LONGER RAY5 20W
There are many ways to commemorate an event or promote your business. Tee shirts are a perennial favorite. Mugs are always popular, and customized pens are both practical and inexpensive. Maybe you even spring for some branded hats. But if you want to create something truly memorable, it’s tough to beat an engraving. Engravings have an aura of permanence and durability, unlike a disposable pen or mug. In order to create them, you’ll need a good laser engraver.
Of course, branding and awards are only a couple of applications for an engraving machine. Engravers can be used to reproduce works of art. You can create plaques and other objects with text and images. A laser engraver can also be used to cut a variety of materials. This is often more reliable, efficient, and repeatable than a saw or other traditional technology. But if you want to get good performance, you’ll need a high-quality engraver.
Today, we’ll be reviewing the LONGER RAY5 20W Laser Engraver. This is a powerful 20-watt engraver that’s far more intense than most publicly-available laser machines. It can engrave and cut most materials, and can even make shaded etchings on stainless steel. But does it meet all the requirements you need? We’re about to take a deep dive into this machine and evaluate all of its features.
Frame and Gantry
The LONGER RAY5 20W Laser Engraver consists primarily of a black aluminum frame and gantry. It has a roughly square footprint, with an area of 24 x 26 inches. The metal feet will sit flat on any level surface. But they also have pre-drilled holes in the sides, so you can secure them to your own custom frame. This makes the engraver very versatile to mount, since you can set it up almost anywhere.
The working area is 375mm x 375mm. That’s around average for laser engravers, which generally range from 350mm x 350mm to 400mm x 400mm. There are white scales printed along both sides of the frame, which make it easy to position whatever you’re engraving.
The side rails are also grooved in the middle, which forms a set of tracks. A black aluminum gantry sits horizontally across the sides, and rides in the tracks. Wheels clamp onto the side rails from the top and bottom, and the gantry is motorized. This allows the gantry to move freely backwards and forwards.
The gantry itself is also marked with a white millimeter scale, which allows for easy horizontal object placement. Meanwhile, the laser module is mounted on top of the gantry. The module is also motorized, and rides left and right across a track on the gantry. As a result, it can move left to right as well as forwards and backwards. This allows the laser to automatically move in both axes and complete your engraving.
LONGER RAY5 provides a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty to cover any failures. If there are defects in parts or labor, you’ll be fully protected.
Laser and Controls
The laser module itself is a vertical rectangular block. It’s constructed from a matte black aluminum that perfectly matches the frame, and attaches via a bracket. The bracket has a pair of slots with two set screws, so you can freely move the laser up and down. Next to the slots is a set of millimeter scales that can be used to customize the laser height. You can adjust the focal length as needed to cut and engrave various types and thicknesses of material.
The laser draws 20 watts of power, which is very powerful. Most home engravers draw 5 watts, with some stronger models drawing 10 watts. At 20 watts, you’ll have lots of power, but you’ll also produce a lot of heat. To that end, the top of the module is vented, with a built-in fan for improving air flow.
There’s also a dust-proof hood with a built-in suction tube that draws dust out of the laser. If you have a larger shroud for your engraver, this will do a great job of keeping it clean. There’s also a blue shield around the laser head to help prevent eye damage. But you should still wear UV-protection glasses when you’re engraving.
There’s a 3.5” touchscreen at the front left that allows for simple control. You can open individual files and engrave them, or adjust your settings. There are also diagnostic tools that you can use to improve the machine’s performance. On the top of the display is a large button that functions as an emergency shutoff. If you need to stop the laser immediately, just press the button.
Connectivity and Setup
There are a handful of ways to connect to the RAY5 and start working. The default method is to use the smartphone app. If your phone and your engraver are on the same WiFi network, you can work directly from your phone. As long as you have a compatible image file, you’ll be able to print without any interference.
Alternatively, you can connect with your PC or Mac via WiFi or the included USB cable. The RAY5 supports both the popular free LaserGRBL software and the more robust paid LightBurn software. These are the most popular engraving programs available, and it’s not even close. With compatibility for both of them, you won’t have any issues turning your images into engravings.
Finally, there’s an SD card slot in the control panel. You can copy your files to a card, insert it, and engrave directly from the card. This is incredibly convenient, since it allows you to work offline and without the need for another device. If you’re just engraving the same thing over and over, it makes sense to use SD and free up your phone or computer.
That said, the app is usually the best way to go for batch work. That’s because you can control multiple engravers simultaneously from your phone. If you have five, ten, or twenty machines, you can set them all to work simultaneously. As a result, you can produce large batches of engraved merchandise very quickly.
We’ve already mentioned that the RAY5’s laser draws 20 watts. This is powerful, but what is it actually capable of? A lot depends on what material you’re working on. That said, the standard measure of an engraver is the thickness of material it can cut in one pass. This laser can cut 0.002” stainless steel, which is basically steel foil. It can cut 0.31” acrylic paneling, or 0.59” pine wood. This means you can make little wooden cutouts in no time at all. And if you make multiple passes, you can cut even thicker material.
The laser spot itself is very accurate. It measures just 0.08mm x 0.1mm, which allows you to create finely detailed images. The “pixels” in your image will be so small that they’re invisible to the naked eye. Compare your engraving to a printout from a 300 DPI printer, and the quality will be comparable.
At the same time, the laser can work very quickly. The motors are capable of moving it across a surface at the rate of 10,000mm per minute. That’s about 33 feet, so you’re talking about a very brisk working pace. Of course, that’s only a maximum. For a darker engraving or a deeper cut, the laser will need to move slower. But no matter how you cut it, this is a fast machine.
In addition to cutting and engraving, the RAY5 laser is also capable of oxidizing stainless steel. This effect can be used to create shaded images for multi-colored engraving. In total, the laser can produce 256 different shades. As a result, you can create stunning greyscale images that look professionally produced.
Accessories and Support
The LONGER RAY5 doesn’t come with any accessories like a cylinder roller. That said, it’s compatible out of the box with air hoods and pumps. You won’t need these things if all you’re doing is engraving. But if you’re cutting or wood burning, you’ll appreciate the ability to keep your work area ventilated.
For safety, the system has a pair of X- and Y-axis limiter switches. If the laser starts to move outside of the working area, power will automatically be cut off. This should never happen to begin with, but it’s good to have extra protection. That way, if something does go wrong, you’ll still be protected.
In addition, the RAY5 has four more safety protections that are designed to protect you. To begin with, there’s a tilt detection system. If the machine is knocked off level, the laser will shut off. The same is true if any flame is detected – for example, from burning wood. The laser will also shut off if the data connection is cut off or the laser module gets stuck for 15 or more seconds. This ensures that a stationary laser won’t overheat whatever you’re engraving and start a fire.
The LONGER RAY5 20W Laser Engraver is a powerful engraving machine. With its robust 20-watt laser module, it can cut materials most home engravers can’t touch. We particularly appreciated the 256-color oxidization feature. If you want to create gorgeous greyscale images on stainless steel, it’s tough to do better. The same goes for cutting thick pieces of wood or acrylic.
Operation is simple and straightforward. You can work from your smartphone or computer, or engrave directly from an SD card. The smartphone app is unusually powerful, and can control multiple engraving machines at once. As a result, it’s easy to create large batches of engraved products in a short period of time.
At 10,000mm per minute, the laser can move very quickly. And at a size of just 0.08mm x 0.1mm, you get an incredibly crisp resolution. The working area is reasonably large, if not enormous. And with the sturdy frame and gantry, you don’t have to worry about premature failure.