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Thread: Zing vs. Mini air assist

  1. #1

    Zing vs. Mini air assist

    After much lurking I'm close to deciding on a laser to buy. I will primarily be cutting and engraving 1/4 inch acrylic and medium weight card stock.

    I'm trying to decide between the Zing and the Mini and I'm not sure whether the components in the Mini are worth the extra money.

    I asked my rep about the air assist on the Zing and he said "The Zing air assist is different than the Mini's in that it utilizes an air curtain that continuously blows air down across the x-rail. You will want a high volume low power compressor for this".

    Creekers, do you know what difference would I notice in this compared to the solenoid-based Mini system? Would it be noisier/use more power, or would there also be some performance difference?

    Also, I've read what seems like hundreds of previous threads and I'm still not sure whether a 30w would be fine for my needs or whether I should go 40w. I can afford either but obviously I'd prefer to save the money if I won't notice much difference! (i.e. the maxim "buy as big of a table and as much power as you can afford" doesn't seem very helpful to me).

    Thanks so much for all of your collective wisdom! I've leaned a ton reading threads on here .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Shelbyville, Tn
    Sarah, if you can, go with the Mini 24 and as much wattage as you can. The Mini is faster than the Zing and time is money. The 24 inch size means you can use a quarter sheet without cutting it to fit inside the laser (more time).
    Brian Robison
    Epilog Mini
    Rabbit 1290

  3. #3
    Thanks Brian, I hadn't considered factoring the sheet size in. There is a TAP plastics near me so I'd be inclined to use their free cuts to get closer to the 9x7 size I need to reduce waste material. The Zing also has a 24" table option though and I'm not convinced that the speed difference between stepper vs. servo will make much difference to me, though I could be eating my words in a few months .

    One thing your comment brings to light is that with a 18" or 24" table I could fit two items in. I imagine that being able to cut/engrave two items at a time would be a greater help time wise than higher power? Since I've only used a laser at TechShop it's hard to imagine exactly how much time I'd spend with setup/teardown of a job once I was good at it.

  4. #4
    For cutting acrylic on my mini24 I only use about 10PSI. My compressor only kicks on once or twice. Using an air curtain means more air has to blow so you will need a larger air compressor and its going to run all the time. Most air compressors have a duty cycle so this can cause problems.

    Another thing is with a nozzle assist it blows slightly in a particular direction. By changing the direction of the cut you can tweak the cut. Im not sure this would work with the curtain system.

    For cutting 1/4" acrylic I would not go with anything less than 60watts. On the Mini24 60watts it will need to run at a speed of 6% to cut 1/4 acrylic.

    Card stock is no problem.

    Make sure you get a demo of both cutting your material.

  5. #5
    There is no reason to buy more than a 30 watt machine. It will cut 1/4" inch acrylic just fine. I would prefer a 24" table and I would prefer user controlled air assist. These are small compressors and I don't find the noise to be annoying.

    With respect to power, all of us would like to have more power but you can do what you described quite well and if it's a business then ROI is a consideration.

    BTW, welcome to Sawmill Creek.
    Mike Null

    St. Louis Laser, Inc.

    Trotec Speedy 300, 80 watt
    Woodworking shop CLTT and Laser Sublimation
    Evolis Card Printer
    CorelDraw X5

  6. #6
    Then why not a get a 25 watt. It will cut at the same speed as the 30 watt.

    IMHO if your primary reason for getting the laser is for cutting then get the most power you can afford.

    I was looking at the Zing Air compressor and the Epilog web site, and from the looks its pretty small so the air curtain system must not require that much air. Its still maxed at 30PSI. In any case the Mini directed Nozzle would be better than a single air curtain.

    You will also need the cutting grid. This comes standard on the Mini24 but not the Zing. You have to pay extra.

    What kind of cutting do you plan on doing?

  7. #7
    Mike, thanks for the welcome! I'm amazed that I signed up for an account so long ago and have never posted. Of course, without a laser it's hard to contribute.

    I'm not sure whether the laser will mean business or not. I'm fortunate enough to be mostly filling a desire to have a laser and make cool stuff as opposed to make a living with it. That said, ROI would be nice. I've been working as a full time software engineer for six years but had a baby ten weeks ago so I'm reconsidering a lot of things! I think I'd feel most comfortable keeping the laser itself under 12k, which means 40w Mini 18 and lower, or a used Mini 24. I'm leaning towards new just for the support.

    I was hoping to just get an airbrush compressor, so from what I understand that wouldn't be compatible with the Zing? I got a demo of the Zing 16 (original 35w) but it's really hard to extrapolate any annoyance of the compressor noise without actually being around it for at least a few hours. I guess the venting system will probably be noisier than the compressor in any case. Cutting acrylic at 35w seemed okay to me, but again, it's hard to extrapolate to doing lots of jobs/subduing a fussy baby while waiting for the laser to finish .

    If I had to make a decision today I think it would be the Mini 18 30w. From what I can tell no one on the creek has actually bought a Zing though, so I'm almost tempted to do it just to finally put it through its paces and put up a review . I think it's interesting that one can get two Zing 16s for a similar cost to one higher-wattage Mini 24. It seems that if you didn't truly need the full 24" you could get a much higher throughput with two lesser powered lasers, and have one available if the other needed repair.

    I really want to make my decision by the end of the week so thanks for the help!

  8. The big difference between the Zing and the Mini I saw was the direction of the ways. I work off wood stock that goes normally 36 to 48 inches long. I thus wanted to cut a slot in the left side so that I could insert the bigger than normal stuff in, and thus cut the linework twice.

    The machines I saw for Zing, this created a problem as the ways went front to rear for the Zing and for the Mini from side to side. I can mill a slot in that sheet metal in like twenty minutes. But the Zing was wrong direction for me. Per saleman the ways would most likely collapse and fall out of accuracy within one month for a modified Zing.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Sacramento, Ca
    Hi Sarah

    I just went through kind of the same decision process. I was looking at the zing, mini, helix, and trotec lasers, 60watt. Trotec was about 20% more then the helix, the zing was about 20% less. I received samples from the helix and zing of 3/8" plexi cut outs (circle, oval, and square) along with a raster picture on anodized aluminum. I must say that the cut quality of zing and helix were about the same with the exception that the zing took 3 times longer to cut the same object. Seemed strange being that the settings were identical with respect to power and speed and they were both 60 watt machines. The helix raster image was much, much better than the zing also.

    The zing uses steppers where as the helix and also mini's use servo's. This must account for the speed and also the raster quality. Since the helix is the same as the mini's, just larger platform I would suggest to go with the mini. Also don't be afraid to ask for a deal, I got a real good one.

    Hope this helps in your decision process.

    Helix 75W runnin at 89W, Corel X3, Epilog Summit 25W (alive and kickin), CNC mills, lathes, vinyl cutter, Microflame Generator (flame polisher), and all kind of other stuff to keep things interesting

  10. #10
    William, that's interesting. I hadn't even considered you could cut a hole in the side of the machine. I have thought of a couple of really long things to cut/engrave but figured it wasn't possible. I can't imagine actually cutting a hole in my precious laser cabinet though .

    Mike, the raster output of the Zing seemed acceptable to me, but perhaps I should get a sample from the Mini too. I've been keeping a file for a few years of things I'd like to try out but if I did them all I'm sure I'd need a gargantuan table and at least 120w! I have considered doing jewelry in which case the detail would be important.

    I will enquire about a deal. I double checked and the "sales price" on my price sheet is the same as it was a year and a half ago . Maybe there's a way to work a real discount with the recession and all.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Sarah, Don't let "Support" be an issue in buying a used machine. You may or may not get part of a warranty, but with Epilog you will have support new or used. Many of us here bought used machines that were already out of warranty & have received fantastic support from Epilog. In fact, if you email or call them with the serial number, they may be able to tell you before you buy it's history - Peck is that true?
    There are Big Brain people & Small Brain people. I'm one of the Big Brains - with a lot of empty space.- me
    50W Fiber - Raycus/MaxPhotonics - It's a metal eating beast!
    Epilog Fusion M2 50/30 Co2/Fiber - 2015
    Epilog Mini 24 35watt - 2006 (Original Tube)
    Ricoh SG3110DN
    - Liberty Laser LLC

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by william kaminsky View Post
    The big difference between the Zing and the Mini I saw was the direction of the ways. I work off wood stock that goes normally 36 to 48 inches long. I thus wanted to cut a slot in the left side so that I could insert the bigger than normal stuff in, and thus cut the linework twice.
    The front of the Mini can be opened for larger work, although I'm sure Epilog doesn't endorse this.
    There are Big Brain people & Small Brain people. I'm one of the Big Brains - with a lot of empty space.- me
    50W Fiber - Raycus/MaxPhotonics - It's a metal eating beast!
    Epilog Fusion M2 50/30 Co2/Fiber - 2015
    Epilog Mini 24 35watt - 2006 (Original Tube)
    Ricoh SG3110DN
    - Liberty Laser LLC

  13. Tim....

    I got explained this numerous times via salesman too. The situation being is that my wood stock is cheaper in 36 inch lengths. To cut via a slot up front would mean that I would have to make three or four cuts, aligning each one perfectly then too, instead of two cuts via the side door method. The cutting table inside is set up horizontal instead of vertically. In addition, there are a few things in the way which would prohibit the extension of material for the second or third cut then.

    Is simplier for me to mill a slot in the left (or righthand) side then.

    Back in the late 1990's we cut a trap door into the left side of a Epilogue machine. It worked out OK, as we would cut maybe 18 inches at a time. Shift and cut more then. Then we got the idea to open up two slots for materials. Slide teh raw stuff on through. This worked OK until a repairman came over to fix the optics. "What the ....."

    Worked for us.


  14. #14
    H Sawmill Creekers,
    I wanted to introduce myself. I'm Mike Hardy in San Diego, CA. and this is my first post. I've been a lurker in the Laser Engraver world for 10 years or so and finally took the plunge. I'm soon to be a proud owner of a Zing 24, 40watt. Delivery is scheduled for June 25th. The Deal I had was free shipping and a free raster table from a distributor is Costa Mesa Ca.

    I'm adding the Zing to an existing Computer and Technical Support business so I only expect to supplement my income and add a few more services. Speed was less of an issue over price point and function.

    I look forward to the laser and participating in the forum for many years to come.


  15. #15
    Welcome, Michael! We have all been waiting for someone to actually HAVE a Zing so we can see what it's really like. Plus, now Sarah won't have to buy one just so she can write the review. Welcome to Sarah too!

    I look forward to hearing how it performs for you.

    cheers, dee
    Last edited by Dee Gallo; 06-10-2009 at 2:41 PM.
    Epilog Mini 18/25w & 35w, Mac and Vaio, Corel x3, typical art toys, airbrush... I'm a Laserhead, my husband is a Neanderthal - go figure

    Red Coin Mah Jong

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