View Full Version : Considering a laser - but which one?

Leigh Costello
06-10-2006, 10:42 PM
Hi, my husband and I are considering expanding our horizons and adding a laser engraver to our shop. I have only recently discovered this site, so if I am repeating a request please forgive me. I would like to know which brand seems to meet everyone's needs the most and which kind of software I will need to make the laser engraving more profitable. Thanks.

Shaddy Dedmore
06-10-2006, 11:55 PM
Are you near the Brewer clan? I've heard nothing but good things about them http://www.brewersales.com/ (http://www.brewersales.com/)

I have an Epilog Laser, 24TT, 45W. But I ran out of time to make my business successful (I have a non-laser full time job that is too good to give up), so it's just a hobby. I've been satisfied with my laser, should have waited for the Mini's though, as they have better features (like the vacuum table option).

Check with the local dealers of the main laser brands, because they are the ones who will be helping you for most of your start up issues. Make sure you think you can depend on them.

CorelDRAW is the main software package for lasering. Some lasers might have a progarm that comes with them, but Corel in general is widely used.

Good luck


Pete Simmons
06-11-2006, 7:33 AM
You might take a look at this thread from sometime back.


My Epilog Mini-18 35 watt is a magic machine!

Been using it about 1.6 years and no problems.

Leigh Costello
06-11-2006, 12:43 PM
One thing seems apparant - warranty and coverage and availability of technical help. We are leaning towards the Epilog line. Is there a real difference between the mini's and the helix model? Other than size of course. We are looking at 35w or 40w. We mostly do wood products and have a sandblasting system, so we may do some stencil cutting as well as wood. Any ideas?
Thanks, Leigh

Brent Vander Weil
06-11-2006, 9:17 PM
I have to echo my friend Pete on this one... I bought the Epilog MINI 12x18 35W and I could not be happier. the only thing I would have done differently would maybe have gone to 12x24... the only difference being that most of the stock stuff you buy comes in 12x24... other than that I am totally comfortable with the amount I saved and cutting the 6in. off the stock I get... I am fairly new to this, but I bought my machine used so I did not get any factory training, but I was comfortable with the computer side as I an a computer & network technician full time. The laser works pretty much like the ink jets printers... just had to learn air assist and the dust collector vent fan... other than that I get good tips here and experiment alot...

The best bit of advice I can give regardless of what brand you purchase is... ask alot of questions and know where the people who have the answers are!!!! I am still waiting to get my "Official Sawmill Creek name"... it will probably be something like "Laser Geek" or something like that !!! LOL

Mike Mackenzie
06-12-2006, 2:50 PM

You owe it to yourself to research all brands of the laser engravers. Some do things that others don't, some work differently, some after sale support is better than others. Etc,Etc. Research Research Research. Then buy what you are happy with all of the systems out there will do what you want.

Leigh Costello
06-12-2006, 8:21 PM
Thanks for all the input everyone. We are having Epilog out tomorrow. We went to the NBM show in Indy and got a lot of show demos from so many laser manufacturers. We have narrowed our search and, as suggested, are now considering post-sale tech support. We even had Xenatech engrave some of our pens we had made, and found that particular company was very possible, but a very pushy salesman upset the applecart and my hubby nixed them. If anyone is in the St Louis area, and is willing to give pointers, that would be great.

Leigh Costello
07-05-2006, 2:45 PM
Well, we did it now! We have ordered our Epilog Mini 24 45w machine. Thanks for all the advice. I plan to read all of the past threads and learn as much as possible from the experts here. I have a feeling 3 to 4 weeks will seem like a very long time.

Tom Buzz Bernard
07-05-2006, 10:32 PM
Welcome to the family of Laser owners!

Leigh Costello
07-06-2006, 12:10 AM
Thank you, Tom! Now we will have to decide which of your software packages to get. Jim was so impressed with the time you took with us at Indy. And the display really convinced him to "go for it" with the laser. We are studying your site and the catalog right now and testing the local market with our ideas.
Soon to be laserbuzz software owners,
Jim and Leigh

David Fairfield
07-06-2006, 12:13 PM
I went with Epilog too. Since the laser company sales pitches were so similar, I based my choice partly on the sample products I was given, and partly on the sales guy who kept his promises, came to my house on time for the demo and didn't push or rush. I'm using my Mini24 for precision miniature work, and it works as advertised.

One interesting thing about software, the Epilog tech people said Adobe Graphics wasn't optimal, but I've been using it since thats the standard software for graphic arts, and thats what I trained on and enjoy. I work on the Mac, then transfer the files to my PC hooked to the laser.

I'm still a beginner, but so far I've found my machine needs to warm up for at least 15 minutes otherwise it can be erratic. Also on complicated items, I've had to separate my vector cutting and my raster cutting into two separate sessions to prevent erratic behavior. Otherwise, no problems using Adobe. :)


Leigh Costello
07-06-2006, 5:29 PM
Thank you for the tip about the warm up time, David. I went to a local feed store and came home with some requests to "make it look better in here" from the store owner. I use Corel right now, and am going to play around with fonts and such to see which way I can help the store "look better." :)
Seems like a lot of folks want what I can offer soon. Way to cool, I think!

Thomas Hempleman
07-09-2006, 12:44 AM
Feed store? Hmm... never thought of that possibility. What are your plans to "make it look better"? Are you thinking signs or something else? Just curious. I've got several feed stores in my area and never thought about contacting any of them.

Leigh Costello
07-13-2006, 12:13 AM
Yes, signage. The index cards they are using just don't project the image the new and younger owners want. I have yet to receive my laser - 2 or three weeks to go! Aaannnndddd...when I visited my cousin at a local pet supply store, he gave me lots of ideas. Is it here yet? Is it here yet? :D

Joe Pelonio
07-13-2006, 8:22 AM
I'm still a beginner, but so far I've found my machine needs to warm up for at least 15 minutes otherwise it can be erratic. Also on complicated items, I've had to separate my vector cutting and my raster cutting into two separate sessions to prevent erratic behavior. Otherwise, no problems using Adobe. :)

I'm curious what you mean by erratic behavior when it hasn't warmed up. I've never had anything like that happen, just turn it on and go (Epilog 24TT 45 watts). As for running rastor and vector I do that with certain materials so I can apply transfer tape before cutting, just to prevent smoke/burn marks, but otherwise no problems running both together.
If there's something wrong with yours get it fixed now while it's on warranty.

Dave Jones
07-13-2006, 9:05 AM
The manual with my Epilog Mini-24 says to let the laser warm up for 45 seconds or so. So I always wait a couple of minutes before I engrave. It takes that long to boot up the computer and get a file sent over anyway.

I do most of my work in Adobe software but then place them into CorelDraw to send to the laser. Never seen any erratic behavior. The closest I've seen to that is when I make the mistake of having thin hidden lines in something which Epilog's driver sees as vectors to cut when I didn't see them or intend for them to be cutting vectors. (such as placing filled boxes but not turning off the hairline outline around them)

Joe Pelonio
07-13-2006, 7:33 PM
The manual with my Epilog Mini-24 says to let the laser warm up for 45 seconds or so. So I always wait a couple of minutes before I engrave. It takes that long to boot up the computer and get a file sent over anyway.

Sure, 45 seconds. I always turn it on as I'm opening Corel to let it boot, which takes close to that. Fifteen minutes though sounds like something's wrong. Maybe a lubrication issue or something.

Dave Jones
07-13-2006, 8:41 PM
Or something wrong in the computer instead of the laser.

Leigh Costello
08-01-2006, 1:56 AM
At last, my laser is here. Now what I need is a lot more time in the day and night to play. Had a hand engraving job to get out today so maybe tomorrow - wait it is tomorrow! But, alas, I must sleep a little. Dream a little dream about a laser and a stack of substrate and ..... corel .... zzzzzzzz

Mitchell Andrus
08-01-2006, 6:27 AM
Sooooo..... Whatcha get?


Leigh Costello
08-01-2006, 12:41 PM
We got an Epilog Mini 24 45w. Where to start now that we have it? hmmm.......oh heck, I think we will try all we have and then go from there:D

Dave Jones
08-01-2006, 4:36 PM
Same model I have, and I love it. I started by buying sample sheets of a number of species of wood and a few pieces of acrylic and then just started playing around to get the hang of it.

Be sure to start a notebook with notes of the power/speed levels you used that worked for any given material. It's no fun doing a bunch of experimenting and getting the perfect result, but then 2 weeks later when you want to do it again you forgot what settings you used. :mad:

Leigh Costello
08-03-2006, 12:58 AM
Thanks for the tip! The training went well, even knocked out some jobs while learning. Maybe I will get to bed at a reasonable hour someday soon. I stay up too late lasering and then checking here for ideas and hints. Ah well, sleep is over-rated sometimes. :)

Leigh Costello
08-13-2006, 11:38 PM
Holy cow! Showed a friend a sample of Laserbuzz stuff, and lo and behold, he placed a 300 pc order! Fortunately I have until the end of the year to complete it! Now I need to figure out how to convert his logo to a Laserbuzz picture frame. (Any help or hints appreciated ;) )

Then went to our friends collectible shop yesterday. If I can Photograve their shop and farmhouse onto some substrate, they will use their engraving to sell for me and hubby. They don't even want part of the cut. Gotta love your friends I say.

And, hubby sold 75 anodized aluminum pens to one his buddies who is a photographer.

Heeeeere we go!

Jason Sampson
08-13-2006, 11:58 PM
Congrats! Sounds like you're having a lot of fun.

Now.. I need one, so I can have some fun as well. :)


Leigh Costello
08-14-2006, 12:05 AM
Keep saving your money, sell your old stuff, a few other treasures, and soon you will be able to get one! And if you have neighbors and a talent they need, sell that too! Hang in there!

Jason Sampson
08-14-2006, 12:39 AM
Well, it's hard to save money when all I can find for work here is LOW paying jobs. No treasures to sell, and no old stuff. lol I have ermm a cell phone, a laptop, desktop, my truck and clothes. weee I'm ritch.

But thanks for cheering me up a bit. :)


Tom Buzz Bernard
08-14-2006, 7:39 AM
Hi Leigh,
If you need any help send me the logo at my e-mail address LaserBuzz@aol.com and I'll help you out. It is always great to hear a success story so early in ones laser career, how long have you had a laser:D Your definitely a motivated individual, keep it up!

Leigh Costello
08-14-2006, 8:41 PM
I have sent a copy of the logo to you. Any help you can provide will likely result in many new and fantastic ways to part this group from its money.;)
Love the products, and although this isn't where I should reply, do you have any Border Collie designs yet? Could sell them here!

Thanks again, Buzz!