Frequently Asked Questions
And commonly answered answers about FabLight.
How does it work?
The fiber laser produces a beam of infrared light that is focused down to a 0.005” (0.13mm) spot. The metal gets hot enough to melt, and an assist gas blows it through, creating the cut.
What thickness can it cut?
Using steel as the baseline, each model cuts different thicknesses:
0.080” (2mm) mild steel
0.060” (1.5mm) stainless
0.060" (1.5mm) aluminum
0.160” (4mm) mild steel
0.120” (3mm) stainless
0.100" (2.5mm) aluminum
0.250” (6mm) mild steel
0.188" (4.8mm) stainless
0.188" (4.8mm) aluminum
For copper and bronze, it's about a third of those thicknesses.
How fast does it cut?
It varies around 3” (76.2mm) per second, with different power lasers and materials going up to 10” (254mm) per second or down to 0.1” (2.5mm) per second -- which is still pretty fast for cutting thick metal.
What materials can it cut?
It cuts steel, stainless, aluminum, copper and alloys, titanium, molybdenum, graphite. The light from fiber lasers is absorbed very well by metals.
Can it cut wood, plastic, or fabric?
No, fiber lasers produce light that isn’t absorbed by these materials. For those materials you want a CO2 laser.
Can it also cut _________?
We don’t know if it can also cut _______, but we can investigate if you’re serious about buying a machine.
Can it engrave metal?
Yes, it can do both outline vector fonts and pictures, and can raster bitmap images.
What’s the laser source?
IPG fiber laser.
What does “pulsed” mean?
The laser is only on 10% of the time, but the power is 10 times higher, so it puts out 4,500W instead of 450W, though it can also be run in “continuous” mode at 450W.
Does the 4500 model have any limitations on smaller parts?
No, we have full power control over the laser, and haven't had issues with either cutting or engraving.
Do you have a more info I can download?
Yes, you can download a PDF version of our 1-page brochure.
What do you mean by “no installation”?
runs on a regular 110V wall outlet,
can use regular shop air to cut,
needs no external exhaust for fumes,
and even comes on wheels in a crate with a built-in ramp.
You can roll it out of the crate, plug it in, add shop air, and be cutting in minutes. It really is that easy.
What assist gas is required?
It cuts well with clean, dry shop air. We recommend at least 150psi, but you can use lower pressure for thinner materials. It uses around 5 CFM of air. You can nitrogen for cleaner cut on stainless steel.
What’s the voltage? How much power does it use, and what’s the operating cost?
It runs on a single 110V, 20A outlet (or 220V for overseas use). The machine itself uses power like a hair dryer, around 2200W, but that’s only while cutting. The vacuum exhaust uses another 1100W. The total cost is under $1 an hour to run.
Where does the estimate of $1 an hour to run come from?
Assuming electricity is an expensive $0.25 per kWh, and with the vacuum exhaust it needs 3300W, that’s 3.3kWh * $0.25kWh = $0.83 to run for an hour (with constant cutting). It uses around 3 CFM of gas, and one estimate is that it’s around $100 annually for 1 CFM. So for air that’s $300/year, or around $1.50/day (at 200 days/year), or $0.18/hour for an 8 hour shift, for a total of $1.01/hour. And those are very conservative estimates.
Do you have an installation guide?
Yes, you can download a PDF version of our installation guide.
How thick can tubes be?
Same thicknesses as for sheet materials.
How long can the tubes be?
Standard output tube is up to 52” long (cut from a 55” tube).
Can finished tubes be longer than 52”?
We’ve got an extension for tubes up to 80”, or 6’ 8”.
It’s a third of a full 20-foot (240”) tube. We talked to a lot of people who requested at least 6-foot tubes. They are still easy to handle, and it keeps our small footprint concept.
Will it last? What’s the life expectancy?
Our lead engineer has 20 years of laser experience, so it’s well designed, and we expect it to last mechanically like a good Bridgeport mill. IPG says the laser should have unlimited life. With simple maintenance, the machine should last indefinitely.
How is it so cheap?
Our goal was to bend the cost of metal laser cutters. Everything is designed to maximize value for cost, but also have industrial quality.
Aren’t you leaving money on the table?
We’re trying to expand access to metal laser cutters, while also building a profitable business. Our value proposition is: high precision, industrial quality, and multiple functions at an affordable price (but not “cheap”). It’s not just about money.
What are the consumables?
There are no consumables besides your compressed gas – either bottled or from an air compressor.
Really, nothing ever needs to be replaced?
You might rarely have to replace a window that protects the optics, or the copper nozzle tip on the cutting head. But again, this should be rare, and we call these "replace-ables" rather than consumables.
What's the biggest repair bill one could expect?
Repair bills should be under $200, and that's only if both the window and nozzle get messed up.
What is the longest lead time for parts? Is everything available overnight?
We stock replacement parts, and can ship them as quick as you need.
What maintenance is required?
We recommend vacuuming out the machine depending on usage — from daily to weekly.
What is the support like?
For parts, knowledge and repair, support is direct from us. Our customers have told us we have "exceptional" customer service.
How long have these machines been out?
We've had machines in the field since May 2016.
What is the software? What’s the workflow? Time from CAD to part?
Software is in-house. Workflow is your CAD, export a DXF or DWG, then import it into our FabCreator software to assign processes and material, and add tabs. That job is then brought to the machine where it’s like a printer — select your job and cut.
What CAD? What file formats?
You can use any CAD program that outputs DXF. We plan to support STEP files in the near future.
DXF for tubes?
We currently have a plugin for Solidworks that can unwrap a DXF from a tube weldment. Our FabCreator software wraps it, regardless of where it comes from.
Is software included?
Yes. And software improvement is a big focus for our company.
Are you selling through distributors?
We are currently selling direct, and through select representatives.
What’s included in the price?
The machine comes turn-key. Everything is included including the machine and software, with a 1-year warranty.
What do you do for training?
We are creating training videos. We can do on-site training for a fee.
How much is delivery? Installation?
We pass delivery costs directly on to you. The machine is simple to install, but we can do it on-site for a fee, which can be combined with training.
Can I get it without the rotary?
Yes, the machine is available in a Sheet-only version without the rotary.
Are you planning on doing a larger bed?
For now we are focused on only this size.
Can I get access to the software to try?
Possible. Send us an email with your request, and more info about your application.
How do you hold down the metal? Do you use a vacuum table?
There are clamps along the side edges of the bed. Our FabCreator software allows you to add tiny 0.3mm tabs to parts to keep them from falling through, and it works quite well. No vacuum table is available.
What’s the lead time?
The machines are built to order. In general, lead time is around 12-16 weeks.
Where are the machines built?
All machines are fully designed and manufactured in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Are you for real? Is it too good to be true?
Yes we are for real. No, we are not too good to be true. We can provide references.
Do you have financing?
We can help connect you up with financing options, though we don’t provide them ourselves.