Buying a Laser Cutter from China (Part One)…

by Stephen Hobley on April 11, 2011

40W Laser Cutter arrives from China from strong_signstech

2012 UPDATE: Check out the new laser cutter I built from scratch here -> New 24×18″ CO2 Laser

Since building the CNC router last year I’ve become increasingly interested in adding a laser cutting/engraving head.

Scanning eBay I found lots of component parts, but I did not have the expertise to create a working system. In situations like this I’ve found the best thing to do is buy an inexpensive “complete” system and use this to discover how things work – eventually the goal being to use the technology in something bigger and better.

I had noticed the 40W cutting units available for under a grand, particularly the ones sold under the “Strong” name – 40W Craftworks CO2 Laser Engraver&Cutter by strong_signstech.

Although not a huge amount of information available online – I was able to find two websites (both UK-based) that had some information on the units:

Andy Slater – bought one and converted it to run with Mach3 (something I may well be doing in time)

Lindsay Wilson – documents some extensive modifications made to improve the basic design.

After reading both sites it was clear that the unit would not function “out of the box” and some pretty comprehensive cleaning, modding and adjustment would be required before I switched it on.

Despite all this, I decided to take the plunge and order one.

After a couple of weeks it arrived in two boxes…

The Laser Cutter arrives from China

The tracking number that was supplied was 10 digit – these do not track using the conventional UPS tracking page, you have to select “Track By Reference” on the UPS page and enter in as much information as you have. Then you will see the true UPS tracking number along with the package information.

Laser Cutter Arrives from China

The smaller one contained the software, extractor, honeycomb table, water pump, lamp and documentation.

Laser Cutter arrives from China

The larger contained the unit itself.

Laser Cutter arrives from China

It’s about 18Kg and rather cumbersome, it took quite a long time to remove the back packaging. While I was doing it, a couple of screws fell out and a silver knob (this would be the first of many) – so be ready to catch these things!

Laser Cutter arrives from China

The reason that the unit is so large is that the CO2 laser tube runs all the way along the back. “Flying” mirrors redirect the beam onto the focusing head.

Laser Cutter arrives from China

One thing to stress is that these units are designed to run on a 240V supply, if you wish to run it on 110V you need a step-up transformer. Luckily this was one of the first things I bought when I first moved from the UK to the US. The vendor can provide you with one at an additional charge.

240V Power

Tomorrow I’ll be examining the unit, and fixing whatever needs to be fixed before switching the laser on for the first time.

Stay tuned for videos and more…

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

pkuhns April 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Can it cut aluminum? Okay, what about aluminum painted/anodized black? Just wanderin’…

Stephen Hobley April 11, 2011 at 10:53 pm

I doubt it – you’ll be wanting a plasma cutter – that’s coming next year…

David Randolph April 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’ve been tinkering with the Chinese laser cutters for awhile. I bought one of the cheap engraving ones and converted it over to a cutter with a new controller board. I also replaced the power supply so I could get true TTL and have a 110V system instead of always using the converter. I also changed out the water cooling system to a closed looped system used for CPU cooling. After that project I got a giant model from an american distributor ( To avoid port fees) and I’ve been modifying it as well.
One thing I did with the 40w cutter is i replaced the power supply and tube and got it up to 50w. I did have to cut a hole in the side of the case and make a protective cover but it wasnt difficult. The new cutter I got came with 50w and I did the same with it but i put in a power supply for 80w and a 60w tube but the cover i made is big enough that if i ever get enough money i can just swap out for the 80w tube.

The biggest thing i can recommend is a larger tube. 10w may not seem like a lot but it can cut times in half and increase cut depth by a factor of 2. I’ve been able to cut 3/4 plexi with a 60w tube no problem. and the 50w can cut 1/2 but the 40w i wouldnt go more than 1/4.

Here are some of the resources I used.

These guys carry everything in the states and have controller systems/tubes/power supplies/pumps/optics and a pretty good forum with lots of information. Most of my parts came from here. http://www.lightobject.com/

My larger cutter came from MornTechUSA http://tinyurl.com/3h4yvo2
who has been great to work with, he has taken care of me and made me very happy with my purchases.

My next project to add to my already over bloated room of tech is a plasma CNC. Currently I’m sporting the laser cutter/ MakerBot/ CNC Mill / Vinyl Cutter .
http://twitpic.com/49sss5

Stephen Hobley April 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Hay thanks David – good stuff. Yes once I get to grips with this cutter a bigger better tube is something I will be adding.

I was contemplating buying all the parts and just cracking on with a custom build, but lasers like these can be kind of scary, and it’s always better to have a reference model.

David Randolph April 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I did the same thing which is why I got the small one first so I could tinker, destroy, build, figure out what makes it all ticks and then make the next move. 2 years later my house is full of laser tubes, controller boards, motors and linear rails. I think I have more fun modifying the machines than I do using the machine. If you worry about the laser hitting your eye then i would suggest spending the 40 bucks and buying goggles. When every i fire the tubes outside the machine I put them on. When i first test fired with my optics external of the case i was trying to figure out why i wasnt seeing the burn marks even though i smelled burnt wood. Then I noticed my table across the room catching on fire. Side note: Check alignment. :)

Thanh April 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

Hi Stephen

I’m wondering if you have any experience if this machine can cut carbon fiber plate or G10 plate at all?

Thanks very much

-Thanh

Stephen Hobley April 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Not yet, but I’m working on it.

I will update the blog when I start to cut.

paola May 5, 2011 at 9:49 am

Hi everyone!
I bought a chinese laser cut, but Yesterday we changed our workshop and something happen.
I tried to start again with my work, and when I connected the cooling system something inside (like termoresistor) is broken and the water is going outside. I think is broken. This little thing is connected to the power and just one entry of water but nothing else. And our chiller manage the temperature control. I think it is not soo important and I can connect directly the laser cut to the chiller. What do you think?

natural cause berlin October 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm

i also bought one of those 40w chinese lasers. if appropriate i have some questions for those who have experience with the machine

1- do you need to modify anthing in the software or hardware (other then the casing) in order to upgrade the tube to 40+w tube?
2- does a 40+w tube increase precision?
3- any software upgrades (than moshi) that would increase precision?
4- any hardware upgrades to increase precision? ie. mirror, circuitry?
5- does running moshi on parallels desktop (for mac) affect precision?
6- any common glitches with the machine or moshi?

thank you

ba

Eric Larson January 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Hey guys, I’ve been wanting to get a small laser cutter/engraver for a while.
Nothing bigger than 10″x20″, I’ve talked to some guys in China about getting one but I’ve never used one so I just have to research about tubes, watts, etc.

Can you guys fill me in with what is the best to get or refer me to someone that you guys deal with. I have a tight budget so I want something that gets the job done.

Will be cutting: wood 3″ or less.

Oscar May 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Hi Eric

I think cutting 3″ wood is not possible with cheap small lasers. I think you will need at least 120 watts to do that.

Please let us know what have you bought to get the job done.

Azaa June 12, 2012 at 2:37 am

Hello, I have 60w laser engraving and cutting machine model YH-9060C from Laser World, China. When I cut something there are many blurry, burnt areas at the starting area especially during characters /letters/. And I can’t fix it because I don’t know what is the reason. When I start cutting right the moment it starts the laser power is more powerful I think. Could you help me, please?

Janne Mäntyharju December 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Is that you password written on post-it in the last picture? =)
Thanks for the info, I’ve been considering whether to buy similar cutter.

paul jester January 8, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I want to buy a laser cutter for sign fabrication. 100% cutting … NO engraving. Cutting almost exclusively acrylic and thin (20 mil) polycarbonate. Maybe 80-100W and about a 24×36 table. Considering a Chinese supplier; Thunder. Any feedback? Considerations? My thinking is that given my needs (acrylic/PC cutting only) the risk of buying Chinese is probably reduced quite a bit. Paul. Miramar Sign Works. San Diego. 858-382-1690 is my cell. Would consider buying a used machine if anyone has one for sale. Thanks.

Bill January 25, 2013 at 11:58 pm

I purchased a CO2 LASER ENGRAVING MACHINE ENGRAVER CUTTER 50W on e-bay from equipmentwholesaler1 and it was complete junk. The instruction manual was written in broken English, the water pump was burned out so I had to replace that, the machine would not interface with Corel Draw nor would it open the types of files listed in the manual, and after the thing completely quit working the customer support was nonexistent. Seven months later am I am still trying to resolve this issue. My advice is stick to one of the name brands, it’s more expensive but they value customer satisfaction. The Chinese companies just want the money.

i’m willing to sell this thing for parts for a fare price

Stephen Hobley February 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

Ha ha! Well spotted, yes it is…

But it’s an old post it from a system I no longer have access to (account deleted).
Good Catch.

I think I was using the bottom half of the post-it for something else.

Mark Wyllie February 12, 2013 at 5:25 am

Stephen, this is an excellent article and a really good guide for new laser users. Sadly I have a super large 1300×900 Chinese sourced Weike LC1390 and I am now selling it as I have to move house. Some fun videos and photographs at my little site http://www.buy-laser-cutter.com. I use the LaserCut 5.3 software

ram kumar April 30, 2013 at 1:06 am

I have plan to buy a china co2 laser machine keyland brand, anybody advise me this machine was any issue for this and you could suggest me what type of machine could be buy. we cut & engrave leather.
ram

Colin Boyd August 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hi,

I just got one of these, the blue coated one and I’m using the software Moshidraw 2013, do you have any issues with the cutter stopping half way for no reason?

Stephen Bewley February 13, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Hi everyone
I Have a GY-9060s great year laser cutter which I have been using successfully for over 2 years. Just before Christmas I changed workshops. During the move I banged my Co2 glass tube., but checking it all seemed fine(there were no cracks and nothing had broken off inside) . All other parts in the cutter seemed unaffected water pump, power supply and the haptic arm continued to work , compressor. The laser tube filled with water , as before, but no visible light came through. As everything else seemed unaffected by the move i decided to buy another tube thinking it must be that. However when the new one arrived the same happened , haptic arm moved but no light past through the laser tube. I have now also replaced the power supply.
I have tested the current of the socket I’m using with a voltmeter, it is 236v so should be fine. The building that I’m in has 16 sub-divided studios and flip switch is constantly being tripped due to too many hand held heaters being used could this have something to do with my lack of laser?
Has anyone had this problem before if so how did you fix it?
Also
I never did get a engineers’ manual for my machine all i got was a user manual which has very space directions on maintenance and no directions on how to test component elements . Can someone tell me the safest way to test whether my Co2 tube is receiving the correct current.

I am fast running out of ideas in the last month so any suggestions would be much appreciated

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