It used to be the case that woodworking, metal fabrication, and other crafts all required specialized tools and years of training. Today, craftsmen can purchase hobby laser cutters that take all the guesswork and most of the specialized training out of the equation. Before rushing out and buying a new machine, read on to find out what to look for.
Type of Laser
Most laser cutters and engravers feature either CO2 or fiber lasers. The average hobbyist, artist, or craftsman is better off purchasing a CO2 laser for home use. They’re much more versatile and can cut just about anything other than reflective metals. Fiber lasers, on the other hand, are too powerful for many home applications.
Calculating power consumption isn’t just about making sure the new machine won’t create too much of a burden when it comes time to pay electric bills. Low-power machines are designed for lighter work, such as stamp carving or wood engraving, while high-powered machines can cut through stronger materials like metal. The power draw from CO2 lasers can range from around 25 watts to upwards of 1,000 watts, but only the most powerful machines can cut through thick metal and other hard materials.
Hobbyists have the advantage here over business owners who need to turn a profit. They can take their time in creating laser etchings and engravings. People who plan to use their lasers to start manufacturing products for consumer sales will need to consider processing speed, which is more complicated than they might think.
CO2 lasers offer the highest processing speeds when cutting through thick materials in a straight line. However, fiber lasers can cut more complex patterns far faster than their CO2 counterparts. Just keep in mind that buying a fiber laser comes with the trade-offs of a higher initial investment cost and less versatility when it comes to materials.
Laser machines tend to be pretty big, but they come in a range of sizes. Hobbyists should make sure the machine in question will be compatible with their home workspaces. If the workshop isn’t on the ground floor, take weight into account. If it’s especially small, the machine’s footprint might be more of a concern. All of these specs should be available in product descriptions.
CO2 lasers require specialized maintenance and upkeep. If any of the components get knocked out of place, a technician will have to repair the damage or even replace the parts. Not all laser cutter manufacturers offer warranties or maintenance plans, so either find one that does or budget for routine maintenance and repairs.
Quality of the Equipment
Even hobbyists need high-quality laser machines if they want to create their best work, so it’s important to find a machine manufacturer that focuses on providing high-quality laser cutters and engravers across the price and power spectrum. Those interested in buying hobby machines that are just as well-made as their industrial counterparts can learn about Boss Laser, one of the industry’s leading laser machine manufacturers, online.
There’s no one laser machine that’s perfect for every application. The best way for artists and craftsmen to choose machines that will suit their needs perfectly is to reach out to a reputable manufacturer. A customer service representative should be available to answer questions and point future buyers in the right direction.