Cheap; a word often synonymous with nasty – probably not what you had in mind when looking for a new laser cutting and engraving system. In part two of our laser buying basics guide, we take a closer look at what makes up a laser system and why a low cost laser needn’t mean nasty.
There are several key components that will affect the functionality, performance and reliability of your machine, below, we highlight some easy things to check and areas to be aware of.
This is the outer metal case the machine is made of. Key things to check are the paintwork, low cost steel can rust terribly – if you plan on putting your machine in the shed or garage where it could be damp, this will only accelerate the process. Unmarked, even and consistent paintwork will help to keep the chassis in the best possible condition for a long time.
Main lid hinges can fail – on the larger bed size machines the lid is quite heavy so worth checking they are sturdy.
Make sure all the panels are dent free and straight – if the machine has not been correctly crated or stacked during transit and storage, it can damage the frame. Bent frames mean a world of headaches, as you will find it very hard to align the beam consistently across the bed and the laser accuracy will vary depending on head position – not ideal for cutting or engraving.
Class 1 laser systems safeguard access to the cutting area, this can be either safety interlocks – a system that will shut the laser power down if the door is opened, or through locks mounted to access doors – if you can’t see them, ask to be shown them.
If the locks or safety interlocks are not present, then the system is not Class 1 – this could be dangerous as you may find yourself exposed to laser emission.
Make sure the tube is from a reputable manufacturer, Thinklaser use Reci or EFR tubes. These tubes have delivered consistent performance and reliability over the last 4 years. A useful tip is to make sure that the High Voltage (HV) leads are securely taped to the tube body as the solders can fail if left unsupported – this is normally done with red and black tape corresponding to the terminals on either end.
This should be neat and tidy, with all wires labelled. The supplier should also be able to show you a wiring diagram. A rat’s nest in the electrical cabinet will mean servicing the machine will take longer and may end up costing you more in engineer’s hours, either that or you could become very familiar with your multi-meter.
Poorly manufactured electrical boards highlight a poorly made machine, as this is the area most likely to fail and cause problems. Look out for high quality components such as Schneider or Mean Well, as these are areas that a manufacturer could try to cut corners on.
Inspection process’ and records:
Most low cost machines will be manufactured in China – the Lightblade is, we make no secret of that. However, the machines are made to Thinklaser’s specification and then thoroughly inspected in the UK to make sure there are no defects prior to shipping to our customers.
If a supplier in the UK inspects the machines prior to shipping, then they should have no issue in talking you through their process and the records kept of the machines that have been shipped, be wary of suppliers with something to hide.
- Make sure the chassis is straight, dent free and well protected.
- Ensure the cutting bed is safety interlocked and any access doors are securely lockable.
- Check the electrical cabinet and make sure that the supplier will be able to support the machine with the correct service documentation.
- Make sure the machine has been thoroughly inspected and any quality defects remedied and reported.
Hopefully this will help to keep you clear of potential minefields in the process of buying a new machine. Next time we will take a look at the software side of the house, the various packages available and how they stack up.
If you have any questions regarding the blog, laser cutting or engraving, feel free to get in touch on 01737 826902 or at [email protected] we would be happy to help out.