Test: Atomstack A5 M50 Pro? Is it a A10/X7 Pro’s Baby Brother?
What is the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro?
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro is a mechanically identical to its bigger brothers, the Atomstack A10 Pro and the Atomstack X7 Pro. But it is equipped with a less powerful – 5W M50 laser module.
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro should be a very solid laser engraving machine since it has improved mechanical construction and an added offline touch screen controller compared to the previous model – the Atomstack A5 Pro.
In this article, we will put it through a series of tests which will show what this machine is capable of.
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro has a rectangular engraving area of 410*400mm and it features a very premium control panel with display and quality buttons. It also has an offline controller, so the laser can be operated only by its touch screen. The computer is not needed.
The assembly of the machine is easy and it takes less than half an hour to assemble it thanks to a good manual.
Wood, Bamboo, Cardboard, Plastic, Leather, PCB Board, Aluminum Oxide, Non-reflective, Electroplating Layer and Paint Surface Layer Metal, 304 Mirror Stainless Steel, Glass, Ceramics, Cotton Cloth, Slate;
Laser Output Optical Power
Fixed focus laser
LaserGRBL, LightBurn, Benbox, GrblController, LiteFire, Support Windows system, Support OSMAC system. Supported file formats NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF and other image formats.
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro features the 5 watt M50 laser module.
The machine has a 32-bit controller board with a touch screen offline controller.
I would also recommend getting more quality protection googles with OD6+ protection. You only have one pair of eyes. Protect them! These lasers work in visible light spectrum and even reflections can be very harmful for your eyes!
The focusing procedure is the same as with the Atomstack A5 Pro we tested previously. For optimal cutting, the head needs to be 3mm above the engraving surface. Focusing is done by putting an acrylic sheet/shim under the laser head and lowering the head on the shim. The shim is 3mm thick and after tightening the z axis screw, the head stays 3mm above the surface.
Atomstack A5 M50 Pro also has some special features worth mentioning:
This machine has a cool offline controller which allows us to use the machine without the computer. It is very handy for field work and projects that require a lot of the same cut jobs. You set your design as you normally would in Lightburn or LaserGRBL but then, instead of starting the engraving, you export it as the gcode to the included SD card with the included SD card reader and with the touchreeen you can then select the file, fine tune the parameters and proceed to engrave your design without using the computer.
Emergency stop button
It has a solid metal mushroom style emergency knob which comes in handy when you need to turn off the machine in a hurry.
This is probably one of the best features which I hope that all lasers would have someday. Limit switches enable you to home the machine automatically so that it always starts from the same spot. This way, if you stop the engraving or add another layer of work (or if the machine has crashed mid-work), you can be sure that the machine will start working at exactly the same spot that you want. They decided to use the cheap tactile switches instead of proper limit switches, but they work alright.
Machine can be connected via USB or a WiFi. And you can also control with a smartphone app on Android or iOS.
Cutting and Engraving Different Materials
Engrave: Wood, Bamboo, Cardboard, Plastic, Leather, PCB Board, Aluminum Oxide, Non-reflective, Electroplating Layer and Paint Surface Layer Metal, 304 Mirror Stainless Steel, Glass, Ceramics, Cotton Cloth, Slate
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro is also a reasonably capable cutter.
Cut: Cardboard, Non-woven Fabric, Wood Board, Acrylic, Some Thin Plastic Board, Sponge;cardboard…
We have tested the machine with engraving and cutting different materials. You will find the results of our tests few chapters lower.
Software and Supported Formats
You can use the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro laser engraver with free LaserGRBL software which works OK, but it is a little bit clumsy to use. It is great for some tests, but I chose Lightburn instead which is much more capable software, and it is very intuitive to use. It is not free though, but the license costs 60$. But, the software offers 1 month fully functional free trial which will help you decide if it is worth it to you. For me it was definitely worth it because it saves so much time (which is not free).
With LaserGRBL you can import vector files (NC, BMP, JPG, PNG, DXF…) and bitmap image files (bmp, jpg, png and gif),
Lightburn supports more formats: AI, SVG, DXF, PDF, HPGL, PLT, and RD for vector formats and PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, TGA, and GIF for image formats.
Vector format is preferred format for these machines because it contains the paths around the shape edges on which the laser head tracks. Engraving vector files is faster because the laser directly cuts on the path versus scanning like a printer and making dots when engraving bitmap images (photos).
You can get millions of free vector designs on the internet, or you can use free vector drawing programs like Inkscape or QCAD (for more technical drawings)
You can also import tons of vector designs and images from free vector sites or you can buy great laser designs on websites like Etsy. This really expands your capabilities.
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro can also be controlled via the included offline controller.
Our Test Results
If you want to see how to operate this machine, check the video below where we tested the performance of the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro’s bigger brother – the Atomstack A10 Pro and have compared some of the results with comparable 10W machines like the Neje Master 2S plus and our current favourite machine – the Sculpfun S9 (5W laser).
We have performed the more or less standardized test which we perform on all the laser engravers and cutters. This way, it is easy to compare results between machines. Here you have the video showing how the tests were done and below you will find detailed images of the test results together with explanation.
Our standard engrave pattern is designed to showcase the engraving capabilities at different settings, so you can see the effectiveness of the laser beam. Lets see the result in more detail in the below chapters.
If you want to test your own laser, you can get the below test file HERE.
The power scale test pattern shows how the machine engraves with different power levels at different speeds.
Power is varied from 10% to 100% in 10% increments and the speeds are 600, 1200, 1800, and 2400mm/min. We have omitted the slow speed/high power shapes, because the beam burns too much at slow speeds. This leaves a big charred blob that gives no practical information.
The interval scale test is here to show if the laser focus spot shape is square or rectangular. The scanning interval is progressively increased from 0.1mm to 0.5mm.
In this test, the Atomstack A10 M50 Pro appears to have a very square beam shape as the engravings in vertical and horizontal direction look quite nicely balanced.
We will be able to estimate the exact spot shape later when we test the engraving on anodized aluminium.
Here is a test of engraving a small photo, 20mm in size while changing the maximum laser power.
Photos are quite slow to engrave because the laser head must scan line by line like an inkjet printer. If you want to engrave a very large photo, prepare to wait a couple of hours :)
As we can see below, the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro did a very good job at photo engraving.
Vector Image Engraving
Vector images are much faster to engrave as the laser head directly follows the lines. You can not make a greyscale image though with this technique.
Our test includes this cute photo of a Tit bird in the top right corner of the test piece. The bird engraving took only a few minutes to engrave. In the software you can set to fill the closed shapes with pattern, on this one, the shape is filled by scanning with 0.1mm step. For big engravings you could increase the step to 1mm or more, to make engraving faster. This way it would make a raster or a grid on the black areas. But more on this at some other time.
Anodized Aluminium Engraving
Next, we have tested the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro on a scrap piece of black anodized aluminium.
Below is the engraved test pattern which is setup to evaluate the focus dot size in both directions as well to see the effects of speed. Next we will further examine the separate parts of the test pattern.
The most important part is again the interval scale. By scanning vertically and horizontally with different interval steps we can approximate the laser dot size. From the results we can see that the laser dot of the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro is more or less rectangular as the pattern looks the same when scanning in horizontal (X Axis) and vertical (Y Axis) direction.
The text engraving is done at 600 mm/s which is quite fast for such small movements, and therefore some shaking of the laser head is visible in the corners. This can be easily avoided by reducing the acceleration and speed in the settings.
Let’s do some further testing with the digital microscope. Here are the pictures taken with an Andonstar AD407 digital microscope.
First thing that we see is that the Atomstack A5 M50 5W laser module has a dot shape, sized approximately 0.2 times 0.15 millimetres.
Next was testing with different text sizes. We can see that with this machine – the 1mm text is readable.
Below is the engraving of two sets of squares on the right side, one inside the other. The inner square is engraved with 1000mm/min and the inner square is at 100mm/min.
We can see that at higher speed there is more wobbling present (mechanical) but the speed shows to have no effect on brightness of the engraved pattern. There is a lot of shaking present in diagonal lines.
Laser Focus Distance Test
In this test we will see how the laser dot size increases further down into the material. The further down in the material the dot stays focused, the thicker material you will be able to cut.
We achieve this by progressively lowering the board by 3mm for each square, without refocusing the laser head.
0mm means that the focus is perfectly set (with aluminium block). The 3mm square is engraved by lowering the test piece 3mm lower than the optimal focus. The result shows how big the dot is 3mm down into the material that is being cut. The same principle goes for larger distances.
We can see that the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro with the 5W M50 module performed very well in the 0mm and 3mm distance, but the laser spot size became significantly larger at higher distances. This means that it should perform a bit worse at cutting thicker stuff.
You can use the thickening effect to your advantage in cases when you want to engrave bigger stuff with low detail. You set up the laser in this out of focus position. The beam will be larger and the engraving will be done faster this way as the distance between engraved lines can be bigger.
Acrylic Engraving And Cutting
Did a short test on 3mm thick black acrylic (plexi glass) at 600mm/min. The engraving and cutting came out great with a clean cut edge. Atomstack A5 M50 Pro was able to cut through 3mm thick black acrylic in 8 passes.
Plywood Cutting Test
Test was made at three different speeds with 3mm and 6mm thick Poplar plywood being cut.
The test was performed in both scanning directions – horizontal X axis (left-right) and vertical Y axis (back to front) as the cutting performance is different in each direction because the dot has rectangular shape.
Here is a comparison table between the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro and the Atomstack A10 pro/X7 Pro with the 10W M50 laser module.
We can see that the A5 Pro cuts the 3mm poplar plywood EXCEPTIONALLY well! It is basically as good as the twice as powerful A10 Pro. But when cutting thicker stuff it starts to perform worse. This is because the laser spot starts to get significantly larger at greater distances as we have tested in the focus distance test.
The Atomstack A10 Pro is an amazing cutter for 3mm thick materials and has a quite balanced cutting performance.
Hardwood Cutting Test
This test shows how well the Atomstack A5 M50 Pro cuts harder woods at 600mm/min.
First we tried to cut 4mm pine wood which is still quite soft.
Atomstack A5 M50 Pro has cut it in 15 passes.
Then we tried harder and denser 3mm and 5mm thick Beech wood.
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro had no problems cutting the 3mm thick one and did it in 9 passes. But it struggled at cutting the 5mm thick Beech wood as it did not cut through.
It also did not cut through 5mm thick Oak wood.
An affordable laser engraver with premium features!
The Atomstack A5 M50 Pro is a premium, higher end machine with good mechanics. This version comes with more affordable 5W laser module. The offline controller comes in very handy when engraving multiple pieces or having no computer nearby.
You can use our "CT328M50" discount coupon for the A5 Pro for 20$ off your order.Buy Atomstack A10 ProBuy Atomstack A5 M50 Pro