[Review] Creality CR
The 3D Printing Industry engineering team reviews the Creality CR-Laser Falcon Engraver.
Creality is a China-based company primarily involved in the production of 3D printers. They are well known for the CR & Ender range, which are very successful printers in the desktop and prosumer market due to their low price and overall quality.
The CR-Laser Falcon Engraver is not the first laser cutter produced by Creality as they previously released a laser add-on for the Ender 3-S1 3D printer.
The company is hoping to succeed in the laser cutter market and is aiming this product at individual makers rather than industrial clients. The machine is manufactured in China along with Creality’s other machines and is made to the same standard. The product ships to most of Europe and comes extremely well-packaged with made-to-fit foam insulation.
The Laser Falcon was released early this year and was greeted with positive reviews. There are two product variations, a 10W version & a 5W version. The current price is $493(10W) and $322(5W). The version we received for review was the 10W model.
The Falcon is a good choice for somebody who wants to explore their creativity in a new medium. The laser cutter combined with 3D printing can deliver interesting and new products. The machine’s price is significantly less than those on the market with similar workspace and power. It is extremely easy to use, as long as you take care to be safe whilst operating the machine.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Dymaxion Plywood Globe. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
The machine could be slightly dangerous if misused, as when engraving stainless steel or other shiny materials, the laser can reflect off the surface and could enter your eyes if you are not wearing appropriate safety goggles.
When buying the product and standard, it does not come with an air compressor. This could be a problem because without this air-assisted nozzle cutting quality is reduced, and the smoke given off by wood is increased significantly. The extras you can purchase for the laser are recommended, as they will significantly improve your quality of experience when using the cutter. These items currently cost extra and are available on Creality’s website.
Our initial thoughts were positive but apprehensive about how well this machine would perform vs. more powerful laser systems. We have tested speed, power, and passes to monitor which combinations best cut/engrave the material. Lightburn software was used for all these tests as it was by far the best option that Creality recommended, multiple materials were used to test the efficacy of the laser in different scenarios.
We will elaborate on the points above in this article and give an overview of the features of the CR-Laser Falcon.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Air-assisted lens & Compressor. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon Engraver Main features
The CR-Laser Falcon can be controlled in two ways, either by a singular button on the machine or via connecting a computer and running laser software such as Lightburn. Leveling is done manually using a leveling jig in tandem with two bolts located on the side of the laser module.
This is a very simple method but is extremely effective at offsetting the laser the correct distance from the material.
The laser frame itself is constructed from aluminum extrusion and assembled using long M3 bolts. This proves a very stable structure when in use and does not get affected by the inertia of the laser module in operation.
The max build space is 400mm x 415mm, which is slightly bigger than a piece of A3 paper. However, the cellular board which you have to buy as extra is only 320 x 320mm. This is insufficient if the whole workspace is required for a piece.
The laser module itself contains a single Class 2 10W laser with a wavelength of 455±5nm. The resolution is 254 dpi and has a 0.06mm compressed engraving spot. The laser can cut up to 18mm of soft wood and can engrave to a depth of 10mm on an appropriate material. During our tests, we used stainless steel, polypropylene, rubber, ceramic, bamboo, and plywood among others.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Engraving project examples. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
An advantageous selling point for this machine is that it is easy to use for beginners and unskilled users. The creative potential this gives the user is huge, and there is nothing blocking access to the hardware like in other manufacturing areas. Creality has opened up opportunities for DIY makers and builders where previously, you would require an industrial machine and a large ventilation system and workshop to operate.
The Laser Falcon is also priced very reasonably, considering the quality of the item you receive.
First Impressions and unboxing the Creality CR-Laser Falcon Engraver
The Laser Falcon shipped encased in foam protects it from any external damage. The laser module was very well protected as this is the most sensitive part of the machine. The other contents of the box were the bolts to assemble the falcon, the legs, and the chassis.
The optional extras were in a separate box included in the package and were also well-protected. These items were the extended legs for the printer, the air compressor, and the lens fixture. The Laser Falcon was incredibly easy to assemble and had a clever use of t-slot nuts to tension the belts. From unboxing to first use was around 5 minutes, not including time to make a design and download software.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Unboxing of separate parts. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Software options on the CR-Laser Falcon Engraver
Software options for the laser are limited. There are two main programs, these are laserGRBL & Lightburn. Creality does not have ownership of these programs nor its own dedicated software. These third-party programs are quite dissimilar. LaserGRBL is an older software and is limited in the options and parameters it has available. We used this software during testing but quickly switched to Lightburn as it is the more advanced of the two. The Laser Falcon’s profile can be downloaded onto these programs for an accurate workspace.
We chose to use Lightburn as you can change the speed, passes, and power within the design by allocating a color to a specific line or shape. The software is very intuitive and easy to use for somebody with no prior laser cutter knowledge. If the user does not have access t adobe illustrator or a similar program Lightburn also has a derivative design tool within the program that allows you to size and create designs using compound shapes and line tools.
You can also frame the design onto your material, this is when the laser is enabled at low power and used to demonstrate the area it will cut/engrave. This is immensely useful for precise designs and cuts.
Laser Benchmark testing the CR-Laser Falcon Engraver
Before we cut or engraved any of the detailed pieces, we first ran some tests to gauge the Falcon’s ability. These basic tests included using custom cutting and engraving parameters.
The first thing we tested was the engraving’s level of detail. For this, we used a simple monogram made of descending circle sizes. The cutter performed very well at this and managed to produce a very high-resolution engrave.
The next tests we did were more interesting. 3DPI logos were cut and engraved onto a piece of plywood. We used this as a medium because it is the most widely chosen material for laser cutter projects. The results were interesting on this test, and a spectrum was shown on speed vs. power. The perfect ratio of the two for an accurate, complete cut in one pass was found to be 3 mm/s speed, 100% power.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Laser & Engraving capability test. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
The engraving was also done at different distances from the wood. This was to test the focusing aspect of the leveling jig.
Cutting and engraving were carried out in conjunction with using the air-assisted nozzle vs. the regular nozzle. The results during cutting showed the optimum distance is 3mm with air assist enabled to avoid burn marks and flames. When engraving, the optimum distance is also 3mm but to get the best result, the air needs to be disengaged or the standard lens fitted.
Compared to Creality’s parameter sheet, these results match up. We recommend testing your own machine and materials as they may behave differently than what we have sourced.
We have also tested the laser cutter with other materials, and very good results were produced in these experiments.
Framing using different methods
One of the main advantages of using software rather than the button on the machine is the framing functions that can help position your workpiece. On Lightburn, you can do this in two different ways. You can either frame a square around the design or an abstract shape following the outermost edges of the piece. Speed can be adjusted here depending on the size of your piece if it is a small design, you want a slow speed for better visual feedback. Power options for this mode should be around 1-3% as this is best for visibility without prematurely burning your material.
LaserGRBL also has a framing function but it is much more derivative than Lightburn. The UI needs to be updated, and the visual display of the laser-cut file needs to be more pleasing and clear. The button is easy and simple to use but lacks the control that Lightburn allows. On the software, you can pause the cut or restart it with different settings. Using the button, you would have to edit the file and reload the SD card. There are certain applications for this, such as if you cannot move your computer to be near the laser cutter, but these are limited.
Lightburn is the one we recommend as it has all the necessary options and features that you could require to use the laser cutter.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Methods of sending files to the machine. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
How to improve the CR-Laser Falcon Engraver?
In line with any system of this nature that ships without a protective cover, fumes are a big issue on this machine as there is no provided ventilation equipment. This could be a concern when cutting materials that produce carcinogens like MDF. For this reason, whatever you are cutting, you must have an effective system in place. Creality has told us that a protective cover to filter out soot will be made available in 2023.
Another small but potentially frustrating issue with this product, again an issue seen on other similar systems, is the cellular board that must be bought as extra, is not big enough to cover the work area, and is less than the size of an A3 piece of paper. One interpretation is that this has been done to keep costs low and cater to users who may already have the necessary honeycomb board in their workshop. Creality explains that in their experience, the majority of users will require a working area of 300 x 300 and that by meeting these needs product and shipping costs are kept down.
Final verdict on the CR-Laser Falcon Engraver
The Falcon is a very efficient machine, and build quality is a high standard equal to Creality’s other machines currently on sale. The price point is attractive and will attract the desktop market and those with small workshops, as it is very easy to assemble and disassemble.
The resolution of the Falcon when engraving hard materials was very impressive, and we produced some very fine designs using stainless steel and ceramic. One feature we noticed was that when engraving a material such as plywood, the results are better without the air-assisted nozzle, we believe this is due to the extra oxygen that this setup supplies, resulting in a faster, more rough burn than intended.
Leveling is straightforward to use. This is an advantage of this machine, as laser cutters we have used in the past have provided a more complex method to level the head. It is important to carry out this step correctly however as if the laser is incorrectly offset, then the quality of the results will be heavily decreased.
This laser cutter stands out from others on the market due to its size. Most of the other desktop DIY laser cutters have small build volumes and compact structures. The Creality Falcon has a large build volume comparable to a small industrial cutter. These more high-end cutters often have significantly more safety measures installed, such as protective casings and fume extraction systems. This increases the price of the units. Creality has sacrificed some of these safety features to achieve a low price for the consumer.
When used responsibly with the right safety measures in place, this laser cutter isn’t unsafe, but a certain level of maturity is required.
Our expectations were met and exceeded with this laser cutter, and we are very pleased with our results. This laser cutter/engraver has impressive resolution when engraving hard materials and precise cutting abilities using plywood. The laser guard serves its function by blocking most of the laser rays from escaping the work area. Extra caution must be taken when engraving a textured material as the rays are more likely to be reflected past the guard.
Overall we are very pleased with this product and can recommend it to any hobbyists and designers looking for a cheap option to create detailed custom products.
Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Engraving & Cutting Projects. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
The CR-Laser Falcon Engraver is available direct from the company here, use the code “Falcon3dp” to get $30 off.
Creality is running several Black Friday offers direct to customers only. Until 30th November Code-FA80 is $363.70, an $80 reduction.
The CR-Laser Falcon Engraver is also available direct from Creality, use the code “Falcon3dp” to get $30 off. Valid Until 30th November.Featured image shows the Creality CR-Laser Falcon 10W. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
Joel is part of the 3D Printing Industry engineering team and carries out 3D printer reviews using a detailed set of criteria. With an early interest in 3D printing that led to his studying Industrial and Product Design, Joel is well-equipped to scrutinize and review the range of machines in our lab.Creality CR-Laser Falcon Engraver Main features First Impressions and unboxing the Creality CR-Laser Falcon EngraverSoftware options on the CR-Laser Falcon EngraverLaser Benchmark testing the CR-Laser Falcon EngraverFraming using different methodsHow to improve the CR-Laser Falcon Engraver?Final verdict on the CR-Laser Falcon EngraverFalcon3dp