Laser engraving machine Atomstack A5 30W: overview and features
This review will focus on the ATOMSTACK A5 laser engraving machine with a power consumption of 30 W, while the optical power of the diode laser here is 5 W. The features of the model include a fairly large engraving working area of 41×40 cm, a fixed focus of the laser and the presence of a special protective screen that allows you to use the machine without goggles.
The modern market offers a huge variety of laser machines for every «taste and budget». Without going into details, the main types of such machine tools with numerical control (CNC) are two: CO2 lasers, the active medium in the tubes of which is a mixture of gases (carbon dioxide, nitrogen and helium) and the so-called solid-state lasers, which use special diodes in their work. .
For domestic use, if there is no need for cutting plywood or engraving on metal surfaces in industrial volumes, for making souvenirs in a home workshop or just as a hobby, a diode laser machine would be the best option. You can buy such a machine for a relatively small cost on the same Aliexpress in the form of a DIY kit for self-assembly. The machines are offered by both noname manufacturers and specialized brands, one of which is ATOMSTACK. About why in this case it is still worth paying attention to branded models, I will stop later, and now let’s move on to the very hero of the review.
- Model name: ATOMSTACK A5 30W.
- Maximum working field: 410×400 mm.
- Laser power: 30W.
- Laser output power: 5-5.5W.
- Working time: 1000 hours.
- Wavelength: 445 ± 5 nm.
- Engraving accuracy: 0.01mm.
- Focus method: fixed focus.
- Features: the presence of a protective screen on the laser head
- Workable materials: wood, bamboo, paper, plastic, leather, non-reflective coating and lacquered metal, ceramics (must be painted black).
- Supported software: LaserGRBL, LightBurn.
- Input Format: NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF.
- Connection method: USB.
- Input voltage: AC100-240V.
- Output voltage: DC12V, 5A.
- Certification: CE FCC RoHS FDA
- Weight: 4.0 kg.
- Assembled machine size: 570x600x270 mm.
- Package size: 618x342x129 mm.
Packaging and equipment
The machine is delivered semi-assembled in a relatively small cardboard box. Inside, everything is organized into compartments in a thick foam padding.
Conventionally, the delivery set can be divided into two parts. The first is a disassembled metal frame of the machine, consisting of an already assembled X-axis block, on which the laser itself will subsequently be mounted, two sections of the frame 57 cm long, two sections 48 cm long and three support legs. All metal parts are covered with black matte paint.
The second conditional part consists of various small things, which include:
- Control block;
- laser head;
- power supply with cable;
- USB cable;
- two toothed belts;
- protective screen;
- protective glasses;
- keys set;
- step by step assembly instructions;
- plywood test cards;
- black acrylic test plates;
- acrylic plate for setting the focal length;
- mounting screws and plastic ties.
The control unit is hidden inside a metal casing, which also acts as the fourth supporting leg of the entire machine structure. On the casing there is an on / off button, as well as connectors for connecting the power supply and USB cable. Cables for connecting stepper motors and laser head are placed in a common protective sheath.
The power supply is designed for an output current of 12V/5A.
The marking on the laser head indicates that the model has a fixed focus, the laser wavelength is 455 nm, and the maximum working power is 5W.
Structurally, the laser head is made according to the most common scheme. The control board and the cooler are mounted on a massive cooling radiator, inside of which the laser itself is located. In the lower part, to protect the radiating lens, a metal «funnel» is provided.
The assembly manual is supplied with the machine. Despite the fact that there is no section in Russian, even without knowledge of English, it will not be any problem to figure it out, since everything is perfectly shown in the pictures presented. In addition, and here we must pay tribute to the manufacturer, the assembly process is divided into steps, each of which corresponds to a numbered bag of screws and other necessary spare parts.
First you need to assemble the frame.
Then the legs and the control box are screwed onto the frame, after which the X-axis box is installed.
After that, it is necessary to pass the toothed belts between the rollers of the machine and pre-tensioning them, fix them on the ends of the Y-axis guides.
We assemble and fasten the protective screen of the laser working area to the radiator.
After that, it is necessary to screw the laser head onto a metal plate, which is also responsible for setting the focal length of the laser. The plate is fixed with the help of two thumbscrews, releasing which allows you to adjust the height of the laser above the workpiece.
To adjust the focus, you need to put a standard plate on the workpiece, lower the laser head onto it and fix this height by tightening the screws.
After that, the standard is removed.
Let’s get back to assembly. At the final stage, it is necessary to connect the cables from the control unit to two stepper motors and a laser head, and then tighten the cable in several places using the bundled ties.
This completes the assembly of the ATOMSTACK A5 30W machine and you can proceed to check it in operation.
Use at work
According to the specification, the machine supports LaserGRBL and LightBurn programs. As for LightBurn, the same specification says that it is only supported on MacOS, it may be possible to use it on Windows, but I did not experiment and settled on LaserGRBL. By the way, this program, unlike LightBurn, is completely free and is constantly supported by the developer, the Russian interface is present. You can download the latest version from the official website here.
You can find a fairly large amount of information on working with this program on the network, so I will not dwell on all the nuances in detail.
The main and only inconvenience that I noted for myself here was the lack of a built-in ability to combine two tasks in one task — engraving followed by cutting, but this is not critical and can be completely solved “in manual mode”. In general, there is all the necessary set of functionality, including the ability to convert raster images to vector ones, a small editor for preparing photos for engraving on a laser machine, including in halftone mode, as well as a built-in database with the most optimal cutting / engraving parameters for a large number of engraving machines, including those produced by ATOMSTACK.
I cannot say that the 57x60x27 cm machine can be safely called compact, but compared to its CO2 counterparts, I think that this will be true. At least mark it even on a small table is quite realistic. Next, you need to decide what will be used as a substrate that protects the surface of the table from the laser beam. It can be a sheet of metal or any other suitable plane, but I have long adapted ceramic tiles for this purpose.
To begin with, I decided to check how the machine will cope with cutting felt, in this case it will be substrates for badges. We load the raster image of the substrates into the program and convert it into contours using the «vectorize» button.
There is no ATOMSTACK A5 30W model in the configuration selection window, so I chose a slightly more productive ATOMSTACK A5 PRO, the material is craft paper and the mode is cutting (Cut). After that, the program automatically set the laser power to 100%, the cutting speed to 1200 mm/min, and the number of passes to 1.
All these parameters can be edited independently in the main task settings window.
After clicking on the “Created” button, a vector image prepared for cutting will appear in the main program window, here, if necessary, you can change the number of passes.
We start the cutting process.
The result obtained is quite good.
Next, let’s try cutting plywood. To reduce the amount of soot on the back side, it is necessary to lift it above the surface of the tile. For this, expensive machines use a special “honeycomb” table made of metal plates, but for this I use a couple of metal nail plates from the nearest hardware store.
As a bonus, the use of such a «collective farm» makes it possible to see if the plywood is cut through right during the operation of the machine.
We will try to cut out a blank for a keychain from 3 mm birch plywood (class 2/4).
In the settings I select ATOMSTACK A5 PRO and the cutting mode (Cut) for wood, after which the program automatically offers to set the laser power to 100%, the speed is 450 mm / min, and the number of passes is 3.
In the main window of the program, just in case, I increase the number of passes to 4 (after all, I have a slightly different model of the machine) and start cutting.
As I said above, with this position of the plywood, you can observe the process and see how well the cutting is going.
The machine copes with the task, the added one pass just came in handy here. To reduce the number of passes, you can experiment with the cutting speed parameter, but I’m quite happy with this option.
After that, from the same 3 mm plywood, I tried to cut a simple prefabricated smartphone stand
I think it turned out great.
Next, I cut out some keyrings from 4mm plywood. There was a piece quite old and obviously of a low class, so it was cut at a speed of 350 in 7 passes.
But these are plywood key rings after applying the image by sublimation.
If the image needs to be engraved and then cut out, for example, a keychain along the contour, then here you will have to resort to a little trick, because this program, as I already mentioned, cannot engrave and cut within the same task.
To do this, it is necessary to prepare two different images of the same size based on the same layout. The first contains the image for engraving, and the second contains the outline for cutting. First, we start the engraving task, and after its completion, without moving the laser head and the workpiece, we start the cutting task.
As a result, we get the following result.
I also tried engraving on both sides of previously cut key rings. Everything works out great, the main thing is to accurately set the workpiece relative to the laser using the special “Frame” button of the program.
Included with the machine are dough pieces made of black acrylic 2.5 mm thick.
Quickly, in the size of the workpiece, I prepared a template for cutting and in 4 passes at a speed of 400 I got such a keychain.
Also, on a blank plywood from the delivery set, I checked the capabilities of the machine for engraving images in halftone mode. To do this, after loading a photo of a forest hedgehog into the program, I slightly adjusted the image to achieve better contrast. In the task settings for the engraving mode, the program set the speed to 2300 mm/min. If you want the image to be darker, then the speed must be reduced. The key here is to set the Laser Mode to Dynamic Power. In this mode, the program will automatically increase and decrease the power for each burnt point, thereby achieving the effect of halftones.
In this case, I chose the vertical line burn mode.
As a result, such a hedgehog turned out on plywood. The image contains both dark and lighter shades. To a greater extent, the quality of the engraving will depend on the preliminary preparation of the image, therefore, with some effort in a graphic editor, it is quite possible to achieve a more impressive result.
And now let’s check if ATOMSTACK A5 30W can cope with metal engraving. I didn’t really hope for this, because even the manufacturer modestly indicated in the characteristics that engraving is possible only on metal coated with black paint. I will not paint all the tried options, but go straight to the result. As a test, I used this image of a smiley face 15×15 mm in size, and as a material — a replaceable steel blade from a construction knife.
In the parameters, the speed was set to 70 mm / min at 100% power in Constant Power mode. By the selection method, the optimal number of passes was 7-8.
The end result is a clear image.
The resulting image is not soot, I tried to wash it off and erase it with my finger — the result is higher just after all these attempts. To the right of the emoticon, the TEST engraving is visible, the height of the letters is less than 3 mm, the inscription was obtained after 4 passes. I think even with such a not very fast method, with the help of this machine it will be quite possible to please yourself with engravings on various household items.
Above, I tried to briefly talk about the capabilities of the ATOMSTACK A5 30W model and I can recommend it as a home engraver for anyone who wants to learn how to work with this type of device and perhaps even use it to make souvenirs in a small home workshop.
The machine is really well made and well thought out. The manufacturer’s approach to their devices distinguishes any brand from noname sellers, but in this case, the manufacturer also offers very useful “chips” in the form of accessories for their machines. There are actually a lot of them, but I wanted to pay attention to a couple of them.
The first is a special «honeycomb» table for laser cutting with a size of 38x28cm.
Despite the fact that I use improvised means, on occasion I want to acquire just such a device. A huge plus in this model for me is the presence of four clamps that allow you to pull the blank from plywood and thereby remove its curvature, and small magnets are also included in the kit for fixing sheets of felt or paper.
The second very useful accessory, in my opinion, is a kit for retrofitting a laser machine with an air supply system to the work area. Approximately the same system is used in «adult» CO2 machines and allows you to almost completely remove carbon deposits from workpieces. The description says that the system is also suitable for installation on machines of the ATOMSTACK A5 series.
The kit includes a small desktop compressor with the ability to adjust the air flow, an air tube, as well as all the necessary parts to connect it to the laser head of the machine.
The current cost of the equipment described above can be found on the links below.