Inadequate fume extraction
Lacks air assist(I'll get more into it later)
Safety is questionable
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|
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.
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.
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.