I recently received a cheap CNC Laser Engraver based on the EleksMaker platform from Gearbest.com in exchange for my opinion on said device. #sellout…
Admittedly, I was apprehensive as I thought it would be complete rubbish to be honest… I am always dubious as to the quality of a machine that is selling at such a low cost, there must be significant corners cut somewhere.
Despite this however, I was pleasantly surprised as to the functions and feel of this machine. Sure it won’t win any specific design prizes and it really is an engraver not a cutter (the furthest I could push it’s cutting ability was card stock).
It came extremely well packaged in a medium sized box with everything you need to build the kit and start engraving (minus a laptop to control it!). I got the 2.5W version but I would recomend going for the 5.5W because more power more better!!!
It is an extremely straight forward assembly process and there are few instructions needed as intuition is really all you need if you look at a picture of the assembled frame. In fact the longest part for me was peeling all the paper off the laser cut acrylic parts. One peeve I did have is that the part that mounts the laser to the gantry is crap. The threads are the wrong size for the m3 machine screws provided and so it does not hold the laser module in place. I resorted to 3M foam tape instead.
Once you have downloaded Eleks maker CAM/Controller software (http://forum.eleksmaker.com/topic/114/elekscam%E4%B8%A8download-instruction) and installed the driver it is just a matter of plugging in the machine via the USB cable provided and powering on the machine. I used the weak laser setting to allow me to focus the laser on the material I was engraving as my fisrt step to make sure the best quality cut was achieved.
I also dragged over my ventilation hose to extract the smoke out of the room effectively.
After playing around with some speeds and power settings for a few minutes I made my first engraving:
It came out remarkably well and took less than a minute to engrave so I was already impressed by this point.
From here I kept playing around with different materials and what not. I found that aluminium did not work at all and for clear plastics, a layer of masking tape over the surface allows the laser to engrave it.
Here are some photos of my experimenting:
The laser can be purchased from here: http://www.gearbest.com/3d-printers-3d-printer-kits/pp_597310.htmll?lkid=11009317
I realise that you may think this review is biased as I received the laser engraver for free but I think with all things considered that this would be a tool that I would buy had I not been given one.