I am a maker of belts, holsters, wallets, etc. I hand tool everything I make. I have a Cowboy 3200 to handle most of my stitching.
I had a friend request and interesting concept for some wallets to give as prizes at an air show aerobatics competition.
It was suggested I use a laser for the precise map like cuts. I had look at a laser in the past but the cost was too much for a night time maker like me. electrathon pasted a link to a chinese 40 watt laster that is around $330.
Since then I have been doing as much research on this as possible. I have the money but want to make sure I'm making the right decision.
The entry price is doable.
A 40w machine can do almost anything I need to leather.
Things that can be done - engrave, cut, make stitching holes (not needed for me but good for other makers), and more.
Wiring usually needs to be gone through.
Need to make sure the unit is grounded properly.
Provided water pump could be dangerous.
Software is dicey.
Only runs on Windows machines.
I've read that cutting leather is really smelly.
Lasers can blind you.
MY POSSIBLE USES
Cut out holsters and pieces cleanly and perfectly with laser.
Create templates so the laser could burn in some very cool nuances that I would tool around.
Try new things on notebook covers and wallets (design in Photoshop and then burn on).
Learn the machine and then create things I have yet to think of.
Can I create my designs on my Mac and then import them into the Windows software?
With the provided fan can I get most of the bad smell outside?
Does anyone on Leatherworker use one of these units?
Is it better to purchase from one seller over the other? If so who?
Should I spend $100 to buy from Amazon? (Cheaper on eBay).
I'm pretty close to just pulling the trigger and taking the plunge. I would really like to hear from someone like me that already has done this.
My biggest question is if the Chinese laser is worth the hassle.
Links to the units I'm describing:
Amazon (the beauty here is that you can return it) $427.99 https://www.amazon.com/Engraving-Machine-Engraver-Cutter-Exhaust/dp/B01AJGFS7Y/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1497892156&sr=8-4&keywords=laser+engraver
Ebay Cheapest (This unit has minimal controls) $318 with shipping
I have to think there is no returning what you get. http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-Precise-40W-CO2-USB-Laser-Engraving-Cutting-Machine-Engraver-Wood-Cutter-/200902245694?hash=item2ec6b4fd3e:g:fsUAAOSwFdtX146J
Ebay Upgrade (This appears to have a better control panel) $387 http://www.ebay.com/itm/40W-USB-Port-CO2-Laser-Engraving-Cutting-Machine-Engraver-Cutter-W-Wheels-/152106266467?hash=item236a3d6f63:g:E-MAAOSwyltZQz1o
Please post your thoughts, your research or your experience with these machines.