In writing this review of the Emblaser 2 laser cutter, it should be noted that prior to using this machine, I had no experience at all with laser cutting technology. Our school first inspected the Emblaser 2 at the 2018 EduTECH conference in Sydney’s International Convention Center. We eventually purchased two machines in November of that year.
Laser cutters and engravers have transitioned from the a “nice to have”, expensive industrial machine to the “must have” desktop appliance. With the introduction of the Emblaser 2, laser cutting and engraving has become more affordable and accessible for an individual or school budget. The Emblaser 2 opens up a world of materials for industrial users, small businesses and makers alike.
The Emblaser 2 takes laser cutting to a new level. What makes this machine different is the ease of use, the inbuilt venting system and the safety installed in the machine to ensure safety within a classroom situation. This includes a fire safety system which will alert you if material being cut catches fire and a 4 point safety system which will immediately turn off the laser if the lid is opened.
The machine is very easy to set up. It took us about 10 minutes to get the cutter completing our first cuts. The work area is large having a 500mm X 300mm work area.
The machine is wifi connectable which means I can connect to the machine from remote locations around the classroom. I could also connect multiple machines remotely to the cutter if needed, however ability to simply plug the USB connector into any laptop, be it a PC or Mac is a very useful feature.
The Emblaser 2 was developed and is manufactured by a company called Darkly Labs, a Melbourne company in Australia.
The Emblaser 2 is capable of cutting or engraving flat sheet materials such as paper, wood, plastic, and fabric. This versatility is appealing to a Design and Technology teacher such as myself and would more than likely be appealing to a broad range of users.
- Class I Solid State Diode Laser
- Automatic Laser Optic Calibration
- Automatic Laser Height Set and Control
- Laser Enabling Switch
- Supported File Formats
- Workspace Camera
- WiFi Capability
- Materials Supported
Automatic Laser Height Set and Control
Using the LightBurn software package for the Emblaser, adjustments for the laser height/offset and the source material are set automatically. Inputting information on the source raw material height and the height of the base cutting mats, the software makes the necessary adjustments for the optimal laser height and controls this throughout the cutting or engraving process.
Automatic Laser Optic Calibration
LightBurn includes an optic calibration wizard that sets the best focal length for the lens without having to use fixtures and gauges. This is a key ingredient of the ease of use claim for the Emblaser 2.
Laser Enabling Switch
For optimal safety, the laser is not enabled when the machine is first powered on. By utilizing a separate switch, the operator can turn the laser on and off anytime during use. Also, the laser can never operate whenever the lid is open.
Supported File Formats
The Emblaser 2 offers numerous vector file (cutting) and raster image (engraving) inputs to include the following.
- .ai – Adobe Illustrator
- .pdf – Adobe Portable Document Format
- .dxf – Drawing Exchange Format
- .svg – Scalable Vector Graphics
- .bmp – Bitmap
- .jpg/.jpeg – Joint Photographic Exports Group
- .png – Portable Network Graphics
- .gif – Graphics Interchange Format
- .tga – Truevision
This allows for maximum flexibility when working with source or design file exports.
As mentioned earlier, the machine comes with a built in camera which adds a nice feature others to monitor the work remotely should there be a desire. However, for optimal safety, it is recommended that the the Emblaser 2 be monitored on-site continually during use.
The manufacturers website lists the materials compatible with the Emblaser 2. (See the table below) The laser cutter able to cut 10mm thick coloured acrylic as well as thin fabrics.
Set Up Considerations
Probably the most important safety consideration is to place the Emblaser 2 in a well-ventilated room away from flammable materials. The Emblaser 2 exhaust hose should be connected to an exterior vent (or hung from an open window) or attached to an interior air-filtration system. Extra add-ons would include a Fume Filtration System and an Air-Assist System. Remember that the fumes generated by the laser cutter/engraver are often toxic.
As with many specialist technology appearing in school situations recently, a Laser cutter needs periodic maintenance. I would recommend placing this responsibility with a teacher who understands the process and has an interest in the technology. The manufacturer describes the maintenance schedule very well in the supplied PDF Manuel outlining and describing periodic maintenance. Lens maintenance and replacement is fairly straight forward but is an integral part to quality performance. Particle “Blowback” often coats the lens with residue and the lens should be checked and cleaned once a week (depending on usage). Monthly maintenance includes cleaning the base mats and checking the filters on any interior filtration system. We have designed a maintenance schedule that includes end of term maintenance to lubricate the rails and re-run the Optics Calibration Process as well as completing all the weekly and monthly maintenance procedures.
Why Would You Want to Use This Product?
The selection of stock source material along with the ability to cut and engrave provides a foundation of capabilities that should excite any user. However, what makes the Emblaser 2 most appealing is its ease of use and the creative conversation it engenders. Support content and tutorials demonstrate the full potential of the Emblaser 2 and provide perspective on how to operate the machine effectively. You can visit the Darkly Labs page tutorials here.
Who Should Use This Product?
Anyone with creative instincts will be enamored with the Emblaser 2. The ability to cut fabrics with precision and to artistically engrave images on assorted materials is unsurpassed. The flip side is that businesses can make great use of the Emblaser 2 for signage and the cutting of acrylic for product components. Whatever the case, the Emblaser 2 should be an integral part of your arsenal of creative tools.
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