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Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraver Machine Review

Having always been a fan of 3D printing and autoCAD, I was eager to review the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraver for this review, as this was my first experience with a laser engraving machine, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I was able to learn quite a bit by getting different materials setup to either cut or engrave on them so I was able to get the best results. It must be said that the Sculpfun Laser Engraver offers a lot of features that seem to be better than some of the existing lasers that are available on the market today. There is no doubt that I was not disappointed, and for a beginner, this might be a great option if you have been considering a laser engraver.

This is a list of the specifications of the Sculpfun S9 laser engraving machine

There are a variety of features packed into the S9 that make it an interesting option for those who are new to laser engraving and would like to expand their skills. Considering the large engraveable area, as well as the large variety of materials that can be cut with this laser engraver, this laser engraver certainly stands out in the crowd of diode lasers on the market today.

Engraving size

Although the full engraving size is 410mm by 420mm, the supplied surface protector is much smaller, Eventually I will upgrade this to take full advantage of the workable area. For the purposes of this review, everything will be able to fit on the supplied tabletop protector.

Engraving materials

Sculpfun claims that the S9 can engrave several materials ranging from wood, paper, cardboard, plastic, white, PCB board, aluminum oxide,  304 Stainless steel, ceramic, dark stone. From my experience, I was able to engrave almost any material I put underneath.

Cutting material

The S9 specifications claim that it can cut wood, acrylic, cardboard, fabric, bamboo, plastic board, and the KT board. Although I did not test all of these materials, I did find that when cutting thicker materials; you had to be very patient and go very slow.

Laser effect power

Sculpfun rates the S9 with a similar cutting power to that of a 90W CO2 laser. They do this with some interesting laser shaping technology which keeps the laser focused for several millimeters so that it can cut through up to 15mm materials. This also allows for the laser to engrave on some metals with the proper preparation.

Machine Electricity Power

The Sculpfun S9 consumes 30W, which actually does not have much to do with the engraving or cutting performance.

Diode laser power

The laser itself is a 5.5-6W, which is how to rate the laser’s ability to cut and engrave. This number is what should be looked at when deciding on a laser.

Laser wave length

455±5nm

Engraving accuracy

The Sculpfun S9 has an amazing 0.01mm accuracy on the engravings. This translates into highly detailed images being able to be burned onto just about any surface!

Focusing method

The Sculpfun S9 is a fixed focus laser mounted on a sliding clamp. The procedure is quite simple with the supplied calibration cylinder.

Laser protective cover

The light filter cover on the laser protects the user’s eyes and prevents animals grabbing the laser spot. I do highly recommend using either the provided protective glasses, or getting a better, higher rated pair. I ended up picking up this pair on Amazon. You only get one pair of eyes, protect them.

Operating software

LaserGRBL, LightBurn, Benbox, GrblController, LiteFire, support Windows system, support MAC system. Supported file formats NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF and other image formats. I am using Lightburn, which has a free 30 day trial for the full version. Lightburn is super easy to use, and has a lot of very powerful features, so I will likely purchase the full license once the trial expires.

Data transmission method

Unfortunately, the Sculpfun S9 laser engraver uses the USB connection only. This means that you will either need a dedicated PC or way of transmitting the GRBL code to the laser. Because my laser is located in the Garage, and it being very hot in Texas this year, I needed to install the software on 2 PCs, my normal desktop to do the processing and get everything the way I wanted, and then on my laptop which I could just used to transmit the information to the Laser.

Power supply

International universal standard power input: 100-240V AC, 50/60HZ output: 12V 5A

Certification

CE FCC RoHS FDA IEC

Here is a list of what comes in the Sculpfun S9 box

1× X axis assembly1× control box module set1×12V 5A power adapterStep 1~5 Screw installation package
2× X shaft3× support feet1× power adapter2× belt
1× brush1× Laser goggles1× 10x10cm  wood chip 3mm thickness1× 10x10cm  wood chip 10mm thickness
1× L-shaped M4 screwdriver
1× L-shaped M3 screwdriver
10×Tie
1×  8-10mm nut wrench
2× Y shaft1× laser module set1× USB cable1× T-shaped M5 screwdriver
1× A4 size steel desktop protection pad
   

Assembly of the Sculpfun S9 Laser Machine

Assembly of the Sculpfun S9 laser machine was very simple. The supplied instructions were straightforward, and had detailed pictures for each step of the process. All in all, total time from open box to fully assembled and ready to connect was less than 30 min, including taking pictures of the process

Sculpfun S9 Setup

There are very few steps involved in setting up the Sculpfun S9. In order to be able to turn on the laser, the user must manually home the laser in the front left corner of the screen before turning it on. The laser focal length should also be set at this point. Refocusing of the laser is necessary for each material type to keep the distance from the bottom of the laser housing to the material at 20mm. This is done using the supplied calibration cylinder and placing it on top of the material. The laser head is then lowered to rest on the cylinder. The laser engraver can then be turned on and connected to the computer.

Sculpfun S9 Firmware

Firmware to run the laser comes preloaded on the Sculpfun S9. The driver for your computer, however, will need to be downloaded to your PC. This can be done (and I found was easiest to do) via LaserGRBL software. To download the driver, connect your laser to the PC, and in the LaserGRBL software, connect the laser via the comm port on your PC. From here there is actually a button under the Tools menu at the top to download the correct driver needed for your laser engraver.

Performance of the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraver

The Sculpfun S9 laser engraver performed very well and exceeded my expectations as my first laser engraver. This laser was fairly intuitive to set up and to use with the Lightburn software, and produced some impressive results on the test cards and cuts. I did have some issues with getting the settings correct in Lightburn when i switched to a new computer. However, this was resolved when I updated the firmware of the laser engraver and restarted the program.

Poplar Wood

Poplar is extremely satisfying to engrave and cut, and gives beautiful results on the final product. I was able to cut the 5mm poplar with ease. After I attempted to cut a thicker material and found it more challenging. I had to try the 12-13mm popular 3 separate times with 40 passes on each cut. The first two attempts partially went through. I found that by raising the medium off the surface of the table, 40 passes were finally able to cut through the material. There were a few spots that did not cut too well, but the shape still was able to be extracted. I would recommend getting a honeycomb panel from geekbuying for anyone who is going to be trying to do thicker material in large shapes. For the test images, I used some of my brother, Timothy’s artwork, as well as the test pattern from Hobby Laser Cutter Website

Craft Paper

Paper was one medium i did not expect to be able to cut or engrave with good success. The Sculpfun S9 does a surprisingly good job of getting even intricate details cut and engraved with incredible precision. The speeds have to be pretty quick with the laser to cut or engrave paper, but is pretty fun to see some of my brother’s artwork come to life on the paper. With the right settings, one could do some very neat artwork with multiple layers of material.

Acrylic

Acrylic was a little tricky to set up and make sure that the cuts were not melting/burning. slow and steady was the key to this. Engraving on the surface was fairly straightforward and made for quick work by removing the top layer of the material. The end result was ok.

Clear acrylic was very difficult to set up correctly. You cannot just engrave the material, as the laser will pass right through and burn the reverse side. Instead, you need to cover the surface in either paint or tape and engrave the non clear surface. Tape makes a bit of a mess, but clear acrylic is even worse to clean up the paint from. I ended up finding a method where you can engrave the clearing by putting a painted surface below it. This ends up engraving the far side of the plastic. I didn’t like the results of the test strip or the final engraving with this method. I have a lot of testing to do on clear acrylic to find the correct settings.

Aluminum

Sculpfun states that the S9 can engrave anodized aluminum, however, I did not have anodized to test on, so I tested the same as with the steel using a layer of spray paint. Unfortunately, the results were not great. The paint was easily engraved off, however, no markings were left in the raw aluminum. I would like to eventually try on actual anodized aluminum and see what the results look like.

Steel

The Sculpfun S9 actually engraved steel fairly easily. First a painted layer was put down, the power/speed scale came out quite ok, with little surprise that steel will need a longer time to burn than the other materials. The grid is definitely engraved on the surface, but not as deep as on other materials.

CeramicTile

Engraving Tile with the Sculpfun S9 is extremely satisfying. There are two methods used, the Norton White Tile method and the Painted tile method. In the Norton White Tile method, the laser is actually reacting with the titanium oxide in the paint to engrave into the surface. This results in a permanent etching on the surface of the tile, which is quite resistant. The second method with painted tile removes a layer of paint from the tile, and proceeds to uncover the layer below, creating a nice image. This method will allow for a color (or more) to show through to the top layers of the image. I found it difficult to dial in this setting, but after some trial and error, was able to achieve a good result

Where to buy the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving

As with everything, you can order the Sculpfun S9 from several sources online. Geekbuying.com has a good deal on this laser priced at $300. They also carry several accessories for the S9, including a rotary engraver. I may end up picking one up so I can try some additional mediums (such as pint glasses!).

Final Thoughts on the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine

I was pleasantly surprised with my introduction to the laser cutting and engraving world, and frankly, spoiled by the ease of using the Sculpfun S9. This laser engraver made the entire process from start to finish extremely easy. Setting up different materials for either testing or for an actual run on some material was quite easy and all the results were astonishing. I would absolutely recommend this laser to anyone who is new to laser engraving.

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