Chinese laser cutters

For quite a while I have been really interested in laser cutters. The Glowforge (the top photo on the left) looked interesting as does the Muse (lower photo on the left). Like everyone else that wants a laser cutter I looked at the Chinese laser cutters. I have come to understand that the biggest difference is that the Glowforge, Muse and other turn-key cutters are just that .. set up and start burning in half an hour.

The Chinese laser cutters while they may also cut within an hour but more likely take much longer to be set up correctly and get to cut properly. What I do see though is that they can be an excellent base for a starting cutter and with the right upgrades are very cost effective compared to other commercial level cutters. There are plenty of YouTube videos covering this and I thought I would use this page to consolidate this information to one place.

There are machines ranging from the smaller 40 watt – with smaller cutting beds all the way up to 100 watt machines with massive bed sizes .. and the cost for them ranges as well. To a large extent the choice depends on the expected end-use. The thicker the material that needs cutting requires either multiple passes or higher power. The bed size of course dictates what size projects you can lase.

My interest is cutting items on the smaller end of the size range – related to my desire for using a cutter for my O scale modeling.

OMTech 50W

The machine sold on eBay for $1,999 lists as :
Model: OMT-E2012-50
Brand: OMTech MPN: USB-5B3R-US
Machine Dimension: 40“L x 25.6“W x 24.8“H(102*65*63CM)
Net Weight: 165 lb(75 kg)
Package Size: 44.5“L x 30“W x 27.5“H(113 x 76 x 70cm)
Package Weight: 199.5 lb(90.5 kg)
Manufacturer Part Number: USB-5B3R-US UPC: 602105735087

I put this up so I could compare to the same machine sold on Amazon.com – which … *sigh* … doesn’t help much at all. The machine on Amazon lacks a model number I could compare the eBay and Amazon machines. The exact same product photo is used for both. The only difference I can see is the price with the Amazon version $200 more.

Watching a bunch of YouTube videos of people who have a K40 laser cutter or it’s larger brother what comes to mind is that you get a machine that works … but the parts that make up the machine are generally of low quality. Users end up replacing mirrors, the air pump, the water pump, upgrade the controller board and power supply. The water pump system is replaced by something better .. a chiller, the exhaust fan is replaced/upgraded. It seems to be a throw of the dice as to how long you can cut before a part fails but this is one of those things that needs to be accepted. In the end you can end up with a great machine, and even with all the upgrades still at a cost well below the turn-key machines .. you just need to accept that this will take time.

eBay, Amazon, OMTech

I spent a bit of time puzzling over the fact that these lasers are available on eBay and Amazon with different prices. I then managed to wander around until I found the OMTech website. Finally .. I joined the official Facebook forum – OMTech Official Laser Group: Help, Advice, and More!. I did some searching within the forum and finally found a post where a snippet said this .. – OMTech (California based) is a separate business organization than the Orion Motor Tech and Preenex lasers sold on Amazon and Ebay (China based). The support, warranty and (in some cases) the lasers themselves are different. If you buy from Amazon and Ebay, you will NOT get support from OMTech in California unless you pay for their 1 on 1 virtual tech support each time.
I looked at the prices on the OMTech website and they seem to be in line with Amazon prices .. slightly above eBay. Seems to me that if I decide to purchase a machine I should do so directly from the company.

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