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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DC-KIII, K40 Chinese 40 watt Laser Cutter/Engraver review




The DC-KIII is a low cost laser cutter/engraver, that come with its fair share of problems, but when they are overcome, it can be a great overall machine

Pros:
Low Cost
Upgradable
Accurate
Quick

Cons:
Inadequate fume extraction
Lacks air assist(I'll get more into it later)
Safety is questionable
Terrible software

First Impressions

I have only had this machine for about a month so take this whole review with a grain of salt.  Upon receiving it I was hit by one initial thought, it is HUGE! I'm used to 3D printers where the build area compared to machine size is nearly the same.
While on this the ratio on this is about 1 to 4, mostly because the laser tube is massive.  It is about 36 inches long, and about 20 inches wide.  The machine comes packed extremely well.  There are about 20 layers of bubble wrap surrounding it, with foam inserts on the laser tube itself.  After taking off the bubble wrap which took around a quarter an hour because there is so much!  I noticed that the tray that the material sits on was bent pretty severely to an amount that couldn't have happened in shipping, it is like someone stood on the metal tray.  To get the machine working took about 2-3 hours, which involved installing the pump, fume extractor, setting up software, and testing everything.

1/4 inch plywood cut for heated lunchbox at 7mm/s
I then contacted the company and told them that the bed was bent.  They have been fairly frustrating so far, it is as if they have two customer support teams.  I say something and I get two different responses, When I first sent the message I got a response in around half an hour that was like "We are so sorry that you are having that problem, we accept full responsibility, we will rush you a new bed and give you a $30 refund"  I then responded that that sounded good.  I got a message the next day, that said they need additional pictures and to send them to an email outside of Ebay.  I have still yet to settle it all out, but they have great ratings, so I have confidence everything will be settled soon.

Using it
If you have been doing any research on this machine you know that the software is horrible.  To start engraving anything you just import the picture and push output to machine, 90% of the time it will just work. The other 10% of the time it seems to have a mind of its own, it will go to the top right corner and try to bang the head against the end stops, but they stop it before it hits.  To remedy this you have to reboot the computer and unplug the machine.  While engraving pictures is a walk in the park, cutting is not... at all.  If you are using an .SVG which is an industry standard, you must first convert it to a JPG, then import into the software, while in the software you must trace over it.  This whole takes process can take from 10 mins to an hour depending on how complex your model is to trace over. I have tried to use it in my room, but the fumes were to intense for sleeping in, so I moved it to the garage within a month.
Engraving a picture of a car on cork

Output Quality/Usable Materials
You can use tons of materials in this, I have used Cork(Engraves perfectly,cutting is tough), 1/4 inch plywood cuts like a dream after the laser is focused, acrylic is also suburb and very quick.

So far I have made a few coasters, engravings, and I have also made a heated lunchbox, which has required a lot of wood and cutting, but wood is so quick that all of it has taken less than 45 minutes to cut the two prototypes.



Upgrades
To make this machine work really well, you need three major low cost upgrades.


  •  Add a flow cutoff which turns off the laser if your water pump fails, which is needed to not ruin your $200 laser if the $3 pump fail. Get it here for only $7.  Here is a great video for using it.
  • Next you need to add a limit switch to your lid which prevents the laser from running while the lid is open, this a really big safety feature, so you don't hurt your eyes, or self.  Get it here for only $4.  I'll post a guide fairly soon.
  • An extra fume extracting fan, this helps with two things, creating negative pressure in the chamber which helps lessen fire.  Also, it helps bring the fumes to a more manageable level. The one that I use is not longer available by but here is a similar one for $14. To install cut a hole in the side of the chamber and use some drywall screws to secure it.
  • Air Assist blows air directly on where the laser hits, this greatly reduces smoke marks, and helps blow out any flames.  I have yet to install this yet, but I have heard that this one works great and is only $8.
I plan to do a guide on all of these at a later date.

Conclusion
If you are going to get a laser cutter and have a budget under $1000, you are either going to get this one, or not get a laser cutter at all.  So, for all of it's faults it is still a great overall machine especially with the added upgrades.

14 comments:

  1. Have you ever engraved metal with this laser? I have a lot of questions about this machine. Have you ever looked into the lightobject upgrade (http://www.lightobject.com/AWC608-DSP-upgrade-kit-for-DK40-small-CO2-laser-machine-P758.aspx).

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  2. The laser is not strong enough to do anything to metal at all. Fully focused at 22 miliamps(the max power) it will not even mark aluminium foil. For cutting metal you need around a 1000 watts. You can however coat the metal in some metal marking agents that are available online, which will give the illusion of it being able engrave metal. I have looked into it, but the upgrade cost's more than the laser cutter itself, and the software works, its just quite finicky. I would not recommend buying the laser right now, because of christmas the exact one I bought from the same seller is about $1500. Wait till about march to buy it, or when the price goes down to around $500. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

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  3. Grants, tokens, trophies must be special and memorable. Some 3d laser engrave innovation is one of the best methods to etch the pictures at within the gem, so this strategy can be make extraordinary for the modified grants and keepsakes.

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  4. Did you use the installed vent with your upgraded fan? Thanks for posting the links, I'm printing the nozzle now and going to make the water switch asap!

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  5. Blue Crystal manufactures a wide range of products – all under one roof, right from 3D Laser Engraving inside the Crystal glass and normal glass. The manufacturing crystal glass mementos, gifts, trophies, 2D and 3D Laser Engraving.


    for more info
    http://www.bluecrystals.in/21-3d-laser-engrave

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  6. I wanted to engrave jpegs into oak. would this machine handle that?

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  7. hi. very good article. does this machine can cut 3mdf? if so, at wich speed? is prefer to send this international sea in a plywood box? thanks for your time. Juan José

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  9. Do you have any other posts or videos on doing add ons? How did you hook up your air assist?

    Also, any other recommend reads on this equipment? We just got ours a week ago, getting it working not bad now.

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  10. Very useful information. Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Very useful information. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. I just received mine. Glad I found this before even opening the box very helpful!

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  13. Has anyone got this device and not got the software with it, aswell as tutoril to connect the booklet obtained is in chinese

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  14. Has anyone got this device and not got the software with it, aswell as tutoril to connect the booklet obtained is in chinese

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