Ever since they were invented, laser cutters have always been known to deliver a high level of flexibility, convenience, reliability, and ease to most users. That’s why it’s always among the most eminent workman tool for most DIY’rs, handymen/women, hobbyist and machine shops.
The best part about buying a laser cutter today is that it’s so affordable unlike in the past. Basically, anyone with access to these high-precision machines and a background in craftsmanship can quickly learn how to use laser cutters to come up with awesome and attractive craft designs.
Well, if you are still racking your head trying figure out what a laser cutter is or how it’s used or what its end products look like, then you need to visit a local indie art and craft fair. These fairs are usually rich in laser-cut products and pieces of art like Christmas adornments, gifts, jewelry, laser engraved plaques/signs, and even Yeti mugs (they are laser-cut stainless steel tumblers).
In fact, most craft and big-box stores are usually fully stocked with beautiful laser-cut items and gifts of all shapes, types, and sizes. Simply put, there is a myriad of applications of a laser cutter and it can also be used to make quite a number of products in the easiest way possible. What’s more, these remarkable machines can be found in major stores like WallMart, but I would strongly advise against buying their $400 laser cutters.
What Does Laser Cutting Really Entail?
As I mentioned earlier, learning how to use a laser cutter is as easy as saying a-b-c-d! That’s because it only requires basic craftsmanship skills. One thing that makes these machines unique and powerful is the fact that they can cut a wide selection of objects with great precision.
Unlike the conventional drag-knife cutters that cannot cut into thick or strong materials, a laser can cut through them with minimal effort and time. You may be convinced that a CNC router is better than or the same as a laser cutter in terms of performance and quality. But! If you were to look closely at the end results from both machines, you’ll realize that the laser offers more precision in terms of detail due to its narrow laser beam. That’s one of the many things that most cutting tools fail to offer craftsmen/women.
Applications of Laser Cutters.
Apart from crafting beautiful pieces of art, laser-cut materials are also used in building structures. Nowadays, it easier to come across a laser cut part fitted into a building’s structure. The reason why most building contractors use laser products is because they are easy to fit and they greatly uplift the building’s overall beauty. Also, using popular vector graphic applications like Inkscape, you have the power to automatically create boxes using plugins.
These benefits not only assure you flexibility and convenience but also ease and timeliness because you’ll be able to develop cases for projects in a split second. Bear in mind that, unlike glued builds, laser-cut products like captive nuts and tab-and-slots make it quite simple to assemble and take apart construction parts.
Did you know that desktop 3D printing owes its existence and advancements to laser cutters like MakerBot, SeeMeCNC, Printrbot, and Ultimaker, among other companies because these printers contain a lot of laser cutter parts?
Why Should You Buy One Of These Awesome Machines?
Well, the real question is, “Why Wouldn’t You Buy One?” I mean, these machines are great especially for those people who enjoy a hands-on approach to crafting. With one of these laser cutters, you’ll be privileged enough to enjoy a sea of almost infinite uses and applications. Unfortunately, getting the best laser cutter can be quite an uphill climb especially for those shopping for budget options. Luckily, this review gives you a glimpse at the top three laser cutter types for you to decide which one would best meet your needs.
How and Where to Buy a Laser Cutter!
Before you dive into the information about laser cutter options, it’s always good to remember that their extensive usability and myriad of applications can come at a cost. But! The end products/results and services you get from these machines are usually worth every penny. Below are the top three entry-level options that you may love to try;
1. Epilog Laser Cutters
If you value quality over cost, then Epilog laser cutters fit the description. Epilog is well known to offer high-quality cutters but at a stiff price. In fact, the cheapest Epilog laser cutter (the 30-watt Zing series) will set you back $8,000. And like all other products, this has its own set of merits and demerits. On the bright side, sending designs from almost any graphics program to your Epilog machines is quite easy and time-saving thanks to its awesome print driver and these machines are also well-known to be safe and hassle-free thanks to their special air-cooled metal laser tubes. Unfortunately, one disadvantage about Epilog laser cutters is the fact that the tubes can be costly to maintain in mint condition (It costs more than maintaining the glass tubes found in other cutters.)
2. Boss Laser Cutters
In the beginning, Boss Lasers’ laser cutting machines strictly focused its operation in importing, upgrading, and rebranding Chinese laser cutters for American sales. They later decided to build their own CNC laser cutter (which it set to debut in mid-2017) in an effort to improve quality, reliability, precision and usability. This new CNC is expected to come with fully functional and upgraded operating software. The best part about Boss’ CNC laser is that it’s flexible and has a lot of value and ease of use as compared to standard CNC spindle machines. Their CNC laser cutter is expected to cost around $40,000 which is actually a good price considering its great size, efficiency, and power.
3. Imported Laser Cutters From China
When it comes to exporting machinery, China has a reputation for producing cheap and risky alternatives. The same applies for laser cutters! Imported lasers are widely used despite the fact of their questionable quality and support. If you are looking for a budget laser, then these imports are your best bet. But, if you’re thinking long term an import could cost you significantly more.
You can get yourself a cheap laser at Walmart, Ebay, or Amazon for as little as $500to $2,000 depending on the size and power requirements. Unfortunately, their cheap prices come at a cost! Imported lasers are well known to break down easily with more frustrations than actual success. Also, buying directly from vendors in China can be quite a nightmare because you may go through fines, customs delays, shipping damages, poor customer support and fake or no warranties. Decent imported laser cutters go for at least $1,000 taking into account the accessories and software upgrades needed. In a nutshell, it is true that imported laser cutters are cost savers, but for the sake of quality and convenience, it’s always advisable to buy your laser from an American company. It may cost a few hundred dollars more, but it’s worth it considering the stress and frustrations dodged.