If you belong to a laser engraver forum then you have for sure experienced what I’m about to mention. And I feel a little “dirty” mentioning this. I don’t want to discourage anyone and I don’t want to seem like I’m not helpful. But here goes.
You stumble across something cool, maybe a bit artistic. Through some trial and error you figure out how to laser it and your results are so cool you decide to share it on a laser engraving forum. Then, here it comes.
Where did you buy that?
How much was it?
What were your settings?
If you fail to properly answer the last question you’ll be chastised. By golly, it is their right to have you do all the artistic work and sacrifice materials and just give it away to them to become your competition. I’ve even seen people start new posts on every laser forum I’ve been on saying that if you don’t share your settings when posting photos then you’re just not a very nice or helpful person.
This is all observational to me. I’m not the guy that very often comes up with something new or artistic.
But I personally cringe when I see demands for settings. I want to be clear here. There is a difference between asking politely and insisting someone share their settings.
Let me provide an example: “That looks awesome. What a great idea that is. Do you mind sharing your settings?” That is the antithesis of: “Everyone that posts a pic should have to provide their settings. Just showing off your design without settings isn’t helpful.”
We typically think of a rotary device being used to laser engrave round items. But did you know that you can set your rotary up on a horizontal plane to engrave multiple flat items? In this example I’ll use my Monport laser, 30 watt fiber with the 80mm rotary chuck to engrave 6 business cards at once.
While this is actually really easy I haven’t found a definitive place that covers all the basics of setup for this operation. And that’s what I try to do here at John’s Tech Blog. Make it simple and include important steps that just aren’t clearly documented elsewhere.
I have had my Monport Fiber laser (30 watt Raycus) for a couple of weeks now. After using it a couple of days I published my initial impressions here. Since that time I’ve learned a ton more about this remarkable laser. I have been having a ton of fun and making a few dollars in the process. Since my last review didn’t really include the 80mm rotary device, I will lead with that.
Also a good time to mention that my readers can get 10% off all Monport laser machines by using the code John10 at checkout.
Probably the most common question to someone with a side hustle laser is, “Can you engrave metal with that?”. For the most part, with a diode or CO2 laser, the answer is “No”. Or the answer is “you can lightly mark some metals but not engrave them”. To truly engrave on metal surfaces you need a Fiber laser. It is way past time that I get a fiber laser for my shop. And the one I chose was the Monport Laser 30 Watt Fiber Laser. $2999,99. Monport has provided my readers a 10% discount on all machines. Use John10 at checkout.
Full Disclosure: While I purchased this machine with my own funds, I was provided a nice discount in return for a short series of reviews. At no time has any pressure been applied to me from Monport to provide a positive review.
What you’ll read below is my honest opinion of the machine. This blog will generally be a “First Impressions” entry.
And while I have only owned the machine for a few days at the time of this writing I have already formed a strong opinion. And that opinion is “Where have you been all my life, fiber laser?”.
I’ll be completely 100% honest here. When xTool first previewed the xTool F1 last year I had my doubts about it. Not about the machine, but whether it was a good fit for me. Yes, it looked cool. But it also looked very SPECIFIC. In my mind I could only visualize using it as a vendor at a Craft Fair or Flea Market. I had decided that I probably wouldn’t be getting the F1 Laser.
Boy was I wrong.
Now that I have one, courtesy of xTool, I can see just how wrong my initial assessment of the F1 laser was. xTool provided me an F1 and a Slide Extension, however at no time have they attempted to influence my reviews. When someone provides you gear to review and they don’t try to influence you, that means THEY TRUST THEMSELVES.
I did an initial review here, and man was I impressed. That should teach me to not form an opinion until I actually test the equipment. My initial belief that a 115 x 115 mm working area just was only good for small items produced rapidly at a vendor table. Now that I have one of these, it is apparent to me that most of the things that I do with a laser FIT ON THE F1! And I can do them way faster on the galvo laser.
Recently, the laser company xTool began shipping their F1 machine. I was fortunate enough to receive one from them and did an initial impressions review here. They are now providing a great accessory, the xTool F1 Slide Extension ($199) and it is available now for purchase.
The F1 is a galvo laser, which is fast, but galvo lasers generally have a very small working area. Because galvo lasers have a mirror system which directs the laser beam and the lens is fixed focal length, the further the beam gets from the lens, the more out of focus it becomes. So that keeps the working area fairly small.
The Engineers at xTool have designed a BRILLIANT method of expanding the engraving length along the X axis (right to left) by UP TO 4X’s.
This creates ample room to engrave longer items, make signage, and to create templates to engrave more than one item at a time.
I’ve said this before, but xTool is the most innovative laser manufacturer out there. They are providing engineering solutions to overcome machine limitations in ways that I have not seen before.
Introducing the new Algolaser Alpha. $799. John’s Tech Blog was provided with what appears to be a 1st batch production machine for review by the folks at Algolaser. No pressure was applied for a positive review. The provided link above is an affiliate link which helps support my page.
SPOILER ALERT: This is a cool machine!
Desktop diode lasers have been available commercially since about 2019. At that time desktop lasers were typically low powered devices and their mainboards were only smart enough to control movement along an X and Y axis.
A lot has changed since then with the advent of 32 bit motherboards capable of precision movements. The Algolaser Alpha provides advanced electronics to include gyroscopes and heat/flame detection. Additionally, there is laser over exposure protection which stops the machine if flame if probable. User safety and precision seem to be paramount with the release of the Algolaser Alpha. Also, these much more powerful motherboards contain Internet of Things chips (IoT) which have ESP32 S2 chipsets which allow for multiple connection methods such as USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi.
My friends at xTool have provided me with one of their latest offerings to review, the xTool F1. The F1 is a highly portable laser engraver which contains 2 separate lasers in one housing. One laser is a 10 watt, 455 nanometer (nm) wavelength laser and the second is a 2 watt IR, 1064 nm laser for marking metals.
The laser is a galvo system and an explanation of that type of laser can be found here. I’m told the author of that article is pretty awesome!
Because the galvo laser uses a mirror system instead of mechanical movements across an X and Y axis, it typically is a LOT faster than a conventional desktop diode laser.
Conversely, the tradeoff here is that the range of the mirroring system results in a considerably smaller useable area. Also if cutting an item, the edges may have a slight bevel to them. This is due of the angle of the laser cutting beam.
Where the F1 really shines brightly is its ability to mark small items quickly. Items such as jewelry, coasters, leather patches, and tumblers (with optional rotary) can be rapidly produced. Because of the portability of the F1 it is ideal for Craft Show and Flea Market sales. Customers may walk away if you tell them their tumbler will be ready for pickup in 30 minutes. However, if you tell them you can produce it in a minute or two right in front of their eyes, they are more inclined to stick around. Time is money, as they say.
The LaserOG just can’t keep up with all the new desktop laser engravers on the market. There is fierce competition for who will get your business. The market has saturated fairly quickly as well. You could only really start buying desktop lasers in about 2019. Prior to that you would have had to DIY one. The only exception to that might be the venerable K40 CO2 laser from China which first started importing into the US in 2012. So how do you know which desktop laser engraver to buy?
Seriously though, nearly every week or so I see a brand new laser company spring up on my social media feeds. And of course there are so many that I haven’t gotten my hands on a lot of them. I am excited to review the new Algolaser Delta soon though. Be looking for that review in a week or two.
First of all I’m going to start by saying these are solely my opinions. But I think they are pretty valid observations. In the last month or so the original founder of Ortur laser, Mr. Justin Tan dropped a letter saying that he and his Board couldn’t resolve their differences so he resigned.
Anyone following Ortur laser, especially on their Official Facebook group knows that the face of the company is a gentleman named Gil Araújo. He is their Support Lead and quite frankly he’s developed a reputation for providing exceptional customer service. If you’ve spent more than a few days on their group you know who he is and you know that most of their customers recognize him as a professional who is going to get them through whatever support issue they have. Gil just dropped a post announcing his resignation as well.