Sculpfun S9 Review
I was recently contacted by Sculpfun and provided a Sculpfun S9 laser to review.
I have owned multiple desktop lasers since they first became mainstream around 2019. Fast forward 5 years and desktop lasers are gaining in popularity. The laser side hustle is a real phenomenon and seemingly getting stronger all the time. Despite the many choices in desktop lasers, they are all fairly similar.
Typical 450nm diode module
Most machines contain a 450 nanometer (nm), 5 watt blue laser diode. That is roughly the most powerful diode on the market. Manufacturers who have 10 watt, or 20 watt optical output simply combine multiple diodes into one beam. A 10 watt laser has 2 diodes, and a 20 watt laser has 4 diodes, and so on.
Similarly, most of these devices have a rectangular frame somewhere around 350 to 400 mm in length and width. The laser head is driven by an 8 bit or 32 bit motherboard and stepper motors, and the laser is manually focused.
Since the machines are all so similar, the thing that sets them apart is cost. Many desktop diode laser offerings come in around the $500 price point. Lasers that cost less than that price point are a little tougher to find.
Enter the Sculpfun S9 at the current price of $269.99. And as a bonus, Sculpfun has provided my readers a 7% off discount code only for the S9. KJKXP7 (S9). By my calculations that makes the laser approximately $251.09. I have done blogs on budget lasers and $250 is an EXCELLENT entry level price point.
For some reason my laser related blog entries have gained some favorable traction.
In an attempt to appear a tad more professional to the laser community I have taken some of my better entries and created a new website. I’ll leave my existing laser content here, but all future laser only content will only be posted to:
and it can be parsed by an RSS reader at:
I did not in my wildest dreams think that anyone followed my blog in an RSS feed until a plugin I had installed broke my RSS feed and several people told me.
Anyway, thanks for reading and bookmark my new laser page if you come here for the laser content.
Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review
Ortur LM3 LE
I’ve been doing desktop diode lasers since they became mainstream in about 2019. Prior to that they were mostly DIY. Ortur was pretty much first to the game with the Laser Master 1 and subsequently the Laser Master 2. I owned 2 of those. I’ve since picked up a Laser Master 3, an Aufero 2 and now it is time to do an Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review.
I wasn’t really a fan of the Ortur Laser Master 3 and I wrote at length about that here. My LM3 works fine but I generally think the design has some issues. It sits so low as to be almost unusable for anything over 400mm in width unless you raise the machine. Also there are support issues regarding the lens protective glass that just aren’t right.
Best Budget Laser Engraver
I own two of the very best laser engravers that money can buy. The xTool D1 Pro (20 watt and 10 watt). But they cost a buck or two. In fact, an entry level laser from just about anywhere is in the $500 and up range. What if you just want to get your feet wet in the laser world as cheaply as possible? Or maybe you want an inexpensive back up machine. Let’s find the best budget laser engraver to get you started.
And right away I need to make it clear that I’m not saying that this is the best laser engraver by a long shot. It is my choice for the best BUDGET laser engraver.
To get the optimum bang for your buck you need to leave the country and head to AliExpress to find the best budget laser engraver. You simply are not going go get a similar deal from the US based sales or places such as Amazon. Of course you can always check the classifieds for a used laser but you don’t really know what you are getting there.
If you search for “laser engraver”, you’ll find some good ones that hover around the $200 price point. However, beware potential shipping costs and make sure you are getting a laser with about a 5 watt optical output. Most anything else is a toy. Also check for coupon availability.
There are several no name lasers on there that price out at some ridiculous prices around $120 but once you click on them you’ll find that price is actually an extension kit or just the laser head. Clicking on the box for the full laser that is 5 watts or so pushes you up around $200 again.
Read on to see what I determined the best deal was.
LASER ENGRAVING SIDE HUSTLE SKILLS
It seems like everyone is doing a side hustle from home. With the advent of reasonably priced craft machines such as Cricut, CNC routers, and laser engravers, everyone is jumping into the game. This is a reasonably new phenomenon as well as desktop laser engraving machines have only been around a couple of years. There is one notable exception. The Chinese K40, CO2 laser.
I personally think every laser side hustle wannabe should be forced to own one of these first.
Modern, refined laser engravers do much of the heavy lifting for you these days. The K40 made you learn every single skill the hard way. It required a lot of tedious setup, and utilized a rag tag method of water cooling.
Early users had to draw their designs in Inkscape and the color of the line determined whether the software (K40 Whisperer) either engraved it, or cut it out. Additionally, just getting that machine set up, and aligned taught the user vital skills. The K40 forced you to learn the difference between vector and raster drawings. Having dirty lenses and mirrors were anathema to engraving success. DIY upgrades were often vital to keeping the machine operating within recommended parameters. Jumpers were installed on the main board which defeated safety measures such as detection of water flow. Wow! I’ve blogged about much of this in the past.
WHAT MAKES THE BEST LASER ENGRAVER?
The answer to that question can only be determined by examining how you intend to use your laser engraver. I’ll try to cover a few things in this blog that most people don’t think about before buying a laser. Here are some ways that a laser engraver can be used:
- For a Stay At Home business
- For a mobile business as a vendor at local festivals or flea markets
- As strictly a hobby device
- As a tool at your workplace
- As a way to supplement another machine such as a CNC (i.e. applying Makers Marks, logos, etc.)
If you decide that you are a Stay At Home user you can likely buy a larger, sturdier machine where speed may not be the most important requirement. Conversely, if you use your laser engraver as a mobile device you may desire a smaller, lighter, and more portable machine. The ability to make items quickly while customers wait could also be an important consideration.
USING MULTIPLE xTOOL LASERS WITH LIGHTBURN ON MAC
I have two xTool D1 Pro lasers and I thought it would be easy to hook the xtool’s to Lightburn on one computer. It wasn’t. While the solution is easy, the steps must be done in a specific order to make this work.
Using the xTool software, xTool Creative Space works perfectly. This is a Lightburn / Mac / USB issue.
Fortunately there is a way to make this work.
When I first started this I had the red D1 Pro 20 watt with the extended bed hooked up. It worked perfectly. Then I bought an xTool D1 Pro 10 watt and hooked it to the same computer.
This is when the trouble began.
Ortur vs xTool
Side hustle is a thing! One of the best side hustles going is laser engraving. In the world of desktop laser machines there are several purchase options out there but most users ultimately pare their selection down to Ortur vs xTool.
I own both an Ortur Laser Master 3 and an xTool D1 Pro. In the interest of full disclosure, xTool provided me a D1 Pro 20 watt kit to review, however in this article I’ll be mostly comparing the Ortur offering vs an xTool D1 Pro 10 watt, which I purchased with my own funds. Also in the interest of full disclosure I previously owned two Ortur Laser Master 2 machines.
Let the games begin!
Ortur Laser Master 3 Review
I’m a little late to the show on this one and the Ortur Laser Master 3 has been reviewed to death on the internet. It was released around mid-July 2022 so it took me around 5 months before I got my hands on one.
I previously owned two Ortur Laser Master 2’s and I considered the LM2 to be the first real viable, non-DIY desktop laser out there. I sold one of them about a month ago, and the other just a few days ago and took the proceeds from those sales and picked me up a Black Friday priced special.
Now I currently own an OMTech 50 watt CO2 laser and an xTool D1 Pro so the Ortur Laser Master 3 has some stiff competition. This blog will be strictly my first impressions and not an overall review of the machine.
First of all, while it was in the mail I watched all the assembly videos and read all the blogs and tried to get up to speed as much as possible. The Ortur Laser Master 3 has perhaps the easiest build of any desktop laser I’ve ever owned. However, there was one catch and that catch left me FUMING.
So you went out and bought yourself a laser engraver. Most people think they will just build the machine and start making money. But there are some tools and accessories out there that will make your experience a far better one.
NEIKO Digital Caliper
First of all, welcome to the world of precision. Your customers want their engravings centered. And in a certain spot.
And if you intend to do rotary operations, a set of calipers is a must have tool.
The only way to achieve precision is to own precision. You also need to measure material thickness frequently, and measure the size of your working area. You need a set of NEIKO Digital calipers.
These are great because they do both metric and imperial measurements and these calipers get really solid reviews on Amazon. The only thing that I will say about them is they take weirdo batteries, LR44, so pick up some spare batteries. And I recommend taking the battery out of it if you aren’t going to use it constantly.
I use calipers on a nearly daily basis while I use my laser engraver. Sometimes a tape measure will do, but calipers are king. And I’m a metric guy. Yeah, I was born and raised in Indiana but lived in Japan for about 16 years. I came to respect and admire the metric system. Say anything you want about the metric system but a precise millimeter measurement beats converting fractions to decimals ALL DAY LONG.