The Ortur Laser Master 3 laser cutter and engraver has a 10W diode laser that Ortur claims can engrave at speeds of up to an impressive 20,000 mm/min and cut wood up to 19mm thick. It has WiFi built in and an accompanying very capable smartphone app that can create custom projects and send them directly to the engraver wirelessly.
I’ll run through all its features and fully test Orturs’ claims to see if this is the right laser engraver for you. Please take a look at my previous article that introduces this technology to get you up to speed if you’re not already.
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So let’s take a closer look.
My box arrived a little battered but everything inside was well protected. Basic assembly is required but it should take less than 30 minutes to put together. I wouldn’t recommend using the supplied user manual – the illustrations are too small – go to the Ortur website and find the link to the assembly YouTube video, or take a look at the online manual so you can at least zoom in to take a closer look at the more fiddly steps.
You can see everything you get in the box which includes some safety specs and a convenient little storage box with tools and parts. And there’s a few wood, acrylic and metal samples to test out the engraver.
Mine didn’t come with a UK cable for the power supply, but it takes a standard IEC kettle lead so I had a few spare. I’ll cover some of the less obvious accessories shortly.
It’s easiest to start the assembly upside down. Thread the Y-axis motor cable through the left Y-axis and then attach both the left and right Y-axis with a single bolt. The frame of the engraver isn’t your standard aluminium extrusions – Ortur have manufactured custom parts that are well machined and lock into place precisely ensuring the frame is square.
Once you have the Y-axes in place you can slide on the X-axis which is already assembled. Then you install the belts on either side which you need to hook blindly over the pulleys inside the back assembly. This is a little fiddly, but if you’re really struggling you can remove the end caps so you can see what you’re doing.
Then you need to attach the idler pulleys. Install them loosely and loop the belts over them. Set their position with the included set screws which sets the belts tension. There’s a marking showing their best position. You can then tighten the pulleys in place. If the belts are too loose or tight you can loosen these bolts and adjust the set screws.
Then you can attach the front assembly, again with a single bolt on either side. Attach the mainboard connector from the wiring loom and connect the Y-axis cable that you pulled through earlier. This was the most fiddly bit for me – it’s quite difficult inserting the small connector.
Then you can connect the other end of the wiring loom to the X-axis motor and secure this rather unwieldy cable loosely in position with the supplied cable ties. The cable for the laser then attaches to the socket labelled “L” and is also loosely secured in place with cable ties.
The laser module was already fitted with the air assist nozzle which I’ll discuss shortly and the laser shield. This slides onto the X-axis using a dovetail mechanism that can be locked into its vertical position with the thumbscrew.
The laser cable plugs into the laser module using a keyed 5 pin connector. This is all very neat, and it makes the laser module very easy to remove to clean the lens, remove the air assist nozzle or to swap out for another laser module in the future.
You can then install the two limit bolts towards the front of the engraver which prevent the laser head from colliding into the front assembly. Slide the X-axis to these limit bolts and slip in the belt on either side into the toothed belt slot which sets everything square. Screw in the WiFi antenna to finish the assembly.
This is about the smartest looking engraver I’ve seen and it’s very well built and sturdy.
My only two real criticisms are the rotary roller switch which whilst useful is rather exposed and looks a little bit cheap. And more importantly the lack of any cable management for the bulky wiring loom.
This could easily get caught on something so I 3D printed a small cable tie base and stuck it to the side of the engraver with double sided tape which helped tidy things up a bit.
It’s a very low profile machine for reasons I’ll come back to later, but you’ll still need a fair bit of space for it. You can see the working space needed for the machine above. Ortur’s dimensions listed on their site appear to be a little off. But it is fairly lightweight at 4.3kg if you want to move it around.
The top of the front assembly has the power button which needs a long press to turn it on and off and has an multi-coloured LED ring that glows to indicate its status. Then there’s a barrel lock with a provided key and an emergency stop button. The key lock is a welcome feature if you have younger children around or want to use it in school or maker space perhaps. You need to ensure both this lock is in the on position and the emergency stop button is rotated clockwise to reset its position, to turn the machine on.
There’s a microSD card slot rather awkwardly positioned just behind the front assembly and beside it a reset and boot switch.
The left of the front assembly has the USB port for connecting to a computer, the DC jack for connecting to the AC adapter and the WiFi antenna.
The Y-axis switch at the back needs to be in the Y-motor position unless you’re using a rotary roller which would attach to the port below the switch.
The Ortur Laser Master 3 has a 10W laser module that combines two 5.5W laser diodes. It has a 0.05 x 0.1mm focal spot with an 8mm depth of field which should offer a good combination of engraving and cutting performance. Its 400mm by 400mm capacity is average for an open diode laser machine like this – but smaller than the Two Trees TS2 I looked at last month.
Its biggest selling point is its speed. Ortur quotes 20,000 mm/min – twice the engraving speed of typical 10W lasers again like the Two Trees TS2. It achieves this with its low profile design and a relatively compact and light laser module. But this low profile design does mean that you’ll need to raise the engraver for thicker items, especially when using a honeycomb cutting bed. Ortur does sell foldable feet to raise its height, but I didn’t get sent any to try out.
Before I move onto to discuss the tests please make sure you refer to my previous article which covers laser safety if you’re new to all this. That article also introduces the basics of laser engraving and cutting and covers the basics of using software like Lightburn that I’l be using with the OLM3. Safety-wise at the very minimum, you must wear laser safety glasses which are included.
The Ortur does have a few additional safety features as well as the key lock and emergency button I mentioned earlier. It has tilt protection which will shut off the laser should the machine fall off a desk and it has exposure duration detection in case the motors stop moving for whatever reason. If the laser were to remain turned on in the same spot it could cause a fire.
Before you turn on the engraver you need to install the microSD card – it won’t work without it. Be careful you don’t miss the microSD slot and slide it into the front assembly frame instead. I then connected the Ortur to my computer with the supplied USB cable. You’ll be able to see the contents of the microSD card via this USB connection.
Unusually this is a USB-A to USB-A cable, not the typical printer cable which has the square USB-B connector on the other end. In Lightburn, but you could also use the free LaserGRBL, add the engraver manually and choose GRBL with a USB connection and set the size as 400mm by 400mm. Home position is front left and you can leave auto-home disabled since it’ll do this anyway. The focal length of the laser is 50mm and the laser module has a convenient unfolding arm to set the correct height above your workpiece.
I found this extending arm a little flimsy and it doesn’t lock into position. When you tighten the thumbscrew, the adjustment alters slightly so it does take a little practice getting this right. I much prefer the motorised automatic height adjustment on the Two Trees TS2, which also lets you automatically lower Z height when cutting with multiple passes.
I wanted to test the high speeds claims first so engraved a photo in grayscale to this cork coaster. I used 20,000 mm/min, a line interval of 0.1mm and 100% power, which you can see was too dark. In Lightburn you can adjust the speed and power during a print and I eventually settled at 50% power for the last third of the engraving which looks about right. The print took around 8 minutes.
Ortur provides a useful guide to engraving and cutting various materials on the included microSD card. This is a good starting point, but I’d recommend using the material test feature in Lightburn to fine tune your settings for the best results.
For basswood plywood Ortur recommends 15,000 mm/min at 100% power. Using the Lightburn material test I engraved this test chart and I’d say that is about right, but I went a little darker, engraving the same photo, again at 12,500 mm/s.
I also tried engraving these coated aluminium business cards which came out very well after a little wipe with some IPA. I again used Ortur’s recommended settings: 3000 mm/min at 25% power. Although these did give off some nasty fumes from the coating, even with extraction.
The 10W laser is even powerful enough to engrave stainless steel. You don’t need to apply any coating and this little name tag came out pretty well at Ortur’s recommended 2000 mm/minute and 100% power – even I did get the text a little off centre.
I cut and engraved a small tag from leather just under 2 mm thick which came out perfectly – even the small holes were precise and round which can be a challenge with these belt driven machines.
When cutting you can use the built in air assist nozzle but you’ll need to supply your own pump. I tried this with a cheap pump from Fox Alien but this actually gave worse results than not using a pump at all, as you can see below.
With the fans running, which turn on with the laser, the laser module itself appears to generate enough air for lighter cuts.
For deeper cuts I used a mains compressor with a digital regulator set to 15 PSI which did give much cleaner results.
I’ve found it’s important to use a moisture trap with your compressor to ensure the air passing through the laser module is clean and dry. I hope to test Ortur’s air assist pump soon, so make sure you’re subscribed to my YouTube channel if you’re interested.
Ortur does provide some additional accessories to use with the supplied air hose, but I just attached it directly to my compressor hose with an adapter I 3D printed. The hose fits straight into the laser module. It’s a little fiddly but you need to push down on this black collar to retract the little barbs that grip the hose to insert and release the hose. I loosely attached this to the cabling loom to keep things tidy and prevent it snagging.
It’s easy to remove the air nozzle when you’re engraving. Just slightly squeeze the laser guard and unscrew the nozzle. It’s a very neat design.
Like all these diode laser manufacturers Ortur lists some bold claims when it comes to cutting. According to their website, this 10W module is meant to be able to cut to a maximum depth of 30mm. Although looking more closely at their materials chart this is with black acrylic and with 17 passes at 100 mm/min and 100% power, so not something you’d want to do very often even if it were possible.
I started off with some 2 mm basswood plywood which it cut through like butter.
But more typical and stronger birch plywood was more of a challenge. With air assist supplied by my compressor I could cut through at 200 mm/min at 100% most of the time. But the 10W Two Trees TS2 could cut through this same sheet at 300 mm/min.
With 6mm birch plywood the machine needed two passes – I was able to cut through this with just one pass on the TS2. I did use air assist for all my cutting tests for cleaner results.
Next I tried cutting 12mm pine and used Ortur’s recommended settings – 3 passes at 100 mm/min and 100% power which worked perfectly. I was a little surprised at this, since I didn’t adjust the height of the laser between passes, and I set the focus with the focus arm on the top surface of the pine board. Typically you’d want to focus half way through the cut, but the laser module’s very focused beam with its large depth of field does seem to work very well with multiple passes, without any further adjustments.
I even tried cutting some 25mm yellow poplar which is a soft hardwood. This is thicker than Ortur recommends and even with many passes I couldn’t cut all the way through, but it did pretty well.
I did have to raise the engraver with these sanding blocks to allow enough room for this piece of wood underneath the laser.
Resawing this down to 15mm I got through it with 6 passes at 100 mm/min and 100% power and just one pass cutting through 8mm poplar. So for pine and poplar, very impressive results.
As a final cutting test I started making a foam insert for my GoPro case. The laser easily cut through laser safe Kaizen foam.
The OLM3 also has built-in WiFi and you can easily connect to this machine using the free Laser Explorer app. The app is far more capable than I was expecting. You can choose images or text to engrave, create barcodes and QR codes but I found it most useful using it to jog the laser’s position accurately. The machine doesn’t have a built-in LCD screen to control the engraver, but the app is a useful substitute. I would be a little cautious using it for engraving though. When I turned on the laser to line up a job, it set the power to 4% which is way too high and will start burning a dot in your material if you’re not careful. And I couldn’t set it less than 1% – in Lightburn I use 0.25% which is plenty to see the laser dot.
I’d still much rather use Lightburn to send jobs across and I did find the app disconnected a few times while I was testing it. You can also access the engraver’s own server via its IP address which is visible in the app. And I was able to connect to the engraver from Lightburn on my computer connected via Ethernet. I just added another device and chose Ethernet. It is handy to use the machine wirelessly, but I didn’t have 100% success with this and a couple of prints aborted randomly mid print.
The engraver is completely silent when not engraving. The fans only turn off when the laser is on, and they’ll turn themselves off after a few seconds when the laser turns off. In operation the fans are quite loud, but the motor movements are very quiet. You can hear how it sounds in the accompanying video. Overall it feels like a very refined engraver.
The Ortur Laser Master 3 is a well engineered machine that can deliver some very good results. Its engraving performance was particularly impressive, with its high speeds and fine laser dot. Setup was pretty straightforward and I particularly like how the belts and guide wheels are mostly hidden from dust and dirt.
The integrated WiFi is a great feature, not just to use with the smartphone app, but also to allow wireless printing from Lightburn, even if I didn’t get 100% reliable results in my testing.
I completely understand the low profile design to help deliver the higher print speeds, but I’d have liked the optional folding feet to be included as standard. The low height is quite restrictive, especially when cutting with a honeycomb bed.
The folding focus arm is convenient but a little flimsy. I’d prefer a more positive lock into place, and although the height adjustment with the thumbscrew is easy, it doesn’t allow very fine control.
Still when it comes to performance the machine did a great job and it’s a little less expensive than comparable 10W lasers. I was able to engrave a wide variety of materials easily with excellent results and overall its cutting performance was very good. You may have to experiment with multiple passes depending on what you’re cutting, but with the laser’s substantial depth of field this works better than you might expect.
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