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Thread: US RF lasers compared and best place to purchase.

  1. #1

    US RF lasers compared and best place to purchase.

    As previously stated, I have decided on pursuing a used US manufactured RF machine in the 18-24" wide format.
    I am on the east coast and found a few prospects on the west coast, just not going to buy site unseen.

    Looking at ULS VLS 2.30, 3.50 and 3.60 machines.
    Epilog, not to familiar,, but searching "mini" "zing"

    As far as firmware, or the machines ability to communicate with/print AI files,, The ULS machine I used had a driver on the PC where you set everything, the actual machine did not perform much but the actual job. Are newer machines standalone? can you plug a thumb drive in and run a file?

    Is there a major jump in technology/performance in the ULS and Epilog lines from about 2010 up? if so where is that jump?

    Do older machines support some of the newer photo software packages like one touch or photo wizard?

    I have heard it mentioned about chinese lasers, that they are very simple/basic machines and easy to work on for technically inclined, Is that true with ULS and Epilog?

    Besides paying a premium through a "dealer",, anyone have suggestions on where to search for a used ULS or Epilog machine?

    Many Thanks,
    Nick

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,260
    I see them on Craigslist from time to time and here on Sawmill Creek. Beware there is used laser machine dealer and there were details on here and they are a scam artist. I would contact Epilog and ULS and find out where their dealers are located and then check directly with them.

    When I purchased my used ULS, it had been mechanically rebuilt but I had to do the clean up and it was nasty but a doable job. It was from a dealer near me, a 4 hour drive but worth the drive.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach3

  3. #3
    Bill,
    Thanks for the reply.
    I will not purchase without personally laying my hands on it.
    The dealers I have looked into are wanting to close to new prices very very used machines.
    80% of what I have found is on the west coast, the other 20% is mid country. What does no one use Lasers on the East coast ??
    I have found some 18" ULS machines for 5K and 24" ULS and Epilog for 7-7.5K that are not scams, but over 2000 miles from me.
    I did find some ULS VLS2.30 machines that went equipment auction for 2K, that is rolling the dice as operating condition is unknown.

    I have no problem buying a machine in questionable condition at the right price,,
    I am just struggling to discover where the market is at in the Mid Atlantic area.

    Nick

  4. #4
    If you're willing to do some reasonably minor repairs, this Gravograph LS800 on ebay may be a steal---


    $2000 and free shipping, and just needs a tube recharge (around $1000, maybe an additional $400 or so if the electronics need fixing), and an RF cable (can't imagine it costs all that much). It also has a rotary, which is an expensive piece from Gravograph, and comes with Gravostyle 5 software, which isn't cheap. Gravostyle is not necessary however, I ran my LS900 using Corel for several years before GS. One issue is it's only a 30w machine, but could be a more powerful tube could be had from one of the rebuilders that wouldn't break the budget...

    For reference: it's a 12x24 machine, the 'half pint' to my LS900, which is essentially the same machine but 24x24. I've owned my LS900 for almost 15 years, same tube, same rail bearings- Power supply needed rebuilt about 8 years ago, in October the X-driver in the controller went bad. I do literally no maintenance to this machine other than lube the table screws once in awhile...

    My BIL who works with me, has owned an LS800 exactly like the one for sale, for about 12 years. About 4 years ago he lost one of the RF capacitors in the tube which cut the output power in half, but he's used it every day since anyway, since half power still does what he needs done. He's had no other problems with it.

    I've considered buying it myself, and the only reason I don't is I simply don't need it, and I REALLY don't have ROOM for it, as it's not a dinky unit!

    Gravograph has had a not-so-stellar reputation in the customer service side of things, but from recent experience, I can honestly say they've made improvements...

    I own 11 New Hermes/Gravograph machines, many are over 30 years old and just keep making me money...

    While on Ebay check out the LS100 lasers for sale. There's not many, and a bit spendy, but there's a reason for that
    Last edited by Mike Null; 02-20-2019 at 9:21 PM. Reason: removed bay link
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  5. #5
    What is the worst case on the tube, say it needs a new laser, do I have to use The Gravograph labeled one or can I get a Synrad etc?

    How wouldyou rate he Gravograph machines vs UL ad Epilog?

  6. #6
    Close to making an offer on the LS800,,, but reading about the non existent CS at Gravograph scares me,, do you know if there are parts still available for The LS800?

  7. #7
    I own a VLS 6.60 and a LS100. Long story short, I can recommend the LS100 but not the ULS. Simply put, the Gravograph machine is way better built and simply out performs the ULS machine by a significant margin.

    I'm going to need to replace rail, bearings, and belts on my VLS. They lasted about 3-4 years. The machine is used fairly infrequently compared to my LS100. It engraves way slower. The quality of engraving is worse. It cuts faster only because it has a higher wattage tube.

    The ULS has some advantages in software and the customer service is a bit more friendly but overall, I can't say I'd recommend this machine to anyone. The build quality just isn't good enough.

    The one thing I will say about Gravograph is, Kev seems to have an excellent sales rep who has helped him out over the years. If/when he runs into a problem or needs something, his guy helps. You may not be that lucky. I haven't had any luck getting any favors from them. This means if you're buying a DOA laser you plan on repairing, it could be a tough task for you while Kev could call up his Rep, have him come out, and get it done for a fair price without too much of a hassle.
    Equipment: IS400, IS6000, VLS 6.60, LS100, HP4550, Ricoh GX e3300n, Hotronix STX20
    Software: Adobe Suite & Gravostyle 5
    Business: Trophy, Awards and Engraving

  8. #8
    Ross,
    Thank you for replying.
    The LS800 appears to be a tank, it is 300#, a comparable ULS (24x12) is 100#
    I am very handy with electronics and mechanics, repairing/maintaining a unit myself would be no problem,,,
    IF I had access to parts, schematics and occasional 1st hand knowledge.

    I did a quick googling of common parts for the LS800 and a ULS VLS , night and day difference. Nothing comes up for gravograph, nothing, The ULS machines, parts everywhere.

    I guess it would come down to the final end game, buy a Gravograph that will last longer between maintenance/repairs that I can not repair myself, BUT must spend hundreds/thousands for a company service/parts.
    Or buy a ULS that will require more maintenance, BUT I can repair myself with less expensive and widely available parts.

    The search continues

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Iowa USA
    Posts
    3,260
    I had an older used ULS machine and used for a couple of years. It just worked. Parts are available and repairs appear to be easy enough. If it needs parts your not taking out a loan to buy, they are reasonable. I think any of the US machines, that you can get parts for would be a good choice.
    Last edited by Bill George; 02-21-2019 at 9:09 AM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller, MakerGear M2 3D Printer. Qe60+ Vinyl cutter. Fine Line Automation 4x4 CNC Router- Mach3

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Medina Ohio
    Posts
    3,617
    I see there is a epilog legend 24tt on the hgr web site

  11. #11
    Parts are still available for these machines. There are some specific things unique to LS800 and 900, like the shutter mechanism and mirror setups, and I'm sure the controller is of their own making. But the power supplies, belts steppers, tubes etc. don't have Gravo's brand on them. While they can be spendy to fix, I don't think there's much difference between Gravo's costs and Trotec, Epilog and Universal. I recently had a stepper wire break in the drag chain, which caused the machine to 'go crazy'- but since my Chinese Triumph did the same thing I knew what it was, and it was an easy fix. However, the bad wire shorting out fried the secondary plug connector and a wire or two to the stepper (these are inside a 'box' out of sight), and the end result was the X-driver in my controller got taken out. I was expecting a $1000+ repair bill, but turned out to be just over $300. Several years ago the power supply went belly up. $1400 for a rebuilt was shipped to me the next day. This is ALL the money I've spent on this machine in nearly 15 years...

    There's a Creek'er here (forget his name) that works for Gravograph and explained to someone recently that Gravo offers a $550 'tune up' that covers nearly everything to do with making sure the machine is right. That's not a horrible deal by any means either.

    RF machines, whatever the brand, can get spendy, but their longevity and usefulness- and resale value, lets not forget that!- are miles above any Chinese machine.
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  12. #12
    Kev,
    I did not purchase the LS800 because the seller could not confirm that it worked besides the tube/cable, they never had it up and running and put it through it's paces.
    I could be more than the tube and cable. And with the lack of support and info out there for Gravograph, not going to risk it.
    I am very handy with Mech and electronics,, but I would be stabbing in the dark with out some sort of "friendly" support.

    Nick
    Last edited by Nick Andraka; 02-22-2019 at 7:27 AM.

  13. #13
    totally understand, and I don't blame you not one bit
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Rock Hill, SC
    Posts
    148
    I have a ULS VLS6.60 and love it. I turn it on and it works every time w/o issues. My sales rep is johnny on the spot when I'm looking to buy but if I have a questions, he drops off the map. If you have the cash, I would recommend one.
    Universal 60w VLS6.60 w/ rotary
    RayFine 30w MOPA
    Corel X8, Photoshop

    Fab shop with South Bend Heavy 10, Bridgeport 9x42, 185a welder and a multitude of supporting tools/equipment

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Trey Tull View Post
    .... My sales rep is johnny on the spot when I'm looking to buy but if I have a questions, he drops off the map....
    That's too bad, really... My New Hermes rep has been selling us stuff since around 1973- I'm his best-and worst customer- Best because we've bought over 20 machines from him over the years, many of them used. Worst because I never replace them with new ones!
    --If I call him, and he's not helping someone else at the time, he'll be here in 20 minutes. Day or night, weekends. He's never charged me just for showing up, or for helping me change something out. When the power supply went bad in the LS900, he was here before I had it out. There was some parts on the board that were cracked, he took the thing, bought replacement parts from a local place and replaced them- to no avail. He then called the factory in France, they had a rebuilt unit, I had it the next morning. He never charged me for any of his time- When I told him I needed a bigger machine to build my operator panels, one of his other customers in Montana- 450-ish miles away- wanted to sell his IS7000. He drove there with a truck & small trailer, picked it up and delivered it to me, and only asked for the gas money. When the power supply went out in my IS7000, in 20 minutes he was here with one of his spare units, and my work continued without a hiccup. He took mine and offered to try and fix it so I wouldn't have to pay GG to do it. About 3 months later his spare supply went bad, and 20 minutes later he brought a second spare. I'm still using it. He's attempted a few fixes to my original, no luck so far, says I'm welcome to use his as long as I need it. He hasn't charged me for any of this. IF he gets it fixed he will, but not until. I can't say enough good about him. It's too bad his work ethic isn't shared by so many others...
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


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