lasersaur vs Cheap chinese ready made machines

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PhotoBooth biz

Jan 29, 2020, 1:38:25 PM1/29/20
to lasersaur
forgive the newbie question, but I did a search and the last post about this topic was 8 years ago.
Just found out about the Lazersaurus. You are about 4.5 hrs from me. 
I was thinking of building one since I can weld and have access to laser cut parts
is yours still for sale, I suppose at the right price it is cheaper to buy used.
you can call me 704-726-9788 (cell) or email me back with price. I can drive over and take a look at it and possibly we can make a deal. I am a total newbie, but from what I have read it costs around $5500 if you can weld your own frame and cut your own panels, 
if it is that expensive why not just buy it premade from china for $2000

Assume I can cut all panels  and weld together the frame from steel square tube to save money. From my brief research the lasersaur is still going to cost me $5000 vs these premade solutions 
what is the benefit of making the lasersaur if I can just buyone premade? Yes I know quality control is sketchy on some Chinese stuff, but not sure the quality control will be much better on my 1st laser cutter build either. I can easily see myself making some dumb mistake and having to redo the design costing me a lot of time and frustration.
or even bigger 200w one for 

Thanks Rolland

Josh Lotts

Jan 29, 2020, 4:23:29 PM1/29/20
to lasersaur
Besides the ebay special K40 unit junk out there, a lot of the Chinese units released these days will chew a lasersaur a new one I hate to say it. Might seem harsh but the reality is Lasersaur is effectively a dead project not worth investing your money in, unless you plan on picking one up for the frame components with a heart transplant in mind. Lasersaur was neat idea and was one of the best known and one of the only open source units that could be had 5-7 year ago, but since then they dumped the project with an unrefined software/UI that simply don't hold a candle against the affordable ruida control boards that have a plethora of useful features the lasersaur never even came close to having. For this reason the BOM is also outdated and terribly over priced from a lot of over priced vendors from bad sourcing. The lasersaur controlboard cost around 600 the last time I looked but in all reality isn't worth more than $100 at best that I personally would give that much for unless I was a serious programmer. Once your realize you can get a top shelf dsp controller combo for less than $300 that can run dual tubes, support 4 axis and different laser types such as RF and fiber simultaneously, gives frequency control,corner cut power tuning, one step acceleration control, raster etching, 3d gradient engrave PWM slopes, etc. You quickly forget about the lasersaur boards.
As for the build we had, our lasersaur was a mechanical nightmare that had resonance issues, and would easily get out of alignment due to poor gantry engineering. Our old saur ran a seriously under powered nema 17 motor direct drive X axis setup, using sloppy 5mm belts on the chinciest tensioning system I've ever seen. A machine of this size should run a minimum of nema 23 3 phase motors with 2:1 reductions on both axis with and nothing less than 15mm belts throughout.
It should have also used a 36-48v PSU to drive the motors/drivers, not the dinky 24v units that plague the hobby laser industry way to much. Once you hear a machine that runs higher volt psu you'll be amazed at just how quit a stepper motor is when it's not starving to death for power delivery. Further more the lens should be a meniscus 50.8mm piece for much better resolution that still cuts well through 1/4 inch wood. Avoid the plano convex (PCX) type that used to be recommended in the lasersaur BOM. They have inferior collomization and yield wide focal spots that hinder the lasers ability.
All that being said, I do support what lasersaur did for the OS comunity when they were relevant alternatives. I learned most of what I now know from playing with one for a couple years. But let there be no doubt the price per performance and function of these vs the latest Chinese units out there now, there really isn't any comparison to be had. Building a lasersaur from the original BOMs sheets is equivalent to throwing your money out the window for fun or buying a new car just to take it all apart and rebuild it. There are much better ways to assemble a laser now days for half the cost the lasersaur that will outperform it 10-3 and I'm being serious.

Scott (

Jan 29, 2020, 5:05:28 PM1/29/20
to lasersaur
Josh is right, the bang for your buck for a laser cutter these days is hands down the Chinese machines. Swap out the Coreldraw software for Lightburn, follow one of the tuning guides out there, and you should do just fine.

That said, I think the Lasersaur is still viable in 2020 if you meet a few criteria:
  • You really value the build process for its own sake. Lots of learning to do when you're building from scratch, and at least personally I've gotten a lot of value of being able to mess around in the open-source codebase.
  • You don't need to cut anything more than flat stock.
  • You need the huge cutting area (roughly 50" x 30"). The price for Chinese cutters scales up quickly with bed size. I don't know if you ran across my build posts in your research, but when I built mine at the end of 2018 it ran me $7.3k after all the bells and whistles. That's comparable to the $6.0k for the cutter in your second link. Note also that the freight shipping from whatever seaport to your home is *not* included in that price, and will run you several hundred dollars more. Though for what you pay for, the technical specs of that Chinese cutter are better.
  • A little silly, but I hate that all the Chinese machines go all the way to the floor. I have a pretty small space and it's a lot nicer to put the 'saur on a table with storage underneath.
Essentially, I think the advanced hobbiest tinkerer is still well served here. But that's a really small niche that I wouldn't recommend for most people. If you're a business or you're more interested in making your designs come to life than messing around with CNC machines, I'd steer clear.


jet townsend

Jan 29, 2020, 5:35:25 PM1/29/20
For the most part, I don't think it's worth most people building a
lasersaur with the relatively low cost (and quality, mind you) of
Chinese products. If you're a shop billing hours you can probably
afford something better, maybe even a used Epilog.

It can be a good learning experience for college-age people. Some of
the students I managed assembling a lasersaur at CMU got super
interested in mechanical/robotics things. One of the archi undergrads
said something like, "this is the first time I ever used a wrench and
made something" and went on to get a MS and PhD in Computational Design.

However, Scott makes some good points; I'll toss out some rhetorical
questions and provide my answers.

- What are you going to do with your laser cutter? Is it your personal
one, or a shared one for a hacker space or a school? Do you really need
100W and a 4'x2' bed?

For me, it pays off. I have an Etsy store and sell a lot of things cut
out of 1/4" baltic birch ply. These are things big enough that I buy
5'x5' sheets of birch and cut them on a panel saw (you know, like the
ones at box stores) located at Protohaven (local maker space). I buy 10
sheets at a time and cut media for 30 of my shelf kits:

As part of having an Etsy presence, I'm also developing new products and
having a big 100W in my home studio is very convenient. I'm working on
a new tool stand and waiting on the laser to cut a prototype is me
wasiting time.

- Where is it going to be located? Do you have ventilation or clearance

As Scott said, having it NOT go all the way down to the floor like a
Chinese laser gives you a lot of storage space. I stack cut plywood on
one side and use the other side for my fume extractor and water cooler.

- Are you good with a wrench or software? Are you a MechE/hacker who
likes to experiment?

In my studio are the carcasses of two lasersaurs that were shut down for
a variety of reasons. I'm making some notes/drawings on doing a movable
Z bed and a rotary device. Note that I'm doing this for my own
amusement, if I need a rotary cutter we have one for the Trotech at

- Do you really need a fancy interface or do just need to load-and-go
with DXF files?

The latter. All of my work is in Rhino or SolidWorks, including
organizing the DXF files for my cuts. Literally all I do on the
lasersaur is load the DXF, assign colors to speed/power, and press the
go button. I've been sort-of working on a new UI for the Lasersaur but
the only feature I really need is 2D bin-fitting. I could probably just
write a plugin for Rhino or a standalone app that does that work for me.

Jet Townsend, IDSA
design <>
hacking <>
consulting <>

PhotoBooth biz

Jan 29, 2020, 10:25:47 PM1/29/20
to lasersaur
Josh, scott ,& Jet . thanks for honest replies. I kind of got the feeling it was a dead project after looking at the lack of posts and the founders going out of business. I have wood cnc router now. I have a "local" industrial laser cutter I pay to cut out my steel and aluminum stuff, it's so cheap in bulk it makes it impossible to justify me buying my own. 
Looks like I will start researching the Chinese units and see what fits my needs the most. 
thanks again. 

Josh Lotts

Jan 30, 2020, 4:41:14 AM1/30/20
to lasersaur
No problem I just hate to see you spend a bunch of money on something that doesn't even come up to the industry standard by a long shot. I have a prediction that you will see a lot more american-based Chinese distribution things for lasers in the near future due to the upcoming tariff issues that will plague the shipping cost of such things soon.
If you need help I'm not being arrogant when I say I've spent the last four years studying the very subject to the point to where I can tell you how to make the most from the least amount of money. Building one is still in the option book. The parts for these things are getting Cheaper by the day. You can seriously build a 100 watt machine for a little over 3 Grand especially if you know how to store certain things like the chiller for example. Hey fiber machine is always going to be more expensive by a long shot, however they too are getting much cheaper. I am actually considering building a galvo scan head laser for my next home build. A couple years ago that was out of the question. Keep me in mind if you need some real life advice on saving money for machine choice. You can reply to me here or email me directly. Also keep a watch out on Craigslist within a hundred fifty miles is of your house. I have found two $10,000 machine setups with all parts included 4 under half of what they are worth in the last 2 months.
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