thunder laser machine
27 Feb-2021

Thunder Laser vs Glowforge Laser Cutting Machines

The Rise in Laser Cutting

Plastic is used across almost every industry, from packaging and appliances to personal care products and medical equipment. To keep up with the demands of manufacturing, it’s no surprise more businesses are turning to laser cutting. 

Laser cutters allow companies to increase their efficiency by utilizing fast-performing and consistent technology to downscale prices and increase production capacity. In the past, only large companies with high profits could afford the luxury of a laser engraver. However, more and more small businesses have been able to bring laser engraving into their work area. The benefits of these tools make that initial investment worth it. 

Technology will only move forward, so it’s important for businesses to keep up if they want to survive. There’s no doubt that integrating laser machines into your business can help grow your product and consequently your client base. Here are some of the benefits of laser cutting.

Advantages of Laser Cutting

Considering that the laser cutting business is only projected to grow, it’s clear laser cutters are essential tools to any manufacturing business or even casual hobbyist. Here are some of the benefits to owning these machines:

  • Quality: Designing a prototype can be a lot of work, and not everybody has the time or energy to re-work the same design until they achieve a perfect product. By facilitating the process of creating prototypes, laser cutting makes it easier than ever to reach that perfect end result.
  • Quantity: By increasing production output, laser cutters offer speed that lets your business create products in bulk. A higher quantity of products solves the issue of lack of inventory.
  • Consistency: They say consistency is key; laser cutters can repeat the same design, which guarantees uniformity across your products.
  • Cost-efficiency: Not only do you save time by using a laser cutter but you save money too. They reduce the chances of costly mistakes and also eliminate the need to hire a laser cutter service (a cost that can quickly add up).

Many industries and individuals can reap the benefits of laser cutting, etching and marking. For example, cutting can be used to process plastic parts for automobiles, appliances and electronics. It can also be utilized in consumer goods production, such as the production of kitchen and home products.

Etching (which involves burning through the material, or subtracting it) and marking (which creates a mark by adding material) are useful tools for personalization. They’re frequently used by businesses interested in creating unique branded packaging or merchandise. They’re also useful for eBay or Amazon sellers that promote their own products — they can be used for leather, jewelry, phone cases and decorations.

Types of Laser Cut 

While all laser cutting machines can help cut, mark and engrave your product, they don’t all function in the same manner. 

3D Laser Printer

One way to engrave products with lasers is through 3D printing. These machines use a 3D tube, or laser tube, to shape an object according to your desires. Keep in mind that they’re different from 3D printers, which form objects by adding materials together.

An important thing to remember about 3D laser printers is that they can only work on flat surfaces. Moreover, the final product will generally not have perfect cuts, which means it will require some welding to achieve a perfect product. 

Laser Cutter

A classic laser cutter is one of the most popular ways to perform laser engraving and marking. As a computer numerical controlled (CNC) machine, it features a CNC router and operates electronically, promoting ease of use. The laser head (the part that emits the laser) moves over the material, pinpointing the exact location to begin the cut through an autofocus lens. The engraving process is helped by a rotary attachment. There are two main types of lasers that can be used:

  • CO2 lasers: These types of lasers are meant for non-metal elements and are known for their speed and smooth finishes. They work with a number of plastics, including wood and acrylic plastic. 
  • Fiber laser: These lasers are tailored for metallic materials, such as stainless steel. They tend to be stronger due to the material they work with. 

It’s clear that a laser cutter is something you need for your business. Before you move forward with your first laser cutting project, you have to ask yourself: Which laser cutting company do I go with? Two of the most popular companies are Glowforge, which uses 3D laser printing technology, and Thunder Laser USA, which utilizes CO2 lasers. Here’s how the two stack up. 

Thunder Laser vs Glowforge

Thunder Laser USA offers a variety of laser machines that come in an assortment of sizes and watts. Glowforge, on the other hand, calls their machine a 3D printer but in reality is just a normal laser machine that has similar watts but vary in speed and amenities. 

Thunder Laser offers CNC machines with CO2 lasers. Although Glowforge calls itself a 3D laser printer company, its products are also CNC machines with CO2 lasers. To determine the difference between the two, let’s compare their support communities, costs, models and amenities. 

Community Support

When it comes to comparing the support available online, there’s a hands-down winner right off the bat. Thunder Laser users go the extra mile to help each other out, which is a testimony to how content they are with quality of the machines. While Glowforge’s marketing would have you believe the machine practically runs itself, this is far from true. The Glowforge community is frustrated and discordant because the reality of using their laser cutters doesn’t match up to the impressive ad campaigns. 

When you’re setting up, social media groups are some of the best places to get guidance as you learn the ropes. Facebook groups are also useful on an ongoing basis as you move from being an expert to a master — plus you get to help new users and return the favor. Take a look at the Facebook groups to do a comparison for yourself:

Costs 

In comparison to other countries, the United States maintains a fairly high cost of living. Like most companies that manufacture in the U.S., Glowforge, as well as laser printer companies like Muse, Full Spectrum and Boss lasers, are subject to higher production costs, which translates to higher pricing for their products. 

Thunder Laser USA, on the other hand, manufactures overseas in China. Because they’re produced at a lower cost, Chinese products can be sold in the U.S. at a lower price point. While there is a stigma about the quality of “made in China” products, reviews demonstrate that Thunder Laser’s Chinese lasers are as high-quality as those produced in the States. Part of the reason for this is that Thunder Laser has a dedicated team in the U.S., just outside Texas, that ensures all the products meet its high standards.

While both Glowforge lasers and Thunder Laser may be able to offer quality laser cutter machines, Thunder Laser can offer more at a proportionately affordable price range. 

Printer Models 

Both companies have different models. Glowforge has three types:

  • Glowforge Basic: 6 month warranty, 40w laser 
  • Glowforge Plus: 12 month warranty, 40w, 2x speed
  • Glowforge Pro: 12 month warranty, 45w, 3x speed 

Each of these models has similar levels of power and mainly differ in speed. 

Thunder Laser USA, on the other hand, has six models:

  • Nova 63: 100 or 130w (flagship model)
  • Nova 24: 60w (good for beginners)
  • Nova 35: 80 or 100w (most popular option)
  • Nova 51: 100 or 130w (fits 4′ x 8′ material) 
  • Odin 22: 30w (2,000mm/sec engraving speed)
  • Mini 60: 40w (desktop mini)

The numbers in the names of the machines refer to their bed size (in inches). Not only does Thunder Laser USA have more options, but it also boasts a larger range of sizes and wattage power. Moreover, all the machines — no matter the size — come with a two-year warranty for the machine and one year for consumables, so you don’t have to worry about the hassle of breakdowns. 

Software

Another point of comparison is the software you use to operate the laser cutting machine. With Glowforge, a major downside is that it’s web-based, so if you live in an area that experiences dips in Wi-Fi service, you’re in trouble. Unfortunately, the company has gone ahead and put so-called “premium” features behind a paywall. Not only do you have to download your designs from the Glowforge server, but if you use the free version, you have to wait in line just to perform this basic task. What’s more, Glowforge claims intellectual ownership over all designs that are run through its software, which could cause issues down the line.

With Thunder Laser’s LightBurn software, you don’t have to worry about the internet cutting out or paying for upgrades — it’s a free, stand-alone product. It’s also super-easy to use and, most importantly, you own the intellectual rights to all your designs!

Amenities

Glowforge offers a limited number of amenities for its laser printers. In comparison to the basic model, the Glowforge Plus has upgraded software and enhanced speed. The Glowforge Pro also features these additions, along with 120% cut speed, enhanced cooling and the ability to process large prints. 

Glowforge printers offer dual cameras and autofocus abilities, as well web-based software. Their air filters, which are necessary for ventilating the area and getting rid of dangerous fumes, cost about $1,000 extra. 

Thunder Laser USA also offers several amenities to enhance the quality of your printer. Each customer has access to the U.S.-based support team, as well as troubleshooting guides and video tutorials. 

The machines come with extra tools to improve production output. The Hybrid-Servo stepper motors engrave at a prompt speed of 39 inches per second, while the large pass-through doors let you work with materials larger than the machine bed size. 

There are also safety amenities that guarantee the security of the user. Each machine comes with an alarm lamp that alerts you when the project is completed and a smart board that will automatically run the exhaust system (which gets rid of lingering fumes) when needed. 

Other amenities include: 

  • Chiller water pump 
  • Air assist
  • 2″ Head
  • LightBurn
  • Tool & cleaning kits
  • Honeycomb/knife beds
  • Red dot pointer/Auto focus
  • ThunderCam System (optional) 

You can find these features across all of the Thunder Laser machines, no matter the price. Quality and safety aren’t things you should have to pay extra for. 

Visit Thunder Laser USA

Modern laser machines let you calibrate the intensity of the laser and set the depth and thickness of the cuts and marks, offering unprecedented levels of personalization when it comes to design. You can even pre-program the design you want, creating them efficiently, consistently and in bulk. They’re a must-have for any business looking to increase its output or personalize its items. 

Of course, it’s essential to go with a quality source when choosing your machine. Thunder Laser USA offers a wide range of laser machines with different sizes and power levels, all covered with two-year warranties and accompanied by amenities designed to increase efficiency and safety. Its overseas production means it can offer high-quality products at a more reasonable cost than other brands. 

Contact Thunder Laser USA today for your laser cutting and engraving needs.