This is a review provided by Travis T. with Blue Moose Designs in Anchorage, AK. He talks about his experiences with Thunder Laser and Boss. If you want to see more about Travis please visit https://www.akbluemoose.com
NOTE: Travis made this to respond to a question posted on Facebook and was not solicited nor compensated by Thunder Laser for this video. We saw it and asked if we could publish it.
I have both a Thunder and a Boss. Here is what I can tell you about the two. Both of my machines run on average 25-30 hours per week and I know both inside and out.
Both are well-built machines made of the same thickness on metal. The base of Thunder’s is more substantial and built better. The biggest differences are on the inside though.
Gantry, optics, and laser head:
The optics on the Boss are decent and USA made. However, they have a severe issue with their head that Boss is aware of and is commonly discussed on the Boss Facebook user group, but Boss has not made an attempt to correct in the several years they have had this newer head design. This really affects the cutting and engraving quality. The unique design of Boss’s laser head also really limits the aftermarket products you can use as they are the only company in the market with this head design. Due to this companies don’t go out of their way to support it and instead spend their R&D money on the more common laser head styles. The lens on Thunders is a standard ZnSe lens which I believe is made in Singapore. They are high quality and I have had zero issues with them and the cutting and engraving is better than my boss and my buddies Trotec. The gantry on the Boss is decent, but the gantry on a Thunder is built like a tank. The Thunder is much thicker and wider which adds to the overall stability of your engraving. Thunder also uses larger belts on all axis which also helps in adding tho the speed and stability of cutting and engraving.
The lighting in the Boss is marginal at best. I had to add 4 additional light in it right off the bat to get adequate lighting in the unit. This involved drilling holes, adding an additional power supply, etc… The Thunder had good lighting right out of the box so no changes were needed.
Shipping & Support:
Shipping on both was good however Boss forgot to send me the gold air pump for the laser. This was never corrected from them even after they were notified. Not a huge deal as I wasn’t going to use it anyways. Thunder I received I was supposed to however the rotary they shipped out separately and accidentally sent me the wrong pin configuration. The error was caught by Thunder before I even received the rotary unit and the correct cable was promptly shipped out. Boss support is fair as long as you aren’t missing parts (see above). The online user groups for Boss are marginal at best so sometimes getting support can be difficult. Especially for me as I am in Alaska and they close at noon our time M-F. Thunder laser has a very active user base with a worldwide support group through WeChat so you can get user-based support nearly 24/7. Thunder also is very prompt at email support outside of normal business hours.
There is no comparison here. Boss uses cheaper stepper motors that out of the box are limited to an engraving speed of 300mm per second by the controller. This can be overridden with the control panel to a max speed of 375mm per second. Thunders use a much higher quality servo motor system that is set at 1000mm per second right out of the box. My Boss has issues properly tracking at 375mm per second so I limit myself to 300mm per second which is the fastest I can get good results with. My Thunder has no problems engraving at 1000mm per second. I have not tried to overclock my Thunder as I haven’t had the need too.
Power & tube:
Thunder presets their tubes to a max of 70% power. This is ok however I changed mine to run at a max of 75%. You should never really run a co2 tube over 75%. There is actually a method to test where the max peak should be for your tube, and my thunder was at 75%. Boss presets their max power at 95%. If you know where your max should be then this is okay. However, with the max set at 95% there is safety there and will let you overdrive your tube which will greatly reduce the overall life of your tube. My Boss I have changed that setting to 73% as that is the max peak for that specific tube. Both machines have similar quality tubes and if properly run and maintained you should expect around 2000 – 3000 hours per tube.
My Boss was my first laser and if I could go back and redo things I would have started with Thunder Laser. You know the saying though, “Hindsight is 20/20”. I’m not saying Boss’s are bad, but Thunder Lasers are cheaper, better built, higher quality machines, with better support in my opinion. Both machines were ready to use right out of the box, but the Boss did need some minor mirror adjustments to it prior to use. This isn’t really their fault, but just rough handling during shipping. I have compared my Thunder with my buddies Trotec, and if they were the same price I would still go with Thunder.