Report from ISA (and a glowfolk encounter)

I went to Las Vegas last month. It was hot.

I had a reason though, it wasn’t a vacation. I attended the International Sign Association Exposition (ISAExpo2017) to check out some things and buy some stuff, but I spent a significant amount of time at the show thinking about lasers, looking at lasers, and talking to material manufacturers about laserables.

I mentioned Glowforge to many, many people. Some had heard of it, some hadn’t. I told most of the laser guys, when approached, that I had pre-ordered a glowforge; some of them brushed it off as a toy or hobby-grade machine, some of them were interested and optimistic that GF would push the entire industry forward, and all of them tried to convince me that within a year I would want a bigger machine and to call them when I needed to go bigger. No one was downright hostile, no one stopped giving me attention after I told them that I had already ordered the GF and that I wasn’t interested in buying another laser in the foreseeable future.

The laser manufacturers that I saw were Trotec, Epilog, Kern, Laguna, and RoseGraphix. Oh, and Reci was there too.

I grabbed one of the classic Kern 3D depth-map engraving samples (USA Crest), but didn’t get a picture of it. I left it in Vegas. These pieces were at least as impressive, and they were ones I hadn’t seen before:

This was done on their LaserCell machine (not exactly a desktop machine!)

Trotec took the time to walk me through loading an image into the software, sending it to laser, and engraving it on anodized aluminum. It looks fine, but watching the process made me more excited than ever about the apparent ease of the GFUI. Epilog gave me an anodized aluminum business card.

Laguna didn’t have a laser running, and had the same kind of stuff on display as epilog and trotec, nothing that jumped out at me as unique.

What did jump out at first was the display at RoseGraphix. How they did that with C02?

Answer is gas assist. Lots of gas assist. I would have asked more, but I was having a very hard time deciphering the poor guy’s broken english. (His translation app wasn’t working, I felt bad… but I don’t speak chinese so there wasn’t much I could really do)

On to the materials!

3M has a newish product called Envision for the vinyl-print and wrap world… and it is PVC-free. I don’t know if it is laser-safe, but I did like working with it. If it turns out to be laser-safe, that would be sweet. It is unfortunately not a cheap product, but claims a ten-year life (loads of variables there, but the last version only claimed a 5-year life, so it is improving!)

Rowmark has a (new?) laserable stencil material called Lucent, and I can’t wait to start playing with it:

Found yet another supplier of ACM products, which has some interesting color/finishes:

Several chinese acrylic manufacturers were looking for US distribution. They all seemed interested by the idea of group buys from private parties.

There was a Duets booth, and I grabbed a few samples (and then had more samples pressed into my hand, since they didn’t want to have to clean up after the show)

Not laser related, but I thought some of you folks would be interested in seeing this l’il 3D printer from Massivit:

They had printed up these larger-than-life statues for the lobby:

Finally, I made a point to ask the two major masking manufacturers about laser-safe tapes, and grabbed some samples.

Here is what R.Tape gave me:

And here is what TransferRite gave me:

When I decided to go to the show, I had reached out to @lairdknox to inquire about where I might be able to see some of his work displayed I was there. The timing was not good to see anything that he had displayed publically… so instead he came and picked me up at my hotel.

I was given a driving tour of downtown Vegas and the art districts… none of which I knew existed. Saw lots of great public art, both sanctioned and graffiti. Afterwards I was invited to check out his new place, where I got to see a bunch of beautiful large prints of his photography, all the really cool automation/IOT stuff that he has been putting into his house, and of course the smart-lit rose-garden that he cut into the concrete and posted elsewhere in the forum.
He also cooked me dinner (pasta and fresh italian sausages), which was quite welcome after eating casino Subway for the previous few meals.
The Kern engraving that I mentioned previously? I left it with him, along with a few Duets samples and some stickers. He sent me home with a print of one of his photos and a pile of postcards (also his photos).

We had to take a meetup photo for the forum… and with both of us being photographers who don’t exactly try to show their faces on the forum… well what can I say: of course we got a perfect picture.

Thanks @lairdknox, it was a pleasure meeting you!


Sounds like a great trip! :relaxed:


It was.

Also, this happened:



Now that’s a sweet lookin’ little machine! (Congrats!) :heart_eyes:


Oh man this is an amazing writeup! Thanks for sharing!


That got my noodle cooking! Thanks for the report, glowfolk are the best folk!


I have been serious lusting over all the JPL/NASA travel posters… Those look sweet!


I’ve been on the lookout for an affordable (I.e., old and used) wide format for foreverrrrrrrr


I knew I would be printing those out as soon as I saw them… just didn’t have the right printer. These test prints were at 12"x18"… 24% reduction from full size. They can be printed really big… if you have room for huge prints. My 4’x8’ layout table suddenly feels a whole lot smaller!

@jrnelson I hear that… I was too, and everything was always too far away or in highly questionable condition. You might be more willing than I to take the risk on a machine that’s gonna need work. There seem to always be printer/plotters on craigslist that have been sitting for a few years in a back office and have gotten all clogged up.

If you really want to drool over a wide-format printer, peep the Canon/Océ Colorado that just debuted. (yes, that black glass enclosure will be on the production model… so pretty!)



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Wow. That is just amazing–I can see why you wanted one!


Love these things. I hope I have one near home sometime soon to visit. Been quite a long time since I’ve been to a convention or expo.


That was a successful trip!


Great reporting @jbv!! Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for taking the time to write up. What a fun excursion. Conventions are always fun and inspiring. Love the new printer.

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Oh man that looks like a super neat show. I almost wished I was in a bigger population center so we could attract stuff like this.


I need a local friend like you…

Congrats on the new machine! It looks amazing!

I love the trip wright up also. I’ll have to go to one of these conventions or maker fairs some day.

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Thanks for the great share of your experience!

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Wow that was some in depth coverage. I feel like a went to the show. :slight_smile:
Thanks for sharing.

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So awesome! Too bad I missed you. I’m going to Sin City next week (May 29-June 2) Slot Tournament and Cake Pop Class! Bizarre Combination lol