Alternate, low-cost laser to replace failing GF?

My GF is about to die. I was down to 140spd for PG Med Maple Ply and acrylic, but now have to go down to 130.

I’m ineligible for a a replacement, as I cut out the grate when I removed the (failed) exhaust fan years ago. Note I have been very happy with it in the 5+ years I’ve had it, I just can’t justify the expense of a new machine.

I don’t use it a lot, but when needed, a laser is an invaluable tool. Note I only work with 1/8" (or thinner) materials.

Has anyone here obtained a cheap Chinese or similar machine that would suitable for occasional use? Or, direct me to a site where I can research. There are many offerings out there but it’s hard to weed thru them all, and nothing beats first-hand experience.



Although my machine is still working like a champ :crossed_fingers: I’ll be following this thread.
I doubt I will purchase another GF but I do like having a laser as well.


elfguy i have a 50watt blue laser fromUniversal Engravers. if you want something to cut your 1/8" marerail it should do the trick. i have a rotary with it and i can contac you with a price if your interested.

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i have managed to get 2 pro replacements after failures despite having removed the grate on both and the fan on one. the topic never came up in the return dialogue.


The way they cross-ship now it’d probably be too late to undo the exchange once they figure out that the grate is gone.


Creality Falcon 2 seems like an interesting machine, right around $1000, claims it can cut very thin metal. Curiously has no case so venting would new territory.


Oh, I like that! It’s a diode laser. Oh, so many tools I want.


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I think this is a topic that will be increasingly important to more and more of us. I feel like I am running on pure luck at this point; my machine is basically still working like new, but that may be an artifact of how little use it’s gotten. Which makes it hard to justify the cost a second time around, even though I love having it available when I do find a reason to fire it up.

It would be awesome if we could put together some kind of crowdsourced comparison chart, especially with firsthand information from people who own these machines. Everybody is likely to have different priorities. For example, an external water pump is a deal killer for me and that certainly filters down the options.

My preferred reality is still for my machine to survive long enough to replace it with a Glowforge 2.0 that somehow costs less and is designed for easy repair. I can keep dreaming up until I’m forced to accept something else…


All diode laser manufacturers make outrageous claims.

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“Cuts 15mm wood.”

Hmm… That would be 19/32 of an inch (0.59") of wood cut with a 22 W laser. I’m dubious, at best.

I would be normally, too. Creality has earned a solid rep for their 3D printers and there are videos of Falcon 2 in action though. For the price and the flexibility (no case means you can have any height/size object under that head plus rotary) I’m still intrigued. No cutting clear acrylic, only color, is also fascinating.

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Don’t get me wrong I do like the set up and I see the potential in its simplicity, however, when they claim it can cut metal (foil really) but don’t actually show it doing so I tend to call BS. They also claim some outrageous speed (25,000mm/min = 82ft/min) but again never show them using anywhere near those speeds. I also doubt you would get those nice clean results they show when trying to cause colour distortions on a piece of metal. Keeping those colours between the lines like that would be pure magic.
Got my antennae twitching.


I don’t know what specific device it is but, someone I was talking to elsewhere said they were able to cut 3mm plywood with their 10-watt diode laser at about 80% power. Everything I have seen done with the diode devices is quite slow, though.


How many passes? Typical for that power would be 5 passes, 3 if charring was acceptable for the use case. There are some 25W+ diode lasers now - usually they’re a multi-head unit taking 2 or 3 lower power ones and mashing them into one main head.


i personally would love to see that happen. i had to upgrade to a 50 watt blue diode to even cut 1/8 inch ply no matter what company suppliedit. so yeah i’d love to see a that

We have a friend that bought a cheap Chinese laser and the learning curve was steep. He sees things that we make and says that his can’t make “that”. Kinda one of those you get what you pay for type of thing. Maybe someone knows of one that has a community such as this…I think this community is amazing for the learning curve of any technology. :slight_smile:

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Saw someone on another group I am on…I think he said 20 passes to get through 1/8 thick wood. My time is worth more than that…I wouldn’t have the patience.


There are a couple - K40 and Lightburn centered.

A lot of sharing on modding CCLs - “K40” is a kind of generic reference because that was the original model #. They were all pretty consistently blue :slightly_smiling_face::man_shrugging:

Lightburn is the current leading laser software. It’s well suited for Grbl based devices so it’s pretty ubiquitous.


A lot more than I was hoping but I may have to scrape up more $$ if I can be convinced they will work. I don’t mind fiddly tech & software - I had one of the earliest 3D printers and a kludgy CNC router.


I have worked with several of the Diode lasers. They are pretty slick. I have a playlist full of tutorials and assembly stuff.