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View Full Version : Which laser handles marble the best?



Shane Silcox
01-02-2007, 6:34 PM
So I am down to an Epilog Helix or a Laserpro Spirit. Initially most of our business will be doing photo work on marble tile.

Epilog says they will get better quality due to a "rounder" dot.
Laserpro says that theirs is widely known across the industry to do better quality in marble.

I would like to get actual owner's feedback on results that they are getting - as I would like to get as close to photo quality as possible.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

-Shane

Gary Hair
01-02-2007, 7:06 PM
So I am down to an Epilog Helix or a Laserpro Spirit. Initially most of our business will be doing photo work on marble tile.

Epilog says they will get better quality due to a "rounder" dot.
Laserpro says that theirs is widely known across the industry to do better quality in marble.

I would like to get actual owner's feedback on results that they are getting - as I would like to get as close to photo quality as possible.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

-Shane

sniff, sniff, smells like bull to me...

there is no possible way that one laser can claim to do better at marble than the other. The end results are going to be due to the image you start with, your method of processing it and finally, the marble itself.

I would steer clear of both of the sales reps that fed you that line.

Gary

P.S. I have a Pinnacle ZX (aka Laserpro or GCC Explorer) and I think MY marble is better than anyone else in the business :eek:

Joe Pelonio
01-02-2007, 7:29 PM
Most of us have just the one laser and can only comment on how it does, maybe one of the people with 2 or more of different makes will comment.

I do agree with Gary that what the salesman tells you about one doing a particular material better than another is not something that one should use to make a decision.

Tim Goldstein
01-02-2007, 7:39 PM
AFAIK the roundness of the laser beam is totally based on the laser tube and not anything you can modify with conventional optics. Both brands you are looking at use the same brand tube. So I would ask what it is that make the spot more round on the Epilog? If you are in one of the Epilog better models they do have Radiance optics which should give you a tighter focus at the cost of a greater divergence ahead and behind the focal point. But it still does not effect the roundness of the beam.

I know that Epilog used this line as a reason to consider them over Universal. Synrad tubes are round and Universal is what they call a slab laser so the laser chamber is not round. Did some researching on the web and learned that the beam shape is most effected by the RF field that excites the gas and the placement of the antenna the focus the field, not the initial shape of the tube. Even a round tube ends up with an oval beam from this effect.

Shane Silcox
01-02-2007, 8:05 PM
I do agree with Gary that what the salesman tells you about one doing a particular material better than another is not something that one should use to make a decision.

It did smell a bit fishy to me also. Hence the post here to the 'creek, for all of your unbiased opinions. I really appreciate it!

I cannot believe what an incredible resource this forum is. I sure am glad I found it.

Good info everyone, thanks for your input. It helps a bunch.

Bruce Volden
01-02-2007, 8:07 PM
Shane,


My advice......get a 10X loupe, and under close scrutiny you make the call. Bear in mind NONE of your customers will see ANY DIFFERENCE, and you probably won't either! My .02.


Bruce

Jeanette Brewer
01-03-2007, 2:18 PM
So I am down to an Epilog Helix or a Laserpro Spirit. Initially most of our business will be doing photo work on marble tile.

Shane,

My suggestion would be to have both reps/distributors engrave a sample for you. My recommendation would be to send the same artwork to both ... and, preferably, the same granite so you can compare "apples to apples".

Good luck!

Vicky Orsini
01-03-2007, 9:12 PM
I can tell you that my LaserPro technician engraved a photo he had on his laptop that was processed in PhotoGrav, using my new machine (Explorer 30W) and a mediocre piece of marble tile. The photo was stunning.

Michael Indiano
01-05-2007, 11:09 AM
Shane,

Everyone has shared a lot of good information with you except the sales people. :( I'm sorry about that. I am also a sales person who sells laser equipment, and ignorance about a technical issue does not make a good sales person. Mis-information also confuses the customer and makes it harder for you to make an informed decision.

Photo's- Lasering photo's on any material is hard. The quality of the finished product depends on the material and, more importantly, the file you are engraving.

If you have a poor quality photo, you will have a bad quality engraving.

Without boring you to death, let me share with you one great tip that few people talk about. DPI of the IMAGE you are lasering.

What DPI should my photo be? This is not to be confused with what DPI you should output.

Here is a mathmatical formula to use to determine what the photo DPI should be.

Line Screen X 2 X enlargement or reduction= DPI of image

Line Screen is a value printing uses to describe the density of dots to make an image. The higher the number, the better the quality. As an example, old newspaper Line Screen Value is 60 line screen. USA Today's line screen is about 110 line screen. National Geographic magazine would be 300 line screen.

Lasers can produce a high resolution line screen, but few materials can capture the burn without the dot blooming or getting larger. Larger dots overlap each other which causes a blurred or oversaturated image.

Let's apply our formula.

I'll use 110 line screen, USA Today's quality, as our estimated line screen we are shooting for. (All marbles are not created equal, so you will have to experiment some to achieve optimal results.)

(Line Screen) 110 x 2 x Enlargement or Reduction.

Enlargement or Reduction refers to how much bigger or smaller you are going to make the image. If I take a 2"x3" photo and I want to output it on the laser as a 4" x 6" size, then I am increasing the size 200%.

110 x 2 x 200%= 440 Dots per Inch resolution for your scanned or digital image.

If you are using a scanner, always use the highest "Bit Depth" which will give you a higher contrast. With a digital photo, always ask the customer for the highest resolution. A good software program like GravoStyle (shameless plug) or Photgrav will help you with this process.

I hope this helps.

Michael Indiano

Joe Pelonio
01-05-2007, 12:20 PM
If you have a poor quality photo, you will have a bad quality engraving.

If you are using a scanner, always use the highest "Bit Depth" which will give you a higher contrast. With a digital photo, always ask the customer for the highest resolution. A good software program like GravoStyle (shameless plug) or Photgrav will help you with this process.

I hope this helps.

Michael Indiano



I discovered with some photos I'm doing on anodized aluminum that using a photo scanned at 1200 dpi (huge file) but engraved at 600 dpi works out best. I have not run your numbers but that sounds about right for these.
I did have some banding in a "sky" area but reduced it by going down to speed 90 and a bit less power.

mike wallis
01-05-2007, 12:35 PM
Hello Michael, thanks' for the detailed explanation. Can you please elaborate how this method would transfer over to real world production using Photograv? It's my understanding and experience that the resolution of the photo needs to match the DPI output of the laser when processed through photograv. Odd resolutions such as 440 DPI would not work well with the process I'm using (Photograv).

It is very possible that I'm missing/not understanding something, so please let me know if I' am.

Michael Indiano
01-05-2007, 1:15 PM
MIke,

Lasering photo's is Art and Science. I will try to translate your questions to techniques and understandings that will guide you through this and other obstacles that keep you from getting the best output the frst time.

The Science part of lasering photo's would be using the formula I gave you to come up with the DPI necessary for optimum output.

The ART part of lasering photo's is the understanding of the cause and effect relationship of the variables you are working with.

As a rule of thumb,you are correct, it is best to use the same DPI scan as you would for your output DPI.

Real World.
Science
Use the formula 110LS x 2 x 200% enlargement=440 DPI

Art
If you output device only allows you to round off the output to 400 or 500, I generally recommend you use the lesser of the two numbers. The computer can take away dots easily, but has to "guestimate" information when it has to add dots. But, there is more information you need to also consider

1st Step
Determine approximate Line Screen based on Material Heat Handling attributes-Translated that means if you are using a material that is very easy to control via lasering, you can use a higher Line Screen Value. (Laser Line Screen values range from a low of 60 to a high of 175) Annodized Aluminum, is very easy to laser because it is very sensitive to heat and the anodizing particals are very small and burns away very clean without expanding (assuming your setting are not too high). 175 Line Screen is a good line screen for Anodized Aluminum. Wood is more difficult because the wide material irregularities of wood and it's moisture and sap contect. When you burn wood the dot is very likely to expand some and is tough to control. 70-110 line screen is a good range to use with wood.

Since this is a Wood forum, I assume most users are using wood. We all know that when you laser wood, the dot expands or gets bigger. Less control of dots means lower desity of dots, which means using a lower resolution.

Artful Rule of Thumb.-On materials that are hard to control the burn level (like wood) round off your numbers downward.

In our example, the optimum number we would scan with was 440. Your laser can only output to 400 or 500DPI-Because wood burn expands, drop down your target SCAN/Output resolution to 400 DPI. On the other hand, if you are engraving Anodized Aluminum, I would round my SCAN/Output DPI to 500 because that material holds the burn dot very accurately.

I hope this helps. You are obviously a smart person Mike, and what I try to do with teaching and training, is to give you the tools to understand the cause and effect of changing our many job setting variables so you can better understand how to intellegently problem solve this and future questions. Trial and error is still a necessary evil, but my intention is to limit them and give you the tools to know what setting need to be changed, and more importantly why they need to be changed.

Take Care

Michael Indiano

Dave Jones
01-05-2007, 4:25 PM
I discovered with some photos I'm doing on anodized aluminum that using a photo scanned at 1200 dpi (huge file) but engraved at 600 dpi works out best.

I've been using the reverse technique with good results on aluminum. I convert the photo to 1/2 the resolution I'm setting the laser to and then run it through Photograve. So I'll run a photo through Photograve at 300 dpi and engrave at 600 or run though Photograve at 600 and engrave at 1200. This makes the laser fire 4 times for each dot that came out of Photograve. I found that otherwise, at least with my laser, the single dots fired by the laser weren't as stong as several dots next to each other and that caused too sharp of a visual cutoff of the darker shades in the image.

Shane Silcox
01-05-2007, 7:58 PM
Good info guys. That will help alot with my purchase, as well as actually engraving once the laser arrives!

John Ramos
02-28-2007, 12:21 AM
So I am down to an Epilog Helix or a Laserpro Spirit. Initially most of our business will be doing photo work on marble tile.

Epilog says they will get better quality due to a "rounder" dot.
Laserpro says that theirs is widely known across the industry to do better quality in marble.

I would like to get actual owner's feedback on results that they are getting - as I would like to get as close to photo quality as possible.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

-Shane
I just came back fro the ARA show in Las Vegas. I went to finally get real information about the lasers and which to buy. Unfortunately, there was far more horsepucky flying than actual knowledge. I sort of thought I knew something before I went but when I left, I was totally confused.

These salesmen rag on each others machine so much you think they are all bad. I got things like "Their's has small motors", "Isn't that the machine made in China" said slimyily about an American machine. "Ours has Air Assist" when all of them do. The really slippery salesmen seemed to be in the Universal isle, even though I heard a lot of really good things about Universal. They made a huge deal about the laser being able to be replaced by the end user when the real fact is that is the beginning, Universal had tons of failures with their lasers, so they made them easily replacable so the customers wouldn't send the machines back and they could just send them another laser to replace the bad one.. By the way, their lasers are very good now and don't really need the feature anymore but they leave it as a sales feature.

Another thing they all seemed to BS about is which laser they used. It turns out that there is a monolopy named Coherent, that actually owns the other two, Deos and Synrad. Deos put out a good laser but it was cheaper than the other 2, so Coherent bought Deos and jacked up the prices, so all three were the same, another example of no competition = higher prices. So at the show, they all played a card game about which tube they used and said for example, Deos was cheaper but didnt last more then a couple of years. Then they said that different tubes were better at different powers and used that tube for different powers, that was all BS as well. When one company makes all three, they're going to be pretty much the same.

I feel like I learned a few things, if you like the salesman, it's half the battle in picking out the machine. I have an Epilog guy who is a 3rd generation engraver that I know would support me and is only 25 minutes away. I have a 2 Universal Salemen that are 3 hours away, one I can't stand and the other is probably good but they just picked up Universal, the are really are Embroidery machine salesmen. I have a Xenetech Saleman 5 minutes from my house. They all like to cut the Aztec Calender and I have an amazing sample from LaserPro that just beats everything else I've seen and the salesman is 30 minutes away and very knowledgable and been in the business for about 15 years, knows his stuff. I will say that Epilog and Universal have great phone support and parts are easy to get. Universal parts are sort of generic to some extent so parts are even cheaper that Epilog, Epilog is proud of the parts, if you get the drift.

I already bought a Xenetech 25x25 rotary machine, the best rotary on the market in my opinion and many others but I'm really asking questions about a laser, it big bucks and has to be a sort of love affair. It's hard to divorce a laser if there are jobs waiting to be done.

I did learn one important thing, when someone starts out with one laser and if they don't have many problems with it, they are REALLY brand loyal, so what they say may be colored by that loyolty.

I not sure, but I think Trotec and Universal are in bed together, correct me please.

Sorry for the long thing but I thought the experience of going to a trade show and not learning which machine to buy would maybe help someone else.

Most of the REAL FACTS I actually learned from a Guy who makes optics for Laser machines, he was knowledge Perrier!

Thanks,

John

Rodne Gold
02-28-2007, 12:55 AM
All lasers will probably do the same on marble , your biggest problem is going to be banding. Take your own image and tile and let the various mnfgrs laser it , any hint of banding , ditch that make.
There is some truth as to the various tube brands being different and there is also truth that some brands have problems with various powers of tube. We went thru 12 30W deos tubes in under 2 yrs with 3 lasers. We dont want to use DEOS and feel synrad has been majorly more relaible.

John Ramos
02-28-2007, 1:01 AM
A LaserPro salesman told me that Epilog used all Deos, is that true or bull?

Thanks,

John

Mike Mackenzie
02-28-2007, 6:58 PM
John,

I feel compelled to respond to some of your statements.

They made a huge deal about the laser being able to be replaced by the end user when the real fact is that is the beginning, Universal had tons of failures with their lasers, so they made them easily replaceable so the customers wouldn't send the machines back and they could just send them another laser to replace the bad one.. By the way, their lasers are very good now and don't really need the feature anymore but they leave it as a sales feature.


This is not a true statement at all!! In fact the reason for the quick change cartridge was so we could eliminate alignment problems in the field and make it easy to replace and upgrade the laser tubes. It had nothing to do with the failure rate of the laser tubes.

Since then all of the laser manufacturers have changed there systems to mount and be able to change out there tube as easy as Universals.

I really think that you heard this statement from a competitive sales person.

I absolutely believe that this was one of the best business decisions Universal has made by manufacturing there own laser tubes, In the early days of development they went through some bumps but that was over 10 years ago and was somewhat expected. Since then there failure rate is less than 1% (this is based off of the number of systems currently in the field and there are a lot).

Because Universal manufacturers there own laser tubes they have complete control over the quality, repair costs,reliability,cost,etc. They also own 8 patents on this laser tube. And this year have made several more patented improvements on there tubes.

This thread title was what system does marble better? Well if you went to the show and you saw the Vytek samples guess what they use the Universal tubes!

Universal parts are sort of generic to some extent so parts are even cheaper that Epilog, Epilog is proud of the parts, if you get the drift.

This is also not true to a point yes some of the parts are available off the shelf but most are manufactured by Universal. This is another thing that separates Universal from other system integrators and allows them the ability to have replacement parts cheaper than others.

The other is probably good but they just picked up Universal, they are really are Embroidery machine salesmen.

This is correct but there are always other alternatives that can be discussed.

I not sure, but I think Trotec and Universal are in bed together, correct me please.

This is way off base if any of the laser system integrators are working with Universal it is simply because of the laser tubes. In fact Trotec was started because of Universal several years ago they used to be known as Trodat and used to be Universals dealers in Europe.

A Laser Pro salesman told me that Epilog used all Deos, is that true or bull?

This is true Epilog uses or has used Deos tubes as dose GCC, laser pro Trotec,Xenetech, and others. Some of these companies also use the synrad laser tube as well. The sale of Synrad did not go through or is still pending with Coherent however synrad in my opinion shot themselves in the foot when they came out and said that they were not going to support any laser tubes that were 10 years or older.

In my opinion any of the laser systems will do a good job for what ever product you wish to use it for. I personally am very tired of the USED car salesman approach. I wish everybody could just be honest and let you the customer make your own decision.