I’ve been incredibly fortunate through the years with CNCKing.com to have found a company that has helped me through the years with this site. At first, giving me the opportunity to design a laser cut model for a Sydney Australia tradeshow (thanks Oliver @ Trotec Laser Austria!) to more recently allowing me to play with the lasers leading to my purchase of my very own Speedy 400 flexx CNC laser (thanks Simon @ Trotec Laser Australia!). That company was and is, Trotec Laser.
Review of my Trotec Laser Speedy 400 flexx
Before I start, let me state clearly that I do not work for Trotec Laser, I bought a Trotec Speedy 400 flexx for my company CNCROi.com after investigating the machines from other manufacturers in this space. What Trotec Laser didn’t know at the time was that I was actually being offered a “comparable” CNC laser for almost nothing by another manufacturer, regardless, I went ahead and bought my Trotec Laser.
I’m a proud Trotec Laser customer running a business that requires a laser that works straight out of the box with little to no set-up. That’s what I wanted and that’s exactly what I got! How has my experience been with Trotec Laser so far this year since I started my company in September 2014? AWESOME! And I’ve never looked back at my decision.
The ability to handle projects large and small with CO2 + Fiber has been a tremendous business asset and I’ve cut, engraved, marked, annealed and etch a ton of stuff. Just look at my CNCROi.com blog and postings I’ve made here on CNCKing.com of builds I’ve done to get a feel of this machine’s capabilities.
My machine has a gas kit, which in my opinion, needs to be on every machine after using ones with and ones without them. The ability to use an external gas compressor to push a lot more air down onto something being laser cut (mostly) and engraved is a tremendous asset as you can completely wipe-out any flames before they even start.
If you are buying a CNC laser of any kind, you cannot go wrong getting a vacuum table and a gas kit with it, they more than pay for themselves in cleaning time and lens replacements. Do you know how many times I’ve cleaned my flexx lens since I got my machine? Twice… and I’ve cut over 600 sheets of formica, probably close to a hundred full bed sized sheets of plywood and a bunch of other stuff from rocks to cardboard.
Having a vacuum table and a gas kit means all that vapor doesn’t have a chance to stick itself on the lens or in the machine. I won’t say my Trotec Laser is spotless after all this use but I’ve only had to wipe the inside once so far – it’s due for another wiping soon but all that crap just has no chance to go anywhere but OUT using this combination of tools – I can focus on making money, not cleaning.
I also have a professional cutting table and rotary kit that I haven’t used much of thus far but for some projects in the pipeline, are an absolute requirement. I’ve tried to focus entirely on the millworking and manufacturing verticals thus far as they have the volume and budgets that give me more ROI than engraving one knife for the general public.
Why did I buy a Trotec Speedy 400 flexx?
Trotec Laser has an awesome range of CNC lasers, from their small rayjet to their larger SP500. I knew for me, my business CNCROi.com needed something almost as big as the SP500 with it’s massive bed and passthrough ability but that could engrave as fast as the Trotec Speedy 300. I also needed my laser to have both a CO2 and fiber laser source. The Trotec Speedy 400 flexx fit those requirements perfectly.
Generally, manufacturers make compromises, so buying an A+B machine means you got neither A or B, but C (and not in a good way). Not in this case. I have all the benefits of a Trotec Speedy 300 flexx with the flexibility offered with the SP500 minus the massive bed which requires a larger (and slower) head. The Trotec Speedy 300 and 400 range of machines are engraving machines that can cut while the Trotec SP500 is a cutting machine that can engrave, from my experience thus far, engraving has a higher ROI than cutting but it’s great having the ability to do both.
If Trotec Laser hadn’t come out with the Speedy 400 flexx, I would have bought a 300 flexx, so the timing of my purchase was perfect, I got an awesome machine with passthrough without having to jump into the range of a SP500. The SP500 is an awesome machine by the way, it just doesn’t have flexx (CO2 + fiber) so for a brand-new shop, it wouldn’t have been best in my case as I wanted to cut projects for CNCKing.com out of wood and acrylic but also anneal and mark metals and plastics using a fiber lens.
One more thing about my CO2 tube specifically… CeramiCore. CNC lasers aren’t cheap to run and saving 30% on power right off the bat is a major selling point. The fact that it’s more stable and doesn’t “bleed” are bonuses in my books. I’ve had incredibly consistent engraving across my CNC laser bed.
Regarding JobControlX, it’s an awesomely simple yet powerful piece of software that I continue to learn more about using efficiently as project experience piles on. The software does exactly what it should and what I especially like about it is that it doesn’t crash during production when things are most vital… not something I can say about any of the other software packages running on my computers. The interface is pretty straight forward and even allows for modifications in cutting or engraving orders. I’ve grown to rather enjoy it as, thanks to my Trotec Speedy 400 flexx’s consistency, I’ve never had a problem such as COM errors or anything else pop-up ruining a job.
What I wished I did
I have a 110W CO2 and a 30W fiber tube, what I wished I did back then was max-out my CO2 tube to 120W, the fiber is expensive so I’m happy with what I have now still being very much in start-up mode but if I had the extra money, maxing out the fiber tube as well would have been a no brainer. I can completely see the value now of maxing these two tubes to their max especially if you already have an established business with clients – I had no clients when I started CNCROi.com so things were and continue to be tight as I grow inventory and the customer base.
I have a 2HP extraction next to my machine, in hindsight, I should have bought a 4HP one, the smoke does get thrown out the machine quickly as it is, but I’d like it to go away even faster… I have a Y connector sucking air from both the vacuum table and the back at the same some so what I’ll do once I move to a bigger shop is set-up another 2HP or more on the vacuum table exclusively, not as much to hold things down as to just extract things out faster from underneith. I’d love to get to the point where I don’t have to use any masking paper at all, that means more air going down on the project (I need a bigger compressor) and once there, going out ASAP.
Talking about compressors, I wish I bought a far bigger one. I have a 11 galon air compressor now using the Trotec Laser gas kit but it goes off a lot for some cutting processes so the next one I get once I have a bigger shop will probably be a 100 galon air compressor so it doesn’t go off as often. Air compressors are loud and annoying as the kick “on” anytime and it needs to be in its own little room so it makes minimal noise. Mine doubles as a heater in the garage during the winter.
Regarding the flexx lens that came with my Trotec Speedy 400 flexx, it’s pretty good across a variety of applications but since I got my exclusive fiber lens, I’ve stopped using it entirely for marking plastics and annealing metal where CO2 + fiber materials in one application aren’t needed. I still USE my flexx lens for both CO2 and Fiber applications as there is nothing wrong with it and it’s more than capable but wow, the tolerances are tight on annealing metal. Since I got my fiber lens, I’ve gotten incredible consistency and quality out of my metal annealing even when the material I was working with wasn’t totally flat or bent from heat.
The price points of Chinese CNC lasers are incredibly attractive – I could have gotten one hell of a machine with a far larger bed size, far more powerful tubes (with spares!) and lots more bells and whistles compared to what I got with my Trotec Speedy 400 flexx. There is one caveat though, IF IT WAS DEPENDABLE.
I absolutely needed a CNC laser machine that worked right out of the gate. I’m not a technical person nor an engineer, if something goes wrong, I’m dead in the water with my laser and my reputation with my clients goes to ZERO. Did I have ANY technical problems with my Trotec Speedy 400 flexx? NONE! That fact in itself is worth the “perceived” premium.
What I mean by “perceived” is that a machine that works pays for itself, I got projects with CNCROi.com from manufacturers BECAUSE I didn’t have a Chinese machine… they tried going that route as well and have only had problems. These company owners would have literally kicked me out the door if I had a Chinese machine. I’m not saying all Chinese machines are bad, what I am saying is there is a COMPLETE lack of support and the build quality just isn’t there. If you don’t have confidence in a machine, you have no business. There is a reason why they give you spare CNC laser tubes while Trotec Laser does not and it isn’t because they are doing you a favor.
Trotec Laser Support
I’ve had the pleasure of spending time at Trotec Laser Canada’s office and branch offices in Australia – the people there are awesome! If I have any questions, they aren’t looking at the clock, they are making sure I understand what they are telling me. It’s tough to express how much of an asset it is to be able to deal directly with a manufacturer who stands behind their machines… I’ve actually had to quote a project overnight and talked to Trotec Australia at 1 am Canada time to confirm a few things… long after Trotec Canada was closed. I got the project btw, and it’s thanks to their advice and confidence in their machine’s capabilities.
I also have friends with Trotec Lasers too, and their experience has been the same as mine… when shit hits the fan, Trotec Laser has been there for them and I have absolute confidence that they’d be there for me too! Making awesome machines and providing industry leading support behind them is an incredible asset that’s worth the price of the machine itself.
The Bottom Line
It has been quite a learning curve getting my own Trotec Speedy 400 flexx, when ever there has been a screw-up, it’s been squarely on myself from lack of knowledge. These machines are incredibly powerful and there is always something to learn while playing with them. No matter how many books and discussions you read about CNC lasers, there is absolutely nothing that replaces having your own and using it to make money. Thanks Trotec Laser for making such a great machine, it’s been a pleasure and I always look forward to playing with the cash machine you guys have created.