If you are a creative person or some type of hobbyist than chances are that you have at least thought about laser cutting. From crafts to jewelry and beyond, laser cutting is in many different venues. According to an article, laser cutting can cut a wide range of materials with precision. Laser cutting can cut through metals like butter which is why it is so efficient. If you are looking to purchase one for yourself than you must first know that they are very expensive. Epilog has a great, maybe some one of the best laser machines on the market but the starting price is around $8,000. But it is still a good buy.
However, don’t let cost get in the way of you getting your first laser cutter because there are a couple of options available to you. There are are a few options you can take as a beginner. As stated you can go with the Epilog Laser which is a user-friendly laser cutter. With many customers that can help on blogs and forums. More power or wattage can help cut through thicker material but Epilog has the best engraving and marking machines. Some other competitors have similar technology but Epilog has been the most successful for the longest time frame.
If you are looking for something else that is more affordable you might consider Full Spectrum Laser which is much cheaper coming in at $3499 for their low end glass tube hobby laser. They have some improving technology with support that is not as good as Epilog.
Finally, if you are looking for your first laser cutter, you can opt for a Chinese import on Ebay or Amazon. Some American or Chinese companies will import to a USA location then quickly reship to their customer. Other company’s may have only USA office for support and ship direct from China to the customer without any quality control. Some of these companies are inexperienced and do not understand much about laser technology.
Imported machines is dangerous and often these imports dont get past the CBP at the border. They are cheap laser cutter however. Prices often coming in at between $400 to $1000. Remember, as with anything that is cheaper, it may not be as efficient or practical long term. Imports are always a big risk because you cant control the exporting company if they are following correct exporting procedure or have updated FDA documents. And so for this reason I would discourage or at least be careful when looking to buy the cheaper models and opt for a USA company.
If you’re looking for IEHK reviews (or CNIEHK) you will want to read this. I was looking at buying a cheap laser cutter here in the US (I won’t be importing direct from a China laser supplier for reasons mentioned later) and I ran across one of IEHK Enterprises machine ads on Google. (Note at the time of this writing they changed their website domain to: CNIEHK.com).
In the process of checking them out I found some shocking / shady business practices. So, for the sake of karma I thought this review might offer some REAL feedback and caution should you also be looking to buy from IEHK or any other China laser cutter supplier.
I have discovered that many China suppliers operate similar to IEHK. By that I mean they either export direct from their warehouse to their US client (they may or may not handle the importation and processing fees), or they have a small distribution spot here in the US as a distribution point…or worse they simply have a US front i.e. a PO box or fake US address and claim that as their business address on their website.
As far as IEHK Enterprises is concerned their products include T-shirt printers, UV and hot press printers, Bottle printers, CNC routers, Plasma cutters, and of course laser cutters and engravers. With such a wide array of different machine technology how good are they with any specific one? In this case I ran across their larger format laser engraver – and found it surprisingly cheap.
I did a quick search, but didn’t find any reviews on IEHK – other than ‘reviews’ they manufactured on their FaceBook page below (most reviews were 5 stars all of which were done on the same day -June 1, 2017 – within minutes of each other.) So, I decided to relay to you what I discovered so you can take heed. Lot of red flags here…
If you have any experience yourself please leave your comments below for the benefit of anyone else also considering this company.
Like I mentioned their machines are extremely cheap. I mean to the point that its really hard to believe. For example their Google ad displays a 48×60″ sized CO2 laser engraver priced at – $1,500. Huh? When you click the ad and land on their product page you’re forced to select the power to add to the machine. The lowest option is 60W which then pushes the price up to $3,999. Which is still scary cheap, but I’d say pretty misleading as well. I chatted with them and finally got an answer…
The ‘smoke -n- mirrors’ doesn’t stop there…
IEHK’s CONTACT US page as of 5/20/17 (now https://cnciehk.com/contact-us/) displays a US address in Wayne, PA . Google Maps shows as a 3 story office building. Obviously not where they warehouse machines. Their company is not listed as one of the tenants in suite 1 so it could be a US address they use as a front for their website and to provide a formal LLC business address. But, this is the only address you can find on their website? It’s a little misleading. A little digging shows their actual place of business: Kowloon Hong Kong, China.
Below is info I pulled from a chat session:
Concerns here of course is if IEHK isn’t forthcoming with their pricing or where they operate out of then what else are they covering up? They say it ships directly from China and they handle the customs so it arrives to you. In a perfect world yes but I’ll tell you it’s not that easy. Even if it does arrive there’s a good chance it’s been damaged, inoperable, or both – very likely with glass laser tube. In which case you’re stuck waiting (and hoping) they’ll re ship the correct parts from China.
The laser only has a 3 month warranty while the machine has 2 years? That’s like buying a car with a 3 year warranty while the motor is only 3 months. That’s a big red flag.
The support will also come direct from China. That includes a 12 hour time difference, a language and quality standard barrier. So whatever you saved up front all of a sudden can get expensive from here on out.
IEHK prices are good but payment terms are 40% down and the balance being paid prior to customs clearance. That places the risk on the importer again since China tech companies are often notorious for having product held by the CBP due to a non-compliant FDA accession number that’s either not accurate or up to date. Often products (especially tech products) the CBP will formally hold and inspect machines for components that they suspect to be counterfeit. This is very common. And if ANY small or large item is determined to be counterfeit (regardless if you have knowledge of it or not) you the importer will not only lose the machine you will also be fined and potentially black listed from importing in the future. What are the odds of your machine being inspected? Unfortunately it’s much greater if either you or your exporter are new to import/exporting. A broker can help facilitate the shipping process, but they can’t prevent the CBP from making sure the exporter is responsible for having legit documentation and machine that will pass the CBP. So, that’s why its just not worth the risk of saving a few bucks importing a hobby laser direct from a Chinese company you’re not experienced with. I say that because I’ve experienced the worst of it – even after doing a due diligence on the supplier.
I’m not saying that all Chinese suppliers importing laser machines are dishonest. Many are not. And others are just ignorant and don’t understand how serious the US CBP comes down on illegitimate or undocumented products from China. So, for those reasons I’m going to stick to buying direct from a USA based laser company.
IEHK or CNIEHK Enterprise Review Links:
Some other reviews (below) from customers show money was paid but no laser cutter was sent. Again, that is the big risk since they do not customs clear the machine until they receive payment. The ResellerRatings page has now been taken down so it no longer shows IEHK’s 2 reviews. Very well could be another cover up.
A laser cutter is a device that produces a monochromatic, coherent beam of light to do cuttings. A laser cutter involves a motion controlled system to follow a CNC (computer numerical control)or G-code of the pattern to be cut onto the material.
In the present world, laser cutters are used in different fields for different purposes which vary from:
Cutting metal plates.
Cutting steel, both mild and stainless steel.
The cutting process of a laser cutting machine
In the cutting process of a CO2 laser cutter, a beam is directed down to the part being cut. The cutting part sits on a computer controlled platform which moves the piece around the stationary laser beam. Cutting is completed by passing the beam through a focusing lens which exits through the bottom of a cutting edge nozzle. Oxygen gas is fed inside the chambers below the focusing lens. The combination of the laser beam and the oxygen gas which passes through the nozzle serves the purpose of vaporizing the steel or any other metal for cutting.
Using and handling skills of a laser engraver
Using a laser cutting machine or a laser engraver requires special handling techniques because, without the skills, no matter how greater the machine might be,an excellent result cannot be achieved. Before using the laser machine, read the instruction manual, especially whenever you’re uncertain about the numbers, settings or the compatibility.
It is worth noting that not all materials can be cut using the machine, for example, a laser machine cannot cut all types of plastic materials especially those that emits toxic gases when in contact with a laser machine, it is also advisable to wear protective gear like gloves, eye protector and heavy clothing. A computer drawing program like the Adobe Illustrator or Coredraw may be necessary to to make perfect designs and cuttings. Click here !
Advantages of a laser cutting machine
There is reduced contamination of work piece. This is because no cutting edge which becomes contaminated or contaminates the material since thereis no direct contact of the work piece with the cutting tool.
Laser cutting process is easily controlled by computer programs making it very precise as well as saving a considerable amount of work.
There is reduced the chance of warping the material that is being cut, as laser systems have a small heat-affected zone.
Laser cutting is more accurate as it cuts only the specific and intended part and the heat does not affect the rest of the work piece because the heated area is very small.
Disadvantages of using laser cutting
Cutting plastics using the laser cutting machine emits poisonous fumes which call for the workplace to be well ventilated which is equally and expensive process.
Some metals such as copper cannot be cut using laser technology making it limited to only specified metals only.
Laser cutting has been very reliable for large industrial cuttings as well as for domestic purposes. The technology advancement has been in use for many decades making it a very effective and trusted method of cutting. It is for these reasons that every industry or small establishment that engages in material cutting activities should have and use a laser cutter machine. If you’re looking for a machine be sure to review customers’ feedback. There are third party review sites that Google approves for legitimate feedback. Don’t take reviews on the company site too seriously as they can be manipulated. Forums sometimes have reviews IF and only if it is from an actual customer and not some know it all with no experience. Here’s Bodor Laser reviews.
We are going to talk about new technologies of cutting of materials, more specifically of the fiber laser cutting machine that provides several advantages in both cost and quality of the service. When you are researching about laser cutting machines, you will find various models, cutting capabilities, platform sizes, etc. Laser cutters offer a versatile and economical way to laser cut or engrave many different or unique materials. The type of laser technology you need will mainly be dependent on the material you or your shop needs to process. Let’s talk about two technologies of fiber laser cutting machine and Co2 Laser Cutting (Conventional).
Briefly, these technologies are directly related to the formation of the laser beams wavelength that in turn processes the material on the z-table.
Laser Beam Generation
In the generation of the CO2 laser beam is produced by a mixture of gases. This beam has a wavelength of 10.6 microns and an efficiency of about 8%. This poor efficiency in the generation of the laser beam generates a lot of heat and, therefore, requires a lot of cooling, requiring the use of a cooling turbine. This turbine must undergo annual maintenance and be replaced every approximately 40,000 hours on the CO2 laser cutter.
Differently, the fiber laser cutting machine is a solid state laser beam generated by the excitation of crystals. The wavelength is 1.06 microns and has an efficiency of 30%, and does not require much cooling. Without the need for gas to generate the beam does not require turbine cooling, the operation and maintenance costs are drastically reduced. The life of the source is equal to the lifetime of the equipment.
Is the difference too big?
There is another big difference between the types of laser cutting machines based on the laser wavelength namely fiber technology and CO2 based technology.
How the laser beam is transported on laser cutters
In CO2 laser cutter machines the transport of the beam is done by a system of mirrors. These mirrors require maintenance and should be replaced from time to time as they deteriorate due to particles that may enter the circuit.
Fiber laser cutting machines, the beam is transported through a fiber optic cable, which is maintenance free, consequently brings a great savings in costs with preventive and corrective maintenance compared to the mirrors mentioned above.
Due to the low efficiency obtained in the generation of CO2 laser and the great need for cooling the energy consumption is higher. The fiber laser cutting machine operates on much less energy and thus more efficient as it does not require as much cooling due to its generation system is again – more efficient. Overall the loss of energy in laser generation is much lower.
As an example, a 5 kW CO2 laser cutting machine consumes approximately 70 kW when a 3 kW fiber laser consumes about 25 KW *.
* It is believed that a 3 kW fiber machine is equivalent in performance to a 5 KW CO2 machine.
In general terms, we can say that a fiber laser machine has 60% less energy consumption than a CO2 laser.
Epilog laser has a great machine for engraving but prices are very high. But, if you have the money it is one of the best options. The performance of the laser cutter machine for thin sheets (up to 5 mm thick), is more effective than a CO2 machine. This is mainly due to the wavelength of the fiber bundle which is 10 times smaller than that of CO 2 (1.06 microns compared to 10.6 microns). 5 mm thick, the performance of both is very similar. Another advantage of fiber laser cutting machine is its superior performance when processing reflective materials such as aluminum, bronze or copper. Also as a side note you can review a US based laser cutter company here. Its a pretty good laser cutter for the price. Also, find reviews of another prominent Chinese company based in the US – Thunder Laser . There are lots of potential laser cutting companies in the USA and each has its strengths. I would suggest purchasing from a regional seller like EPILOG as opposed to importing one from abroad. More and more we are finding problems with over seas imports when people decide to import on their own to save money. It often becomes the most expensive route long term.
Laser is the abbreviation used to represent the term “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”, which can be translated into our language as “amplification of light by stimulated emission of radiation”. This is the same laser used in the so famous fiber laser cutting machine.
It is a device that produces electromagnetic waves, that is, light, with specific characteristics. The characteristics of the laser light are as follows:
Monochromatic means that it has only a well-defined wavelength and therefore only one color;
Coherent: the electromagnetic waves produced by the laser are all in phase;
Collimated: there is little divergence between the rays of light produced by the laser, and they are practically parallel. This causes this light to propagate over large distances without losing power.
Laser operation infiber laser cutting machine and in other laser cutters
The first laser came in the year 1960, its operation being based on the theory of Einstein and Planck, who claimed that light was formed by “packets of energy” called photons.
The atoms are formed by protons, neutrons and electrons, and the electrons are located in the electrosphere around the nucleus. Each electron occupies a specific energy level in the electrosphere. When in the ground state, the energy of the electron equals zero (E0), if the atom receives energy from some source, it will move it to a higher energy level (EX), called the excited state. However, if you lose energy, the electron will tend to migrate to a lower energy level, emitting photons. This might sound complicated, but there are thousands of laser cutter machines that work just fine in the world.
More on laser and its magic
There are three processes in which the electron can move from one energy level to another, they are:
Absorption: when an electron in its ground state of energy is subjected to an electromagnetic radiation and absorbs photons, passing into an excited state;
Spontaneous emission: occurs when the atom is in its excited state of energy and is not subjected to any energy. After some time, the electron passes into the ground state spontaneously, emitting a photon;
Stimulated emission: also occurs when the electron is in an excited state and is subjected to electromagnetic radiation, i.e., photons. A photon of energy stimulates the atom by passing into the ground state by emitting another photon. This is common in many fiber laser cutting machine.
How to trigger the laser
The laser works when it receives enough energy to excite a quantity of electrons from a material to a higher energy level until there are more electrons excited than in the ground state.
When this occurs, these electrons are stimulated to emit their photons, thus initiating a cascade effect: the emitted photon stimulates the next to emit another photon and so on. This amplifies the emission of light beams with well-defined wavelength.
Currently, lasers have several applications. Larger lasers are used in nuclear fusion research in astronomy to measure great distances and also in military applications. This is why laser engraver machine for example sound so simple and common; however, every single laser cutter machine has laser inside working as described in this article. The smaller lasers can be used in reading bar codes, reading CDs and DVDs, minor surgeries, cutting fabrics, among others.
Be certain to get feedback from machine owners prior to purchase. Forums can sometimes be a source for reviews as long as you get advice from actual machine owners. Here’s examples of reviews on a CNC forum. Another review from a forum post on the software usability. And this company in particular may be a great company. Point is that reviews can be found all over online. Best to get reviews from third party sites, however.
The laser beam is formed by light particles (photons) concentrated and emitted as a continuous beam. To do this, you need to stimulate the atoms of some material to emit photons. This light is channeled with the help of mirrors to form a beam. The technology was created in 1960 by Theodore Maiman. At the time, the American physicist encouraged ruby atoms to emit concentrated light. Since then, laser has evolved and is currently used in home, surgical, industrial, and military and space devices – laser beams have even been used to measure the distance between Earth and the Moon. Although it is possible to create weapons to blind enemies and to intercept Missiles (warming them to explode), laser-firing pistols, as illustrated in many comics, are not so far from reality as many people might think. However, nowadays it is possible to see lasers used in real life, as in companies that use laser cutter reviews. You can also see some laser machinery here.
Light, camera, action – for new business chances
Creating a laser looks like a ballad, with lots of energy, frantic lighting, and a set of mirrors. Every laser needs an active principle that can be solid, like ruby, or gaseous, like carbon dioxide, inside a closed chamber. The atoms of the material are stimulated to generate light, the main ingredient of a laser beam. In order for the light to emerge, it is necessary to excite the atoms of the active principle. The stimulus may occur by electricity, by the light of a less powerful laser, by a light source or by chemical reactions. This energizes the electrons and stimulates them to try to escape the atoms.
The tendency of excited atoms is to return to stability, with the electrons returning to their original state. When this happens, the energy that stimulated the electron dissipates as light particles (photons). That is why using laser cutter happens in a safe way, nothing will explode. This is the basic concept of the machines, and each model has its variations, all working in the same style. More details here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Tips-for-buying-a-laser-cutterengraver/
How Does the Laser Tube fire?
In addition to the external energy that powers the laser tube, the photons also excite neighboring atoms, making the co2 laser engraver work, for example. With this, the amplification of the light scrolls. The term is mentioned in the acronym that forms the word laser. A pair of exactly parallel mirrors commands the circulating photons moving around the cylinder. Instead of bouncing off all sides, the photons begin to circulate in the same direction, forming a coherent beam of light, that is, in which the light does not diffuse. The front mirror does not actually reflect all the light that strikes it. It lets the tube emit only 2% of the coherent beam of light. This then is the laser beam! The material used to create the beam determines the color of the beam. The power of the laser is regulated by the amount of energy expended to stimulate the emission of light, making the magic happen in the co2 laser engraver.