Why it pays off to buy a premium laser

Low-end lasers differ from premium laser systems – not only in terms of application results and durability, but also when it comes to user friendliness and safety. It usually pays off to look at life-cycle cost rather than buying price only.

A comparison between low-end lasers and premium laser systems

If you would like to compare every laser system manufactured in different countries across the world, there is a long list to go through. There are many differences in performance and cost. The range begins at typical laser plotters, great for simple laser cutting and engraving, and it extends to state of the art production machines, which primarily focus on the productivity of the user. When making a purchase decision, intended use, and wanted application results are large determining factors, but technical conditions also play a big part. The primary differences are listed below:

Quality of engraving and cutting result

Here are a few factors that will influence the quality of laser engraving and cutting:
  • laser tubes
  • motors
  • lenses
  • interaction between the laser machine and the exhaust system

1. Laser tubes/laser source

DC glass laser tubes can usually be found in "China Lasers" while RF metal or ceramic housed laser tubes are generally found in western-made systems. The following are a few differences between the two:

RF laser source: RF = Radio Frequency

The generation point of the laser radiation, or the laser source resonator, is made of metal or ceramic.

DC glass source: DC = Direct Current

The generation point of the laser radiation, or the laser source resonator, is made of glass.
An RF tube allows you to reach speeds between 2.5 and 4.3 m/s and 5 g. Quality:
High engraving speeds do not change the quality of the engravings. Small fonts are easily legible when they are engraved with an RF laser tube.
A DC tube allows you to reach up to 1m/s and 1 g. Quality:
Glass tubes pulsate slower resulting in lower quality engravings. At high engraving speeds, any font smaller than 6-point is completely illegible and you will not see razor-sharp engravings.

2. Motors

Servo motors with steel-reinforced belts, which prevent the belts from stretching, are standard in most western laser brands. These motors are what make fast engraving possible. "China Lasers" are typically built with stepper motors and plastic belts.

3. Lenses

RF laser tubes provide consistent engraving quality on the entire surface area. High-quality lenses and low divergence help achieve this. With a DC laser source, a longer beam path means a larger laser beam diameter. Performance can vary up to 15% on a work area of 51 x 35 inches. This is shown through a wider kerf when cutting. However, the result is not easily visible when engraving.

Reliability, maintenance, and durability

When deciding on a laser, quality application results are essential, but you should also consider maintenance effort and costs:
  • Asian brands need to have their plastic belts lubricated regularly – typically once a month. With closed systems – the InPack TechnologyTM from Trotec secures productive, maintenance-free work – eliminating this effort.
  • The warranty period for most glass laser tubes is just one year. Trotec doubles this period and applies to the entire laser machine, not just the laser tube. Get a guarantee of up to 10 years with the TroCare protection package.
  • The service life of a glass laser tube can be completely exhausted after only 1,000 hours of use. RF laser tubes can perform with regular use for 5-6 years. If performance does drop, you can refill the tubes with CO2 gas, increasing their service life to up to 10 years. Waste is reduced when the laser tubes can be reused.

User friendliness

User friendliness

Ultimately, a machine is only as good as the user, but US and European built systems can be operated instinctively. The entire laser workflow is considered throughout development: Beginning with the design of the laser system, through to automatic focusing methods, lenses, and tables for peak results, to software with an extensive database with suggested laser parameters. Machines that are developed in Asia work fine, but they do not have an optimized laser workflow. Additionally, the software is often translated incorrectly, making the operation of the system more complicated.



Glass laser tubes are operated with high voltage. Asian manufactured machines do not typically comply with western safety standards. Trotec laser machines are CE-compliant and meet the requirements of the EC Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. In addition, Trotec has set itself the highest quality guidelines; Trotec production is certified according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.

Conclusion: Is a “China Laser” a good entry-level laser?

It is tempting to fall for the low starting price of a "China Laser", especially for a hobby laser since that is usually the main criteria for purchasing. Universities and schools typically buy Chinese lasers for the large work area for a low price. The laser user's safety must be guaranteed in public spaces like schools, MakerSpaces, or universities. In these spaces individuals often only have a brief introduction to the machine before working with them. The cost of maintenance and typical wear-and-tear are not considered in this calculation. If you add the costs of downtime and replacement laser tubes, the overall machine price can grow astronomically. The exchange between the laser machine and the exhaust system is also an important factor in the engraving quality. The Trotec Atmos exhaust system product line constantly communicates with the laser machine. For example, the exhaust system can start at the same time as the laser process and will continue running after the laser process. Dust and gas are collected as well as they can be, the lasered material is minimally soiled, and the engraving results are ideal. We recommend using a western-made laser system if you wish to experience productivity and economic success in your business. What may appear to be high cost becomes easy to finance through leasing offers.

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