What design program do most people use with their laser?

90% of it is CorelDRAW. There are a few proprietary programs out there, but most all will import from CorelDRAW exports because that's the predominant software used. Another option is AutoCAD and supported file formats include BMP, DXF, DAT, PLT, AI.

What features are important with laser engravers? I've seen different wattages and different bed sizes. What are important factors to take into consideration?

Well, if somebody were to ask me what I needed in a laser, first off the most important feature is power. Power will get you speed, will cut through thicker substrate, will run things faster, and make more money for you. Then, secondly would be table size. The larger the table, the more options you have to run other things. Air-assist is a must-have feature, I don't care what anybody or any salesman would tell you. You will need air-assist, especially if you're going to be doing any acrylic work, cutting wood, rubber stamps. I mean, there's a thousand different products out there you can make with the laser which you'll need air-assist for. Other features like rotary attachments, unless you have a very specific need or desire to do something in the round, you can do it without even having a rotary attachment but I would take that money and spend it on more power than getting a rotary attachment.

So a rotary attachment is for lasering things like wine bottles or those types of things?

It could be a wedding glass. It could be exactly what you said, a wine bottle. Glass is one of the trickiest substrates to laser engrave, but there are other ways of doing it without needing the rotary attachment. Some people may want to use it for other round objects like bowls and things that you may make and the laser is the secondary project you do on the product.

Are there a lot of maintenance costs involved in using a laser engraver?

Apart from the laser tube itself being replaced around every 3 000 - 6 000 hours, there is virtually no maintenance. Nothing has had to be repaired on my machine. In ten years I've had it, I've replaced the focal lens, not because I had to, but I thought it was time and one mirror, because I thought it looked a little cloudy. The maintenance on these things are incredible. It takes so little effort, as long as you keep them clean. If you're running a lot of stuff that causes smoke, you want to clean it up and keep the machine clean. The more you run it, the better the machine performs. The less you run it, that's where you run into problems. If you have your laser sit for long periods of time, you'll start to notice more problems with your laser tube because your gas starts to separate.

Do you need a lot of training to operate a laser engraving business?

Not the laser engraver itself. You'll need some computer experience and knowledge to run the software. As far as if you can be accomplished with photographs or typing or using your computer, your laser is secondary in the learning curve.

What is the lifespan and cost of laser tubes?

All our laser tubes are rated at 3 000 and 6 000 hours. The cost to replace them ranges from R5 000 to R25 000.

What is the guarantee?

6 months on the laser tubes and 1 year on the rest of the machine (excluding mirrors and lens).