The real power of Voccell’s flagship DLS is its 100% duty cycle at 90°F. The company is marketing it as an industrial moneymaker, rather than a hobbyist’s tool — but for what’s included in the price, I could see it being used in both settings. A sign maker or engraver could run this machine all day for a business, or the moderately serious hobbyist could buy the DLS as a complete package, instead of piecing a setup together as some other companies require.
Are You Experienced?
This middleweight contender is a solid piece of machinery. Fresh off the truck (because it has to be shipped freight) and out of the box, the DLS has almost everything you need to get started. Laser, exhaust blower, chiller, pump, and hoses. It even comes with its own power strip and fire extinguisher, which are two features that suggest Voccell actually cares. Pour in about 2 gallons of distilled water and you are ready to go. Voccell supplies a small toolbox with Allen wrenches for adjustments, precut focus gauges, cleaning swabs, extra lenses, and a special bed adjuster. They also include a whole stack of pre-cut material so you can really explore the machine’s capabilities.
On the software side things get a little complicated. The Vlaser software is included in the supplied thumb drive, and can start right from there, or be copied to your hard drive. The software itself is actually pretty simple to use, but it acts more as a go-between for your modeling software of choice and the DLS. Actual drawing inside Vlaser is fairly limited. Workflow is a little more lengthy because instead of just going through machine settings in a print driver from your program, you have to move your file to their program. Annoying, but not detrimental to the experience.
The cutting workflow is also a little different because the DLS does not have an electric bed height adjustment. Adjustment is achieved by way of a custom handle that fits into the top of the frame and cranked. The only downside to this is you have to remember to remove the handle before closing the lid, and remember not to lose said handle. Focusing is easy enough, consisting of supplied focus gauges and the aforementioned handle.
Cuts to the Chase
Test cuts and engraving were very crisp, and the supplied manual walks you through setup in very plain English. Be warned, if you are a seasoned laser user, read ALL the setup instructions and tutorials. Some pieces of the workflow are a bit quirky. The DLS takes a certain procedure to run correctly. One major difference is that engraving and cutting operations cannot be completed in the same job, because the laser is focused differently for its respective operation. Because of this, when refocusing, you need to be extremely careful not to move the material or your cuts may be out of place.
If you read through Voccell’s website, the fifth tab over is a comparison chart for the DLS and competitors. It rather unapologetically points out its advantages over similarly priced lasers, chief among them that it is actually shipping a quality, functioning laser.
If you are in the market, the DLS may not have all the bells and whistles some upcoming competitors are showing off, but then again, it is a functioning laser you can have today!
Price as Tested: $4,999
Build Volume: 546×349.25×114mm
Tube: 40 watt CO2 laser tube. Class 4
Cut Untethered? Yes (machine carries onboard memory)
Onboard Controls? Yes (directional pad and menu buttons, separate interior light switch, e-stop switch)
Host Software: Vlaser
OS Windows XP, 7, 8 (32 and 64 bit), OSX 10.7
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No
Vlaser’s “preview” feature offers a visual preview, estimated processing time, and even a simulation of your job. On the laser itself, the “run extents” command will run the extent box of your job with the laser off, so you can make sure it is in the position you want.
Why to Buy
Engraving is this machine’s bread and butter, as its 40-watt tube will only cut material up to 0.313” (about 8mm) thick. Sign makers and engravers could run this machine all day for a relatively low initial investment.