FSE 40w Laser and company review, truthful and UNCENSORED


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Thread: FSE 40w Laser and company review, truthful and UNCENSORED

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    Default FSE 40w Laser and company review, truthful and UNCENSORED

    TLDR version: Laser is good, works great, good price, big time investment and learning curve however, and if you invest the time it's a great product. The company however censors/edits its forums and does everything it can, including bribery, to avoid negative reviews/talk of it's products.

    Full, way too long version:

    Later in this post I'll explain how I found this awesome website/forum, but wanted to start by posting my review of this machine and the company.

    First, the machine.

    The 40w Hobby Laser (Full Spectrum Engineering) is a pretty awesome machine. It's extremely reasonably priced from what I've seen in the research I've done before purchasing one. One of the biggest benefits of the machine is the large table size. Most other lasers in the price category have tables less than half the size of this thing. The flipside to it is the laser is pretty big. Much larger than I expected it to be.

    Construction on it is good, it feels sturdy. Some of the inner pieces seem, to my untrained/uneducated/unprofessional eye seem to be cheaply machined aluminum, but I'm sure thats how they keep costs down. And really, if the lens holder is mediocre aluminum instead of finely milled steel, who gives a crap.

    The machine is absolutely a hobby laser. It requires a lot of tweaking and a LOT of time investment to get it going right. The focus is completely manual, and you need to make your own wheel for turning the Z-table screw (otherwise, unless you have small hands, you're gonna tear your hand up reaching under the machine to do it, like I did for the first 2 weeks of ownership. FSE provides a file to cut your own wheel, which I used, and it works great). There's a big learning curve. FSE states the machine is focused and aligned at the factory, but it can become misaligned in shipment. Mine, when it arrived, was SO badly aligned it took me about 3 hours to get it all lined up. Most of that time was spent learning how, however, and I'm confident I could take a misaligned machine and get it going great in less than 20 minutes at this point.


    It has a few issues you need to tweak, such as belt tightness, possibly leveling the Z-table (mine was off), manually installing the beam combiner (and aligning it) if you go for that option. Like they advertise, it's a hobby laser, and you pay for a hobby laser... the money you save on it is the price paid for having to really learn the machine and invest time in tweaking it to get it to work how you want it to.

    And speaking of that, quality control on the machine is somewhat lacking. Mine, as well as many others as reported on the FSE forums, arrived with the lens installed upside-down. Without reading the forums, I'd have never known the lens was installed wrong. The gounding was not performed on mine, I had to manually run a grounding wire outside the machine into the back of it. Some have reported kinks in the air line. Mine was badly misaligned when I received it. Others have reported shorts in the boards. None of it is big, all easily fixable, but those are quality issues to deal with.

    So, thats the overview of the machine.

    What can it do?

    I've done some pretty great cuts with it (I bought it mostly for cutting). I've only recently started to engrave. The current version of the software, 3.52 does not support power settings for engraving which causes some small issues. The current beta, 3.6 does support power settings for engraving, but it's buggy. Hey, it's a beta. Once 3.6 is released it'll be real nice.

    I've never been disappointed in what the laser can do. It works great. The software is slightly buggy and annoying in some ways. For example, you need to plug the USB in, then wait 5 seconds, then start the software. Otherwise it just won't work. Put your PC into sleep mode, fire it up, and the software is running but the USB is disconnected? Gotta shut down the software, wait 5 seconds, plug in USB, wait 5, start software. Not a big deal, just annoying. The software will occasionally lock up on me... I do a cut, unlock the head, manually move it to a new position, hit the lock button to lock it down again, and software is frozen. Cant close it. Task manager, kill, wait, unplus USB, wait, plug it in, wait, start software.

    Not a deal killer, but an annoyance I believe people should be aware of.

    Which brings me to my review of the company as a whole. A review, which I am pretty sure will get my forum account on FSE's website closed. Here's a link to my forum profile - you need to be registered and logged into their website to see it. If you click this link, and I'm not there anymore, it's because FSE did not approve of this post and shut me down. Something I'd almost be willing to bet money on. InfernusDoleo on FSE's forums: www.fullspectrumengineering.com • Login

    First, delivery. I paid $300 extra for the expedited delivery, because I'm a gotta-have-it-now kinda person. The laser was delivered on time and I was happy with the packaging and time it took to receive. However, the $300 beam combiner upgrade was not included. I was not informed it wwas on back order and it took me calling them to get any info. When I called to ask where it was (on Tuesday), I was told it was on backorder, and it was being overnighted to them by Thursday, they'd have it Friday, and it'd go out to me.

    The Monday of the week after NEXT (6 days post when it was supposed to ship to me) I called again - where's my beam combiner? They were being sent out to them that week (not overnighted) and when they got it I'd receive it. I finally got it, about 3.5 weeks after I received my laser, and after 3 phone calls that I had to initiate to follow up and find out where it was.

    So, on to customer service...

    If you notice on these forums, a few posts down, someone posted that FSE heavily moderates their forums. That one fact is what caused me to google for laser engraver forums, and find these pages. I cannot stand censorship, and the crafting of information to make onesself look better.

    FSE disallows any post on their forums which they do not find flattering. They claim they do it to keep their forums more of a knowledge base. I get that. I understand disallowing dupe posts of the same thing 20 times... but this goes WAY beyond that. I've attempted to make posts list big problems and express frustration. Most of them are denied, or edited to remove anything that doesnt make them shine. If a potential customer reads FSE's forums to decide if their laser is right for them, they will find nothing but glowing reviews, happy customers, and customers with issues - but minor issues which are quickly addressed and solved (Look how responsive we are! We love our customers!). Bigger issues, fundamental flaws with the laser - you won't find these issues on their website.

    I got frustrated at not being able to have a discussion with the other FSE owners out there. I was getting annoyed at having questions edited, or flat out disallowed. (One post, I dont even remember the content, was disallowed because it "contained links to pirated software" - something absolutely not true. When I emailed and asked, WTF? I was told it was a mistake. But, my post was lost and not posted anyway. Funny, that.)

    So I posted a truthful review on google checkout. (I just did a search and cant find a public way to see that review anywhere - google says the only way to see reviews is through your 'I accept google checkout!' button - which they don't have, and through a google product search, and they don't have their items listed there). I gave it three stars, said the product was good, but the company was frustrating with their censorship. Basically what I've said here, in condensed form.

    Later, after posting some questions on the forums, I received an email from them stating that my 60 day warranty was up, and if I changed my review on google checkout from 3 to 5 stars they'd extend me some free warranty time.

    I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like bribery/buying good reviews. Makes you wonder how many of their 5 star reviews on google checkout used to be 3 star reviews, and were changed because they were paid off to do so.

    So, I ignored that, because my review stands. The whole point of my review was to warn others that they lock down their forums with an iron fist and only allow what they want seen on there. No negativity, no criticism, only praise and great success stories. If I changed my review, I'd be doing exactly what I hate about how they run their business.

    So just yesterday I had a problem with my laser. Was having issues focusing it. For one, I misplaced the focusing ruler they enclosed. Manual states the ruler is 2.77" long, but when focusing using calipers at 2.77" it was not focused correctly (on a side note on the quality control - when I found the ruler under my desk, my calipers read it at 2.74"). I got frustrated not being able to get a good focus and posted on the forums asking if anyone had any tips on getting a good focus WITHOUT relying on a ruler which may or may not work well (it's completely dependent on the distance between the lens and the cutting surface. If my lens is off, if its not screwed in enough, if the holder has too many threads, it may not BE the right distance according to the enclosed 2.77" but really 2.74" ruler).

    My post was denied, and I was told to call them to discuss my support options, as my warranty was over and I did not purchase an extended warranty.

    I replied to this email and said I was not looking for support, I was asking the community for advice. Is forum access considered 'support' and I cannot use it without being under warranty (or good graces with a 5 star review)?

    I received a reply stating to call them to discuss support options.

    So, if you receive poor service, and leave an honest review, you're bribed into changing that review. If you do not, you fall out of the service period it seems, one of the benefits of which is accessing the community on their website. A community which is only halfway useful, as any true issues with the laser you're not allowed to discuss with other FSE users, as someone might see that the machine isnt perfect.

    FSE highly moderates and censors their boards. They've told me if I change an honest review (and lie) they'd extend my warranty. When I did not, my ability to ask questions of other users on the forums begins to disappear.

    I've never in my life dealt with a company so focused on image and appearance, and customer service becoming so secondary to that. I understand, I'm out of my support timeline. I'd never call them for support without having a credit card ready, and if posting on the forums I'd never expect a response from them.

    But now I'm not even allowed to ask others for help. Like I said further up - I'd be shocked if my FSE forum account were not disabled after them reading this here. Likely it'll stay up, however, with every post I make being denied with the reason of "Call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX to discuss your support options."

    So, I googled, and found these forums. I'll likely be posting a lot over the next few days, and it's good to be here.

    Just wanted to leave my honest, uncensored review. Thanks for having me.

    Similar Threads:
    Last edited by InfernusDoleo; 06-07-2011 at 01:09 PM.


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    Gold Member lovebugjunkie's Avatar
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    It is a bit frustration when you buy something from a company and find they moderate their forums as you have said.

    But at least they let you read their forum before you buy anything from them. I once considered buying from a company but found you could not even access the forum without buying their produce first. That is why I have 3 G540's and not their product.



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    So which way up is the lens meant to be?

    rabbit / ls3040


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    Default I thank you InfernusDoleo for the post..

    You've made an investment of your time and thoughtfulness in preparing the FSE write up InfernusDoleo. I thank you for your honesty and unbiased view point. I'm sure many like me are looking for this to educate our decision making. I have exchanged dialog with FSE, and while I believe every company has a right to protect their products/services, heavy moderation starts to work against you, rather than be up front and strive to close any gaps that your customers can present cohesively.
    You have done just that.. I"m sure FSE as a progressive company will accept your note in the intended spirit, and hopefully reflect on areas they can improve, and understand your positive intent.



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    Quote Originally Posted by geekinesis View Post
    So which way up is the lens meant to be?
    It's a plano-convex lens. Plano-convex lenses should have the convex side facing towards the incoming beam (in this laser's case, facing UP). FSE's been shipping (and testing them) with the lens upside down.

    This link shows what the beam looks like going through the lens the right, and the wrong way: Aberrations and Plano-convex lenses

    As you can see, flat side up causes some scattering of the beam, as well as the inability to focus it properly.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Racerx43 View Post
    You've made an investment of your time and thoughtfulness in preparing the FSE write up InfernusDoleo. I thank you for your honesty and unbiased view point. I'm sure many like me are looking for this to educate our decision making. I have exchanged dialog with FSE, and while I believe every company has a right to protect their products/services, heavy moderation starts to work against you, rather than be up front and strive to close any gaps that your customers can present cohesively.
    You have done just that.. I"m sure FSE as a progressive company will accept your note in the intended spirit, and hopefully reflect on areas they can improve, and understand your positive intent.
    I hope so. I've asked questions on the forums, and tried to point out issues others may run into, and they've been denied or edited. It doesnt do FSE any good to hide that info. I'm much more likely to respect a company that says "Hey, we have flaws, sorry, but here's how we're addressing them" instead of just hiding it so, god forbid, people don't see it.

    I'm wondering how many other poor reviews they have on google checkout. In trying to post a link to my review there yesterday, I had to FIND my review of them... and searching google, there are only 2 ways to see a merchant's google checkout reviews. And both of which, FSE doesn't allow. It's like anything that can paint them as anything but a shining star is squelched. And that provides a false image of a company.

    I sell on ebay. I had a bad problem with the post office a few months back due to some poorly defined/published shipping rules and I racked up over 20 negative feedback in a month. And of course, I had others as you cant please everyone. But I let the other 3000 positive feedback I have stand as testament to my service.

    Like I said, it IS a good laser. For the price, it really can't be beat. But there are REAL issues with it, and the software, and people SHOULD be aware of it before making a $3000 investment. (And be aware that the forums are severely moderated)

    And I'll admit - part of my review IS personal, because I hate being treated like a child. Let me be clear - FSE doesn't go back and retroactively delete/edit posts. It's on FULL moderation. No one gets anything posted to the boards before they approve it. To me that feels like they are either terrified of what can be said (unlikely) or they don't trust their customers to act like adults.

    They say they want the forums to be like a knowledge base, and they moderate to keep things on topic and not have multiple posts on the same issue. But you can do that without treating your customers like children.



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    Thanks for taking the time to post a to the point review.

    There are many reasons why I am considering their laser, one of which is their support forums. But now I am reconsidering, not blindly though, I will take a deeper inspection into the overall tone and level of problem reporting in their forums to see just how censored they are.

    You state it's your opinion the forums are censored due to wanting to hide potentially critical flaws in the systems but do you also think they are trying to push people to pay for support?

    Also does anyone else find it odd they only have 60days warranty? Is that the standard? I see china lasers with two year warranties, granted I don't think anyone is going to spend $1600 round trip to service a $2.5k laser, but still. (can't cite reference for this claim, don't have the link)

    That's a bit silly you have to cut your own Z-table lift wheel. That indicates the Z-table is not tested at all. This is the second review describing the Z-table out of the box misalignment issue.

    Also when you unboxed the laser did it look like it came straight from the factory or was it repacked thus potentially indicating it was tested at the Full Spectrum facility? Because if your lens was upside down does not that indicate a lack of pretesting before FS sends out the laser? On reason why I want to go with a USA distributor is so everything is test throughly before shipped all the way out to me.

    Here's a video review of the hobby class system: Nothing Labs (Rich Olson): Full Spectrum $2500 Laser Cutter Unboxing and Review

    "The whole world must learn of our peaceful ways... by force!" - Bender Bending Rodríguez


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    Quote Originally Posted by Propaganda View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to post a to the point review.

    There are many reasons why I am considering their laser, one of which is their support forums. But now I am reconsidering, not blindly though, I will take a deeper inspection into the overall tone and level of problem reporting in their forums to see just how censored they are.
    If you are in their good graces, yes, the support is good. If it's a question they don't want shown to public eyes, they deny the post and ask you to call for support. If you're under the extremely short warranty period, you're fine. I'm assuming if you leave a 5 star google checkout review, you're fine. I'm not sure why they are so hard up on the google checkout review - the ratings are completely invisible to any and everyone.

    You state it's your opinion the forums are censored due to wanting to hide potentially critical flaws in the systems but do you also think they are trying to push people to pay for support?
    Hard to say. My IMPRESSION was that although I may not receive official support, the community would be available to me. Once I decided to let my 3-star review stand, it seems thats unavailable to me as well. When I asked directly, I was prompted to call them to discuss my support options. Which is the way to say "Your support period is over, you didnt leave us a 5 star review, we're not doing jack for you unless you pay up."

    So my impression is that yes, they want to work out support money if you want anything from them. But - they may be perfectly happy with a 5-star review. I may be the exception to the rule and since I didnt praise them, they are being childish and denying even community forum support. I cant speak for anyone else.

    All I know is I received an email that said "If you change your review to 5 stars we'll extend your warranty period."

    So, leave a 5 star review and you may be fine. I didnt, and I wont be bribed to change it.

    That's a bit silly you have to cut your own Z-table lift wheel. That indicates the Z-table is not tested at all. This is the second review describing the Z-table out of the box misalignment issue.
    There's a lot misaligned with the laser. They blame it on the fedex ground shipping. It's a 70 pound box, I cant imagine the fedex guys throwing it around so badly it misaligns z-tables and doesnt damage the laser tube.

    They say they'll include the wheel in future revisions of the laser, something that would behoove them to do. It costs $2 in acrylic to make one.


    Also when you unboxed the laser did it look like it came straight from the factory or was it repacked thus potentially indicating it was tested at the Full Spectrum facility? Because if your lens was upside down does not that indicate a lack of pretesting before FS sends out the laser? On reason why I want to go with a USA distributor is so everything is test throughly before shipped all the way out to me.
    I think they repacked it, because there were things inside the box that really wouldnt have been put in at the factory, like the water pump. They claim they tested it. Included were 3 cuts of their mayan calandar thing they like to show off - they said it was done there before it shipped. That being said - when I hooked it all up, the laser tube was dry. I'd imagine if they did 3 test cuts it would have had to been hooked up to the water cooling system, and it'd be impossible to get all the water out. Maybe they did somehow. I just dont remember there being any traces of water in the tube at all.

    I cant say. If it were tested there as they claim, it was tested with the lens upside down (something they state on their forums isnt a big deal). What gets me though is how BADLY my mirrors were out of alignment when I received the laser. I cant fathom how screws held under spring pressure can jostle that loose on a cross country drive on a truck.



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    Default optic mounts

    Quote Originally Posted by InfernusDoleo View Post
    What gets me though is how BADLY my mirrors were out of alignment when I received the laser. I cant fathom how screws held under spring pressure can jostle that loose on a cross country drive on a truck.
    I'm not sure about the optic mounts in your machine but if they are built like all the other asian machines I have worked with they are absolute junk. I think the only reason people don't complain more about them is the nature of how these machines are used. On both my machines software issues caused the y-axis to hit(lightly) the hard stop, resulting in the 2nd turn mirror moving so far as to make the beam not even touch the 3rd mirror(Z)! I am going to be changing to good mounts in my machines to get more accuracy and stability soon.

    Milltronics VM16 cent6, Clausing 1500 lathe with a Milltronics cent7, 80W Rabbit SE12090 laser


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    A quick update: Some of the issues I stated I had with the software/USB/hardware interface are being addressed in the latest update. So, yay.

    FSE does do a great job of improving and bug fixing their product, and like I said, it's a great product.

    Here's some notes for the newest upgrade:
    -New LCD control panel with capacitive touch buttons allows various jogging/test functions
    -Jog is now continuous with fast/slow modes
    -Homing/mark position functions are implemented to allow saving of exact positions on the laser table and returning to these spots regardless of cancellation/bumping/etc
    -Z continuous jog is available for models with Z motors
    -Raster speed has been fixed so works even at low 1-5% speeds. This greatly improves raster results in sensitive material like thermark and anodized aluminum.
    -Digital power control is available in raster mode at all speeds from 0-100% (replaces current knob so analog knob is no longer available).
    -New digital test fire function can output pulses in 0.5ms increments which can mark thermal paper without burning it even at 100% power
    -Perimeter button shows the bounding box covered by the laser for quick positioning
    -USB can be reconnected without restarting program and increased robostness during disconnects allows recovery from most error states
    -Raster only mode ignores vector data for faster loading of raster only
    -Support for combined modes (Raster first then followed by Vector cut immediately afterwards without user intervention)



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    Just wanted to add that 2 days ago I made some posts on the FSE forums. Not asking for any type of support. Just general questions, one about the release of new software, and one on somthing else unrelated.

    My posts have not been denied, but they havent been approved either. Seems I'm now just on full on ignore mode. Other posts have appeared since I made mine - its not that they havent gotten to approving anything.

    FSE: My review is here BECAUSE you treat customers who offer valid criticism like this.

    It's a hell of a lot easier to work with a customer than to ignore them. You can't moderate these forums.

    It's a shame. Its a great laser.



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    Customer service is king it seems. Check out my other thread. Perm banned from fse's website.

    For posting an honest review.

    Anyone here really want to deal with that? Buying from the Chinese doesnt seem so bad anymore.



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FSE 40w Laser and company review, truthful and UNCENSORED

FSE 40w Laser and company review, truthful and UNCENSORED