It’s a great time to be a maker. And companies like FLUX are making “making” even more fun and accessible. Back in 2014, FLUX Kickstarted and released the Delta 3D printer and scanner thanks to $1.6M in funding. This year they turned to crowdfunding again to fund the Beamo Laser Cutter in yet another wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. Read on for our full review and experience with the Beamo Laser Cutter.
Design and features
The Beamo is a powerful CO2 laser cutter with a very small footprint. In fact, they claim that it is the world’s smallest CO2 laser cutter and engraver. Regardless, it’s build quality is outstanding, and it looks great too. Weighing in at just under 50 lbs, and sized at just over 24″ long x 17″ wide x 7″ tall, Beamo is sleek enough to look good in just about any workspace and it manages to be small enough to fit just about anywhere as well.
The cutting laser is a 30W CO2 laser that is capable of cutting up to 3mm into wood and leather, and up to 5mm into cardboard and acrylic. It can engrave on most other surfaces as well at a resolution of 1000 DPI. The work area inside the Beamo is 11.81″ x 8.27″ with a Z-depth of 1.77″. Upcoming addons like an auto-focuser and a rotary feature will let you engrave on curved surfaces too, and allow Beamo to cut even deeper with multiple passes.
Beamo comes with a convenient color touchscreen that connects the Beamo to your computer remotely over wifi. Setup was surprisingly simple and quick. Everything comes preassembled, aligned, and ready to go for the most part. The only assembly required is setting up some ventilation via the included telescoping hose. Be sure you have adequate ventilation set up since a laser cutter is basically burning its way through whatever surface you put under it, and you don’t want to be breathing the resulting smoke and fumes in.
Within 15 minutes of opening the box, I had the Beamo Studio software installed and connected, my laser was focused, and I was laser cutting my first pieces. And, I should mention, I am a complete laser cutting newbie.
The Beamo is fast too! It engraves at about 300 millimeters per second. Complicated designs with lots of engraving details can take a while, the software estimates hours even, but simple designs like a pair of earrings can be cut in just 2 to 3 minutes. We made a 4 inch engraved T-Rex that took about 10 minutes. There is also the option to increase the speed on demand, though we haven’t tried it yet.
Obviously, the speed of the cutting and engraving translates directly into dollars for makers who sell customized products since it increases how much they can do in a limited space of time. You can watch an 11-minute video we took of the engraving squeezed down to 20 seconds below –
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?T-REX ALERT ?Swipe to see a time lapse of it being made. We got our hands on a @flux_inc Beamo laser cutter and engraver and had to take a crack at making our namesake Rex in it. Killer review also at @geekspinco . . . . . #lasercutter #lasercutting #lasercuttingmachine #lasercutters #engraver #engravingart #trex #trexinks
Beamo Studio software
We were initially concerned that the Beamo Studio software would be intimidating since many times the software that comes with maker products can be a nightmare. Much to our surprise, Beamo Studio is actually extremely easy to use, and it’s only been just released! So despite being a total novice I quickly understood the concepts used in the app, even without a tutorial. You simply import the image you want into Beamo Studio, it can be a JPG, PNG, SVG, or DXF vector file, scan the area you want to engrave, and then let her rip.
The software offers a number of presets for materials to get you started and you can save more as you experiment with different materials. And with a clever layer system, similar to what you’d see in Photoshop, you can set up the Beamo to cut and engrave in multiple passes, each layer allowing for individual laser power and speed settings. For example, you can first engrave an image onto a surface and then cut it out afterward with 2 simple layers.
Other neat Beamo features
The Beamo has some cool features like a built-in HD camera that lets you preview the workspace before you do any cutting or engraving to make sure your material lines up. This is a huge boon compared to non-camera engravers where you are basically left to your best guess and have to constantly recalibrate. With Beamo, you simply scan the area with the camera and nudge your shapes around in the software to line up. It really is as simple as that.
The built-in camera will also let you scan and trace hand-drawn shapes and transform them into digital files for laser cutting and engraving, and FLUX also has a companion app coming out soon called BeamCam that will let you do the same thing on your phone.
Other neat features include an internal water-cooling system, an air assist system to blow air over the laser head to prevent flareups and fires, a safety door with a sensor to protect your eyes and hands from the laser, and the aforementioned built-in ventilation system that operates at about 65 decibels.
Maintenance and consumables
The manual suggests cleaning the mirrors on the Beamo weekly. Occasional lubrication of the rails is recommended using the included lubricant too. You will also want to monitor the water levels in the cooling system and refill as needed using the included funnel. According to FLUX, with proper maintenance, the lenses, mirrors, and laser tube will last for a year of regular use and replacing them will cost you around $175. These can all be purchased directly from the company’s website.
One major factor to consider in getting one is where you will put the Beamo. It must be kept in a place that is above 41 degrees and below 95 degrees in temperature. So, for most of us, that discounts the possibility of placing it in the garage where you would ideally want it to be for fume venting. So make sure you have a spot to place Beamo that is near an open window, so that you can place the venting tube out of it. And keep in mind, that unless you randomly have a circle shape hole in your window screen, this means that you have to have an open window, sometimes for several hours at a time, depending on how much you print, and that can be a huge obstacle for some.
The Bottom Line
We had a blast testing out the Beamo and are eagerly searching online for new ideas and projects. To that effect, all of our family will be getting personalized objects this year for various anniversaries and special events. Leather earrings, 3D sculptures, custom rubber stamps, beautiful boxes, silicone molds… the possibilities with Beamo seem endless! Thanks to products like the FLUX Beamo the future of laser cutting and engraving is bright indeed.
If you are a maker who has the itch to engrave and personalize things, then yes – get Beamo. It is really difficult to find many faults with this machine, and we have absolutely loved our time using it so far. It is unintimidating and extremely powerful with a reasonable $1499 price tag that makes it approachable. Beamo’s ease of use, excellent build quality, and extremely low learning curve means you’ll be producing masterpieces quickly.