My first small steps into CNC - I brought myself a laser engraver that I saw on special from Banggood.com. http://www.banggood.com/2500mW-A3-3...re-CNC-Printer-Assembling-Kits-p-1003863.html This one has a 2.5W blue laser and around an A3 operating envelope. They are available in various foot prints and laser wattage's up to 5.5W, but the 5.5W lasers are still quite pricey and would of about doubled the cost of the kit. On special this one was around $260 including shipping. The larger laser module can be purchased separately later if I feel the need to up the power. . I had been slowly collecting components to build something similar in design with the intention of building a generic XY gantry and being able to swap between a laser, a router and possibly a plasma cutter torch for the actual tool. But then I saw this kit on special so decided to go that way as this playing around with CNC is all new to me so is probably easier to start with something that should work first (and we can Frankenstein it later and expand). A 2.5W laser should allow me to 'engraver' - well burn would be a more accurate term - wood and plastic and cut paper, foam and leather. One of the potential uses I have planned for it is to cut some tool control foam inserts for my cabinet drawers. I have also been told of a coating system which the laser will cure or fuse onto metal which sounds interesting to try (thanks intjonmiller) The Kit comes with everything you need (except for the computer to communicate with the on-board controller) but very little the way of assembly instructions. Want to get your 9 year old son excited - tell him to come give you a hand building a Laser! The kit went together quite easily considering the lack of proper (or any actually) instructions other than the the exploded component diagrams I copied from the advertisement. Mucked up the sequence a couple of times and had to back track to reinsert a captive nut here and there but nothing too problematic. 2 to 3 hours and we had it mechanically complete. The software was a bit more problematic. The drivers install OK on the first laptop I tried, and using the supplied java controller I could send G-codes to it and get it moving, But the main supplied software wouldn't install. I think this may of had something to do with the antivirus and work security which locks this laptop down a bit. I did manage to install it easily on my old WinXP workshop laptop and got it running for some trials. The supplied software (well downloadable, not actually 'supplied'), Benbox, turned out to be a bit flaky and I was having trouble getting the laser travel speed to change when just trialing cutting out a circle - but this seems to be a bug in the circle function. When I had a line and a circle in the design it would change speeds correctly - this is important as with the supplied software you have no control over the laser power - it is always on full - so the only variable you can modify is the travel rate. This is just one of the limitations of the supplied software so I think I will have to go and trial some of the alternative software that is out there - the machine can accept G-code instructions so should be able to interface with any CAM software. Other apparent limitations I have found with Bembox (in my initial play) - only allows one laser speed for the design, whereas I may want different speeds per element to say cut something out at slow speed and write a label next to it at higher speed - can't seem to use the full footprint of the engraver - no laser power control. Although the hardware doesn't provide a function to control the laser power I see some other software will used PWM (pulse width modulation) to rapidly turn the laser on and off and effectively get a lower power burn. - no automatic way to repeat the burn multiple times Initial trials of the laser though were promising. It can cut through 10mm thick dense foam (camping mattress) in one pass on the slowest travel speed, and thicker light density foam at a very fast speed. Will also easily cut photocopier paper at a very fast rate (making stencils, etc) and can burn very fine detail into wood. Some initial playing Overall very happy with the hardware but less impressed with the software. Will look into alternative software and post some more detailed samples of the lasers capabilities with the associated travel speeds once I have had a bit more of a play.