The Longer RAY5 10 W is a great starter engraver now on sale for US$450

The Longer RAY5 10 W is a great starter engraver now on sale for US$450

The Longer RAY5 10 W is a great starter engraver now on sale for US$450 (Image source: Longer)
The Longer RAY5 10 W is a great starter engraver now on sale for US$450 (Image source: Longer)

It may be missing a few advanced features, but all the basics are included to help guide newcomers interested in the world of laser engraving and cutting.

Longer is now shipping its RAY5 10W diode laser engraver for $60 USD off the original launch price of $530. The engraver is notable for its relatively affordable price and 10 W laser whereas competing entry-level engravers typically ship with weaker 5 W diodes. The manufacturer has sent us a sample for our honest impressions.

Although we don’t have much experience with engravers, setup was thankfully straightforward and no different from the 5 W version of the RAY5. There are numerous online videos, both official and unofficial, to help newcomers like us on how to properly assemble the engraver. Nonetheless, we experienced an issue with a stripped belt screw that was crucial for operation. Longer was quick to ship us a replacement screw, but some extra screws should have really been in the retail box by default just in case of accidents like this.

Perhaps the most troublesome aspect of the setup relates to the focusing or calibration of the laser. A calibration is necessary when switching between different engraving materials of different thicknesses and a 50 mm tall cylinder is included in each retail box to aid in this procedure. Two screws on the diode must be loosened in order to slide the laser up or down, but adjustments feel stiff even after loosening. A smoother calibration process, such as a knob to help lower or raise the height of the diode, would have made the calibration process both faster and more precise.

Another consequence of the manual calibration above is that it’s possible for the laser to be crooked if you’re not careful. The rails are firm, but they’re not perfect as the laser can still wiggle left or right when attempting to adjust its height.

Once setup is complete, users can operate the engraver via its built-in touchscreen or connect to a PC running LaserGRBL or Lightburn by USB or Wi-Fi. The latter option in particular allows your host PC to be across the room without needing a long cable, but we certainly wouldn’t rely on it from across the house and risk a potentially bad signal ruining engraving projects.

With Lightburn as our software of choice, we then discovered a couple of limitations to the RAY5 worth mentioning. Firstly, the model does not include air assist likely to save on costs. Such a feature is usually absent from less powerful engravers, but it would have still been nice to see especially since Longer has doubled the power of the RAY5 laser from 5 W to 10 W. Secondly, the Homing feature is not supported which means that there is nothing stopping the diode from moving beyond its 400 cm^2 workspace and potentially damaging itself if you’re not careful. This is easy to avoid if you’re experienced with Lightburn, but one wrong setting can potentially send the diode to a corner expectedly.

As for the actual performance of the RAY5, the more powerful 10 W laser means you can cut materials in fewer passes and thus at quicker speeds than the original 5 W laser. We’re able to cut 3 mm plywood in just a single pass while 3 mm MDF takes a couple of passes. We don’t recommend going faster than 6000 mm/min or else the entire apparatus will treble when burning is in progress.

The Longer RAY5 works very well as a starter engraver because of its easy assembly and intuitive onscreen touchscreen controls. To really make the most of it, however, will require a lot more trial and error in front of Lightburn.

Pros Cons
Relatively affordable No air assist
Easy setup No Homing function
High resolution laser Calibration procedure feels clunky
Wi-Fi connectivity 2.4 GHz wireless only
Integrated flame detector Honeycomb work table not included

Allen Ngo, 2022-12-29 (Update: 2022-12-29)

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