One of the most common questions I get regarding laser machines is why I chose Epilog and if I were to do it over again, would I stick with Epilog. The short answer is yes, I would stick with Epilog. The long answer involves a deeper dive into questions I asked along the way.
To help you, I have put together 10 things that you should think about when picking a brand or a machine in general. Keep in mind that everything I am writing is my opinion. Other people may disagree and that's okay. All of this was compiled through years of experience and usage to hopefully help you.
Before we go into this, a while back I made a video of general things to consider before buying a laser that you can watch here.
The goal of this video is to expand on my original video and add more details so stick with me because there is going to be a lot of information.
Brands I'd Recommend and Brands I wouldn't Recommend
- Epilog - This was the brand I decided to go with for a lot of reasons and they checked off every box when it comes to these 10 things I am about to talk about
- Trotec - This was the runner up for me. They make a good machine, but I didn't care for their sales approach at the time.
- Thunder Laser - I know a couple of friends with this brand and they have had a good experience. This to me is a tier below the Epilog and Trotec brands but does a good job and has good community support around it.
- Bodd Laser - This one I am conflicted on. I know two people who have had terrible luck and experience and two people who have had a good experience with them. To be honest, this one to me is up in the air and I am neutral on this one. I don't hate it, but I personally wouldn't buy one.
- Full Spectrum - My first laser was a Full Spectrum hobby laser. I personally had a bad experience and would therefore not recommend their machines based on my own experience as well as a friend's experience.
- Amazon/eBay Machines/Omtech - These are all machines for hobbyists. If you have time to tinker and time to dial it in and mess with it, then it is a cheap price point which makes it appealing. Knowing what I know, I wouldn't recommend them for a business, but they are okay for a hobbyist that rarely uses it and doesn't expect to do production.
Now that I have talked a little bit about brands that I would recommend, lets get into the 10 things you should think about when deciding on a laser for your business.
10 Things to Think About When Buying A Laser for Your Business1. Have them machine your design and material
- Ask each company you’re interested in to machine your material with your design. This will help you find out if they truly want to earn your business or if they don’t want to bother with you. This often mirrors what their customer service will be like.
- Ask for them to be tested on the machine model you are interested in purchasing. This is very important because you want to know the capabilities of the machine you want to buy, not the one they want to make the most money off of.
- Have a list of things you want to test to see if the machine is right for you. A common thing is can it machine a tumbler?
2. Can you see the machine working in person?
- Does the company offer live demos?
- Is it a “canned demo” or do they customize it based on your applications? Try to get them to do machine something custom to put them to the test.
3. What are the capabilities and limitations?
- Are there size limits, Z height limits , etc that can impact what you’re able to make? This comes back to being able to machine tumblers.
- Are the accessories you need available? (Rotary attachment, lenses, etc)
4. How do warranties work? Do they restart when you buy a new part or is it a standard number of years and that’s it?
- What are the costs of replacing/fixing the laser tube? How long is the warranty on the tube and the replacement tube?
- Will they quote you an actual cost of replacement?
- Are there extended warranties available?
5. What is replacing a part like?
- Do you have to send the machine back?
- Will they talk you through it over the phone?
- Do they have to send a tech out?
- Are there videos of how to replace the parts?
6. What is the community like?
- Is there a forum for owners or group where you can get help from other owners?
- Ask a few people who own the same brand you’re looking at and pick their brain about what they like and don’t like
7. Will the machine platform grow with your business?
- Does the company offer just one size with one technology or does it offer larger machines with fiber and CO2?
- If you need to upgrade your machine, are you able to stay on the same platform?
8. What’s the full price of the machine all in?
- Is all of the supporting equipment included or do you need to add it on?
9. What is the processing time for jobs?
- This works with your test file. See how long it takes to get your desired look and extrapolate that to see your throughput and estimated revenue based on what you can produce
10. Cost of ownership
- Replacement parts, how often it has to be fixed or replace parts, etc
This is definitely not an all encompassing list of things to consider when buying a laser, but it will cover just about everything you need to worry about. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me and let me know.