View Full Version : help

marge hawthorne
05-18-2007, 2:56 PM
we are new at this. We wanted to know what is a good laser engraver. We've been looking at a particular one EPILOG. ...what is a good size and wattage for general use? We know very little about laser engravers, and would like to get into it. It looks very interesting, but we just don't know where to start. Marge & Jim

Rob Bosworth
05-18-2007, 3:23 PM
Marge and Jim, there are a number of very good laser engraving machines made. Epilog makes a fine machine as well as several others. All of the machines are pretty good at doing many things. Some of these systems are better at certain things than others. For instance, you probably do not want a machine that is great at running photos on tombstones, might not be the best fit for someone who only wants to make nametags. The big machine will do it, but it might be a lot slower at running little things than a system designed to run smaller items.

Start out by defining what you want a laser engraving system to do for you. What size items do you run most. How big is the largest thing you ever did and ask yourself if you ever want to do something like that again. What kinds of materials do you use? What software programs do you use. Then try to establish how much money you want to spend on a machine. Now, keep this list and leave plenty of room at the bottom to add more to your list as you find out more about what a laser engraver will do for you.

Now, start contacting the companies that make machines that interest you. Meet the dealers and distributors of those machines, and figure out who you can stand and who you cannot. Most of the sales/ dealers, distributors will not be your #1 contact for technical support, but you might have to use them for help at some point. Look at the machines that you are interested in using. Take your list with you when you look at these machines. After seeing how great they are at running their "canned" presentations, hand the demo agent your material and your graphic and see how your stuff works. Keep in mind, unless you are with a real applications expert, or at someone's facility who runs the machines all day long, your sales guy might not be the most proficient at running new materials and graphics. So use this as an opportunity to see how hard this machine is going to be to learn, operate and maintain. (I've bungled my way through many demos, and in most cases, I learn something new.) It will also teach you that you won't be the first one to panic when something does not go according to plan.

After you have looked, talked, e-mailed, handled, listened, ........ to all the machines and manufactures, put on a blind fold and throw a dart at the wall with all of the names on it. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) The more knowledge you have, the better the decision you will be able to make.

And when the smoke settles and if you are still undecided, and you feel you could use another opinion, feel free to contact us and ask for our opinions on what you are thinking. Good luck.

Joe Pelonio
05-18-2007, 3:27 PM
I wasn't sure at first, but ended up getting 45 watts and 12x24 workspace. After 2+ years I'm happy with that decision, and with the support from Epilog.

marge hawthorne
05-18-2007, 3:51 PM
was that your first laser? and was it difficult to operate? Like we said before we know nothing about these things. and from past experence, we know how much trouble you can get into. I'm a musician, and I bought an old road bus, about 10 yrs ago not knowing anything about buses, and you don't want to hear the rest of this story. But the point is, the bus cost's less them these laser's do, and we don't want to make the same mistake. We want to work on small stones, glass, maybe marble. anyhoo, could we get by with a smaller model?

Bruce Volden
05-18-2007, 4:19 PM
Also folks, the laser is much like a "fancy" printer 'ceptin it burns. Now the software you'll be using to send files to the laser is a whole 'nother story. I too was more concerned about the machine when I first started~I should have concentrated on the software back then (13 years ago :D ). One thing about now vs. then is there are a multitude of forums, filled with good people who are knowledgeable and will to help out :) My $.02 worth!


Ed Maloney
05-18-2007, 6:15 PM
You will be needing something like CorelDraw to drive the laser output. That's where a big learning curve is. So if you are not familiar with computers and graphics software I would get experience with those prior to a laser purchase or at least during your research of one.

marge hawthorne
05-18-2007, 7:34 PM
when you say graphics, do you mean for instance, on a computor I have a print shop and make up some pretty good flyers. are they anything in common?

Ed Maloney
05-18-2007, 7:43 PM
Check this link which has information about the graphics software we're talking about:


John Esberg
05-18-2007, 8:14 PM
There is great truth in thinking of the laser as a black & white printer. At the same time, its also a scrollsaw for production work. No matter how you look at it, it takes software to drive the machine. You MUST know how setup the graphics/patterns. Forums like this can help with technical items, but we can't make up for not learning your software.

As for which which machine from which company, pay attention to the machine and not always to the sales rep. (My regional Epilog sales rep sold me on my Universal machine, but that doesn't mean I won't check out Epilog's most recent machines either.)

One thing people haven't said here is that you have to jump into marketing. A friend of mine in the finance market loves to ask his sales reps, "are you a secret agent?" In other words, people don't know you are there running a laser engraver to provide them a notable service unless "you reach out and touch someone".

Good luck!


Larry Bratton
05-19-2007, 5:47 PM
I have owned my laser for about 6 weeks or so now. I purchased an Epilog EXT model 24x36 table size. As far as the actual operation of the laser, it's like running a printer. However, if you do not have the knowledge of how to create what you want to produce, your probably in for a long learning curve. Practically everybody uses Corel Draw as the standard for creating the files to send to the machine.
I, for one, had solid graphics experience and was used to working with tool paths and the like for both CNC router and computerized rotary engraving machines. The laser was actually the easiest of the three.
As my fellow forum members here have advised, that should be at the top of your list as "must know" before investing in one of these wonderful tools.
In terms of what to buy, if I had it to do over, I would try to afford a little more power, I have 40 watts and I would love to have 75. I'm sure in your case you can use a much smaller table size, so get as much power as you can. A Epilog Helix might be a good choice with 75 watts. Your budget will dictate that though when you get into the costs.
Good luck!:)

Mike Null
05-20-2007, 9:06 AM
If you're going to be cutting wood you'll need more power than if working with plastic or items which can't be cut.

I love my machine so have a look at all the brands and as others have mentioned search the archives by brand to find the various comments we've all made about our issues.