Laser Cutters - RC Groups
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Apr 16, 2012, 10:02 PM
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bigdad1975's Avatar

Laser Cutters

This might not be the right forum if not let me know (NOOB). I am looking into buying a Laser engraver/cutter. does anyone have any experience with any. any tips, etc? I want to use it to cut balsa and light ply. the other question is would a cnc router work better? thanks for any help or insight..
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Apr 16, 2012, 11:12 PM
Scale Builder
While both machines have their advantages I think the laser is more verstatile than the CNC router for the vast majority of what we do with model airplanes. I have been using a laser cutter for 10+ years now and I don't think I could go back to cutting out parts with a scroll saw / band saw/ router. They will spoil you very quickly. While I'm certainly no expert I would be happy to answer any questions you might have to the best of my ability.
Apr 17, 2012, 12:29 AM
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bigdad1975's Avatar
I am looking for suggestions on laser cutters. like brands and overall what has worked for people. it's not a cheap investment and I fiqured I would try and find out from people with real world use
Apr 17, 2012, 02:54 PM
Scale Builder

The only machine I have used extensively is the Universal X660. Universal lasers are tremendous machines with fantastic customer support but they are also very expensive. I have also used a Pinnacle laser on a very limited basis and it is pretty much identical in operation to the Universal. The Pinnacle belongs to a friend of mine who has had it for about 7 years with no issues whatsoever. I am currently in the market for a laser myself and I think I have settled on purchasing from a rather new company called Hurricane Lasers. I spoke with the owner of the company yesterday and was very impressed. There is not a lot of information out there in regards to Hurricane as they have only been around since about the middle of last year but I am hearing good things and based upon how much machine I can get for the price I'm pretty sure I'm ready to risk it!

A great place to do some research on lasers is at Some very helpfull and knowledgeable folks in the forums there.

Good luck!
Apr 18, 2012, 08:48 AM
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bigdad1975's Avatar
I have been looking into Epilog as well. any way I go it's an investment and just a cool toy haha..
May 02, 2014, 05:09 PM
Registered User

Hurricane / World Lasers?

I've done a due diligence after looking at their 'storm' hobby laser...but Hurricanes recent big drop in prices and 'pay now and get it later' offers make it appear they're just hanging on...due to the judgments, pending law suits and more importantly the reviews over the past several months, im letting this storm pass.

Hope they come out of it but FS seems to be in hot pursuit of collection.
May 02, 2014, 10:20 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar

I got into the market looking for one myself recently. Other than several on ebay that were interesting and one that a friend might be selling, I've come to the conclusion that what I want isn't available, and I'll be building it myself.

This is the most helpful and encouraging thread I've found on the subject:

Several folks have recommended Full Spectrum Laser as a good source for pre-built units.

May 03, 2014, 11:56 PM
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portablevcb's Avatar
If you are looking for a hobby machine, just about any of the available will work. You just need to decide how big the bed needs to be and how much power you want.

If you want to cut 1/8" birch (aircraft) 5 ply wood, then I'd suggest well over 50W and closer to 100W.

You can cut thicker wood with a lower power laser, but, you will need to run the laser over the wood several times to cut through. And then the edges will be charcoal. Thicker balsa will burn rather than cut.

The other consideration is the software compatibility. Some machines are limited in what they expect. You may need to have CAM software to generate the G-code to drive the laser. Others will have drivers that make the laser look like a printer to the computer. Beware, even some of these drivers are not compatible with all CAD or drawing programs.

It is typical for Chinese lasers to ship with poor optics. Apparently the Chinese consider good laser optics to be export restricted due to military use. The good thing is you can get replacement optics (mirrors and focus lens) for several hundred dollars.

Good luck in your search.

manzano laser works
May 04, 2014, 12:36 AM
Ex-President @ HMM
huggie9999's Avatar
Take a look into this
May 04, 2014, 05:40 PM
Registered User
Thanks for the input but for the sake of time im only interested in a pre-built unit...

so I have been doing a due diligence on US laser companies. FS Laser is out as is Hurricane. Finding too much background noise going on that im not comfortable with . I've budgeted about 7k so just looking for value rather than buying a 'mercedez'.
May 05, 2014, 12:21 AM
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portablevcb's Avatar
Look for a used one. Usually the various suppliers have some used units that might do for you.
May 05, 2014, 09:35 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Universal was good. When I told them I wanted used they directed me to their local sales office (who has not returned my message after 8 days).

May 07, 2014, 09:50 PM
Registered User
CNC router is IMO far better . Although it won't cut tight 90 degree angles as well.
But it Can cut various grades of wood allowing a decent selection of densities as absolute uniformity of material being cut is not an issue.
No need to mention that one can;buy an Exquisitely precise and Large bed CNC router for a fraction of the cost of a middle of the road /middling quality Laser.
With such a Router Machine one could/can rout out an entire monolithic Model from a large slab of Foam.. inside and out. Only need to flip the block for doing the 'other side'
Many have done so successfully.
Lasers are best at banging out Balsa bits for Kits.
A router is for building models, although it too can make kit parts.. earning you tens of $ profits..
May 08, 2014, 10:06 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Thanks, Bare.

A router won't cut what I need cut, so it's not even an option for me. I don't use foam except as something to fiberglass over when making a cowl, and that would happen only if I chose not to build one up from wood.

This is for my personal use, not for making kits for others to build.

A router requires that you have the material anchored. One of the guys I work with has a CNC router - he wishes it was a laser in part for that reason. If I need something made on a router or 3D-printed, he's my go-to guy. If he wants something cut on a laser, I'll be able to return the favor.


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