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Update on 2 mini laser engravers after 2 weeks of use

by Andybb
posted 01-18-2019 04:08 AM


23 replies so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

5152 posts in 1199 days


#1 posted 01-18-2019 04:57 AM

What an informative post, Andy. Thank you.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Mike_D_S

603 posts in 2824 days


#2 posted 01-18-2019 05:10 AM

Appreciate you coming back and updating the original post. Nice wrap up.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#3 posted 01-18-2019 05:29 AM

One thing I forgot to add….If you make the jig…...you may notice that the slots that the rod fits into are about 1/2” deep and must spin freely inside the tube as well as the bottom plate sliding freely. This is important because depending on the size of the bushings and the tension on the rubber band the blank may not spin which causes it to just print one solid line or skip parts. Remember to focus the laser if you change blank diameter.

On another note….At one point I thought the laser had failed as it wasn’t printing but it occurred to me laying in bed that maybe the CA was too thick. When I checked there was an invisible perfect image on the blank but it only burned the CA not the wood. When I filled it with color all was good.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Rich

5152 posts in 1199 days


#4 posted 01-18-2019 05:53 AM


On another note….At one point I thought the laser had failed as it wasn’t printing but it occurred to me laying in bed that maybe the CA was too thick.

- Andybb

I had one today. I was engraving my logo on the bottom of a tray and looked half way through to see nothing getting etched. It took me a minute to remember that I’d focused the laser earlier for the inside of a cover that was about 4 inches deep, so the laser was just a fuzz-ball for the tray.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#5 posted 01-18-2019 06:20 AM

On another note….At one point I thought the laser had failed as it wasn’t printing but it occurred to me laying in bed that maybe the CA was too thick.

- Andybb

I had one today. I was engraving my logo on the bottom of a tray and looked half way through to see nothing getting etched. It took me a minute to remember that I d focused the laser earlier for the inside of a cover that was about 4 inches deep, so the laser was just a fuzz-ball for the tray.

- Rich

Oh. That’s impressive that it has that much range of focus. I wear a set of those $3 3x Harbor F. glasses when I focus to get the pin point as sharp as possible. If I had to do it again I might have gotten the 1500mW model (yes the one I sent back because I thought I wanted the open bottom.) :-) But now that I’ve got the jig working well I’m going to try and make 2 passes and see if the image is as crisp.

Sounds like you’re getting some use out of yours. Glad to hear it. Something tells me I might at some point down the road get a branding iron for the logo I don’t yet have.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Redoak49

4356 posts in 2598 days


#6 posted 01-18-2019 11:41 AM

Thanks for your posts about these lasers. I am going to order an open bottom one today…2000me.

Could you post some info on the camera you used.

View BFamous's profile

BFamous

337 posts in 730 days


#7 posted 01-18-2019 12:45 PM

Thanks for the review. I’ve been looking at getting one of these for a bit now and wasn’t certain as to the model or quality of these machines.

Now I might have a little more confidence in buying. Do you mind posting the link to where you ordered?

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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Tony1212

375 posts in 2344 days


#8 posted 01-18-2019 02:54 PM


Thanks for the review. I ve been looking at getting one of these for a bit now and wasn t certain as to the model or quality of these machines.

Now I might have a little more confidence in buying.

- BFamous

This. Thank you so very much, Andy.

On a side note, Stumpy Nubs came to our local Rockler this past weekend, and while I was there I got to talking with another guy that uses these laser printers for his pens, as well. He didn’t even seem to know about Lumberjocks or these threads.

So, two independent sources recommending them. I’m convinced.

@BFamous – Andy posted this link (AliExpress – China’s Amazon) in the previous thread.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#9 posted 01-18-2019 05:31 PM

Now I might have a little more confidence in buying. Do you mind posting the link to where you ordered?

- BFamous

@BFamous – Andy posted this link (AliExpress – China s Amazon) in the previous thread.

- Tony1212

Be aware that Aliexpress is like Amazon on steroids. They will have 30 suppliers for the same item. I’ve noticed that some have better communication than others i.e. trying to do customer support via Google translate. Better pricing but a 2-3 week delivery time as it comes from China. (they all come from China regardless of who the merchant is). However, if you have issues (my first one was lost in the mail) there is no 1-800 Amazon number to call as you deal with the supplier, not Ali so for a little piece of mind you can spend an extra $30 on Amazon and have it in a day or 2. This one looks identical without the NEJE name on it. I’d feel comfortable getting it as the guts are pretty much the same and it’s somewhere in the US cuz Amazon has sameday delivery to me here in Seattle.

Just to reiterate, I have had no issues with any of the machines that I got, just a question of how long I wanted to wait and how much I was willing to pay. I’d get the 1500mW model if getting the closed bottom one and the 2000mW open bottom one. (the closed bottom one doesn’t seem to come higher than 1500mW) The reason I’d stick with the 2000mW open ended one for making pens is that I read somewhere that the ones that are 3000mW don’t do as good a job with fine details because of the strength of the laser.

This is who I ordered from on Ali. Great communication and USPS tracking # right away.


Thanks for your posts about these lasers. I am going to order an open bottom one today…2000me.

Could you post some info on the camera you used.

- Redoak49

I got this camera. Forgot I paid $9.99 through Amazon instead of $6.99 on Ali cuz it was next day delivery.

All that being said, it’s not much of a leap to get something like this. I just don’t have the room for it.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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BFamous

337 posts in 730 days


#10 posted 01-18-2019 06:15 PM

Thanks for providing all of that insight. It really is appreciated.

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

View SenecaWoodArt's profile

SenecaWoodArt

446 posts in 2229 days


#11 posted 01-18-2019 09:24 PM

I would like to share a piece of software that I have found that can take your laser control to the next level. It took me a little over a year to discover it and I sure wish that I had known about it sooner as it gives you a lot more control over the power that you can burn at. It’s called T2Laser and sells for $39.95 but you can use the trial version in 20 minute burns or 10,000 lines of code to try it out before you buy. I learned to use it in about 30 minutes from this Youtube video.

-- Bob

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#12 posted 01-18-2019 09:43 PM


I would like to share a piece of software that I have found that can take your laser control to the next level. It took me a little over a year to discover it and I sure wish that I had known about it sooner as it gives you a lot more control over the power that you can burn at. It s called T2Laser and sells for $39.95 but you can use the trial version in 20 minute burns or 10,000 lines of code to try it out before you buy. I learned to use it in about 30 minutes from this Youtube video.

- SenecaWoodArt

Cool. What laser are you using? Does this work with these 2 wire mini lasers? It says it is Grbl based and the boards in these are not quite at that level without changing out the board and laser or upgrading to something like an A3 as far as I could tell. I remember looking at Grbl based stuff a few weeks ago and concluding it wasn’t an option. If it is, that would be great. This video is on youtube about how to upgrade a mini laser’s hardware but it was a pretty tedious job as these controller boards don’t speak arduino/grbl.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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SenecaWoodArt

446 posts in 2229 days


#13 posted 01-18-2019 09:51 PM


Cool. What laser are you using? Does this work with these mini lasers? It says it is Grbl based and the boards in these are not quite at that level without changing out the board and laser as far as I can tell. I remember looking at Grbl based stuff a few weeks ago and concluding it wasn t an option. If it is, that would be great. This video is on youtube= about how to upgrade a mini laser s hardware but it was a pretty tedious job as the controller boards in these aren t arduino/grbl based. (whatever that means).

- Andybb

I have to admit that I don’t have any experience with the mini lasers and you obviously have done some research into it. I am using a 2500MW A3 laser. The software that I replaced was Benbox and that one was complete junk. But what do you expect for free. T2Laser opened up a whole new world for me and $40 is dirt cheap for laser software.

-- Bob

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#14 posted 01-18-2019 10:00 PM

That makes sense and actually as I might have mentioned earlier, the A3 doesn’t seem like that much of a leap for the functionality that the extra $100 would get you. I’m just out of space and my wife would definitely notice that puppy vs the 2 mini lasers hiding in the corner. :-)

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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SenecaWoodArt

446 posts in 2229 days


#15 posted 01-18-2019 10:09 PM



That makes sense and actually as I might have mentioned earlier, the A3 doesn t seem like that much of a leap for the functionality that the extra $100 would get you. I m just out of space and my wife would definitely notice that puppy vs the mini laser hiding in the corner. :-)

- Andybb

I know what you mean. Fortunately, my wife works in the shop with me and she comes up with as many uses for it as I do. I am on my second one as I burnt the first laser module up and it was hard wired into the controller wiring. The new one has plug in connectors and will be easier to replace. I discovered T2Laser because i could not get Benbox to correctly flash the new controller and a forum led me T2Laser. It was a simple plug and play solution after I watched the Youtube video and downloaded the software. I was really surprised at the amount of control that I gained over Benbox.

-- Bob

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#16 posted 01-18-2019 10:31 PM

I am genuinely curious what the benefits would be. Probably can’t get too creative inside of a 1.5” area but am still wondering what it will allow you to do that you couldn’t otherwise. Nobody seems to be able to answer that question. If I find enough laser uses an A3 might be a good Xmas gift from the wife next year.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View BFamous's profile

BFamous

337 posts in 730 days


#17 posted 01-18-2019 10:45 PM

So now I am sitting here looking at all of the ones on Ali… And I see a 15W version, which using my amazing math skills, would tell me it should be 5 times as strong as a 3000mw machine… Wondering if this would be able to “cut” thin wood… Or more specifically, burn a series of holes 3/16” in diameter about 1/4” deep each…

Anyone with some knowledge have any thoughts?

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32945703658.html?spm=a2g0n.search-cache.0.0.7ef93d00v7Q0aY

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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SenecaWoodArt

446 posts in 2229 days


#18 posted 01-18-2019 11:16 PM



I am genuinely curious what the benefits would be. Probably can t get too creative inside of a 1.5” area but am still wondering what it will allow you to do that you couldn t otherwise. Nobody seems to be able to answer that question. If I find enough laser uses an A3 might be a good Xmas gift from the wife next year.

- Andybb

In you earlier posts, you made reference to not burning as deeply as you wanted, if I understood what you were saying. T2Laser allows you to set the degree of burn intensity from 0 to 255. You can modify this with each burn that you do. The free software that I had been using did not give you that control at all. Different materials will require that type of control to give adequate results.

-- Bob

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SenecaWoodArt

446 posts in 2229 days


#19 posted 01-18-2019 11:19 PM



So now I am sitting here looking at all of the ones on Ali… And I see a 15W version, which using my amazing math skills, would tell me it should be 5 times as strong as a 3000mw machine… Wondering if this would be able to “cut” thin wood… Or more specifically, burn a series of holes 3/16” in diameter about 1/4” deep each…

Anyone with some knowledge have any thoughts?

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32945703658.html?spm=a2g0n.search-cache.0.0.7ef93d00v7Q0aY

- BFamous

While I don’t profess to be an expert in this field, based on my reading and understanding, you will need to move into the 40 – 60 Watt range before you can start cutting material.

-- Bob

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BFamous

337 posts in 730 days


#20 posted 01-18-2019 11:21 PM


So now I am sitting here looking at all of the ones on Ali… And I see a 15W version, which using my amazing math skills, would tell me it should be 5 times as strong as a 3000mw machine… Wondering if this would be able to “cut” thin wood… Or more specifically, burn a series of holes 3/16” in diameter about 1/4” deep each…

Anyone with some knowledge have any thoughts?

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32945703658.html?spm=a2g0n.search-cache.0.0.7ef93d00v7Q0aY

- BFamous

While I don t profess to be an expert in this field, based on my reading and understanding, you will need to move into the 40 – 60 Watt range before you can start cutting material.

- SenecaWoodArt

Thanks for that insight. I guess I’ll stick to drilling (over and over and over again)

-- Brian Famous :: Charlotte, NC :: http://www.FamousArtisan.com

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#21 posted 01-18-2019 11:49 PM


In you earlier posts, you made reference to not burning as deeply as you wanted, if I understood what you were saying. T2Laser allows you to set the degree of burn intensity from 0 to 255. You can modify this with each burn that you do. The free software that I had been using did not give you that control at all. Different materials will require that type of control to give adequate results.

- SenecaWoodArt

My issue is the power of the laser I think. I can control the burn time and intensity but at their max it takes 2 passes to burn completely through a fully finished pen.

Looking back at JADobson's post he said the guy he gives his pens to to engrave has a $5000 laser. Looking at the picture I can believe it as it has burned a deep depression into a fully finished pen barrel. This is one of those jobs that you can’t do with the closed bottom lasers as the font and type wouldn’t fit in a 1.5” space unless you did one burn for each word.

BFamous I think you’re moving into the realm of the CO2 laser to be able to actually cut wood. 1/4’ thick is pretty heavy even for a cheaper CO2 I think. But then again, the above entries constitute my total and limited knowledge on the subject of lasers.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

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Andybb

2392 posts in 1213 days


#22 posted 01-26-2019 08:42 PM

Just another progress report and rambling…(not that anyone cares)

Seems that for me so far I’ve had the best luck with the metallic powder and CA. I use one coat of thin CA on the sanded blank before engraving. Then medium CA (the thin runs too easily) with the fine point nozzle put into engraved letters then put the powder on top of that and press it down with a paper towel. That seems to enfuse the powder and actually leaves a raised mound. (which looks like a blur at first but sands down to a very nice finish). Then I recover the excess and blow off the blank with compressed air and hand sand the lettering until it slowly reveals itself. This method holds up better than the Rub n buff or acrylic paint I think because the CA/metal powder combo is hard as rock. This combo is elevated enough to withstand sanding which allows you to sand down to the level of the blank without sanding away any of the blank. It also doesn’t have to dry overnight like the paint and RnB. Seems like hand sanding just the letters with 120 grit until they are back down to the level of the blank works best otherwise sanding on a spinning lathe sands the entire blank. Interestingly, having the burned wood as the substrate seems to give the lettering a delicate border around the letters. I probably should have sanded these letters a little more. Then, just finish as always.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4356 posts in 2598 days


#23 posted 01-26-2019 09:35 PM

Always glad to see updates. I ordered my open bottom engraver a few days ago and now just have to wait.

I am certain that it will be fun figuring out how to operate.

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