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Received an email ad this morning for a MicroMark Laser Knife.  A desk top laser cutter for the hobbiest.  Great looking machine and something I would definately want to add to my workshop but the price is a little steep at $2000.  Hope these go the way of laser printers and come down in price to where it becomes affordable to the average model builder.

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Its like paying a ton of money right now for a hobby 3d printer.  It would pretty much be a waste a money. This is usually used for the scrap booking hobby and is best for cutting paper and cardboard.  Try cutting anything like basswood over 1/16" thick and you will run into problems. You would likely to cut through 1/16" boxwood at all.  This is the same model often seen on EBAY and its made in china.  Its not a good machine at all.  In fact I think its dangerous.  I have read horror stories about these cheap Chinese machines.  Best to double the price and go for a 60 watt machine by a reputable maker.   Its not a good machine at all.  You could actually buy that same machine on ebay or through other sources for half that price.  That is a rip-off if I ever saw one.

 

 

See this

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/40W-CO2-Laser-Cutter-Engraver-Cutting-Machine-Support-Corel-Draw-W-Air-Assist-/201117615871?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ed38b46ff

 

Its just a waste of money.

 

I paid about $5500 give or take for my 60 watt laser and it can cut through quarter inch ply in one pass on 60% power.  This $$ includes the laser cutter ....putting in a good exhaust system,  and a dedicated electric line.  Better focus lens and longer life laser tube.  Larger cutting area.   The machine is well built and I have never had any issues with it.  The exhause is super important.  I would never cut Styrene with it as listed on the MM site either.  That stuff melts and the fumes are bad.  My advice...stay far far away!!!

 

Have a look

 

\https://www.bosslaser.com/laser-machinery/entry-level-co2-lasers/boss-ls-1415-122-detail

 

Chuck

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On a completely different note, I am considering buying a 44" plotter to print plans. I have a lot of demand for plans to go along with my laser-cut frames and I was under the impression you were looking for someone who could print for you. 

 

If so, please let me know as this may encourage me to buy the printer. 

 

Regards, 

 

Rick 

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I took a second look at that MicroMark laser cutter and also at what Chuck posted.   They have that thing way over-priced.  I saw it for as low as $485 without the Corel software.  Specs are iffy, reviews.... don't ask... yeah...not good.   Parts are impossible to come by.  I'm not sure why, by the MM version requires a transformer to work in the States (the unit is built for 220V) while the other versions out there are 110V and some are 220V.  Still.....  this just doesn't seem to be a good deal at all. 

 

Then..  the angels sang, the gods smiled down.  I saw the laser cutter I would want.  Cuts wood and metal.  Has a rotary type lathe attachment (turning cannon!!!!).  I'd just need to convince the admiral that spending $25,000 is a good idea and also adding another room onto the house for it.  :D  :D :D  :D  :D  

Edited by mtaylor
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From what I have read on this site and on links provided by members over recent weeks, it seems a pity MSW can't ban certain tool companies just like some model ship companies are banned. It seems as if much of what is sold by micromark is either dodgy, dangerous or ripped off from another reputable tool company. I will certainly never buy a micromark product no matter how big a bargain it is.

Edited by hornet
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I don't blame Micromark for selling items, just like I don't blame ebay for some if not a lot of junk they have listed. It's up to the consumer to do their research BEFORE buying. Typical someone else's fault mentality. I have bought from Micromark in the past and will buy from them in the future.

 

PS: I just noticed Micromark has the Artesania Latina HMS Victory kit on sale for $499.00 where other places want over $600.00 for it. But I already have that kit, if I didn't I would be all over that like a tic on a hound dog.

 

 

Mike 

Edited by mtdoramike
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I don't think one should discount a company just because the products they sell aren't the top of the line. For instance, now that we all know that the MM laser knife is not good as an actual tool, it may still be very good as an educational device. 

 

if you are planning on spending $10k plus on a real laser, I don't think it's a stretch to spend another $2k with a learning tool. I would say it's much better to break a $2,000 tool, and learn something, than to spend the same amount of time learning on the real machine, with the fear and stress of breaking it in the first week. 

 

Sure, the more expensive machines come with good training, and are actually pretty easy to use but, hey, still, I think it could be fun to break a $2,000 laser. 

 

I remember how one could break a $1.5 million dollar laser.....

 

Cheers, 

Edited by rshousha
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Very interesting comments.  I look forward to the day when laser cutters and 3D printers are both cheap and reliable tools for the hobbiest.  Considering the huge advances made in other areas of high tech over the last decade I don't think that is an unreasonable hope.

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Just chiming in to say that while Micro-Mark does seem a bit overpriced on some things, they are just a 'store', and they carry a lot of things that are difficult to find elsewhere, and as long as you do your own research on what to source from them, they are a good place to get quite a number of things.

 

I'd never buy any of their power tools though, because they are more expensive than the same tool elsewhere.

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Have a read of the post from Paul Garcia on this link from another modelling forum. It made me think about the marketing practices of MicroMark. The follow up comments on the thread are also very interesting.

 

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47211/thread/1354040989/Micro-mark+rivet+decals+in+the+U.K

Edited by hornet
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When the laser was installed, the manufacturer specified the company had to build a concrete slab several feet down below where the ground can freeze under the building where the laser was installed. It was also specified that the concrete had to cure for at least two weeks before the machine was installed. Well, the fellows who owned the company thought they knew better. Since the machine was twenty feet from the edge of the building, they never thought the ground would freeze that far from the outside of the building so they decided they only had to go down three feet, instead of the six that were required. 

 

They also figured the concrete had cured after a week. 

 

So, the machine was installed. 

 

A couple of winters later, we had thirty-five below for a few days and a very long stretch around twenty-below. So much for global warming. 

 

The slab cracked and the machine moved. So, the mirrors went out of alignment and, well, there you have it; a $200,000 mistake. 

 

So, don't drop the laser....

 

Cheers, 

 

Rick 

Edited by rshousha
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This thread gave me an idea.

I know that Woodcraft (only in America), has laser cutter in their workshop classroom.

As I am about to pay them a visit in near future, I will ask if they would help me and to what cost they would help me to get parts laser cut.

I know their machine takes the DWG/DWF- along with CDR-files. :)

If they do, I think there could be some great savings as a laser cutter won't be used to such extent that you will save any money. As Chuck stated his machine was at 5500 dollars.

That's a lot of laser cutting using some one else, with a pro-machine. :P

 

Ps. Just because this machine from MM could be a dangerous shouldn't stop one from shopping from them. They have lots of other items to great prices. 

Edited by Nirvana
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All of the hull panels for this 1:10 model of a CLC Skerry were laser cut from 1mm and 1.5mm ply. Using the plans for the full size boat I re-drew them on AutoCad and saved them on a flash drive. A friend in Marmaris (Turkey) is a sign maker and has a laser cutter in his shop. He usually charges me about one TL a minute of use and the panels took just a few minutes (it was awhile back - I've slept since then.  :) ) The boat was based on stitch and glue construction and I made the model the same way - you can see some of the copper wire stitches holding it together.

 

post-683-0-92157400-1428241271_thumb.jpg

 

and the finished boat

 

 

post-683-0-02478500-1428241296_thumb.jpg

 

I made the full size one as well.   B)

Edited by Yambo
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Have a read of the post from Paul Garcia on this link from another modelling forum. It made me think about the marketing practices of MicroMark. The follow up comments on the thread are also very interesting.

 

http://www.network54.com/Forum/47211/thread/1354040989/Micro-mark+rivet+decals+in+the+U.K

Hornet,

 

Thanks for that link. I was disappointed in MicroMark's shoddy business practices, I will avoid them from now on.

 

Michael

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Not to berate them, but another thing I found with MM was their pricing practices. As a for-instance, Excel's "Ship Modelers Knife Kit" is priced at $65, and with just a little shopping around, I found the exact same thing at ME for $50. All I'm saying is, there's making a profit, then there's just out and out greed. Don't get me wrong, if you're looking for something, they're one of the most well-stocked outlets out there, and they'll probably have what you need. Ah---shopping around's always a good idea anyway.

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I would take Chuck up on his offer long before I tried using a school laser. Actually, no, I shouldn't say that. Once you've used the school laser and realized how much effort it takes to go from a design to the real thing, you will really appreciate how much time and effort it takes to make a decent cut on a laser. 

 

Then, you can take Chuck up on his offer and pay him whatever he wants. Really. It's that hard to use these things to the level of quality and precision modellers will accept. 

 

I am in the middle of designing custom gratings for a fellow, using three of four different thicknesses of teak. I can tell you it's a lot more subtle than one realizes. 

 

Cheers, 

 

Rick 

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Per, In Spokane theres a guy advertising Laser cutting and engraving. He is dshort9871@aol.com, or 509-238-6034. He was showing his stuff at train shows a couple years back. In spite of his being local Chuck would probably your best bet for ship model specific parts. Short is more of a wood worker type.  Bill

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  • 1 month later...

This topic got me thinking and reading..   So... I'll post what I've found, for those interested in two parts...

 

Part 1.   Laser Cutting as a service.

 

There's lots of people offering laser cutting out there.  I wanted some deck beams cut as I didn't want to spend the better part of a week cutting 75 deck beams... actually it would have been closer to 150 and tossing half them as being unsuitable.  I needed two different sizes on two different thicknesses of wood.

 

Naturally, my first step was research.

 

Locally, I supply the wood and the drawings.  Extra cost for them to take a blueprint and make ready.  Then there's setup charges and the cutting charge. None of these were "model builders" as such though they claimed they could do the work.   One of the locals was trying to convince me to use pine and then cut it across the grain instead of with the grain.  Others, were asking me questions like "power settings"?  Hell.. I haven't a clue.. they're supposed to be the experts.  :)

 

Non-local, I talked to Chuck.  He's a modelbuilder as well as designer.  He supplies the wood.

 

Rick, I've not worked with but given the nature of customs and money exchange rates I choose not to.  There's some others out there but I decided to stay within the MSW community.  So perhaps someone who has used him might need or want to comment.

 

Result:  I went with Chuck.  His price, including shipping was half of the local guys including him supplying the wood. 

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Part 2.  Buying a Laser Cutter.

 

I'm using the MM Laser as a baseline for comparison.  There's much good and bad about MM as a company and their products but they seem on the right track with this product, though, IMO, it's still pricey.

 

The ones on E-bay/Amazon are a nightmare. They're designed and made in China (the so-called K40 or KW40 model) and the basic design has been around about 5 years or so.  They use MoshiDraw software, the quality varies on the laser and for the most part, the unit is drop shipped at the terminal and the buyer must make arrangements to pick it up.   MoshiDraw is software of choice for these machines as the system board is compatible only with this software.  Running it on any version of Windows higher than XP is iffy.  Even Corel with the Moshi Plugin is not reliable.  The hardware is again, iffy.  It may or may not work as it's shipped by container to the terminal.  Reports of many of these coming in damaged are rife.  And since you're dealing with a Chinese company in China, they really don't provide customer support.  Documentation is minimal and very badly translated.   So.. pfffft on those.

 

What many users have done is buy the cheap one and then upgrade everything with either aftermarket parts and software at which point the cost has climbed to above the MM price.

 

A laser tube runs about $150+ and lasts 1000 to 1500 hours depending on power levels for the cut.  That is a lot of hours for something I think many of us would use rather infrequently compared to say, a table saw.  Most sellers state that these are not production type machines and only hobby machines.... but some don't state that so bewary.

 

I followed some online advice and looked at what was available that had English instructions, support, and parts.  I found quite a few.  The prices are all over the map and much is dependent their level of support.  Some good.  Some not so good.

 

Now for quick look at MM's product.... pricey but they use a different motherboard for the Corel Software and this seems to be why they need a transformer unit (extra!) for ones sold here in the States.  They have a warranty and support.  They do test the units they sell so you're not getting one dead on arrival in the US.  Unlike many of the others, you can get this thing out of box and assembled and ready to run pretty quick if you know Corel.  The one thing I did like is that it had pretty straight forward documentation (online - you can read before you buy... I've read it) that seems to take the guesswork out setting it up.     Downside, the cutting area is small and this is their first unit as it's called Mark I...

 

Final thoughts:

I do believe for someone who wants to experiment they should.   If you have deep pockets go for what Chuck bought or one like it.  Many of have bought lathes and milling machines that aren't used all that much but we like to have them and use them.  I think that the laser cutters are like the 3D printers... it's a new technology for the hobbyist, not mature yet.  Prices will come down and quality will go up. 

 

For now, if it's purely dollars and cents.. go with laser cutting as a service.  But if you're into DIY, then go for it, but put your own research into it.

 

Pesonal note:  I'm holding off.  There's lots of things I'd like to do, but I'm following some sage advice:   Don't use new software until Service Pack 1 and never buy a new car in the first model year. :)

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Most Chinese machines may of course say that they are 40 watt machines.  In reality they cut with much less power (folks say around 25 - 30 watt who have tested them).   You might be able to cut basswood up to 3/16" thick.  But 1/4" will be a real stretch and tax the machine.  Forget about hardwoods.  The lenses they use are also sub par and dont focus the laser enough.  The beam will not be using the power to its fullest.   The lens on a good machine will cost you $80 plus dollars alone.  It can focus the cone of the laser so its a thin pinpoint.   The chinese machines use cheap lenses from cheap material and they pit and warp.   This means a huge and wide kerf for the cut even on thin pieces of wood with a very angular cut.  Enough about the laser power....what about mechanics.

 

The laser travels on tracks in the x and y axis.  These are belt driven/   I have seen some poorly made Chinese unites that dont travel with a smooth motion.  They jerk around and therefore dont produce smooth cut lines.  So also think about the mechanics.  

 

On almost every laser cutting forum like Sawmillcreek...people who buy these machines regret they ever did.   They are not very good at all.  And you cant return them....

 

Check out the forums for laser cutters and do searches for entry level machines...just read the comments.   Its very telling.

 

 

 

Best to buy an American machine made from the bones of a Chinese unit where everything has been upgraded.

 

These are good places and companies to research.  All have their pros and cons...stay away from fullspectrum lasers just as I would recommend stayng away from the MM laser.

 

Boss Laser
Rabbit Laser USA
Lightobject
Automation Technology Inc.

 

​If you have money to burn...Epilog is the absolute best and three times as costly.

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