TOOCA Laser L1 review – An affordable 5W laser engraver

ELECFREAKS’ TOOCA Laser L1 is an affordable 5W laser engraver with a sturdy yet lightweight structure and that can engrave various materials including metals. It’s easy to use with a one-button press and suitable for education in schools.

TOOCA Laser L1 review

TOOCA Laser L1 laser engraver unboxing

The laser engraver comes as a kit with components that can be easily assembled. It was well-packed with little risk of being damaged during transport. It also includes tools and instructions for assembly, and you don’t need any extra tools to complete the assembly.

TOOCA Laser L1 unboxingTOOCA Laser L1 package contentTOOCA Laser L1 specifications

The machine measures 568x632x198 mm, weighs 3.2 kg only so it can easily be carried around, and offers a 400×415 mm working area. It works with Windows and macOS and only requires 24V power available through the provided power adapter. A wide range of file types are supported, and the device can engrave many types of materials and also cut some of the softer materials such as plywood.

TOOCA Laser L1 specificationsengraver materialsAssembly video

A closer look at the system design

The system of the TOOCA Laser L1 laser engraver relies on the belt and pulley principle with a stepping motor and uses high-quality aluminum-profile roller wheels with roller bearings to help move in the various axes.

Belt Pulley mechanism

The TOOCA Laser L1 engraver also includes a bubble level to make sure the machine is properly leveled in order to increase the accuracy of the engraving/cutting and reduce the potential damage to the material.

engraver frame bubble level

The machine’s X-axis and Y-axis feature millimeter markings to help the operator check the distance more accurately and easily.

engraver millimeter scale rulerY-axis frame with millimeter markings.

Y-axis millimeter scale

The TOOCA Laser L1 uses a high-quality BJ42D15 42 stepper motor powered by 5V and installed on the X-axis and Y-axis frames along with a Limit Switch End-Stop to check the end of each axis.

42-BJ42D15 stepping motor

The laser head outputs light with a wavelength of 455 nm +/- 5 nm using 24V DC, up to 5 Watts of power and comes with a laser beam protection system with a blue light filter.

455nm 5W laser module

Focal distance adjustment on the TOOCA Laser L1

Adjusting the focus distance of the laser engraver is easy as you just need to turn 2 screw locks and the bottom position will have a leveler to hit the workpiece and tighten the lock. Then push the leveler back up to the top.

Focal distance adjustment

Safety goggles

The TOOCA Laser L1 ships with goggles to prevent the beam from hitting the operator’s eyes. If we look at the light beam with the naked eye for a long time it will cause pain and irritation to the eyes, and therefore, the operator should wear glasses at all times.

Laser safety goggles

To demonstrate the usefulness of the goggles, we’ll take photos of the laser in operation with and without goggles. The TOOCA Laser L1 emits a strong blue light to engrave or cut the materials, and looking at it for too long may hurt your eyes.

TOOCA laser L1 blue light

But when we use the green safety goggles, we can see the laser light is greatly attenuated making it safe to work.

Laser light through green safety glasses

Power supply

The laser engraver ships with a 24V/3A power adapter that works with 100-240V AC mains and features a 5.5 mm power jack.

24V 3A power adapter

You just need to plug it into the machine’s controller, and you’re good to go.

Elecfreaks Laser Engraver Power Supply

TOOCA Laser L1 user manual

The laser engraver comes with an assembly guide that provides detailed instructions in English and Chinese. It’s actually called TOOCA Laser 1 on the user manual, instead of Laser L1.

TOOCA Laser 1 User Manual

The manual lists all parts from the kit and showcases all steps of the assembly in detail.

Laser Engraver Parts List

ELECFREAKS also provides online documentation with this user manual, other guides, as well as videos to help users get started.

A look at the buttons and ports on the TOOCA Laser L1 laser engraver

The machine will not automatically start as you connect the power, as there is an On-Off switch on the left side.

TOOCA Laser L1 power button

There are also 3 ports on the right side: The DC jack, a USB Type-C port to connect the laser engraver to the computer, and a MicroSD card socket used to store the files to be handled by the laser engraving machine.

TOOCA Laser L1 USB MicroSD card

LaserGRBL program

We will use the free LaserGRBL program for Windows to control the TOOCA Laser L1 laser engraver. Once the installation is complete, let’s start the program.

LaserGRBL

You may also have to install CH340 drivers, but in most cases, this will probably not be necessary if you have already used other hardware with a CH340 USB to TTL controller such as Arduino boards.

LaserGRBL user interface

Before going further with our own design, let’s have a look at LaserGRBL user interface with the following main components:

  1. COM port and baudrate selection
  2. File control to select the image file to be carved or cut out
  3. Manual commands (G-Code)
  4. (G-Code) command log and command return codes
  5. Jogging control to manually control the movement and speed of the laser engraver
  6. Stop the laser machine.
  7. Return to the starting point
  8. Position lock on each axis
  9. Adjust position to 0
  10. Move to the center of the template
  11. Move to the lower left corner of the template.
  12. Move to see the size of the workpiece.
  13. Momentary activation of the laser beam
  14. Test firing a laser beam at 10% power
  15. Preview area of the design

The software supports various file formats such as jpeg, jpg, png, bmp, svg and dxf.

LaserGRBL Import

After importing the file, there will be a pop-up window as shown below. For engraving, select the 1bit BW Dithering option in the Conversion Tool section and click on Next.

LaserGRBL Conversion Tool

The next step is to select the engraving speed, image size & position, as well as laser options, for example, S-MAX which is the power of the laser head in percent. Refer to the manual for the best laser values based on the material used. Finally, click on the Create! button.

LaserGRBL Target Image Options

The program will then show a preview of the engraving process. If it looks OK, click on the green triangle on the left of the Progress area and the laser engraver will start its job.

LaserGRBL engraving preview

That’s provided you’ve already connected the machine to a host computer. In this review, we opted to connect the TOOCA Laser L1 laser machine to a laptop through a USB Type-C cable in order to customize the machine’s operation freely.

TOOCA Laser L1 USB-C connection to laptop

Testing engraving with different materials and settings

Plywood

We tested engraving with Plywood at 5,000mm/min speed and various laser power:

  • Power 400 = 40% – Not clear
  • Power 500 = 50% –  Not clear
  • Power 600 = 60% – Clearer but there are still some points that are not clear.
  • Power 700 = 70% – Even clearer but there are still some points that are not clear.

Plywood engraving low speed low power

So we tested again with a higher 7,000mm/min speed and higher power levels:

  • Power 700 = 70% – Still not clear
  • Power 800 = 80% – Not much better
  • Power 900 = 90% – It’s much better
  • Power 1000 = 100% – The resulting engraving is fairly good and of acceptable quality

Plywood engraving mid speed high power

But it could still be improved, so since we have already tested at max power, we’ve reduced the speed to 6,000mm/min to further improve the quality of the engraving:

  • Power 700 = 70% – Fairly clear and overall good quality
  • Power 800 = 80% – Usable result

TOOCA Laser L1 Plywood engraving

  • Power 900 = 90% – Usable result
  • Power 1000 = 100% – Usable result

Plywood laser engraving 6000mm/min high power

We do not notice much difference with 10% increments.

Acrylic

We have tested laser engraving on an acrylic plate with 6,000 mm/min speed and power set to 600 (60%).

Acrylic laser engraving

 

Silicone phone case

Tested at 6000 mm/min and power set to 50%.

Laser engraving phone case

Aluminum

Tested at 5000 mm/min and power set to 100%.

Laser engraving aluminum

Laser cutting with TOOCA Laser L1

LaserGRBL can also be used for laser cutting. It is mostly the same procedure as engraving, except Vectorize! must be selected in the Conversion Tool section when importing the image.

LaserGRBL laser cutting centerline

Other settings are pretty much the same, except the speed must be quite lower to allow time for cutting the material.

LaserGRBL Laser Cutting Target Image

After click on on the Create! button, the program will show a preview of the laser cutting process, and if we want to go ahead we can just click on the green triangle on the left panel to start cutting.

LaserGRBL laser cutting preview

We designed a small house to put RGB lights in order to teach students how to create a realistic house.

Laser cut house

After the cut is complete, we can glue the pieces together to make a small house.

Laser cut house assembled

We also added some RGB lights controlled by a BBC micro:bit board to display various colors in the house.

Laser cut house RGB LED

Here’s a video of the assembly process and the final product with the RGB lights.

More laser engraving/cutting resources provided by ELECFREAKS

If you want to learn more about laser engraving and cutting with the TOOCA Lase L1 and other machines, ELECFREAKS has a WiKi with manuals, projects, and other resources.

ELECFREAKS laser cutting projects

The company also provides some cute designs with all files required to get started quickly as well as the laser’s speed and power settings for each design and material. Visit the Case Library for more details.

ELECFREAKS laser cutting samples ELECFREAKS Case Library

Final words

The TOOCA Laser L1 (5W) is an entry-level engraving machine that will allow you to learn about Grbl and have fun while learning to design 2D pieces, and assembled them into objects. It is well-suited to  classrooms teaching STEAM, and both children and adults can learn and play. I’d thank ELECFREAKS for sending this cost-effective laser engraving machine. It can be ordered from the ELECFREAKS shop for $319 with free shipping to the US, Canada, and Australia. The company also ships to Europe and other countries with an additional shipping fee.

Note: This is a translation from the Thai language review on CNX Software Thailand with some adaptations.

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3 Comments
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Stefan Brüns
Stefan Brüns
1 month ago

Having a blue protector hood for a blue laser is quite stupid – for the used wavelength, the protector is almost transparent.

Try cutting light blue acrylic and light yellow acrylic, and you will notice the blue acrylic picks up almost no energy and is really hard to cut.

Izak
Izak
1 month ago

What is the prise and can it be shoped to South Africa

Willy
1 month ago

What exactly didn’t you understand in “It can be ordered from the ELECFREAKS shop for $319 with free shipping to the US, Canada, and Australia. The company also ships to Europe and other countries with an additional shipping fee.” ? Did you really read the post before asking ?

Weller PCB manufacturer