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xTool F1 Slide Extension

xTool F1 Slide Extension

xTool F1 Slide
 xTool F1 Slide Extension

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.

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Algolaser Alpha Review

Algolaser Alpha Review

Algolaser Alpha

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.

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xTool F1 Review

xTool F1 Review – First Impressions

xTool F1
 xTool F1

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.

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So Many Desktop Laser Engravers

Criteria For Choosing a Desktop Laser Engraver

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.

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Ortur Lasers Update

Is There Trouble At Ortur Laser?

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.

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Cheap Laser Engraver

A New Old Cheap Laser Engraver

If you are trying to buy a laser engraver for the first time, the entry level price can be a bit daunting. Entry level prices can exceed $600 for a “budget” laser. I personally am always on the lookout for bargain basement priced lasers. Today, I think I have found the Mother Of All Deals. Let’s chronicle my never ending search for a cheap laser engraver.

Cheap Laser Engravers

I’ve written on this subject before. Finding a bargain in this hobby is worth writing about. My previous favorite budget machines that I reviewed were the TwoTrees TT-25 and the Ortur Aufero AL2. I found the TwoTrees machine (actually a rebrand) on Aliexpress for about $122. The Ortur Aufero 2 ended up costing around $170. Both of those are bargains although the TwoTrees machine was a 2.5 watt laser. I typically prefer at least 5 watt machines.

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Laser Engraver Costs

Laser Engraver Costs

Desktop lasers became commercially marketed in around 2019. Unless I miss my guess, Ortur was first to the commercial market with their Laser Master 1 followed up shortly by the Laser Master 2. Laser Engraver Costs were fairly inexpensive at this early juncture and you could go all in for $200 to $300 or so depending on where you ordered it from. That would get you 4.5 – 5.5 watts of output power. In my opinion, these were the golden days of desktop lasers in regards to cost vs. capability.

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Sculpfun Linear Rail Kit Upgrade

Sculpfun S9 Linear Rail Kit

Sculpfun provided me an S9 laser to review. Shortly before they officially released their 33 watt upgrade kit they also sent me one to review. After installation I noted that when doing small “LINE” engravings that the laser had to slowed down considerably. I ordered and installed the Sculpfun Linear Rail Kit to see if it improved stability.

Boy, did it ever.

The pic pretty well illustrates the issue. Heavy motor on the top pulling one direction, and heavy and large laser module pulling in the other direction.

Again, I need to state that this configuration works……you just have to slow things down a bit.

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Sculpfun S9 To S30 Upgrade Kit Deeper Dive

Sculpfun S9 To S30 33 Watt Upgrade Kit

Sculpfun provided me an S9 laser and then subsequently provided me a Sculpfun S9 to S30, 33 Watt Upgrade Kit.  I did a “First Impressions” blog which you can read here.  After using it for a couple of weeks I decided to do a deeper dive on upgrade kit.

Laser Module

Sculpfun S9 To S30 Upgrade
 33 Watt Module

The S30 Ultra 33 watt module is considerably larger than the original S9, 5.5 watt module and contains a lot of really cool features

Most noticeable is the addition of an all metal air assist.  One of my favorite features of the air assist is that it not only is secured in place with an allen screw, it also threads on and contains an O-ring to keep the air contained.

The tube is considerably larger than most competitors air assists which allows for a higher volume of air movement.

Removing the air nozzle allows for access to the lens for cleaning.

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Sculpfun S9 Upgrade Kit 33 Watt Review

Sculpfun S9 Upgrade Kit (33 Watt) Review

Sculpfun S9 Upgrade
 Sculpfun 33 Watt Laser

The great folks at Sculpfun recently sent me their S9 Laser which I did several reviews of.  Also, they very kindly sent me their 33 watt Sculpfun S9 Upgrade Kit which upgrades the kit from approximately 5.5 watts to a FULL 33 WATTS OF POWER to review.

Diode laser modules are roughly 5.5 watts and to obtain higher wattages, multiple diodes are combined into one beam.  In the case of a 33 watt module that means there are 6 individual blue diode laser modules.

There is one important point that I would like to make before I begin this review.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

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