Full view of Comgo Z1 laser engraver

Comgrow Comgo Z1 Laser Engraver Review – Love it or Burn it?

Full view of Comgo Z1 laser engraver

Does the Comgrow Comgo Z1 5W Laser Engraver deliver the best value in its class?

As technology advances at a speed rivaling lasers themselves, how can you know you’re getting the “best bang for your buck”? My review of the Comgrow Comgo Z1 5-Watt Laser Engraver hopes to aid you by highlighting the most important features and benefits of a very affordable option, as compared to others within the same class.

Table of Contents

Unboxing and Assembling the Z1

My first impression upon opening the cardboard box was that everything was well protected. All the Comgrow Comgo Z1 parts were easy to identify and remove from the packaging.

Next, after reading through the very brief instruction manual, I discovered that it wasn’t detailed enough. Parts of the frame need to be assembled in a specific orientation so that the Z1 operates correctly when all put together. So, to eliminate the risk of assembling it wrong or having to redo some of it, I decided to utilize the Comgrow Official Video Guide, found in the FAQ folder on the supplied thumb drive to help me get it right the first time.

Recommendations from experience

Here are a few tips to pay attention to, to make sure your assembly goes smoothly. One, make sure you are assembling the Z1 on a large flat surface. This will prevent any twists in the frame.

Two, place the frame rails so that the sides with printed logo and ruler are face down. Also, make sure the pre-tapped holes face the outer edge. These two steps will ensure the main frame is put together correctly.

Additional tips

Three, pre-attach the T and Square nuts to make alignment easier. Four, confirm the belts and eccentric nuts are properly tightened and secured. This will prevent the gantry from slipping and causing errors in the engraving process.

Five, pay close attention to connecting all the wiring, but especially the two connections to the laser head itself. Attach the red/black wires to the connector that is closest to the sliding focus bracket.

To summarize, despite not having enough detail in the printed manual, the assembly went very smoothly and was significantly faster than competing models from other companies, such as Ortur and Neje. I believe this was due to the additional resources found on the thumb drive and having more complicated parts such as the X-gantry pre-assembled.

Key Features of the Comgrow Comgow Z1

As previously stated, I received the 5 Watt version of the Z1. The most impressive features are it’s price, high resolution, dual Y-axis motors, and expandability. At the time of testing, the Comgrow Comgow Z1 was priced at $259.00 USD. When compared to other 5W engravers with at least 300mm X 300mm work area, it is the lowest price in it’s class! After a few other features, we’ll talk about resolution.

But first, the next important feature is having dual Y-axis motors. This means that as the gantry moves forward and backward, there is significantly less error in movement, providing more accurate and consistent results in the images being engraved or cuts being made. Moreover, there was only one other competitor I could locate under $300 USD that offered dual Y-axis motors. However, its work area has 44% less space and costs more! Next, I really appreciate that Comgrow thoughtfully included a shield around the laser emitter. We’re all at significantly lower risk of reflected rays bouncing back into our eyeballs and causing permanent damage to our sight!

Accessorize!

Lastly, the Z1 has several ways to expand its functionality. There is a honeycomb bed, fire-retardant enclosure, and air assist to name a few. The most common accessory to support expandability is the rotary roller, which allows for engraving on rounded surfaces. 

Now, let’s focus on the Z1’s finest point!

What’s LD+FAC and why do I want it?

One of the key features of the Comgrow Comgo Z1 is its ability to focus down to 0.08mm X 0.08mm. Why is this important and how is it accomplished? The answer is LD+FAC. LD stands for Laser Diode. LD focus spots without lenses can vary widely, making engraving difficult and erratic in consistent, final results. FAC stands for Fixed Axis Collimating. What FAC does is produce a focus spot that is the same on both fast axis and slow axis directions.

To clarify, Comgrow chose to implement LD+FAC in order to achieve a more powerful and efficient focus spot without having to increase the output power of the Comgo Z1. In other words, we can accomplish finer detail with more consistent results without having to invest more money on more expensive machines.

Comgo Z1 Laser Comparison

Product Design

The Comgo Z1 may seem simple, and straight forward at first glance. However, in this section, I would like to call out several unique aspects of its design. In other words, this is all about the looks, not the functionality! First, you’ll notice that the accent color on the legs, laser head, and focus adjustment plate match the colors chosen for Comgrow’s logo. This maintains a consistent look with other products they offer.

Second, wiring was either cleverly routed through sections of the aluminum framing, or encased in black sheathing. I appreciate that this provides an organized appeal and streamlined appearance.

Finally, notice that two portions of the frame have rulers printed on them. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s functionality, not style!” Yes, they are a nice feature for aligning or measuring your material. As for me, though, the less clutter in my workspace, the better. That means I don’t have to keep a ruler handy nearby. Cleaner looks better!

Comgo Z1’s Engraving Size

Comgrow offers the best all around work area in its class. The Z1 has a massive 400mm x 400mm reach. For comparison, only the Ortur Laser Master 2 offered more space, but at a higher cost (LM2 Pro) or less features (standard LM2). All other competitors in the sub-$1000 USD class provide smaller work areas. For comparison, a full size 12in X 12in floor tile can fit inside the Z1’s work area with more than 1.5 inches of border space all around.

Comgrow’s Software Support

Comgrow’s Z1 can be connected to any laser engraving software, but there are two most commonly used applications that are the easiest to work with. There is information on the supplied thumb drive for both Lightburn and LaserGRBL. While Lightburn doesn’t have native support for the Comgo Z1, the set up is relatively simple as long as the proper drives are installed on your computer. 

LaserGRBL, on the other hand, does offer native support. This means that you can pre-select default settings for the Z1 to get you up and running faster. Lightburn is a much more advanced piece of software, offering additional features that LaserGRBL does not. However, LaserGRBL is free whereas a Lightburn license currently goes for $60 USD for gCode-based machines like the Z1.

LightburnWorkspace
LaserGRBL workspace

Laser Engraving Testing Results

The Z1 that I received came with five pieces of sample balsa wood. It works exceptionally well on this material; subsequently, if you’re not set at the proper distance from the wood, or don’t use the right settings, it works a little too well! This is seen in the bottom right corner of the image of the octopus, for example.

Since there was no spacer block supplied in the kit, I ended up using a 3D printed 20mm cube to align the head to the proper height for each material I tested. I went to my local hobby shop and picked up some scrap leather and slate coasters as additional materials to test out. Comgrow’s Comgo Z1 had no trouble with either of these.

Overall, my personal favorite is the slate. Pay close attention and you can see that, depending on the power strength, a variety of shades of gray, white, or even gold are possible!

Additional thoughts

Although I have yet to test the cutting capability, I can tell that adding an air assist and starting on the backside of whatever material you want to cut will be two recommendations to improve the look of the edges where the cuts will appear. 

Summary of Pros and Cons

Now, let’s take the time to review the best and worst about the Comgrow Comgo Z1.

Pros:

  • With the help of Comgrow’s video, assembly is quick and relatively easy
  • 5 Watts of output power can handle a vast majority of most project needs, on a wide variety of materials
  • Cost! The Z1 offers the largest work area at the lowest cost
  • Dual y-axis motors, reducing skipped steps and final quality failures
  • Adjustable Focus Plate, allowing for a variety of material thickness

Cons:

  • The supplied paper instructions lack a lot of critical detail, namely for the assembly procedures
  • Once assembled, the X-gantry on my unit did not sit square with the rest of the frame. The right side sits several millimeters forward of the left side. This means drawing a large square produces a rhombus instead
  • There is a lack of material variety to practice with. Other competitors supply different materials, such as acrylic and metal options

Final Conclusion

Now, having had the chance to discuss and experience all that the Comgrow Comgo Z1 has to offer, we’re back to my initial questions; 1. Does the Z1 deliver the best value in its class, and 2. Is it the “best bang for your buck”? My experience says “yes” emphatically!

Despite a few minor concerns, my research revealed you can’t buy a better machine for a lower price. Of course you have other alternative option, you can check the buyer guide of best laser engraver in 2022 if you need more details.

Looking for even better performance or better cutting capability? Step up to the 10 Watt version. Ultimately, if this review has inspired you in any way, or you have some constructive feedback, please join the conversation or send us a message! 

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