How One Customer Works Smarter, Not Harder With a Kern Laser System



“I found Kern Lasers, and it changed my life.”

Spider Johnson is a professional artist and a proud owner of a Kern laser system. In today’s post, I’ll be sharing a video featuring Spider’s journey through both buying a Kern laser and operating it for 15 years. 


It all began when Spider Johnson was looking for a way to increase production. As a professional artist whose work included hand-cutting wood with either a scroll saw or an X-Acto knife, his production capabilities were limited to how much he could manually process each day. It was around that time when Spider saw a laser demonstration at a trade show and started to wonder if a laser could be the thing to help him increase production.

“I needed to increase my production, and a laser could make identical cuts, which would allow me to make limited editions of my work.”


“I checked with many different manufacturers, and called them up, asked them if they had a product that would serve my needs, my particular needs…I had spoken with Gerald Kern, and he asked me lots of questions about what I needed a laser for… he was the only one of those people to go to my website, download some of my photos, and send me laser engravings of those photos on different materials.”

This gesture turned out to be one of the reasons Spider ended up purchasing a Kern laser, but it wasn’t the only one. Spider ended up purchasing a 50W 4’x4’ laser system to support his work. His reasons for choosing a Kern include:

  • Kern’s friendly customer service
  • The industrial quality of the laser
  • The open x- and y-axis on the table

“The most outstanding nature of a Kern laser, I think, is their customer service.” 


“When I was first unpacking the laser—this was completely new territory for me. I had no idea how to operate, much less put it together. The instruction booklet was great, but of course I had some questions. Every time I called, they were eager to assist, no matter how stupid the questions were or how long it took. And over the years, this has proved very beneficial to me. Because even after 15 years, I can call them up and no matter how long it takes, they will help me solve my problem.”


Although owning and operating a laser was new territory for Spider, he’s now had his system for over 15 years. Still, he can, and does, rely on Kern Laser Systems anytime he needs technical support, service or maintenance on his system.

“I had a recent need for tech support, called up and talked with both Eric and Derek. And this need, Kern over the course of 2-3 days, I would have to call and try something. No matter how long it took, they were patient, courteous, knowledgeable. And even after that long of a period of time, that kind of tech support, here in the good old USA is not easy to find.” 


“I would highly recommend Kern lasers over any other laser product for all those reasons. I think they’re the best company on the market. I think they care about what they do. The customer service is great. The products are very well made. The only problem I’ve had in 15 years was a control card that had some issues. I sent it in overnight for repairs, they sent it back the next day. It cost me $500. I can’t think of any other product, including automobiles, that I’ve had for 15 years, where the maintenance has only been $500. Kern lasers, they’re the best.”

Thank you, Spider, for sharing your experience with Kern lasers and recommending our systems to others!

Customer Spotlight – SBC Laser

Customer Spotlight - SBC Laser


How do you say “Thank You” to an outstanding client or customer? Nick Caito of SBC Laser demonstrates his take on adding a personalized touch to a unique gift. In this Platinum Partner build, Caito mixes steel, acrylic, and brass with a combination of laser cutting and engraving with his Kern 400W HSE laser system.


• 18 ga mild steel
• 1/4″ acrylic (clear and black)
• .020″ brushed brass (used here is from Rowmark)
• Brass acorn nuts, washers, and bolts
• Blackening chemical


18 ga Mild Steel
Speed: 2″/sec
Power: 90%
Frequency: 600Hz
Assist Gas: Oxygen (100psi)

Acrylic Etching
Speed: 80″/sec
Power: 25%
DPI: 300
Assist Gas: Compressed Air (20psi)

Acrylic Cutting
Speed: .5″/sec
Power: 30%
Assist Gas: Compressed Air (5psi)

Step 1: Set Parameters and Cut Mild Steel

When cutting metal, laser focus is an important aspect. As the mild steel is cut, it heats up and tends to move around. If using a Kern (like we did for this project), the automatic height follower maintains a consistent focus point over the entire sheet.

Step 2: Form Metal

This custom cage and base are bent using a folding table. No welding was required.

Step 3: Cut and Engrave Metal

Lasers are popular tools when processing acrylic.

Step 4: Blacken Steel

A chemical process used applied to the steel, giving it a blackened look.

Step 5: Assemble

The only fasteners used on this project are decorative brass acorn cap nuts.

Thank you SBC Laser for sharing your build with us, and allowing us into your shop.

Customer Spotlight – Family Laser


Dad and 3 Sisters Start a Customized Laser Business

See how the three sisters of Family Laser started their company, why they chose a Kern system, and how they use their system for custom laser cutting and engraving.

President and Designer Amie Roberts, along with her sisters Amber and Ashley, explain how Kern’s laser cutting equipment factored into rapid growth for their new company and helped them meet their goals of managing both family and business. By creating custom home decor and other gift ideas, along with a great social media presence, their business really started to expand. It took 5 years to upgrade to a larger laser system with more capabilities. As a result, Amie says they can produce multiple products on one system allowing for faster production times, larger jobs, and more time with family.

“Our mission is to be recognized as a destination that provides a unique menu of high quality, customized laser and sublimated products made for our growing base of customers. We strive to operate a business that any family could be proud of. That means taking care of customers through quality products and personal service.”

~Amie Roberts

Customer Spotlight – MX Trophies


A Custom Trophy Build

Do you have a need to process wood, plastics, metals and foams with one machine? Kern offers this versatility for a wide spectrum of customers and ultimately their imagination is their only limitation.

MX Trophies, a Kern customer, uses their creative skills daily to produce custom awards, plates and medals. The ability to personalize individual products to each event allows them to stand out from their competition. Here is how MX Trophies uses a combination of stainless steel and acrylic to create a custom business card holder.

  • .050″ stainless steel
  • .125″ cast acrylic
Step 1: Create and Export File

Within CorelDRAW, multiple cut-line colors are used to assign settings to the different substrates being cut. The image or text is added to areas that need to be engraved. Once the file is complete a simple export tool sends the creation to the laser.

Step 2: Set Parameters

KCAM software is used to set the laser power, speed, and other common settings.

Step 3: Cut Stainless Steel

Load the steel sheet and adjust the focal height of the metal cutting assembly. Enable the cut-line colors assigned for the stainless and click Start.

Step 4: Cut and Engrave Acrylic

Install the acrylic processing head and honeycomb bed. Add standoffs to reduce flashbacks on the back side of the acrylic being cut. Load the acrylic sheet. Enable the cut-lines color assigned to the acrylic as well as the engraving option, and click Start.

Step 5: Assemble

Suggested Parameters (250 Watt Laser):

.050” Stainless Steel
Speed: .75”/sec
Power: 90%
Frequency: 1000Hz
Assist Gas: Oxygen (100 psi)

Acrylic Etching
Speed: 50”/sec
Power: 20%
DPI: 300
Air Pressure: 12psi

Acrylic Cutting
Speed: .5”/sec
Power: 40%
Air Pressure: 5 psi


Watch the Build Process: