Laser engravers anyone?
#10
  
So, I’ve reached the age where I’m paring down my life.  Got rid of the pickup, most of my larger woodworking tools (I don’t do “big” stuff anymore), but am still staying in it with the smaller stuff.
I’ve been looking into a laser engraver and thought I’d find more here after a search, but not so much.
 
Anyone have any experience with these you could share?  I have used them (but not for wood), and can find projects that would pay for an inexpensive beginner unit.
 
What I’ve found available is either the $500 home version or the $5000 industrial version.  Obviously, I’m not spending $5000 unless I can market it, which now being closer to retirement, may be possible in a few years.
 
Are the $500 units worth it?  Or is just something I’ll burn up after a couple uses.  Is this something that I’ll end up getting frustrated with the setup and will end up putting on Craigslist like my Porter-Cable 4216 dovetail jig?
 
Any input helps – thanks!
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#11
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
I have not personally used one, but this place has an add on laser solution to a CNC, which seems to get great reviews.
You would need to buy or build a CNC, but that could be very useful for small stuff or to replace tools that you have gotten rid of.
CNC can do most woodworking tasks, although not necessarily as fast or efficient as the specialized tools.
https://jtechphotonics.com/
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#12
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
W have one of the Chinese K40 40 watt lasers. It was problematic, until I rebuilt the whole thing. New electronics, exhaust fan, air assist, lighting, mirrors and lenses. Now its a runs like a top, and when the tube goes it will be about $150 to replace. Cost us $400 for the machine and then put another $400 in to it in improvements. Its just going to tick you off without improvements. However, my understanding is you an get some of these improvements already made for okay.

Keep in mind 40W will engrave wood just fine, but will never be able to cut anything thicker than 3/16" ply.
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#13
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
I've been looking at getting one as well.  I would look on YouTube at Sarbar Multimedia.  It's a channel by a guy named Russ Sadler.  He purchased an EBay "50" watt laser.  $1300.  He has 150 videos which are instructional on how to improve the laser.  It is very informative site.  Also there is RD Works Learning Lab.  It is also a source of great help.  In a nut shell, the  blue Chinese "50 watt" laser is worth the price.  You will have to fix some things.  He shows how to do it.  They are on Ebay. Be sure to check item location.  Normally the item is in CA or TN.  There are tons of other YouTube channels showing unboxing and set up of the blue Ebay lasers.
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#14
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
My son's friend got this, too big to get up his driveway so it was dropped off in my driveway.  Very large crate, blocked driveway.  Anyway they got it unpacked an up to his house about 300 yds way.  No idea what it will do.  Something for your consideration... Smile



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#15
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
I bought one of those cheap $200 ones.  It works.  Now it doesn't like hardwoods but will do the job - just slowly,  I made a whole bunch of ornaments for the Sunday School and worked just fine.  This unit will not cut through anything - well maybe paper.  But for doing things like logs on wood - just fine.  I believe the ones with CO feeds are better since it helps to let the laser cut deeper. 

I make a lot of clocks that I have been using those pre-printed clock faces.  I will now use 1/4" birch plywood to make them; works perfect for that.  I engrave pen boxes - just great. 

I don't use the software that came with it - to limited.  It use T2laser software.  Again - limited but works fine for signs and such.  I just got a job to make a sign for a restaurant - about 30 x 30.  This will work fine.
John

Always use the right tool for the job.

We need to clean house.
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#16
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
Thanks all for the responses.  A lot of great help.  Most in my “circle” are all downsizing and just focusing on specialties now.  One friend just does turning, another CNC, so we all trade stuff back and forth.

I likely won’t do anything bigger than 12”x12”x1/4” and it sounds like I could get away with what I want to do for under $1K for now.
 
Thanks John for the tip on the software.  That’s the one thing I have no patience for.
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#17
  Re: Laser engravers anyone? by NickNC ([color=#000000][size...)
Can't comment on the specific machines or their use, BUT... 
- A college friend's dad bought a machine a few years ago and has had a lot of fun doing unique items.  I saw some glass Christmas ornaments he did and they looked amazing.  A few weeks ago, they gifted me a yeti that had our college logo laser-ed into it with a campus landmark, again, looks amazing.  
- If you're anywhere near a military base, there's always a need for going-away plaques or other mementos.  We once gave a retiring O-6 a very nice humidor with an F-4 fighter-jet and some nice words laser-ed into the top -- turned out very cool. 

I don't know if doing round faces or different media (glass/metal/etc) is challenging, but very cool (and presumably marketable) results are possible in some out-of-the-ordinary places.
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#18
  Re: RE: Laser engravers anyone? by brax71 (Can't comment on the...)
(05-07-2019, 03:40 PM)brax71 Wrote: Can't comment on the specific machines or their use, BUT... 
- A college friend's dad bought a machine a few years ago and has had a lot of fun doing unique items.  I saw some glass Christmas ornaments he did and they looked amazing.  A few weeks ago, they gifted me a yeti that had our college logo laser-ed into it with a campus landmark, again, looks amazing.  
- If you're anywhere near a military base, there's always a need for going-away plaques or other mementos.  We once gave a retiring O-6 a very nice humidor with an F-4 fighter-jet and some nice words laser-ed into the top -- turned out very cool. 

I don't know if doing round faces or different media (glass/metal/etc) is challenging, but very cool (and presumably marketable) results are possible in some out-of-the-ordinary places.

Where I am there is a market for such things – more or less personalization than anything else.  We also have a thriving craft community, but engraving is such an expense that “starving artists” can’t afford it.  We also have a very diverse population, and a lot of “off the shelf” personalized items – like those bike license plates you see in stores – well, they never seem to have the name Pranjali or Golnessa.  Both names I’ve had to CNC route cutting boards for.
 
Our local school system has also started to bring back the old “shop class”, except now they call them “maker spaces”, which include mixed media and digital art.  Some of my tools and wood scraps and cutoffs have gone to them.  Kids can be pretty creative when given something tactile to work with.  If I do get frustrated with an engraver, or I don’t feel like marketing it at some point – it’s still a taxable donation.
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