View Full Version : Hi all! My first Q :)

Peter Boyford
11-20-2007, 2:59 PM
Hi all,

I've been lurking around various infosites about lasers for quite some time (including cnczone.com) an finally found this place. So far my user experience is all positive, so that's a good start :)

First, I'd like to introduce myself. This comes natural in order for my first question to make the best sense:

I own a signshop in Denmark (up north - coooold!! brrr). I currently have a CNC router with a work area of 60x100cm (24x40 inches to those of you not familiar with metric). I have, should I say myself, very good insight in the works and about regarding graphics packages and CNC'ing stuff - also using a cutting plotter and large format printer on a daily basis.

Now I wish to switch my router with a laser. Reason? It's so much damn easier to work with (is my fantasy, at least...)

I know the trade offs, not being able to cut PVC or other potentially toxic materials and also getting trouble with hard materials. On the plus side is a lot of other stuff, I like: noncontact cutting, flame polished edges on acryllic, faaaaaast engraving, etc.

So... Now I ask your help in choosing the best laser. I have had my eyes on these, of which I can find local suppliers to:

GCC Mercury: http://www.laserproi.com/en/engr_prod_model_detail.php?ID=English_070610235441 (though only v. I is sold by my supplier)
RedSail C120: http://www.hflaser.com/lc.html
And this: http://www.danteam.nu/index.php?sub=13&vis_id=60 (I can't find out the manufacturer... Ink Express?)

I would not mind having the largest possible working area, but still the machine should fit through my only door of 80cm (32 inches). This problem aside, though:

I have heard a lot of rumours about the difference between chinese and SynRad lasers (the GCC one), that a 25W SynRad is somewhat comparable to a 50W chinese laser. Reviews seem to support that, as I can see that the GCC 25W will cut through 15mm (almost 6 inches) of acryllic in 1 pass at lowest speed. Compared to this, the chinese 60W laser is supposed to do the same.

Also I have heard about problems when using stepper motors in stead of servos.

So, all in all: If I need a machine that'll cut 3-8mm acryllic on a weekly basic, and in the odd case, 15mm, having a trouble free design, long lasting and at the same time being relatively cheap, which machine of the above would you recommend me? And which would you NOT recommend me? And why?

Best regards

I hope to stick around for quite some time in the future and eventually convert my questions to answers, that'll help other users :)

Scott Shepherd
11-20-2007, 3:44 PM
Hi Peter, welcome to the forum and best wishes on your new adventure. There are a load of threads about Chinese lasers on here, just search for "chinese laser" and you should keep busy for a couple of hours. Read through them all, from start to finish and you'll have a better handle on if it's something you want or not.

Also, there have been numerous discussions about stepper versus servos. I used to think servos were superior and faster, but having gone from a servo based system to a high speed stepper system, I can say that I'm 100% convinced that's nothing but a marketing ploy by people selling servos. I'll put the speed and accuracy of my steppers against any servo out there. It's lightening fast and deadly accurate and maintenance free. I don't have to repeatedly remove covers and clean encoder strips.

With one possible exception (that being Trotec), I'd say there is no speed/accuracy advantage between the two. I can't speak for Trotec, because I haven't seen one run, I only know they are known for being very very fast machines and they use servos.

My personal opinion, and a feature I wouldn't live without now is a Job Control system. Having job settings stored and being able to go over every single detail of every single job, weeks or months after the fact has saved me a boat load of time. Being able to tweak the settings at the machine and have that info saved back to the job file is very powerful. I honestly wouldn't buy a laser without it now, after using it.

All of that's just my opinion in my limited experience.

Joe Pelonio
11-20-2007, 3:46 PM
15mm acrylic is just over 1/2", not 6 inches. I can cut that on my 45 watt but avoid it, the process requires running on the lowest speed and results are not as good as on thinner material. Regardless of the make I would advise 50+ watts for 15mm.

If you look here (search) there are many opinions and facts given on the Chinese lasers. Whatever you do find a laser vendor with good support, hopefully in your country and speaking your language. People here have had problems getting them imported from China with paperwork issues.

With regard to laser tubes, the less expensive glass tubes require water cooling, are said to not last as long, and have inconsistent engraving results, according to many users. The Synrad is metal, air cooled, and while the tubes cost more some replacements have dropped in price. For mine I paid $2,300 last time and it's gone down to $1,195 now.

Peter Boyford
11-20-2007, 4:10 PM
Thx to all so far. And thanks for the welcome :) Sorry for the obvious error off converting 15mm to 6 inches.. Was a decimal error on the calculator :P It is, of course, 0.6 inches.

I know, there are a lot of chinese laser discussions on this forum. I actually took the time to scroll through 63 pages of discussions in this forum category alone, before I decided to post.

I just couldn't seem to find any discussions actually confirming or defying the fact, wether there is any "conversion rate" i respect to wattage from glass to metal laser tubing.

I of course have seen a lot of discussions about different machines and seem to find that most people tend to link ULS, LaserPro or [the last one I can't remember]. Also I have heard a lot of people complaining about support, DOA's and various other stuff with chinese lasers.

My mind seems set on the GCC one, as it seems sturdy, have nice software and a fair amount of extra features. Firstly, I love the function, that you are able to hand drag the cutting head to the desired position. This would enable me to make larger work with better and more intuitive precision - I guess!

So.. The discussion I invite to here is actually untouched - or at least - barely touched in the forums: Aside from the importance of support, how would you go about choosing between a somewhat renowned brand as opposed to a discount brand? What else matters besides support? Is size that important, if you can fit larger materials in the machine through open back and front? Is wattage that important, if a 60W chinese laser won't "cut it" compared to a 25W Synrad? Is intuitiveness important as opposed to cheap?

I mean... How do the different lasers compare in cutting abilities and qualities?

Though my question(s) don't invite a "technically correct" discussion, I'd still like to hear you gurus comment upon this.

Best regards

Mike Null
11-20-2007, 4:12 PM
Welcome to SMC.

I think the input you have received is quite accurate and I even agree with Scott about servo vs steppers. That said I own a Trotec and my reason for buying it was that it is, indeed, very fast. It does have servos but that was not a criterium for me.

The machine has performed flawlessly so I would encourage you to have a look at it as well as the others.

Cutting 15 mm stuff is going to be a challenge--doable, but a challenge with machines under 75 watts.

Rodne Gold
11-20-2007, 5:30 PM
Use the cnc router for thick stuff , the laser for up to 8mm (30-50w)
Watts are watts , its the ability to output energy over time, Beam quality is another story.
All mainstream lasers in the same price range and power do the same stuff so get a well supported brand with agents and backup and service in your country , thats probably the best advice I can give you.
I run 6 GCC lasers, mix of 30 and 25 watts and they work well. I also have a Tekcel router and smaller engravers and do digital print and cutting , all of the machines can give you the power to make just about anhything if you combine their abilites.

Joe Pelonio
11-20-2007, 5:52 PM
I'll add one more thing. Buying a laser from China or anywhere else sight unseen has risks to it. I decided on Epilog after going to a trade show where their machine and several others were on display and running, so I could see the features in action. To me that's the ideal situation, even if it costs you to travel to such an event, or to vendors with showrooms. Some of us have gone as far as to take material samples to the vendor and have them run it to see how long it takes and how well it comes out before buying.

If you cannot do that then I'd take a look at the forum's owner list.


Find people with the machines you are looking at and contact them to ask for their experience, the pros and cons of that machine. If there are none, then you'd be not only without that review data but less likely to get help from the forum when a machine-specific issue comes up later.