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Old 08-02-2009, 10:29 PM   #1
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Default Laser scroll saws

Can anyone give me any information on laser scroll saws? I recently entered a craft fair where someone had pieces for sale that were created on a laser scroll saw. While the precision was excellent, I couldn't help feeling cheated because I had taken the time and created my pieces with a regular scroll saw, and couldn't compete with his prices or variety. Maybe I've just have sour grapes, but I wanted others opinion on the idea of using a laser scroll saw to create "hand made" projects.
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Old 08-02-2009, 10:54 PM   #2
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I don't really know much about them, but I'm sure they are really expensive. I read somewhere once that they are priced on "bed size" (18"x24", etc). I think a pattern is entered into a computer and the laser cuts it out. They are very precise, but in my opinion, lack the ability to put that human touch into the work which is made.

For my hobby, which is making jigsaw puzzles, I really have no interest in them. My goal is to try to recapture the antiquity of old fashioned, hand made puzzles which can be heirlooms in and of themselves. A computer assisted laser cutter would detract from that purpose considerably.

The "scroller" still has the ability to create a pattern/design and enter it's vectors into the computer, with a laser cutter, and there is tremendous benefit to mass production (pattern already on hard drive, and laser cutter cuts quickly), so some people may have a niche for it.
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Old 08-03-2009, 01:09 AM   #3
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I agree that they are pricey. I think that if you want to make a living at craft shows and spend as little time in the shop as possible then that machine would be the way to go. However, as SrollingDays Shawn said, they look like a machine did the work and they are so precise everything about the pieces looks like no human was involved. A machine made it and it looks robotic. Too precise. No 'feeling' to the piece.

Personally, I s'pect I'll wait till my fingers are too mashed up with some old person's disease then I'll get onto my voice command computer and tell it to draw a picture and send it out to the shop to the CNC laser/router. Then, after it's cut up I can sit down with mama, drink some coffee, and dream about all the money I'll be making when I sell everything online.

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Old 08-03-2009, 06:41 AM   #4
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I remember a thread about a contest between one of our members and a laser scroller. The laser lost the battle to scroll thick oak. Not only took longer but burned the edges at the same time. Hand made is hand made and not computer controlled made.

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Old 08-03-2009, 08:55 AM   #5
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Kim:

Your instinct is correct, laser CNC machines are not 'hand-crafted.' Lots of discussion on this topic at forums and message boards dedicated to the craft-show vendors. Craftlister.com is one such web site.

YouTube has several videos on CNC laser cutters. Do a YouTube search for Epilog laser engravers, or try woodcutting with Epilog laser cutter. Epilog has a web site with promo / demo videos. There is an old YouTube video of someone cutting out a dragon fretsaw pattern where you can see the burn marks in the kerf of the cuts.

As with any CNC machine you create your cutting design on a computer, usually using CorelDraw Vector Graphic software, and then layout your design on a cut-sheet CorelDraw sheet for, multiply copies of your design, on a sheet of plywood. Then you 'print' to the Epilog print-driver in your computer.

When you use a scroll saw, there is manual eye-hand co-ordination that is required to make the cutting. As you watch the video's notice the only human interaction is the creation of the design, and loading of the machine. No skill or eye-hand co-ordination. No learning curve for the skill to make the cut.

By the way, there is one YouTube video that shows how to take an image off the Internet, like someone's posting at this forum, import the portrait pattern into CorelDraw and make a CNC laser cut pattern. Then mass production of the pattern. (The actual pattern used in the video, I think, is of a lion from the Epilog web page.)

A few will violate copyright restrictions and use the patterns from the our forum host magazine and produce lots of laser cut copies for sale at craftshows.

Laser cutting / engraving does have it's place. Example, a rush order for promotion key chain fobs for a local business made from plastic, quantity ordered 250, 7 days delivery. Customer want to pay only a few dollars each. This is of course Production on a medium scale. Mass production (over a few thousand key fobs) becomes economical for making dies for mold injection manufacturing.

Note: Epilog is only one maker of CNC laser engravers which can be used for cutting wood. There are forums that are dedicated to Laser cutter self employed business owners.

I will now get back off the soap box....

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Old 08-03-2009, 09:32 AM   #6
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What interests me (disturbs really) is that it's gone from a "laser cutter" to a "laser scroll saw."

Let's examine this distinction for a minute. A "laser cutter" sounds like a high-tech gadget and you really don't expect a lot of human interaction.

"Laser scroll saw" implies a much greater human role in the project...more than just feeding a pattern and wood into a machine. It implies that it is still hand made, just using a laser rather than a traditional metal saw blade.

Bob

P.S. I moved this to the Scroll Saw Business Side section because I think it's too important to get lost in Off Topic
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Old 08-03-2009, 11:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobD View Post
What interests me (disturbs really) is that it's gone from a "laser cutter" to a "laser scroll saw."

Let's examine this distinction for a minute. A "laser cutter" sounds like a high-tech gadget and you really don't expect a lot of human interaction.

"Laser scroll saw" implies a much greater human role in the project...more than just feeding a pattern and wood into a machine. It implies that it is still hand made, just using a laser rather than a traditional metal saw blade.

Bob

P.S. I moved this to the Scroll Saw Business Side section because I think it's too important to get lost in Off Topic
I couldn't agree more, Bob. I even felt the need to put "scroller" in quotes in my post above, because the person putting a cutting pattern/commands into a computer is not really scrolling.

Fortunately, however, I don't think the term "laser scroll saw" has a whole lot of life to it. When I tried Googling it, I got very little....a few bits of info here and there, and a link to a typical scroll saw with a "laser" guide (not really sure how that aids scrolling, however). When I Googled "laser cutter" I got a plethora of information.

The frustrating thing for scrollers, I think, will be competing against laser/computer-made pieces at craft shows, etc. Most skilled artisans would be able to tell the difference, but casual customers may not be able to tell which pieces are hand made and which are not, depending on what kind of project is being made. Hopefully, that "human touch" shows through on hand-cut pieces in the end, however.
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:37 PM   #8
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I've seen this subject beaten to death in another thread here somewhere. The general concensus is that laser cut pieces are kind of like cheating. Thankfully, most people who are interested in this type of artwork, (Yes I said, ARTWORK), prefer truely hand made work. I think if I came across someone selling laser cut pieces as hand made, I would sure confront them about it. It took me 18 years to get to where I am with a scroll saw.
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:47 PM   #9
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I agree, Jim. My concern really is with what they guy is calling it...the "Laser Scroll Saw"

We can all agree with the consensus of the other thread. I just want to get on my soapbox about someone calling a laser a "Laser Scroll Saw."

Bob
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:53 PM   #10
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Fortunately, many of the higher end fairs are adding language to their applications that CNC controlled equipment is forbidden. These shows will toss vendors out if it is found out that their work is not hand-made. Customers know the difference as well. I don't think the term "cut" is accurate either. It's burned. A laser burns, a blade cuts. I do see where lasers have their place in production, but craft-fairs should be off-limits. If you're making your living at craft shows, then you should be producing crafts, not laser burned junk. There is no talent in pushing a button and waiting for the machine to punch out the piece. I don't try to compete with laser or CNC stuff, my quality speaks for itself and discriminating buyers know the difference.
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