Hello, I am in the process of purchasing a CO2 Laser. I have narrowed it down between the 100W RedSail on Ebay for $2500 or the same machine thru American Laser Cutting in California for $3500 and comes with support/setup.
Anyone have any good sources to learn setup and how to run a RedSail laser? Thanks.
RedSail has been one of the standard vendors for quite some time, and they tend to have a good reputation.
If you’re sure the machines are identical in featureset (check for things like motorized Z axis vs. manual, etc.) then you’re paying the extra $1k for support and a guarantee that you’ll have a calibrated and working machine when the setup guys leave.
These machines tend to be pretty mechanically sound, and the electronics and control hardware are all standard parts (usually NEMA 23 stepper motors, standard stepper drivers, power supplies, switches, etc.) and if you’re reasonably handy, you can source parts from various suppliers to fix things if they break.
That $2500 may have hidden costs as well. These machines are large enough to need to be shipped truck freight once they hit the port, and trucking companies tend to have extra fees for things like residential delivery, liftgate requirement, etc. There’s also potential customs/import duties to be concerned about.
Really, it comes down to hassles. If you want a machine that is about as turnkey as you can get in a Chinese import, I’d go for the dealer. If you’re willing to put up with logistical hassles and doing your own tech support, then you can save ~$1k on your machine by going factory direct.
I have imported two machines directly from the factory in China. The first one I let the factory put it on the boat and then arranged stateside shipping via my broker. The second time I had my broker pick it up from the factory. It was actually cheaper the second time around and all I had to do was hand a check to the driver when they delivered it.
Both machines worked “out of the crate” but both required some hands on time to dial them in. If you have some mechanical aptitude and are willing to learn how the machines work then you will get little benefit from paying extra for a US dealer to set them up for you. Although I did help a friend import a large flatbed laser a couple years ago and there was pretty much nothing on it that I needed to “fix”.
I do not like to pay other people to do things that I can probably do better. One reason that I can do “better” is that I am not a rushed, low paid worker who just wants to be finished with the task. No one is more motivated than me to do good work on my own equipment. I also believe there is a lot of value in knowing the details of the machine, makes for efficient troubleshooting.
Redsail is a budget supplier. You won’t get quality steppers and drives, belts and gantries from them. But it will be fine. They use stock components.
In a list of importance:
Chassis - straight and strong.
Laser - Reci
Mirrors and lenses - US-made. The difference in price is minimal
Rails - Hiwin or other Taiwanese/Japanese quality
Drivers - Leadshine
Steppers - 3-phase at a minimum, closed loop hybrid or servo preferred.
Controller - Ruida
A light chassis means a not-straight path and a variable-focus beam. In my opinion, the most important part. My 6090 (not a large machine) weighs nearly 300kg - most of that in the box-steel welded frame and heavy-gauge sheet. My 1325 over 450kg.
Reci, Leadshine and Ruida because they just work. For the difference in price, it’s not worth saving a couple of hundred bucks.
Rails for smooth, fuss-free motion. If you have a rickety rail, you can’t be accurate
Steppers for smooth motion, which means smooth arcs, clean corners, fast and quiet operation.
A quality machine from China with all the above should still be under your $3500 price tag. You might have to up it by $500-800 for servos.
You don’t say what size machine you’re looking at for $2500/3500, but at that money I would expect a 6090 or 1390 sized unit.
Edit: I just looked it up - no, that American Laser isn’t a good buy at that price. It only comes with a heat-exchanger, not even a chiller. A 100W 5070 for $3500 is $400 more than my 6090 which had: SA 5000 chiller, 500W extractor, knife and honeycomb motorised table, auto-focus, 130W Reci, Ruida 6442 controller, 3x individual power supplies - one for the laser, one for the steppers (36v) and one for the controller/lights/limit stops/fans, etc.(24v), intrusion switches on cover as well as multiple e-stops and key entry,
If you added just a few things that $3500 rapidly becomes $4500 and it was too much at $3500.
It doesn’t even have material pass-through, which with such a small bed will get annoying, fast.
The Red Sail is about the same level, but looking at the rails they seem like nylon wheels of the ‘shower door’ variety.
For $600 more you could have a proper quality machine. They say, for example, they use a Reci W2 - that’s an 80W tube, not 100W.
Drop me a pm and I’ll hook you up with my guy and he can give you a quote.
A straight chassis is important, but heavy does not equal straight. The larger the machine, the less forgiving poor assembly is.
Definitely want good rails - not rollers.
I don’t agree about preferring hybrid closed loop steppers or servos for a glass tube laser. The speed advantage of servos is lost on a glass tubed laser and a stepper equipped machine can already move faster than the tube can fire.
Mainstream machines like Epilog and Trotec use encoder strips on the axis’ - when a Chinese machine offers that as an option I would highly recommend it, but encoders on the motors (closed loop) does nothing to improve accuracy, if your steppers are missing steps then you have other problems.
I would also highly recommend the wide body Reci or EFR tubes over the other brands. The 80/90W Reci is probably the best all around tube. If you plan to do mostly engraving I would not get anything higher than that. If you are primarily cutting (1/4" or thicker) then a 130W or higher makes sense. The higher power the tube, the higher the minimum power it can fire at - which can be too much for some materials.
Before settling on my 100w CO2 Red and Black from ebay I tested a Glowforge at a fiends shop.
I found the Glowforge slow and underpowered for the price point, but that is my personal opinion and I don’t have a vast experience with the machines. However, the benefit of a Glowforge is you get an internationally supported product where as the ebay laser you really have to be willing to get your hands dirty.
Remember Glowforge does not have a phone support just Email and their forum. the Price is way to hogh for a substandard machine as It is advertised as having a 12X20 cutting area but that is not true. Also go to their forum and see how many people complain about how long it takes to calibrate and then slow cutting along with you need a good Wifi connection. I have A Red and Black 130 watt I bought off of Ebay that came with a real Chiller rotary and cheap air pump.