Today we're going to take a look at my first ever laser engraver. The A5 M50 PRO by Atomstack. This excited me because I enjoy learning new things, and there was a steep learning curve involved. I'm going to share that experience with you so that if you're also new to lasers you can get up and running pretty quickly.
I go into far more detail over on my YouTube channel, as shown below.
Who is the machine for?
This is an entry level machine aimed at people who want to learn the tools of the trade when it comes to CNC lasers. So if you're a beginner like me and you're looking to learn, this machine is a great option. That being said, it has some impressive capability which could enable you to farm this machine in a small CNC laser business. This CNC Laser is now a big part of my workshop and I've already made some small gifts for friends and family, the likes of which could easily be sold to potential customers in future.
Atomstack A5 PRO Assembly
The Atomstack A5 PRO couldn't be easier to assemble. The machine is semi-assembled straight out of the box, with fantastic user manuals to guide you through the process.
The Importance of Laser Ventilation
If you've never worked with lasers before, please do be aware that the fumes are very strong. We're so used to 3D printers these days, where it's relatively safe to print materials such as PLA out in the open. But that's not the case with lasers, and based on my prior research it's definitely worth taking extra measures to extract those fumes. I think this tends to steer people away from lasers but you can build your own DIY laser enclosures relatively easily. I managed to do this using some 11mm OSB cut-offs that were left over from building my workshop. I used Perspex sheets on the top and front so that I can always see the job that is running. I also added an extraction system that I partly 3D Printed which gets rid of all the nasty fumes. The total cost of this enclosure was less than £60 and it works perfectly.
I made a seperate video about this, which goes into more detail:
As part of the enclosure, I was able to design this partly 3D-printed extractor fan that transfers the fumes away from the laser, through some 100mm PVC ducting and out of my workshop.
The Importance of Eye Protection
Another important thing I feel like I should cover in this video is eye protection. Regardless of which laser you buy, it should always come with safety instructions so please read them. One of the things I really credit this laser for is its attempt to minimise eye exposure to the laser beam. With this being a fixed focus laser you never have to manually calibrate the laser focus, which on other machines requires you to look at the laser dot wearing safety goggles.
Power & Speed Testing
Given that this is a 2-axis machine you don't have to worry about any Z-axis movement. The two things you can control are the X & Y axis movement speed, and of course the power of the laser. To test a large combination of these parameters, I created my own speed and power test array in LightBurn.
I've also created a dedicated tutorial for creating this test from scratch in LightBurn:
Now that I could see what this machine was capable of in terms of power and speed. I chose my favourite settings based on the previous test and tried to engrave some photographs. At first I tried engraving some smaller photographs at different settings to verify my prior results. Then when I was happy I attempted a larger job. The image below shows an A3 engraving that took just under 10 hours. The detail in this engraving is astonishing, and is a testament to the quality of this machine.
I also tested a variety of different materials, which can be seen in the YouTube video.
To test the cutting capability of the Atomstack A5 M50 PRO I created another simple test in Lightburn. This particular test was conducted at 70% power, at a speed of 500mm/m. One of the key variables for cutting is the number of passes. For each of the squares below, I increased the pass count by five. This demonstrated the number of passes required to cut through this particular material. Fifteen passes was perfect for cutting through this 3mm Plywood, which led me to cut out this 15cm wooden ruler.
I have to say that this machine really did impress me. It was easy to assemble and it came with great software and hardware manuals which made it easy to get up and running. In terms of performance, there's not a lot that this machine can't do. The only real limitation is the speed and power which is always going to be the case with these hobbyist grade machines. For example, if you wanted to run a scalable laser engraving business you'd need to get and industrial grade laser which would set you back thousands of pounds.
However, if you're looking to dive into lasers and learn the tools of the trade I can genuinely recommend this machine. It has served a great purpose for me because I'm now able to produce more great content, and even make a little bit of extra cash on the side.
It's also worth noting that this atomstack laser has a lot of great accessories available for upgrades. I will be looking to get my hands on those in the near future.
Here are the upgrades available:
AtomStack A5 M50 PRO - Link
Extension Kit - Link
Rotary Roller - Link
Air Assist System - Link
Cutting Board - Link
Thanks for Reading!
As always, thank you for reading. I hope you learned something. Be sure to subcribe to my YouTube channel for more great tutorials and CNC related content.
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