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Funding for a laser cutter granted

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by kyber, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. Our Technology department has been granted some money to purchase a laser cutter. Had a good look around and it seems to be low cost lasers and crt lasers who have best prices. Has anyone had any recent dealings with purchasing a cutter at reasonable cost. We have around £12000.
  2. Our Technology department has been granted some money to purchase a laser cutter. Had a good look around and it seems to be low cost lasers and crt lasers who have best prices. Has anyone had any recent dealings with purchasing a cutter at reasonable cost. We have around £12000.
  3. drummerman

    drummerman New commenter

    Hi. Great news about getting that kind of funding in the current climate. I would suggest looking into the following two companies: - Technology Supplies and Techsoft (mainly as I have had plenty of contact with both companies and trust them!)
    Technology Supplies. They sell the 25W Mercury II Laser Cutter (635 x 457mm bed) for 12,450 pounds. I can vouch for this machine, as we have had the mark I version for the past 9 years, and is still going strong!
    Techsoft. They sell the TechSoft LaserCam 30W machine (660 x 495mm bed) for 13,995 pounds. Again, a very reputable company whom we have used on several occasions. Techsoft also have a smaller (410 x 280mm bed), again 30W for 11,995 pounds. Bear in mind that this one is half the size of the previous machine.
    I hope that this helps, and doesn't confuse you. Let me know if you have any more questions I might be able to help/advise you with.
  4. Drummerman,
    Thanks for the advise. Many companues seem to be quating similar products. Most advising to use solely british based manufacturers. Company called CTR lasers are coming out around £12,000 for C150 80w, 50mm adjust height for lens 50mm. 900X1500 work area with extraction system built in. This machine is water cooled rather than air cooled.

    CAD CAM technology are coming out around 14,000, work area 500x780 with air coolant system. UK manufacturer.

    Much of a muchness really, trying to get the best watts with reasonable work area.

    Anyone had dealings with these companies??
  5. Kyber

    Totally convinced there is no such thing as a cheap laser. You get what you pay for. Have heard some horrendous stories. Contact Brian Cain at Solar lasers for honest advice brian@solarlasers.co.uk. Ask for a demo in your school so can test out with kids! Don't buy unless you are really satisfied that you have a reliable model that students can use (they cannot gain any credit unless they use it themselves). It should be no more complex than a printer. Ask about maintenance costs. Ask to speak to customers who have used the model in school for a period of time. Ask about training/curriculum materials - it needs to be in use straight away by Y7 up!
  6. You also need to check out extraction costs thoroughly. Part of the extraction drama is replacing the filter which can be a hefty extra a couple of times a year depending on usage. Can your dept. afford it? A brilliant bit of kit though with fab results, the kids love it.
  7. Technology supplies have been brilliant for use. maintinence costs not as bad as first predicted.
  8. We are currently looking at a Versalaser from either Hobarts or Solar Laser (about 16.995 so maybe a little expensive for you).
    My advice is to enqiure about servicing costs and call out charges as well as costs to replace the filters on the extraction unit.
    To 'threadjack' for a minute. Anyone have an opinion either way about the Versalaser range?

  9. .....oh and make sure the company you are buying from actually know about the machines and can service them. I have heard some companies (possibly techsoft and techsupplies) do not service the machine they sell.
  10. drummerman

    drummerman New commenter

    Technology Supplies can service their machines for a cost of 395pounds.
    I can't see anything about servicing a Techsoft machine in their catalogue. However, we haven't serviced our Mercury laser for 9 years! We have had to re-charge the laser tube once though. The price for this can vary from 2000-5000 pounds with Techsoft. I don't have the figures for TechSupplies. Another consumable for you will be the filters for the extraction system. Their prices vary quite a bit in relation to the machine you buy.
    As has been suggested in one of the previous comments, ask the companies to come and give you a demo in your school. It's free, and could give you a better understanding of what you want to buy. The pictures on a website/catalogue don't do these machines any justice at all!
  11. Simon67

    Simon67 New commenter

    We have a Versalaser bought through Suregrave (or whatever they are caled now!) 3 years ago. Great bit of kit. Operates through a Printer driver, and once set up( doddle to do) our year 7s can use it easily - as can my HoD!
    Suregrave have been great to deal with - if occasionally slow to return calls. Good range of materials available from them as well.
    Don't know the latest costs - ours is the 30W model and will cut 6mm acrylic easily. No problems with the laser tube yet - had to replace the filters after 20months - about £300.
    DOn't know what we did before we had it!
  12. Versalaser is a Universal machine. Have had my Universal machine for about 7/8 years using the same laser cartridge and almost completely trouble-free despite thousands of kids using it. Build quality is great. Brian Cain has been fantastic and was a godsend in the early days when we used to ring him regularly to ask how to do different tasks. Really knows his stuff! Now have four in dept and been able to use external extraction with some which has dramatically reduced running costs. Make sure you check (and clean if necessay) mirrors and lenses. Lenses are aroung £250 a go and dont like to be smokey/dirty at all. Air assist is essential - need a compressor so check that out as well. Make sure you get like for like quotes (very difficult but the only way to check whether you are actually getting a bargain)
  13. Yes but making comparisons is difficult.
    Do your research.
    Decide what you need not what they want to sell.
    Look at using campanies who have served you well in the past for CAD-CAM.

    Techsoft, Denford , Boxford have all been round a while.

    Despite the above I went to Unimatic, then they disappeared, as did Connect, and several others.

    Extraction can require filtration, but adapting an extraction system, e.g hot work - Flamefast or HME may prove a cheaper long term solution.
    Hope this helps.
  14. modelmaker

    modelmaker Star commenter

    The first, and most obvious question I think anyone looking to buy a laser cutter needs to ask themselves is whether there is actually any value in the often spouted suggestion to get the largest bed size you can.
    It infers you will need it to produce large items, but is that going to be true? Large items use up lots of costlty material making the expense of owning a laser cutter unaffordable in some schools. From what I've seen actually being made on large machines it could all have been done on a much smaller one.
    You ought to consider the cost of materials. Lasers get through high volumes of material because they are more productive than the other machines schools have. Schools excited over the prospect of their new laser arriving prepare for it in poor ways, from what I've discovered. The technician saws up material the size of the bed in anticipation this will be the most efficient. It could be, but when a kid given a new sheet of material cuts a job out of the centre of a large sheet, as they surely will, teachers realise schemes of work planned around what the dept. can actually afford in material is more essential. From what I've seen, the more effective use occurs when projects are planned around set material sizes.
    There is a trade off between bed size and the power of the laser that has to be decided on. High powered machines cut more quickly than low powered ones. Throughput of work is a key factor you can't ignore. My advice is to forego the large bed size in favour of laser power which is far more useful to you in the long-term.
    And then there is the issue of running costs. Can you afford them? It doesn't take much immagination to realise you will need a more powerful extraction on a large machine than you will on a small one. Large extractors have larger filters that are more expensive than small extractors. Filters always fail at the wrong time, when GCSE coursework is being done and there's no money left in the budget to replace them. It's embarrrassing to have to ask for more money to support the laser cutter when the powers that be were sceptical over the virtue of owning one were in the first place.
    Big isn't beautiful. Small is afordable. Laser power rules, as does the cost of using it.
  15. Seriously look into HPC lasers. We have just bought one of their middle sized machines (600x900) which is bigger than most for just under 6 grand. They installed the machine, extraction(linked to our old system) and gave use half a days training on it. It is a bit more industrial to use than other but its fantastic value for money.
  16. Hi Kyber,

    Please could you advise how you applied or where you applied for funding? I have just moved from a school with a laser cutter to a school without & am desperate to get one for the new school!

  17. Head had a surplus budget when we were in between scool and academy transformaion. Take a look at hcp lasers, you can get great value for money. Decent size bed for around 4k.
  18. We were given the money for a laser cutter at Easter and after some extensive research chose CADCAM Technology based in Nottingham. They make the machines in Notts and also supply the textiles industry so they have a lot riding on their reputation. The majority of schools in Ipswich have CADCAM lasers. Barry Abson is the person you need to talk to. Really helpful and more than willing to come over and give you a demo of the machines.
    They have provided us with a fantastic machine and their after-sales service is excellent. The others did'nt really cut the mustard. The one we have has very few moving parts exposed the children can get their hands into. We gave tecsoft a wide berth as the feedback we have had from some schools has been less than favourable.Good luck on your quest. We made sure that it was situated so that we could vent to air to avoid the cost of filters, It actually goes about 5m across a classroom and out through an external wall through steel tubing that our technician mounted up.

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