slightly OT - laser engraver

Anybody have experience with a laser engraver that would be suitable for a small, low volume, one man operation? I'm considering buying, the per piece rates around here are pretty steep.
Is a price range of $3-5 K realistic?
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I haven't seen anything for under $11K that would be worth considering. The laser itself is what costs so much. Add to that a reasonable enclosure to vent off the fumes and the over-all costs climb quickly. I have done my homework as it is a 'fit' for my market. I would just add it to my CNC. Granted, I did this research 3 years ago and much could have changed but a fellow CNC operator near here just bought a minimal laser CNC just last year and he spent $ 15K and zero belles and whistles. I will dig some more as numbers like $3-5K intrigue me. Keep me posted if you find something.
r
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In article

Shall do. $11K+ is too rich for me at this time, unfortunately.
--
Woodworking and more at <http://www.woodenwabbits.com

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wrote:

Keep in mind that when I did my research, I was looking to cut 1/2" mineral filled acrylic which required a minimum of 120 watts of CO2 laser.
I have heard decent things about these guys: http://www.fullspectrumengineering.com/index.html and I see that they have some reasonably priced machines. I guess it is the same old same old. Size and power make a huge difference in price.
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Wowsers, some of those have really come down in price. http://iehk.net/Products/IE900_1200.html Maybe $3-5K will do you.
*counting my coins*
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responding to http://www.homeownershub.com/woodworking/slightly-ot-laser-engraver-541968-.htm DA wrote: Robatoy wrote:

In fact, by now it's already down to $1950 for the whole thing, shipping and CNC software extra.
http://fullspectrumengineering.com/co2laser.html
It's a Chinese machine, obviously, but ships from US (NV), at least that's what they are telling on the phone. Haven't ordered it yet but considering it, so I called them and asked about availability. It sounded like they are getting them from China in batches, then prepping for sales here and fulfilling orders, so they'd be in stock one month and out of stock the next, regardless of what the site says.
It's a 32" x 20" bed, 40W cutter/engraver, so won't actually cut much beyond 1/8" acrylic but since the OP is talking about engraving wood, it'll char any wood just fine and can cut balsa and other thin wood as well and do plenty of other interesting things.
------------------------------------- /_/ ((@v@)) NIGHT ():::() OWL VV-VV
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On 6/3/2012 11:08 PM, Dave Balderstone wrote:

http://www.parksabers.com /
http://www.thinkgeek.com/interests/starwars/b72c /
http://www.ultrasabers.com/category-s/70.htm
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I bought a 40watt Epilog laser about 1.5yrs ago, and it works great. It took five years of research before I was ready to lay down the money for one of these units I can assure you. There are a lot of things you need to explore before making a decision. First is to look at EXACTLY what you will get for your money. Is the laser tube a liquid cooled, or air cooled? What type of drive motors does it use? How fast is it? How accurate will it reproduce the image/cut line? does it have "Air Assist"? are separate cooling systems involved, and if so, are they included? What type of ventilation system will be required? Any special power supply requirements, and if so, is it included? What software is included? Do you already know how to use the software. If not, you may want to buy the software first, and learn to use it before you spend the money on the laser. It is going to take some serious time to learn any graphics package, and a laser unit needs to be used on a regular basis. If it has to sit for a year while you learn the software, you will need service before you even get started. If it's foreign made, get references from owners of the same machine to see how well the company supports what you are buying. You WILL need some help when you first get started, and although mine is still working fine so far, I'm sure it will need repairs at some point. What I found in my search of over five years is this . . . Take it for what it is . . . just my results. Chinese machines are like everything else the Chinese produce . . . SECOND RATE JUNK. If you want a really expensive, second rate toy . . . go for it. But don't say you heard me recommend it. Don't forget to add the expense of a water cooling system, unless it comes with one (most do not), as most are water cooled. The components are shoddy, the setup is difficult, they constantly come out of register and focus, and they are generally more trouble overall than they are worth. As for support . . . I've yet to hear anything good about them. Period. Cheap price tag, but you get what you pay for! For someone with a great knowledge of lasers, who just wants to run an occasional "Rough" job, they are a cheap alternative to a quality machine. I just hope you know what to do when the gremlins get into the machine or the software. Unless you plan to use one of these extensively, it is an investment that is way out of proportion for the novice user. Three to five thousand is not going to get you a machine that will do anything substantial. Even Epilog's small units run well over $5k. You would be far better served finding someone who owns one, knows how to use the software and the hardware, and just pay a nominal fee for the work you want done. A lot of engraving shops have fairly powerful units installed on site, and would welcome the extra business. The going rate seems to be about $1/minute run time, plus setup fees for the artwork. Large projects require large tables and higher power lasers. Expect to pay substantially more, as the units get very pricey as the size and power get larger. My unit is fairly powerful at 40watts. It can cut most materials up to 1/2", with proper speed, frequency and power settings. You can cut thicker items, with multiple passes, but the edge finish suffers with too much heat, and multiple passes. A lot depends on the material too. The lens used will make a HUGE difference, as it directly affects the convergence angle of the beam. Epilog has some of the best optical systems I know of (I'm sure there are others at significantly higher prices), and this does matter when doing precision work, cutting thick materials, or cutting/engraving in recesses. All in all, you have a LOT of homework to do. Don't rush your decision! That is the best advice I can give you. Talk to as many laser users as possible, and see how they like the machines they own. It will be time well spent before someone suckers you out of a large chunk of hard earned money. If you want to talk more about it, send me a private email, and I'll send you my phone number. If your close enough, and only need some occasional work done, I'll be glad to work with you.
Kaylward
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Thanks for the details. Invaluable.
I doubt you're close to Saskatoon, but thanks for that offer, too.
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