New Laser Setup Choices

Hi,

I currently have an AtomStack A5 Pro, and it’s okay, but not great. I’m going to return this, and purchase a better setup.

I’m considering:

  • ORTUR Laser Master 2 Pro-S2-LF (and the 2 Pro S2 Enclosure)
  • NEJE MASTER 2S MAX
  • AtomStack A7 Pro

I’m leaning towards the Ortur setup. It seems the most useful, and I like the enclosure with the option to vent or fume extract with less effort compared to the others.

My use will mostly be for both cutting and engraving Rowmark LaserMark acrylic panels. Mostly it will be the .5mm material, but also sometimes the 3mm material. I will also want to engrave powder-coated steel or aluminum, but this is less common. Anything beyond that will be for fun.

Am I on the right track? Anything I should strongly consider that I didn’t list?

Side question, assuming I go with the Ortur, which LightBurn camera should I get?

My only issue with the Ortur is that the panels I cut/engrave on the .5mm material are 430mm x 63.5mm. It looks like I could center that in the enclosure, and then cut the ends of the panel with a knife, but this is obviously less desirable than having the machine do everything.

Does anybody make enclosures for the other options above? I know I could make one myself, but while I have the tools/skills, I don’t have the time or interest to DIY an enclosure.

Thanks,
Josh

I see that AtomStack has the AtomB1 enclosure, which is cool. But it doesn’t appear they have a bigger one for the extension kit yet.

Can you speak to what issues you have with the AtomStack? Might help in assessing whether or not one of the alternatives would address your concerns.

Assuming you’re working with dark materials (ie must be optically opaque to the laser wavelength) .5 mm will cut without much fuss on the Ortur. The 3mm is doable but at higher passes and/or power. If you’re doing high volume work at 3mm then you’ll need to work out if the performance is sufficient for you. Anything more than the occasional cutouts at 3mm I’d suggest you look at a CO2 laser.

Camera choice is less about the laser than it is about your environment, I’d say the enclosure in this case. I haven’t seen any specifics on recommendations for the Ortur enclosures although there have been other topics on this. You may want to do a search.

I’m not familiar with the enclosure dimensions but this could sit between the legs of the laser frame so that you wouldn’t need to trim the ends.

‘Help → Camera selection help’

Screenshot from 2022-01-12 09-20-06

There are also a number of videos on camera setup.

:smiley_cat:

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The A5 Pro is slow, lower power, and doesn’t have a fancy stop button. I’d rather spend more for something better/safer. Theoretically it might be all I really need, but I don’t want to fall victim to “buy cheap, buy twice” outside of the return period. :wink:

The 3mm things are just logo plates. I don’t have to make them often at all. I could probably be fine making 10 in a year. I like the idea of the CO2 machines, but the prices are not so exciting. If you can point me in the direction of a CO2 laser machine that can do 17" x 2.5" cutouts/engraving for under or around $1000, then please do. I do also prefer that it be LightBurn compatible.

How can I cut 430mm plates if the max on the frame is 400mm? Do you mean diagonally or repositioning or something?

Thanks,
Josh

The button is indeed fancy. But I’ll caution that if you’re expecting a game changer in terms of power and speed I’m not sure you’ll find that in any of the listed replacements. Ortur will likely be moderately faster in movement due to weight reduction in the gantry but this won’t be a 10x or even 5x speed increase. Optical power between these should be roughly in the same ballpark although I’m sure there will be differences in burn quality and perhaps cutting ability. Just mean it’s not necessarily going to be a night/day difference.

My biggest beef with Atomstack lasers is that they do not allow you to save configuration changes to NVRAM. They let you make some changes but they won’t survive a reboot.

This shouldn’t be a problem then unless you’re attempting light materials. White is basically kryptonite as far as a diode laser is concerned.

This price point makes it just beyond reach for a new laser. You could probably get one on the used market for this price or less. OMTech sells refurbed 12"x20" machines starting at $1500. You might be able to get a new off-brand one for less than that even.

I had meant that you could position the material between the legs and allow the laser to cut it short. But sounds you want to go the full length in which case, yes, you could do it diagonally. You wouldn’t want to do a repositioning with anything that was sensitive to a slight misalignment between burns. If your tolerance was in the .5 mm territory you could get away with that too.

Yeah, I’m looking for better cutting in fewer passes, and I have also seen people complaining about the limitations you mention. I’m not there yet in regards to my needs, but maybe someday I’ll also be annoyed by that.

It would be something like this. I assume that should be simple enough, it’s a thin gold layer over black.

I’ve been watching their refurb page, and haven’t seen anything pop up in stock on there. I’ve been staring at OMTech stuff for over a year, and I’m concerned about the pricing vs. reliability. It feels like it would be really easy to drop $5000 and still be disappointed, or overwhelmed for that matter. I’ve seen reviews complaining about QC, or reliability. Then most of them are physically huge. I’m not opposed to it living in my garage, but I live in New England, and that limits how much fun that will be during the colder winters.

Yes, I need the full length of 430mm (or bigger even). If I could get away with the smaller size, and it was LightBurn compatible, I’d probably grab one of OMTech’s cheap table top 40W lasers. The idea of doing it diagonal is a little scary right now; I’m fairly terrible at centering on rectangle stuff aligned straight(ish) on the A5 Pro.

The expandable Ortur is very tempting. Maybe I should hold off on buying the enclosure and see if they make an expanded enclosure.

Thanks,
Josh

I’m not familiar with this particular material and haven’t tried cutting anything quite like this. The black portion should cut without issue. If the gold has a genuinely reflective property this is likely a non-starter. As-is, the color alone may pose a challenge. Typically colors like red to purple to blue might work. You should give it a go on some scrap material and see how you fare.

I don’t think this is an unfounded fear. There’s certainly a lot more overhead (and cost) involved. As much as you don’t want to underbuy you certainly don’t want to overbuy.

You’d have to watch out for your cooling water freezing in this case. Last thing you want is a frozen tube.

If this is something you’d want to do regularly I’d recommend setting up a jig so you can do this repeatably. Completely takes out the time component of the setup and the stress involved.

There are plenty of controller replacements that make these LightBurn compatible. Not a bad investment I think. Meerk40t is an alternative laser burning solution that actually offers a Ruida emulation mode that allows LightBurn to control a non-modified K40 as well. But you’d have to buy the DSP version of LightBurn to take advantage. Not sure how reliable that solution is.

For some reason, I thought the Ortur was a 10W laser, oops.

All things considered, I’m leaning towards the NEJE MASTER 2S MAX right now. It removes all the sizing issues, and I could get the 10W laser version. The question is, is it worth it? I can get the 5W version for $450 from Amazon shipped quickly. Then later if I want, I could upgrade to the 10W version. Would you even consider the NEJE model? 5W or 10W to start with?

Thanks,
Josh

EDIT: It looks like I can get the 10W version on Alibaba for about $500 shipped. Iiiiinteresting.

From an actual technology perspective I thought Ortur had the edge on NEJE until NEJE’s more recent updates. One thing I don’t like about NEJE is that they mix both proprietary components in with their GRBL based components. It’s not a huge issue as long as the GRBL side works but there have been issues where you are unable to get full performance from the GRBL side. To their credit, NEJE has worked to resolve those issues when they’ve come up.

I would say Ortur has the best support mechanism out of all the common diode laser distributors. I’ve seen NEJE make some recent changes that seem to indicate they’re more serious about support. They both seem to be far ahead of most others.

By all accounts the 10W from NEJE seems to be a legitimate contender. I have not seen any reports indicating that the laser doesn’t match its claims. NEJE themselves (as well as Ortur) have moved away from the misleading marketing that trumpeted input power numbers. Claims of 40W and 80W diodes are laughable.

NEJE do also offer the MAX size frame if size is important to you.

Honestly, the MAX size thing is the main thing leaning me that way. It seems like there’s a lot of trade-offs either way. Maybe I should be patient for a refurb CO2 to pop up. It would be nice if there was a simple solution without proprietary trash available in a full kit.

My general advice would be to get what you know you’ll need right now and get productive. How your needs change and how your understanding of your needs change will help you make adjustments as you go. You may find that you’re totally fine with a diode system. While CO2 lasers have an edge in cutting, fine detail engraving with subtle shading is often better handled with a diode system.

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Thanks, that’s good to know. My needs have been the same for years, I’ve been paying other people to engrave/cut stuff. I make guitar amplifiers, and the faceplates and logos get done with lasers. In the past decade I’ve gone through 3 or 4 suppliers. the first retired, the next disappeared, and the most recent gave mediocre results. Like visible patterns on what should have been relatively smooth, and also general cloudiness on their engravings. They look like there’s tape residue, but even after cleaning with rubbing alcohol, it still looks that way.

If I decide to stick with a cheaper machine, and not worry about the size, I’ll probably go with the Ortur. If for nothing else, I like their accessories including the laser focus accessory that looks great.

My biggest issue is the size needs. I do have some panels made that will hold me over for a bit assuming I don’t need anything custom.

My production volume is low, so there’s not too much for me to worry about there.

Here’s a comparison of my last 2 suppliers:

The one on the left was my previous supplier who disappeared from existence.
The one on the right was my most recent supplier, and obviously not good enough.

Thanks,
Josh

Was that right sample delivered to you like that? Yikes.

Do you know what kind of lasers your previous suppliers used?

I know that some acrylic can crack or cloud after engraving if alcohol is applied. I want to say it’s cast acrylic (vs extruded) but could be wrong about that.

LOL, yeah, they sent me 10 like that. Thankfully they refunded them. They’re a nice company, but their laser work needs improvement.

The guy on the left, I don’t know the exact model, but he used X-Carve Pro. He said his machine was over $10,000. But he was also one guy doing the stuff out of his garage, so it boggles my mind that a big company can’t compete in quality.

No, it was worse before the alcohol. They actually suggested the alcohol. When I inquired about it, before the refund, this was their reasoning:

“We’ve checked in with the production team and it sounds like we may not be able to avoid the frostiness on this material’s area engraving for now.
Unfortunately we think what we’re seeing is the actual material finish from being engraved with air assist, rather than a residue…but if we turn it off the air it is bad for the lenses and it also creates a higher fire risk.”

Thanks,
Josh

It actually looks like they may have had too much pressure on the air assist and too high a power setting. But hard to say. Would require experimentation.

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Alcohol is a solvent for acrylic, albeit slow. I have some ‘condiment’ cups made of acrylic. I used alcohol in one and it has appearance of ‘shattered’ cracks running all though it. Doesn’t leak, but looks terrible.

My laser is a co2 ‘china blue’, 3050 (12x20"). I have cut some material for a friends shop that were too wide for the machine. The laser has ‘pass-through’ openings for materials larger than the ‘working area’.

I’ve cut both ends of a finger box symmetrical design by flipping the material first 90 deg, then 180 for the other end. It’s a pain, but you can do it.

You won’t find ‘one’ that will do it all, that’s a fact of life, so what are you going to do most?

Good luck…

:smiley_cat:

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At least in theory, the Ortur can do everything I want. Though I would need to cut my longer panels diagonally, which will require a jig, and some trial and error to set it up. I like the accessories that are available for it.

The Neje can also do everything I want, and won’t require a jig since the MAX version is much bigger than what I need. They’re out of stock in the US, so I emailed them. This was their reply:

Dear friend
Our max A40640 machine will arrive US warehouse in few days,you can wait till then.

I was amused by the reply, it feels like they’re telling me I should be patient or something.

I’m going to take some time and see what’s available before I get the next machine. In the meantime, I’ve packed up the A5 Pro and it’s going back. This A5 Pro made me want something with either a motorized Z adjust, or at least something like the Ortur Z adjustment upgrade.

Thanks,
Josh

At least you now know, and can tell the family where to find you. :smirk:

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Jigs are easy to build and use, once you get the ‘hang’ of how the machine works…

Have fun… take care

:smiley_cat:

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