Opt Lasers: first impressions

In another thread @pZq introduced Opt Lasers. As I was in the market for a laser, I took advantage of the (then) summer sales on the high-pressure nozzle and ordered the Onefinity laser kit. Here’s the feedback I had promised for the forum.

The kit is easy to setup, although the instructions are sketchy. The 1F-specific parts in the kit include a plate for the router mount and a cable from the 1F controller to the laser controller. There’s another cable from the laser controller to the laser head. Plug everything in and voilà. The connectors are very different from each other so there’s no risk of incorrect wiring.

From that point on, I was able to follow the 1F Lightburn tutorial and Opt Lasers calibration.

This is not a comparison because I have no other laser to compare it with. Still I wanted to complement the Makita router to cut (1) thin material (e.g. paper, cardboard, mylar or fabric) or (2) small parts with sharp inner angles in wood. So that’s what I have tested so far.

First cutting paper and fabric (the bow-tie was fresh out of the laser):

I also turned Amazon boxes into free prototyping material. Since the first prototype did not fit well, I have saved on wood. This was done directly in Fusion 360 with the grbl laser post-processor. I also engraved toasts for a laugh (the burnt taste is not pleasant):

Today I installed the µSpot lens with the air-assist nozzle to cut plywood. That’s a more involving procedure… but after a couple of hours, referencing the calibration chart I had engraved from the factory-installed lens, I was able to cut 3mm birch plywood in 3 passes at 300mm/min.

I would definitively recommend to gain experience with the factory-installed lens before installing new ones or the air-assist nozzle!

On the negatives, be warned that support is through Opt Lasers exclusively:

And indeed, I tested their support because the cable they shipped initially was faulty. They promptly sent a replacement. This brings me to one of the reasons I decided to buy this laser over the alternative:

  • the company is Polish, I’m in Belgium so I don’t need to import the laser (or the replacement cable), less costs, less hassle
  • the mostly metal construction (laser head, bracket, etc.) fits my preferences better than plastic parts
  • the magnetic docking station is clever because the cable can remain on the 1F vacuum boom permanently
  • there were good reports on the benefits of the high-pressure air nozzle

I was concerned with 1F compatibility (the whole kit is not cheap) but it turns out that the 1F/buildbotics laser port is a plain-vanilla PWM signal.

I bought the laser with my own money and I have no relationship with Opt Lasers but I’m glad to see third-party offering accessories for the 1F. It gives me confidence that I choose a good CNC platform for the future.

7 Likes

Air at the laser output/lens or directed downward at the cut/engrave point will help a lot. It should allow you to cut easier - either with lower power, faster speed or fewer passes as it blows the smoke away from the lens and the beam itself.

The air doesn’t need to be high-pressure. I used 15-20psi on my 60W Redsail CO2 laser and an aquarium air pump for my K40. My Glowforge uses a small head mounted fan so I’m not sure what the PSI is but it’s not much as the fan is only about 2x2in in size. You just need to be able to blow the smoke from the material burn out of the way.

2 Likes

I notice you have no safety window on the periphery of the laser. Did you buy their laser safety window. I am trying to figure out the safety issues here and wondering if laser safety goggles alone are adequate to protect the operator. BTW, their safety glass sure seems a bit pricey.

So your post answers my question as to whether or not the µSpot lens allow you to use their air assist nozzle as well? Is there a big change in lens projection beneath the emitter as compared to the standard lens or is it the same?

EDIT: Does the setup generate a lot of smoke? Do you use an exhaust system?

Indeed no safety window. The glasses appear adequate if you’re alone in your shop. In a commercial shop, with people coming and going, I would recommend you build an enclosure.

The µSpot lens is totally compatible with the air nozzle. It’s visibly smaller beam (once you focus it right) and so it cuts deeper in my tests (even without air-assist). Text engraved as line is crisper with the µSpot.

So far I only had smoke problems with the cardboard boxes, whose quality varies a lot. My shop has very good air circulation so I rely on that. The shop does smell of burnt wood though.

At the end of the day, know what you buy and why: to do a lot of laser cutting, a dedicated machine will give a more powerful laser, exhaust, enclosure, etc. Note that price-wise a K40 + a controller is competitive with the Opt Laser (or JTech).

I wanted to benefit from the large working area of the 1F to cut fabric and I expect to still primarily use the router so one machine saves floor space.

2 Likes

Thanks Ben for the insights. Yes, I too see the advantage of the size of the working area the 1F and therefore a low power laser for my machine seems to be in my future. I expect my machine sometime in October so I am trying to decide if I should go with the JTech or something like the Opt. I am drawn to the apparent quality and capacity of the Opt as compared to the JTech. However, since I am in the US that leans me toward the ease of acquiring and getting support for the JTech.

My focus is primarily woodworking but would like to be able to cut an occasional gasket, cork, lite engraving, . . . . I have considered a more powerful stand alone laser but do not wish to dedicate the floor space, exhaust system, and equipment cost to it at the moment.

Thanks again.

1 Like

Indeed, I value the build quality and attention to details.
Recently I crash the head into the stock and the magnetic docking freed the laser (no damage) but it also cut off the power until I re-mounted and re-armed the laser! No risk of being burned by the laser beam. A clever design and attention to details.

I understand perfectly your dilemma, I was torn between the two similarly.

Thanks for your thoughts and relaying your experiences with the Opt Laser. Helps us all who are researching the various options.

I like your “Laser in Use” door hanger warning sign. I will need a couple of those for my shop doors I think.

Glad to be of help, don’t hesitate if you have any questions.

I had the Opt Lasers setup when they first came out with it for the x-carve. I was really sold on the magnetic docking station, it worked very well and was a much more refined looking setup than what J-Tech was offering at that time. I thought their control board mounted on top of the Z axis was a pretty half-baked solution. But I see they’ve really upped their game and the new setup looks much more legit. J-tech support has always been second to none from what I’ve always heard. Opt customer service was a pain at best (3-ish years ago). I had to send my laser back to Poland for repair. It all worked out, and hopefully they have some state-side service available now. The Opt laser worked well, but I ended up selling it due to lack of real use. If I were to buy another laser, I would probably go with J-Tech due to their product improvements & no-hassle customer service.

2 Likes

Thanks, that is helpful. I have the J-Tech 7w laser coming. but it doesn’t hurt to know about all the options available.

1 Like

I just saw a dual 40 watt laser setup on YouTube - you effectively get 15 watts of cutting power from one unit for ~320 (US). Seem like a great upgrade if JTech or Opt support it. I’m considering it but I really like the Opt setup as well.

-Tom

1 Like

@Alphonse , it really depends what you want to do with the laser. If you want a low power laser only for engraving. Jtech can be enough for you. But if you also want it to be able to cut materials faster, then i would highly recommend Opt Lasers since you can do it very easily by DIY or even easier to by the high pressure air-assist nozzle from them to get best cutting perfomance. I did test with Opt Lasers the cutting efficiency with and without air assist and some materials did cut x6 times faster eg. when cutting 4.4mm birch plywood.

So just keep that in mind. Air assist is always good even if you only want to engrave since with air assist you dont have to sand the result since the residue of the smoke is not pushed to the wood like it does when cutting without air-assist.

I own the Opt Lasers 6W with uspot and high pressure air assist nozzle and i really recommend it. I have had it for over 1.5 years with quite much use.

One more thing. The lens will get very dirty fast without excessive air. Air assit will obsolete the need of cleaning the lens. I have cleaned my lens like once per 6months and the lens has almost no residue on it when i use the air-assist.

1 Like