Cheap laser cutter arrives pretty busted up

in #liveupdates, tools by Ian | 13 comments

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Like many others we have succumbed to the urge for a cheap laser cutter. What started as a $200 purchase quickly doubled, but that’s still a fraction of the cost of an expensive one. Why do we what it? That’s a not very well hit secret.

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The ubiquitous blue Chinese freight truck drops the crate on the corner in the rain. We use our huaqiangbei style cart, courtesy of Oomlout, to wheel it home. It took 7 days from ordering on Taobao to delivery.

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The laser cutter in the crate.

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So everyone has issues with these cheap cutters. Our biggest issue is two capacitors from the power supply rolling around in the crate. These didn’t just pop off, the leads are seriously messed up. There’s no way this went into the box without the packer noticing. They weren’t even in the electronics compartment, they had been tossed into the side of the crate with the accessories. Not sure we are daring enough to fix this here. Aftersales service will call tomorrow.

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A lead from the psu has snapped. It obvious why, the cable isn’t long enough for the compartment lid to open at all. Any force at all with break the entire assembly. Easy fix though.

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A random wire out the side and tied. Assume this is an unused lead from the optional water pump detection and kill switch.

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A laser sight was supposed to be included but was completely missing
Assume they will send it and we can install it.

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The 50w laser tube is intact though. There is an extra broken zip tie of unknown origin.

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The optional honeycomb insert doesn’t remotely fit the cutter bed. Not sure how it is supposed to be used at all.

Dissapointed? Absolutely not. At least not yet. We researched before making the purchase and expected some issues and bringup issues. Comments on taobao also related issues, but the service team supposedly deals with them quite well. The snapped caps are a bit alarming, but we’re five minutes from the biggest electronics market in the world and a qualified repair person will have it fixed in a few minutes.

These are first impressions from the WordPress mobile app while waiting for ribs. Full review coming once we have a chance to fix it up and play a bit. Oh yeah, and cut some free…

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Comments

  1. tayken says:

    We have a real similar model. The software is a piece of crap, Corel Draw drivers are awfully slow. We may decide to replace the controller board and use some sort of CNC board for it.

  2. JBeale says:

    Assuming this broken pile of parts can be made to work… does it cut acrylic sheet? if so I’m curious what kind of tolerances you can get. Is it much better than a 3D printer? I’ve found my Ultimaker 2 printing PLA can get me to within 0.2 mm of the intended dimensions almost all the time, assuming that I allow for 0.2 mm shrinkage on the ID of holes.

    • Ian says:

      Evidently the extra caps and cut wire are intentional. However, it still doesn’t work. Got the software going and “printing”, and its not at all slow, but the laser doesn’t fire.

      Support had Xiao Tang on the phone swapping the water hoses back and forth all day, kept saying the flow isn’t enough, but they didn’t include the water sensor we paid for. Dumb support.

      Eventually they said it was a bad tube. Tube doesn’t look bad, and the transformer in the power supply doesn’t have any hum when it fires. I made a 5Mohm +1K resistor divider and connected it to the tube and a multimeter. Fired the laser and got… absolutely nothing. I assume it’s the power supply, or the fact it’s a 40W power supply for a 5W tube…

      Jinhe got on the phone and screamed at them. The new support person wanted him to start swapping water tubes back and forth again. Dumb support. Jin yelled and screamed and we think they’re sending a new tube and new power supply. We’ll do a swap and send the old parts back.

      Overall pretty disappointing so far. I expected some work, but I didn’t expect the toll of arguing with stupid people on the phone for days.

      Oh yeah – they forgot the red-dot laser sighting attachment. Want to refund the money, but we’re like “we need that”. Support says – don’t worry it will work fine without it. Not. The. Point…

  3. Ian says:

    That’s how I went from a $200 cheapo to a $400 cheapo. It has a Ketai Gold 2014 board which is supposed to be way faster than the standard. This is also supposed to have 0.01 (0.1?) mm tolerance with the expensive 6 rail support. I’m not counting on it at all, lol, just got the upgrades after reading about similar experiences as tayken.

  4. Chris says:

    Can we get a name or link for this cutter?

    • Ian says:

      Sorry about commenting bugs, we’re working on it.

      I’ll do a full writeup when we get it working. I don’t really want to promote them before I find out if it’s a total lemon :)

  5. Chris says:

    Thanks for the write-up. Can we get a link or a name for the cutter?

  6. acidblue says:

    Could this be used for etching pcb’s or is that strictly a cnc thing??

  7. JBeale says:

    I think there is a reason you never hear about laser cutters being used for PCBs. Acrylic is a nice target because it (1) absorbs the IR laser beam and (2) the heat stays in one spot, allowing for a nice laser cut, due to low thermal conductivity. Copper, on the other hand, (1) is very reflective- some high-power IR lasers use copper mirrors! and (2) conducts heat extremely well, which is why good heatsinks use a copper core. So you never get one spot hot enough to melt or cut anything; any laser energy that does get absorbed is immediately spread through the rest of the copper.
    You might be able to laser-etch a separate chemical resist layer, and then chemically etch the copper, but if you want to use a resist process you don’t need a laser anyway.

    • Ian says:

      Agree. You could coat a PCB with etch resistant something and blast it off. Might be cleaner and faster than printing a transparency and using UV light exposure.

      I have no idea if we can get UV treated boards easily here. Considering how cheap PCBs are I don’t imagine it’s carried in the markets. If it is, I’ll give it a try.

  8. Paco says:

    Is it possible to buy one of these in spain?

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