I’ve been wanting to get a laser for leather craft for a long time now. Especially when I saw Dead Miners on Instagram engraving really cool designs into his leather work like plaid and topographic map patterns.
Lasers can do more in leather work than just making plaid wallets, though. Not only can these machines cut out your leather pieces, saving you time from having to cut them out yourself, but they can also cut your stitching holes for you. You can engrave custom designs onto your products, which can add value as you can offer more personalized work to your clients.
The problem with lasers in leather work is you pretty much need to be well established before you can justify buying one. CO2 lasers can run you $5000 or more and most diode lasers you can find on Amazon are cheap but also useless.
Enter the Ortur Laser Master 3
Sinis reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to review the Ortur Laser Master 3. I was somewhat hesitant as I’ve heard some bad things about diode lasers but after doing a bit of research, this one sanded pretty slick. I agreed and they sent me one.
The build quality is excellent. The frame is a custom aluminum extrusion. The parts of the frame all slot together with incredible precision with a couple screws at the end of each piece of the frame. There is absolutely no slack in these attachment points. Once screwed together, the Laser Master 3 is rock solid. The gantry effortlessly slides along the frame driven by two belts, 1 at either end.
Assembling the Laser Master 3 is pretty easy. I should have timed it, but I think it took me under an hour. The instruction manual is very well illustrated and explains the assembly process well. Essentially, you build the three sides of the frame, slide the gantry on then attach the front piece. There is one big wire loom that attaches to the gantry using a couple zap-straps (which I wasn’t crazy about, but they seem to do the job fine). The laser module slides onto its mount and you simply plug it in.
Getting up and Running
Once you have it together, you can either download Ortur’s app, Laser Explorer (Apple/Android) or a PC application called Lightburn. I tried both, but I preferred Lightburn.
Laser Explorer is able to connect to the machine via Wifi which is nice. Lightburn connects via USB cable. There is a module for Lightburn that you can buy to access your laser wirelessly, but I didn’t find it necessary for me.
The Ortur Laser Master 3 has several important safety features. The first of which is a pair of goggles they send you. Always where these when the laser is running.
Next, the laser requires a key turned to the on position to even start the machine up. I’m happy about this feature as I have a 3 year old daughter who would love to sneak down and start pressing buttons. I simply turn it off and hide the key in a drawer.
There is a big red stop button that shuts the machine down instantly. If things are going wrong, hit the button and power is cut off to the laser. To disengage the red button, just twist it and it pops back up.
If you don’t hit the button in time and a fire starts, the Laser Master 3 has flame detection. This is a feature I didn’t want to test out myself, but I’m assured that it works. Keep in mind that there is no fire suppression feature so don’t walk away while the machine is running.
Shock detection is very good on this machine. I tested this one by hitting it, lifting it up, kicking the desk, typing really hard on the desk beside it, etc. The sensitivity seems to be set pretty perfectly by default.
Overall, I’m happy with the safety features. It’s easy to use still, but also easy enough to shut it down fast if I do something dumb. Still, I think having a fire extinguisher nearby is a great idea.
The Laser Module
The laser, itself, is a 10w output diode laser. Again, this is no 150w CO2 laser, but 1. you are using this to cut leather and 2. the Laser Master 3 costs around $700. A CO2 laser can be in the thousands. Will you have to run it a bit slower than these high powered machines? Of course, but not by much. I found the 10 watts to be just fine for cutting leather. I don’t even run it at full power either. In my testing, I found the sweet spot to be around 45% power at 180mm/min.
Is the Ortur Laser Master 3 Worth It?
I think so. It definitely lets leather workers who are just starting out get into using a laser sooner than if they were saving up for a more powerful machine. At this price point, it’s really hard to beat. So far, I’m loving using it to cut out my various templates.
I will be converting my existing templates into laser ones as well.