front of the machine. In essence, all I did was buy an inexpensive DRO made by iGaging and mounted the lcd to the front of the Z column and the scale/vernier/whateveryoucallit on the back side. Due to the sever slop in the Z axis it can be challenging to get the exact height you want but I have worked it out pretty well and have a method of calibrating it as well. For my purposes it keeps to within about .01mm pretty easily.



Powered z would be nice. Hadn't thought of a DRO Gary, would you mind taking a picture of your setup? I use the two LEDs, (one external) and recently I've been doing a lot of polished jewelry. I HATE the external LED as it is constantly reflecting in my eyes. I've gotten to where I use a piece of blue tape to cover it while I center the engraving.
And Kev, the X-Y table is great. I adjust slightly with it way more than moving the engraving. Especially when I try and keep things center of page.
As to original, I'd get a 30 watt. Even with my 20, I've found very little I have issue with. Speed is fine most of the time, little more power would be nice.

John Lifer
04-24-2019, 7:38 PM
Thanks Gary. I put one on my Powermatic planer a number of years ago and it helped me greatly sneek up on a thickness. Might have to give it a try. It would for sure help in moving focus a slight amount. I trust the led's not a lot.