The Atomstack A5 Pro Laser Engraver
What is the Atomstack A5 Pro?
The Atomstack A5 Pro is a higher-end machine, and falls into the same price bracket as the Sculpfun S6 Pro we reviewed earlier.
Like the Sculpfun, the Atomstack A5 Pro laser engraver also comes with good assembly instruction manual which Is easy to follow. All the necessary tools are included. Screws and parts come in separate bags, labelled accordingly to the necessary step in the assembly manual. The machine can be assembled in less than 30 minutes.
wood, paper, cardboard, plastic, white, PCB board, aluminum oxide, black-painted metal/ceramic
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 Pro laser engravers come with a laser diode which outputs approximately 5.5W of optical power. The Atomstack A5 Pro is advertised to be 40W Co2 laser equivalent power. Laser diode is a fixed focus diode which is great. The laser diode is claimed to have a square beam spot shape. We are going to test that later in this post.
Fixed focus means there are no moving parts in a beam’s way, which means that the focus can be narrower and focusing procedure is much quicker than with the adjustable focus.
The head has a protection shield around it, as an extra layer of protection, but wearing included safety googles is still a MUST. 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 20W we tested previously. For optimal cutting, the head needs to be 2mm 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 2mm thick and after tightening the z axis screws with a hex key, the head stays 2mm above the surface.
Cutting and Engraving Different Materials
Engrave: wood, leather, cotton (clothing), rubber, paper, fruit, foam, acrylic, black anodized aluminium, blackened metal…
The Atomstack A5 Pro is also a capable cutter.
Cut: wood, paper, tape, cloth, acrylic, cardboard…
With the machine you can cut paper and tape in one pass and cardboard or wood in multiple passes. The machine can cut wood, especially Poplar plywood which is soft and it is the preferred wood for all laser cutters.
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 Pro laser engravers 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.
Our Test Results
In the video at the top of this article, we have compared the performance of the Atomstack A5 Pro to its direct competitor Sculpfun S6 Pro. You will find the Atomstack results in this post. For the results of the Sculpfun S6, check our other post here!
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. At the top of this article, 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 that we did with the Atomstack A5 20W, because the beam burns too much at slow speeds. This leaves a big charred blob that gives no practical information.
On the first sight, the Atomstack A5 Pro shows a little bit more output power than the Sculpfun S6 Pro. We will see if this is true later in the tests.
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 A5 Pro tends to show signs of rectangular beam shape, as the vertical and horizontal scans look much different!
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 Pro did engrave the photo quite well, although it looks a little bit less detailed than with Sculpfun S6 Pro, because the Atomstack has a larger spot size.
Vector Image Engraving
Vector images are much faster to engrave as the laser head directly follows the lines. You can not make a grayscale image though.
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 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 Pro is quite rectangular, as the engraved pattern looks very different 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 Pro has a dot shape, sized approximately 0.15 times 0.25 millimetres.
Strangely, the A5 Pro did not make the horizontal lines evenly spaced in the interval test. I did not managed to find out where the error happened. Tried to change the tension of the belts and wheels, but it did not help. Tried again with the Sculpfun and it worked without issues, so it is not a software error. If you know what could cause this issue, please tell us in the comments!
Next was testing with different text sizes. We can see that with this machine, 2mm text size is still ok, and the 1mm text is still readable. There is also some wobbling present in one axis, but this is probably due to the mechanical effects. But we need to take in the effect that the speed is also quite high for this test (600mm/min). With lower speed the accuracy increases as we will see later.
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 also clear effect of rectangular dot shape in the two squares as vertical lines are much thinner than horizontal ones.
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 Atomstack A5 Pro performed a bit worse than the Sculpfun S6 pro, but not by much. With greater distance the Atomstack A5 Pro spot size is getting less rectangular and more square shaped like with most of the laser engravers so far.
But farther away we go, the dot starts to increase significantly. At 6mm and 9mm the dot becomes quite thick.
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 black acrylic (plexi glass) at 600mm/min. The engraving and cutting came out great with a clean cut edge. The Atomstack A5 Pro cut through in 8 passes.
Tried to make the same test on blue acrylic but it did not work as the blue color does not absorb the laser light well enough, probably the material is not dark enough or the blue color reflects the blue laser light and after 50 passes at 600mm/min with full power, the Atomstack A5 Pro also just melted the board a little. There is no sign of engraved letters. Conclusion is that the Atomstack A5 Pro laser machine can cut and engrave only very dark acrylic boards.
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 Pro and Sculpfun S6 Pro.
The Atomstack A5 Pro is a capable cutter. Because of the rectangular focus spot shape, its cutting performance is not the same in both directions.
The rectangular spot will also cause some headaches when cutting some tight fitting finger joints for wooden boxes. Some test fits will need to be made before the big cuts.
Hardwood Cutting Test
This test shows how well the Atomstack A5 Pro cut harder woods at 600mm/min.
First we tried to cut 4mm pine wood which is still quite soft.
Atomstack had no problems cutting it in 7 passes.
Then we tried harder and denser 3mm thick Beech wood. The Atomstack A5 Pro had no problems cutting it and did it in 5 passes.
Very capable cutter, but with a downside of rectangular focus spot shape.
So, is the Atomstack A5 Pro laser engraver the best for you? If I compare it to the Sculpfun S6 Pro, the Sculpfun S6 Pro is a bit more convenient. It is only a bit slower at cutting than the Atomstack A5 Pro, but when engraving, it has smaller and more rectangular focus beam. I think that you can always wait couple of minutes more for cutting, but you can never make the focus spot smaller.
Also the low hanging light shield is a bit annoying sometimes as it hangs a bit too low and it often hits the magnets I use for holding down the material.
Other than that, the Atomstack A5 Pro is a good laser engraver.
If you like either of the machines, you can buy the them through the links below:Buy Sculpfun S6 ProBuyAtomstack A5 Pro
Or check the COUPON PAGE. If discount coupon is available, it will be listed there.