Hello! We’ve sold our Glowforge in favor of an OMTech laser, however, we’re really hung up on what wattage to purchase… We do cutting but nothing intense. Mostly we want quality photo engraves. Currently, we’re torn between a 60W and an 80W machine with a $4000 budget.
We primarily work with wood and acrylic.
Would we notice much of a difference in quality between these for photo engraving? Should we go below 60W or does it matter?
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
Wattages for laser cutters is a tiny bit like speeds for cars, sales people tend to talk about PEAK wattages. If you’re used to a Glowforge that was effectively a 50W peak wattage or lower, but would rarely have operated as such. Obviously I don’t specifically know how OMTech sell or over-sell their kit, but either of those wattages will engrave a photo. However as your wattage gets higher, you might find that you’re unable to use the lower wattages on your engraving as the tube might not strike (fire lasers) at lower wattages or that the engraving is deeper than you’d like at its higher end making your engraving a bit over done.
These questions you’re asking aren’t easy to answer as your use case and taste etc will be unique to you. Maybe request your seller to show you some photo engraved samples from each machine?
@Dominic is right on about power level control.
Most co2 do not lase well below 10% as a general rule and the larger they are the higher that bottom percentage, some won’t lase below 20%.
If the glowforge did all you want except ‘work area’, stay in that power range.
The reason for higher power is generally for cutting, not engraving.
I have 50 watt and it engraves well/cuts well.
I will be ordering a OMTech AF2028-80 by end of the week. I decided on 80 watts instead of 60 for several reasons, but I read a few good points to think about when considering what wattage you want or need. Having to run your laser at full power will lessen its lifespan. If you need 60 watts to cut thru something, then you are pushing a 60 watt to its extreme, but 60 watts to cut on 80 or 100 watts will keep your tube from maxing out. I figure having MORE power than you need is better than needing more and maxing out.
I probably didn’t explain that very well. Sorry.
example: I currently own a Glowforge Plus, which is a 40 watt. Most things I cut requiret full power, so I am really pushing it. If I only need the same 40 watts on the 80-watt laser to cut the same wood, then I will only be running this laser at 50%… meaning longer tube life. I know the math may not be exactly right here, but you get the concept hopefully)
Better to have it (wattage) and not need it, then need it and not have it.
I would suggest installing a Ma meter on your machine when you receive it. And then adjusting your power supply to output max amps at 100 % power of tube rating. This will also help your tube last longer. In almost every machine I have ever checked the power supply was over powering the tube by almost 2x the maximum tube rating,