Trotec Speedy 400 120 Watt Review:
If you were like me, you have spent countless hours researching these machines and digging through forums… or trying to. Sawmill Creek is the most prominent forums that covers both Epilog and Trotec in some detail in the form of user feedback / experiences. I quickly came to my own conclusion that there are representatives or individuals affiliated in some way on both sides trolling in this forum in hopes of convincing prospective buyers into buying their company’s machine. The information you get from these sources is anything but unbiased. My primary frustration that I experienced during the research phase was the fact that I couldn’t find any good feedback from any credible sources since I basically wrote Sawmill Creek off. I hope this review helps some prospective buyers as I continuously update it with my personal experiences.
Full review still to come but I feel it is necessary to voice my brief feelings on this machine. When it works it is great but when it doesn’t, well… it doesn’t work.
Here are the pros:
- Bi Directional Communication: When I was researching lasers I was basically set on buying from one of two very well marketed laser machine manufacturers, Epilog or a Trotec. Trotec’s reps really ham it up on this bullet point. This feature is exactly what it sounds like. With the use of a serial to USB cable (a printer cable), once connected, you are able to view your work space as well as the the positioning of the laser head on your computer’s screen. This feature is great because I often have a scrap piece of material that I want to use and can throw it anywhere on the table, ensure the laser head is within that material, and go.
- Customer Support: I would rate this as a pro. The support crew for Trotec I feel have always done a good job of getting me sorted. Some of the tech guys here are far more knowledgeable than others.
- Build Quality: if you go Epilog or Trotec I would say that the build quality of both these units is very respectable. Aesthetically, both units are beautiful machines when compared to a Chinese variation. Big surprise right? It’s hard to say how much better their components are than the Chinese variations since I’ve only seen a few but companies like Boss Laser make nice looking units as well and I think these fall under the, Chinese or Taiwanese madee but picked over with a fine tooth comb by an American category.
- Fantastic Detail, Power and Frequency Control: I find my self making more things for my wife’s etsy page then for my self lately. Much of what she likes making involves things that are under a half inch but have very fine details within this dimension. After spending some time and getting power and speed settings dialed in, I am able to get amazingly clean etch lines and detail. I have no machine to compare this against but I would be surprised if a Chinese laser can replicate such clean results. From fine details to thick material cuts (1″ thick Red Oak, Maple, Walnut) this machine does it’s job well when I am not having issues with disconnect issues that I will cover in the next section.
Here are the cons:
- The price tag: this unit is expensive compared to a Chinese machine – the advertised price being anywhere from four to eight times higher. I could have saved a few thousand had I even gone with a similar unit from Epilog. When I was ready to make the plunge, I had a hotel room and a flight booked for a trip to Florida to attend the ISA Sign Expo with the sole intention of buying a machine there. After a few weeks of haggling and literally a few days before I was scheduled to make the trip, my rep finally folded and gave me what I feel was a fair price. I spent a hefty chunk of coin on this machine but I am a believer that you typically get what you pay for and I prefer to buy quality once versus junk multiple times. I’ve never owned a Chinese unit but I did look at a few used units during my initial research phase.
InPack TechnologyTM – Dust Protection: Here is another bullet point that the rep really hammed up as a competitive advantage over the Epilog units. I do not recall what type of material is used for this “tech” but it is basically a belt that runs along your laser’s gantry X and Y axis guide rails. This technology is supposed to help protect components from becoming contaminated by the material you are cutting. Again, I have no way to compare my unit since this is my first machine but for my specific application I would say that it adds very little benefit in the form of protection against contaminates. I build hollow body wood surfboards as a side business and subsequently cut a good deal of wood material. I am very diligent with my prep. I always sand my material with 220 grit sand paper and air blast it before placing it into my machine. Even with these precautionary steps, when I took off the service panel on the right side of the unit, I was astounded by the amount of particulates I found collecting in this area – especially on the primary lens ( coming directly from tube ) and secondary lens (bounces laser from primary mirror into the work area). After cleaning both of these lenses I noticed a dramatic improvement in cut quality and was able to drop my power settings in order to cut material in a single pass. I performed this inspection after the first month of use which totaled up to less than 10 hours of run time. Fortunately for me I am very disciplined about my maintenance and actually enjoy it so I will make this a monthly habit
Missing Cuts: on some of my more detailed works, the machine will do one of three things. 1.) It cuts the file exactly as pictured 2.) It will cut half of an object but not finish the cut. 3.) It totally skips cuts. This issue is inconsistent because I can run a file once and all is well but do it a second time and I experience problem #2 or #3. When #2 or #3 happens, I have to trash these pieces – money down the drain in the form of time wasted and material lost.
- RESOLVED: Your computer’s processing power matters. After 100 or so jobs, we noticed a trend of jobs getting botched that were being processed directly from our MacBook pro vs our PC. Our MacBook pro is plenty fast but compared to our PC that has 32 gigs of Ram, dual Nvidia 1080 Video cards, etc… the processing & rendering power of our PC makes our MacBook look like a dinosaur. The missing cuts was not an error of the machine but rather the file that was incorrectly processed by the software. It would seem that the faster your PC, the less likely that something is to get lost in translation during the print phase with Trotec’s Job Control.
- They Sent Me A Used Lens With My New Machine: This bullet basically sums it up. I purchased this machine and it was supposed to come with a 1.5 and a 2.5″ lens. One lens for doing more precise cuts which allows me to have a tighter kerf and then the other lens for cutting thicker material and not quite as tight of a kerf. When the machine first arrived it only came with the 2.5″ lens so I had to call and have them send me the second lens as agreed upon with my regional rep when I placed the order. They finally sent the lens out and to my dismay, upon inspection it was scratched to hell. It was so bad in fact that when the positioning laser would pass through it, the beam was fuzzy and not a clean dot. I called tech and they were quick to file an RMA, take my deposit payment of $400+ dollars, and send out a new lens. I got the new lens and I know for a fact that the old lens made it back to their office because someone signed for it but my deposit was never released. Multiple phone calls later and losing my patience, I asked for a supervisor and they finally gave me my deposit back. Money in easy but not so easy out. They made right after I got on their asses about it but I was not happy about this.
- No Easy Way To Do Manual Vector Cuts From The Machine: One thing I really liked about the Epilog unit was that you were able to use the machine’s joystick to do a manual vector cut on material. I always have tons of off cuts and would like the ability to easily cut this material down to use on smaller projects. I say there is no easy way because there is still a way, I just do not know how to replicate what I did by accident once. This machine will stop half way through a cut file pretty frequently (getting to this point), and on one of these times when I was shutting the system down I did something when the unit was in the off mode that allowed me to power the unit back up and use the arrow keys to make a vector cut. Unfortunately I wasn’t expecting this and the laser head cut across some components I had already finished and it ruined them. I called Trotec asking for help on the sequence that is required to enable this feature as I still would like to clean up my off cuts but I have yet to hear back from them on this and that call was made about 2 months ago. One of the tech’s did not even know this was possible.
- Bi Directional Communication When It Does Not Work: I listed this as a pro because it is great when it works but its downright terrible when it doesn’t. This must be Trotec’s pink elephant because I have called for tech support on various issues and usually have to do a follow up call or wait a while till I hear back. When I called about the issues I was having with regards to this bullet point I literally got a phone call from four or five different tech guys within the hour. While Epilog and Trotec parallel one another in many regards, this is is where they deviate. The Trotec unit uses a the user’s PC as the motherboard for printing from where the Epilog has a motherboard built into the unit.
- Epilog: you are able to upload your files to the laser where the data is stored and then you can access and use these files when ever needed. I could be mistaken on this but there is no connection that can be broken like I have been experiencing on the Trotec. I opted for the Trotec because I liked the fact that my PC would serve as my motherboard for managing the jobs as well as the fact that I would have one less component on the machine that could theoretically fail some years down the road.
- Trotec: like a conventional printer, you print the file from Trotec’s “Job Control” which is installed on your personal PC and once the file is ready it will execute the process onto the material in the machine. I could care less about storing files on my laser as I would much rather be able to keep it organized on my computer but here is the big problem…. If the connection between the PC and Laser is broken during the batch, it will stop in the middle of the file and there is now way to easily resume this process. You are literally left stranded. Now again, I’ve never owned an Epilog so I have no idea if issues like this exist with their machines but this issue with regards to Trotec units is infuriating. Out of 100 batches, I estimate I will experience this issue about 25 times… The larger the file, the higher the chance it will break the connection. I’ve lost HOURS (l30+ so far) of work not to mention had to trash tons of material that is incomplete. I called tech support about this issue and was told that the problem was due to the fact that I was running parallels on my MacBook Pro and this was causing a conflict in the NET framework that is required to maintain the connection. I own a Windows based computer and started using this instead… after about three batches, the same thing happened again on a piece that I had already been engraving for 45 minutes. I had an old desktop PC that was running Windows 7 thinking it could have been Windows 10 causing the complications. I formatted this computer and had literally nothing on it with the exception of the job control software in hopes of avoiding some type of software conflict and the same issues arose. What is frustrating about this problem is that it happens sporadically – I can run a file twice with no issues and on the third run it will cut. I would never have purchased this machine had I read about this issue and based on how quickly I heard back or received voicemail from multiple representatives, this is a well known issue. The most frustrating part of this issue is that I paid for all of this real estate in the form of laser surface work area comped to the cheaper, smaller units, but I can’t even use it effectively because I can never finish a large batch.
In a nut shell… For what I paid, I am disappointed by the performance of this machine. Highlighting the
“Missing Cuts” and “Bi Directional Communication” points… One would not expect these issues to be present when you are paying for a unit that is advertised at 10x the cost of a Chinese machine. I have a table that is approximately 24″ x 39″ but am frequently troubled by the fact that I can not even utilize this space because if I try to make duplicates of a file and run a large batch in one sitting… it never finishes. The result is that I have to do one file at a time, hope it finishes and repeat this until I’ve done what I should have been able to do in one large batch. I purchased this unit for the larger work space but since I can’t use it consistently, I am now kicking my self because I could have saved thousands of dollars using a smaller unit to do what I’m doing on the Speedy 400.
We are still running this machine through it’s paces as we speak, stay tuned for the review in the next few weeks. It will be a mixed review of mostly positive aspects but we will be sure to highlight some of the negatives we feel are important for prospective customers to be aware of.
Our new Trotec Speedy 400 120 watt C02 Laser Cutter is being delivered this Monday. The regional sales rep for the Los Angeles & San Diego area will be joining us Thursday to set the machine up and get it running for the first time. We own a wood surfboard manufacturing business that involves vector cutting a ton of 1/4″ Baltic Birch Plywood so we are excited to put this machine through its paces.
This was a massive purchase for us so we are hoping the machine delivers as promised. I wanted a KERN unit but their machines were outside of our price point.