New purchase from Dropswell UK


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    Default New purchase from Dropswell UK

    We (Newbury and District Hackspace - Welcome - Newbury and District Hackspace) have just purchased a Dropswell 1060 laser cutter. I offer this discussion thread to the community to cover our findings.

    Why Dropswell?
    We are in an unusual position at the Hackspace where we have need for a larger bed laser cutter but only a single-door access to the workshop. This means that we needed to find a large bed laser cutter which was detachable from the stand/lower. All G.Weike, Bodor (Piranha), JustAddSharks (etc) large bed laser cutters we could find were bonded to a large frame that wouldn't fit through the door. Dropswell were the only company offering a large bed laser cutter which was separate from the stand. Our members actually voted originally for a JustAddSharks unit but the physical constraints meant that we could not install one of these devices.

    As an added bonus the cost of the cutter was significantly below any other UK supplier of comparably sized laser cutters. We were very aware that this price point would compromise some areas of the cutter.

    Mitigating Risk
    We discovered pretty quickly that the laser cutters offered by Dropswell were UK imports of readily available cheap cutters from China. Buying from the UK meant that UK law protects us from a lot of risk of importing our own cutter and importation faff (duties, taxes, insurance, delays, etc) were already taken care of. After a quick call to Dropswell I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't just a box shifter and seemed to know exactly what they were doing.

    The most significant way in which we mitigated any purchasing risk was to go to Dropswell in Birmingham and meet the team and see the cutter.

    The visit
    I was very impressed with the visit. The team operate out of a small unit in Birmingham and make no accommodations for a "Sales" frontage. I like that since I get to see the raw team in their working environment but some will find that disturbing

    Francis took us to the actual cutter we would be purchasing and it was apparent that it had already been unboxed, set up and tested before we arrived. Part of me wanted to see them unboxing it but I recognise that there's no way they'd risk unboxing a unit in front of us.

    Demonstrations went well. We weren't particularly happy with the software offering but were prepared to accept that cost in light of the significant financial savings. We could always retrofit a higher-end controller and still save money.

    We arranged purchase, loaded-up (which they helped us with every step of the way) and headed back to the Hackspace.

    The installation
    Unloading and installation is much easier when you have a team of engineering professionals thinking ahead. Despite the 270kg mass of the boxed cutter some forward planning with ramps, car crawler wheels and ratchet straps made the transition from van to workshop very quick and easy.

    After clearing a large space (we needed space for the unpacked crate, a staging area for all the bits, a staging area to assemble the cutter onto the stand and the actual installation location all cleared) unboxing was relatively quick with the discovery of a few minor problems:

    • The stand was drilled asymmetrically so was wonky when assembled. We had to re-drill it to align it.
    • The paint on the stand was inconsistently scratched. We ignored this problem since it's going into a workshop and will undoubtedly get damaged at some point anyway.
    • Some hardware was missing from the stand. Easily fixed with some off-the-shelf bolts.


    Note: Dropswell were advised of these issues this morning by email and at the time of writing have no had opportunity to reply. None of these issues affected us and are listed here so that other buyers are prepared.

    First use
    We were able to make a couple of cuts last night before tidying up. The laser had survived the journey still aligned and seemed to cut very well. We did find two new issues immediately prior to those first cuts:

    • The water cooling pipes were not really long enough to comfortably reach the floor. They also were directly connected to the laser tube rather than through an intermediary bulkhead connector. As a result they were under slight tension and kinked inside the laser chassis inconsistently triggering the water flow alarm. We solved this by tying the pipes together inside the chassis to force a nice bend radius and ensured that the chiller was located close enough not to apply further tension.
    • The provided software (which is pretty rough, TBH) does not cope well with 4k resolution displays. Every button, icon, text, dialog etc is teeny tiny and virtually unreadable. Dropping the resolution of the screen avoided this issue. For reference the cutter comes with a 30 day trial version of CorelDRAW and the CorelLASER plugin to CorelDRAW. This means that we either need to find another way to drive the cutter (maybe by replacing the controller) or we are forced to buy CorelDRAW.


    Summary
    At this early stage we're very impressed. All of the issues are wholly forgiven by the price point of the cutter.

    Feel free to ask questions and watch this space

    Similar Threads:


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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Day four update:

    Still working well so far. Software is still terrible but it does work. The free LaserDRW seems to be better than the commercial CorelLASER (tied to CorelDRAW in a suspicious free trial deal) by virtue of its simplicity meaning a much more reliable piece of software.

    LaserDRW only imports .emf vector files, all others are raster images. It also only allows for one task per file so you have to separate out your engraving from your cutting. Still completely usable, though.

    CorelLASER does claim support for multiple tasks per job but a) the software crashes whenever we try to use it and b) since the cutter has no PWM drive from the controller you practically can't use it anyway.

    We're currently investigating a controller swap since that would open up other software possibilities which may make things easier and more portable.

    Newbury and District Hackspace
    http://www.nadhack.org.uk/


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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartL View Post
    Day four update:

    Still working well so far. Software is still terrible but it does work. The free LaserDRW seems to be better than the commercial CorelLASER (tied to CorelDRAW in a suspicious free trial deal) by virtue of its simplicity meaning a much more reliable piece of software.

    LaserDRW only imports .emf vector files, all others are raster images. It also only allows for one task per file so you have to separate out your engraving from your cutting. Still completely usable, though.

    CorelLASER does claim support for multiple tasks per job but a) the software crashes whenever we try to use it and b) since the cutter has no PWM drive from the controller you practically can't use it anyway.

    We're currently investigating a controller swap since that would open up other software possibilities which may make things easier and more portable.
    What brand are the controller and the software? Are they Leetro? CorelLASER is just an interface plugin.



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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    It's branded as Dropswell but we're relatively sure it's a clone of the Lihuiyu M2 board (not the nano). Specifically it looks a lot like this board:
    New purchase from Dropswell UK-htb1blz8qxxxxxapxvxxq6xxfxxxm-jpg.

    We looked at the Leetro board as a possible retrofit but are currently favouring a custom made GRBL clone.

    Watch this space

    Newbury and District Hackspace
    http://www.nadhack.org.uk/


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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Quote Originally Posted by StuartL View Post
    It's branded as Dropswell but we're relatively sure it's a clone of the Lihuiyu M2 board (not the nano). Specifically it looks a lot like this board:
    New purchase from Dropswell UK-htb1blz8qxxxxxapxvxxq6xxfxxxm-jpg.

    We looked at the Leetro board as a possible retrofit but are currently favouring a custom made GRBL clone.

    Watch this space
    Hm... I think I've seen this offered as an upgrade for the K40 ($350) laser. That makes me suspect it is probably one of the cheapest motion controllers in China. I am surprised they went trough the trouble of asking the board producer to print the Dropswell logo on it...



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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Hi Stuart Francis here, thanks for the review we are aware of the issues you have had with the unit and I have passed on your comments on to our manufacturers quality team so as we can minimise the risk of these issues occuring again, although we do try and eliminate as many problems as we can sometimes issues do occur however minor or insignificant they seem we do take them seriously and will always aim to rectify, I would suggest next time please send us pictures and images of the parts the stand in particular and drop us a quick message, this will enable us to document this fully and raise this as an issue with our manufacturer.

    We hope that all is going alright for you now if you have any questions or issues please do not hesitate to contact us by all means

    Best Regards



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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Everything is going very well for us so far, thank you Francis. We're currently using LaserDRW successfully and have had around an hour of cutting time on the laser. We have noticed that the power output has dropped marginally from when the machine was new, we're assuming that we're overdue a lens clean and do not believe that this is indicative of a fault.

    Our replacement controller is being prototyped and has a couple of extra features not found in the supplied controller. It will be a drop-in replacement for the existing controller and support Laserweb3/4 running on a Pi so that we can queue jobs over the network.

    Newbury and District Hackspace
    http://www.nadhack.org.uk/


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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Just a quick update:

    We have been finding that flare-ups on MDF could be inhibited by more airflow through the nozzle. We've invested £65 in a massive air pump upgrade which has resolved these flare-ups entirely. Based upon what I've seen elsewhere I do not believe that this is unique to the Dropswell unit, all of the laser cutters around this price point seem to have these small air pumps.

    As a result of this increased airflow blowing the smoke around we've also had to upgrade the extraction fan. We were lucky to have a larger axial fan left over from another project so we've retrofitted that.

    We've also built a shelf which sits on the rear legs of the unit to carry the ancillaries (cooler, air pump, extraction fan) meaning that it's much easier to roll the laser around for maintenance.

    Newbury and District Hackspace
    http://www.nadhack.org.uk/


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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Hi Stuart, Francis from dropswell here again, sounds like you are making massive head way with the unit you have purchased, unfortunately all the systems come with these smaller air pumps we are looking into pumps with more air flow in detail but we still want to aim ourselves as being a provider of a cost effective solution if this makes sense, yes the effect will happen with all laser cutters of this wavelength similar effects will happen when cutting acrylic , tell you what I'd like to pop over to see you some time and see how you guys are getting on if that would be okay.

    Best Regards

    Francis



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    Default Re: New purchase from Dropswell UK

    Stuart, thank you for this thread! It is proving really helpful for me in my research. I have recently been thinking about potential problems post purchase (controller, software, pump, and extraction) and you have highlighted them here, saving me hours trawling through other threads!
    Dropswell is currently one of my front runners so I look forward to keeping a close eye on how this thread develops.

    Thank you



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