C02 Laser Opinion + Recomendations

I’m looking to purchase my first laser for a small business. Looking for the most efficient machine I can get for my budget ~8K.

I need this mostly to cut cardboard 1/4" to 1/2" thick but this will most definitely be used for other material. I’m looking at the OMTech 130W Dual head CO2 Laser as well as the Monport 150W with Built-in Chiller.

Both comparable in price and both probably more than what I need. For production reason I’m leaning to the OMTech as I can produce more product quicker but the larger bed / more power and builtin chiller are nice features of the Monport.

I have heard bad reviews on customer service for both of these companies that is very concerning ~ especially for this kind of money.

Does anyone have experience with these machines and or an opinion considering the type of material I’m intending to cut. Is the duel really that much faster or does it just add trouble ~ extra maintenance ~ etc.

All opinions welcome :slight_smile:


If you regard what you’re buying as a pre-assembled parts kit, rather than a finished product, you’ll be pretty close to the mark. Regardless of whatever they tell you about “support”, you will be responsible for diagnosing / troubleshooting / repairing / replacing whatever goes wrong, right down to the component level; the “warranty” may get you some free parts after you’ve done the hard part of figuring out what’s wrong.

In addition, you will be responsible for aligning / calibrating / adjusting everything inside the machine. When it arrives, you must not assume it’s been correctly (or even competently) assembled, nor that the laser beamline is properly aligned.

This means you must be willing to become a laser technician, in addition to whatever else you’ll be doing. None of the adjustments are particularly difficult, although the first couple of times will ram you along a learning curve with plenty of unfamiliar terms.

Mostly the machine will work well and stay that way, but you must be alert for the times when things go wrong.

Protip: Keep spare lenses / mirrors on the shelf for when you need them. Tubes & HV power supplies go bad in use, but also on the shelf, so there’s no point in stocking those.


You’d be better off buying two identical machines and setting them up side-by-side, so that you don’t lose production when your one-and-only laser goes casters-up and requires a week of debugging / parts ordering / installation / recalibration.

With that in mind: after the first month you won’t know how you got along without it … :grin:


Great tips ed and really good point about getting 2 lasers as opposed to a duel head to keep up with any down time. I could probably get away with 2 80 or 100W close to the same price that should handle cardboard fine. 130 + 150 are probably overkill anyway.

On the flip side I’m also looking into industrial cutting tables used in the packaging industry - they use a blade as opposed to lasers. Most likely it cant compare to detail a laser can give you but for larger straight / circle cuts it will most likely be way faster than laser machines. Wicked expensive though so I need to weigh the options. More homework needed on my end for sure.

Thanks again and if anyone else has suggestions I’m open to other types of machines / brands / lasers and/or otherwise. Anything that can cut thicker cardboard as efficient as possible. I like the versatility of CO2 lasers to both etch and cut different types of material but speed is always a huge factor.

In your original post you mention you want to cut “cardboard” 1/4 to 1/2",

Do you really mean brown corrugated paperboard? Or do you mean MDF, medium density fiberboard?

I agree with a lot of what [ednisley] said.

Depending on what you really meant about what you want to cut, I can give you some advice about cutter/plotters.

Yes ~ I’ll mostly be cutting regular corrugated (double ply) cardboard for my products. This tends to be thicker ~ usually 1/4" but in some cases can go up from (1/2 ~ all the way to 1") depending on the type of cardboard I use.

Mostly 1/4" cardboard (for now).

I haven’t heard of 1/2" corrugated, but have worked with double wall corrugated that is classified as BC - more like 5/16".

It would help to know if you are doing any packaging that contains folds. If you are just cutting, and have 6 figure money, I would get a Zund

But, I am spending your money :slight_smile: I guess I’m not a big fan of using a laser to cut corrugated, unless you are really “babysitting” the machine. A cutting table with an oscillating knife is safer if the operator is doing multiple tasks.

I operated a Zund G3 with a conveyor system. It wasn’t an auto feeder - you manually place sheets on the conveyor. The table cuts your shapes, and then indexes forward. We had a delivery table that would hold the indexed sheet moving forward, and the table would then start cutting the sheet you placed on the back of the table.

Thanks for the clarification on material to be cut. It would be very helpful to also know the dimensions of the “blank” to be cut from. Ralph brought up Zund, and yes, there are a lot of cutter/plotters for corrugated, with vacuum tables to hold it flat during cutting. The hold down vacuum is an ideal feature for doing precision corrugated board that a laser is not likely to work well with.

Again, knowledge of the dimensions and thickness of the material might help us.

Blades have a killer advantage over lasers for corrugated cardboard: they don’t fill the corrugations with smoke.

The assist air required to get a good cut blows smoke in both directions along each corrugation, so the entire sheet fills with smoke and it jets out the sides. Pick up a piece, blow into it, and you’re playing the Devil’s harmonica …

The smell dies down to “tolerable” after a day or two, but if you were thinking the customer won’t know which tool you used, a laser is definitely not the right hammer for the job.

Thanks All!

@RalphU - Apologies - you are correct - it’s more like 5/16" and im using BC board as you said. I’m also experimenting with other types of board ~ in particular Honeycomb pads that do tend to be much thicker ~ that can range in thickness from 1/2", 3/4", 1", 2" and up to 4". I can’t imagine cutting 4" Honeycomb. Folding not needed at the moment but is a nice to have option.

Regarding (budget) - definitely NOT in the 6 figure camp. This is a very early stage business idea and honestly I was initially hoping to keep under 5K but as I see efficiency improve I pushed that to 10K. Nowhere close to the cost of they are asking for these new industrial tables. Best I can do is get lucky with used equipment at a liquidation sale.

I was drooling over the *Kongsberg X20 but I am certain that’s out of budget. Not sure as they are not transparent about pricing. I will check out Zund as well and see if I can find anything close to my price point (if even possible).

+patricr - The dimensions of the blanks can range in size but I’m able to cut down my blanks to as little as 20" x 20" and still produce product. I would like the option to go much larger without breaking the bank but for now I can get away with a smaller machine to see if my business takes off.

@ednisley - Good point about the smoke. In some trial runs this was a big problem with the cut blanks smelling like a chimney. One thing I need to do is mark the product with guidelines and assembly numbering instructions. I found the laser did an excellent job of this but cutting is slow in comparison. Ideally best of both worlds as those cutting tables cant really mark boards as I need them. I would have to get them pre-printed or have a laser machine dedicated to etching - to much equipment cost for a business just starting out $$$$ : /

I’ve generally only used corrugated cardboard for demo/template purposes (mocking up layouts and such), so smoke in the tubes hasn’t been an issue for me, but I’m wondering what mitigations I would deploy if the cardboard was the product.

For my general wood or plywood creations (cut or engraved), I toss them into a wire cage in a big plastic storage bin (outside the shop), close the lid, and then run ozone in for half an hour or so. That takes care of the smoke smell, and a bit of airing out afterward lets the ozonated sharpness quickly dissipate. For cardboard, I guess I could attach some 120mm computer case fans to the cage to blow air through the corrugation channels on a stack of cardboard cutouts, perhaps?

Regarding a Kongsberg X20, they are a direct competitor to Zund, and the pricing should be pretty similar.

Regarding part marking the corrugated, these types of machines allow you to use a pen. I always used a ball point, which is good for paperboard, but not corrugated. I am sure you can replace the ball point with a felt tip.

It sounds like you can start off with a laser, and if things take off, then you can consider a Kongsberg or a Zund. I know there are Chinese “knockoffs” that are more in the 20-40K range. In packaging design, the 3 brands I am familiar with are Zund, Kongsberg, and Mimaki. Mimaki’s are a bit lightweight, but work good for paperboard - not too good for corrugated, because the knife doesn’t oscillate - it only drags.

I doubt that would produce enough pressure to push air through the channels, because they’re long relative to their diameter = plenty of drag. You’d also want the pieces stacked far enough apart to get air flow between them.

On the other paw, The Great Stank escaped from a flock of sheep & a pair of dinosaurs left outdoors overnight:

Huffing directly from the corrugations still has that campfire smell, so you probably shouldn’t mail them to a customer, but they’re fine for my simple needs.

So maybe patience is a virtue. :grin:

1 Like

@ClayJar +ednisley - for the odor I was considering using small charcoal packets to place in the packaging after I aired the product out for a few days. I have yet to test if this has any effect but in theory it should work.

I was looking at these:

@RalphU - thanks again for the info on the cutting table. After talking with Kongsberg today I got a contact to source out manufacturing the product with a company out in Iowa (evolvingedge.com). This may be a way to go to see if I even have a winning product worth the investment but I don’t like sharing my ideas with a third party ~ although not super unique - I do like the idea of owning the keys to production. ~ Ralph - are you able to source cutting this material in bulk on your Zund G3 ~ if so where are you located? I would like to see one of these machines up close to see how it handles the material and what kind of speeds I should expect.

I am in Minnesota, but retired 7 years ago. The company that I worked for was bought out 2 years before I retired - Graphic Packaging. They are one of the biggest. We were strictly folding carton in the end, but used the Zund to cut UV printed folding carton prototypes and also some basic corrugated packaging for shipping.

You can get in touch with Zund USA - they are in Wisconsin, and they should be able to give you some leads in your area.

US Headquarters
8142 South 6th Street
Oak Creek, WI 53154
T +1 414 433 0700

1 Like

Will do ~ and thank you :slight_smile:

1 Like