Frequently Asked Questions about Scanning Lasers

What is a bridge laser?

Who invented it?

What is a bridge laser alternative?

Why was the Bridge Laser invented?

What is the main purpose of the laser?

Who uses the GMI Laser or Embroidery Laser?

Why do I need it?

Is the GMI Laser affordable for me?

What the difference in the types of lasers?

What is a Galvo?

What is 3-D Laser?

Why are the liquid cooled lasers more expensive?

What is the difference in the beam size of the laser?

What makes cotton and tackle twill yellow?

How do I identify what power is best for me?

Do I need a foil and what is a foil used for?


What is a bridge laser?

Bridge Laser is essentially a metal bridge that can install over and above the existing Embroidery Machine. It works independently but, 100% in harmony with the Embroidery Machine. The Embroidery Machine still does all the stitching, the laser head itself moves along the bridge of the gantry and stops at each individual head, and can cut and engrave/etch or do both.


What specifically is a “Bridge Laser Alternative”?

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Bridge Laser Alternative does the exact same thing as ALL the bridge lasers do but for a fraction of the price!

Instead of the laser moving in a straight line (above demo) to a limited number of embroidery heads below it, your operator can bring ANY and ALL embroidery hoops to the laser! It is essentially the exact same laser without the bridge or gantry. This is an Industry First by Permaboss. It’s the first true dedicated scanning/galvo laser that works with your brand of embroidery machines. Here is the principle below…


So, whatever your layout on your production floor, you don’t need to alter or move machines just to get the laser bridge in. You don’t need to move machines in order to install the beams- there are none. You simply choose spot on the floor and setup the laser right there close to embroidery machines so that all machines possible have the best access to the NGL.

The entire principle of the laser is to reduce stitch time. 65% of your work will typically 1 color appliqué, doing your running stitch on the embroidery machine and then removing the hoops frees up the embroidery machine sooner than if you have to wait for the bridge to go and cut on the embroidery heads. PLUS ALL your embroidery heads have access to the laser instead of it hanging there limited only to what you can run on those two or three machines under the bridge!




The main advantages are

  • Price, it costs a small fraction of the bridge laser.
  • It takes up the not much more space than a household kitchen refrigerator. There is no interruption of your
  • embroidery production for 2weeks or more like with bridge laser installs.
  • It costs less to ship and does not require a container, flat bed truck or forklift to install!
  • Its installs and works in less than 2 hours from when delivered!
  • ALL your embroidery heads are able to take advantage of the laser not just the ones under the gantry or bridge!
  • It can be upgraded to a bridge laser at any time and because the NGL is 3 times lighter than the 3 Italian
  • companies it does not require those massive metal structures, we use aluminum beams in 3 meter (10’) lengths that can be carried into ANY embroidery business by hand. (They actually flex less than the metal beams!)

These are the some of the reasons we call it NGL or “Next Generation Laser”! All the best things incorporated into the laser and made with the same great USA made laser sources for a fraction of the price with a better warranty and no hefty shipping or import duties. (NGL lasers for European markets are Made in Germany!)

One other HUGE advantage with the NGL Bridge Laser Alternative is that you can use the entire center of the hoop, something you can’t do with all bridge/gantry lasers. With bridge lasers you can only use about 75% of the hoop because the hoop remains on the embroidery machine and can only come out so far under the “Frame Out” so your designs can’t always be as tall as they are wide regardless of the laser field. This is NOT the case with the standalone NGL!

Who invented it?

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Answer GMI, a company based in Italy, was one of the original inventors of the bridge laser released it in 1999 as the first Bridge Laser in the world, soon their local competitor Proel added their version and later a former supplier called SEIT made yet another version. These three companies are very close to each other and have had a long rich history of legal battles of who did what first, who stole who’s proprietary info and who stole who’s engineer and technicians. The point is that all three literally have the identical concept in terms of electronics and construction. Each laser head has become a big heavy monster that takes a lot of complex super duty motors and gears to move around.

Permaboss distributed the GMI laser and discontinued after becoming frustrated with the frequent technical service issues that always required factory intervention from Italy regardless of how smart a tech we had on hand. This is a common theme with product from Italy versus products from Germany for example! Think of a Ferrari and a Mercedes, one is super exotic but requires totally specialized technicians and expensive service from limited locations, the other is rock solid reliable and can be serviced every corner of the planet! The NGL is emulating the latter!

Why was the Bridge Laser invented?

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Answer In the late 1990s, already there was evidence of the embroidery industry being decimated by cheap labor Made in China with $29/month labor rates changed everything.

Literally within two years, China took most everybody’s juicy volume business, as well as India and Pakistan, where they were offering their services, in their part of the world for US$ 21 – 29 a month, as labor cost per person. So imagine, what we are spending in hourly US$ 12 – 15 per person as an operator, they are spending only twice that per month, NOT even for an hour. So naturally, the only way to fight that is to take technology and use it to do what the human hand cannot do.

Now in 2009 even with the recession, China has adopted these lasers so the “ante has been upped” as they say. Being an embroidery house and NOT having a laser is going to mean a lot more pain, even smaller margins and a bleak outlook. EMBROIDERY HAS NOT CHANGED IN 40 YEARS, the machines and pc’s are better but the output is identical. The NGL laser changes all of that!

What is the main purpose of the laser?

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The main purpose of the laser is to be able to offer what no hand can do.

The markets in Canada and United States, and any other developed country, are small-medium run, custom work, quick turnover. You have to offer all these three elements in order to be able to be competitive.

The next thing you have to do is to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competitors.

In America, there are 17000-18000 embroidery businesses, 22000-23000 screen printers and the market is saturated. The vast majority, more than 70%, is a home-based market. Therefore, people with smaller machines, 1-head, 2-head, 4-head, 6-head capacity, often times, home based in a garage shop, or whatever, with very low overheads are able to offer lower pricing that the commercial or industrial shops. The price of embroidery has dropped dramatically, and unfortunately, when there is more competition, the price automatically goes down even more.

In the case of North America, it wrecked the margins totally, and very few, in relative terms, of those businesses are very healthy businesses. Again, of all the businesses I have seen, since 1999, ( more than 2500 businesses doing embroidery and screen printing), very, very few owners are taking out even US$ 50,000-60,000 a year net income!!!!! There are a lot of big ones but, ‘lot’ is a relative term – right? There are 17000-18000 embroidery businesses and less than one percent are big….and that’s the reality in America.

Who can use an Embroidery Laser?

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Anybody looking to distinguish themselves from the rest of the embroiderers, in their area – their direct competitors.

If you look at any major city’s Yellow Pages, like Chicago, Toronto, New York, Vancouver, Calgary, L.A., Kansas City, etc., you will see dozens and dozens and dozens of embroidery businesses and very few have anything different to offer. They are all competing for the same thing, which is based on price.

So by offering the laser you upgrade the ability of your output, options of decorations, ability to offer multimedia decorations and you completely eliminate virtually all small embroidery shops and relegate them to doing high-stitch count and low-profit jobs, which they can very happily do, given the fact that they have very little overheads. And, at the end of the day, people still need excellent service and they need a healthy business.

Embroidery businesses are going bankrupt in record numbers more than the restaurant industry. How many times have you as an embroiderer been asked,”how come you don’t offer the same price as Joe?”. Then when you say, “well, go to Joe, because we can’t afford to do it like Joe”, and they say “well, Joe is out of business’….

So, it is an old running joke…but it is true! If you offer, what everyone else is offering then you will get +/- 10% of their results. If you do something different and upgrade your embroidery to the internet age then you can have the lion’s share of the market. The early adopters virtually always make all their money back and huge profit before all the others enter the market, and then the early adopters are already onto something new! Its proven in history, in business books, who you are! It’s actually more risky to enter the market too late. Right now, all the big companies who purchased bridge lasers have mostly made all their money back! It’s time for the smaller ones to jump in!

Why do you need it?

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You need it because its embroidery is an industrial age technology. It is from the World War I and II time and what it is, is stitching and what is it you’re doing, is trading your capacity for money. Making $45/hr is NOT PROFITABLE it needs to be more like $100/hr in today’s market! NO embroidery house is making that. However, embroidery houses with the lasers are making far more than that!

You’re saying, “I have embroidery capacity and I am willing to do it at this price”. And unfortunately, you’re only getting 2-3 turns per hour on a great day. So, that limits your ability of what income you can earn. That was one of the benefit of having a multi-head machine but a multi-head machine requires 2 operators to keep it running in capacity. So they are upgrading the turns per hour but, they have 2 people hooping it.

Again, take a look at the hoping device and find out a way to hoop faster than ever before and never ever wait for your capacity there. Take a close look at what the laser can do and consider it carefully! You need to make more profit in less time with less labor, only technology can do that for you!

Is the NGL Laser affordable for me?

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The question that I have is – “Can you afford to hire another person for US$ 13-14 per hour? Are you willing to let go of one person in your company who is not pulling his way and replace him with a machine that literally translates into US$ 13-14 an hour?”

Right now, I can guarantee you that there is NO other laser company in world that has a laser that can be offered at that price range. And, no other laser company in the world, that I know, is willing to offer you the laser on rentals so that it can prove to you what it can do. So the bottom line is that, an NGL laser will cost you around $5 US per hour, based on 21 days in a month and 8 hours a day. If you use a laser in a second shift, cost is exactly half a third shift and it’s like buying a coffee every hour! By the way, the NGL laser is guaranteed for 24 months UNLIMITED USE!

So the question is – “How can you not afford it?” That’s a reality and we can show you those numbers very clearly.

What the difference in the types of lasers?

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The number one difference between lasers is ‘air-cooled’ and ‘water-cooled’.

An ‘air-cooled’ laser – is like the old Porsche of Volkswagen Beetles they used air to cool the engine. Same thing here! Did not have a radiator and when you drove the car, it always had problems because, when you drove in traffic, it would literally get too hot. When you drove it on the highway, it was ok, except for (??) which did not get enough air-cooling. So, do you remember those days?...Any one of you?......

Water cooled lasers cost more, they require a dedicated cooling system and regardless of the room temperature they operate extremely well, but it adds many thousands of dollars in cost to the laser.

With the air cooled laser, it takes a little longer to warm up, the laser beam is not quite as tight and small, but who cares, you are not making parts for NASA you are cutting t-shirts.

The smaller the laser beam the more energy is concentrated into a small area, the quicker the material is vaporized and the less smoke and residue. You can get a similar effect if you simply get a higher power laser. ALL NGL lasers are PLUG AND PLAY. NO other laser in the market has that feature. You can upgrade without an entire rebuild of the laser. You can choose from Universal or Synrad laser, you can switch in a few years if you want! NO ONE ELSE OFFERS THIS!

What is a Galvo?

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Galvo is the terminology that we use to explain how we manipulate the laser beams. Using a mirror to manipulate the laser beam from high up is significantly faster than trying to move it physically at the surface level over the entire image.






A galvo laser is a simply a pair of mirrors that vibrate at a controlled by high rate of speed. Since the laser beam is moved at the source and not at the surface its these tiny motions that reflect at large angles making the process extremely fast.

A plotter laser on the other hand physically moves mirrors at the surface level and NOT at the source. It has to cover more physical geography and takes 10,20 or 30 times longer than a scanner head or galvo based laser! Plotter lasers also don’t accommodate embroidery hoops and finished garments. They also suck the smoke from the bottom which causes the stink and more burning marks in the material that you are cutting, in this case the garment!




Sample Galvo mirrors out of a scanner head!




Notice how moving little mirrors very fast can cover large areas! This youtube link shows a 100,000 plus stitch count design that is 250mm or 9.8” tall by about 7” wide made with the laser etch in 2min and 5 seconds! That would have taken more than an hour on an embroidery machine, it would not fit on a plotter but would have taken more than 14 minutes to do the same thing- if it could have!

Typical plotter style lasers, (all brands work on the same principles)

What is 3D Laser?

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3D Laser is a 100% fiction. It’s a sales talk gimmick. There is NO SUCH THING. The laser beam itself is one dimensional but aimed or pointed in 2 axis X and Y basically left and right, forward and backward on the garment. Same as a pantograph of your embroidery machine. And leaving the laser source it travels along a path and hits the product you are etching or cutting or marking.

3D is a complete misnomer there is no other manipulation of the beam, it doesn’t become a sphere or anything like that.

What is possible and what they are referring to is that the distance from the surface to the lens can be moved. It’s a patent in Europe but not patentable in the USA (moving focus that is, 3D is just a marketing term used by the laser companies and sales people).

The concept is that the laser beam can be moved closer to the surface or farther away so that the angle is reduced. The further away it is from the source the less the angle and therefore the cleaner the cut. If the angle is too great then the cut is bad around the edges of the material. The reason it’s somewhat important is that when you are cutting three layers of t-shirt the approach of the angle changes!

When you take a flashlight and you shine it down your toes, you have a nice round circle.

But if you aim the flashlight away from you, on an angle, that circle dramatically turns into an oval.

Try it you will see exactly what we mean,

Now, if you shine the flashlight in a big circle around you , you end up with a big oval moving all the way around you.

And, what happens in this case, is the same with the laser. If the laser is shining or cutting at a sharp angle, the effectiveness of it is reduced because the energy is spread over a larger area.



Using a beam expander compensates for this and allows you to have the sharpest sharp laser beam at all angles at all times anywhere in that area. The NGL lasers don’t incorporate that. The reason is that we are not making parts for NASA we are cutting textiles and t-shirts. We feel the added cost to the end user isn’t justified and after distributing the big bridge lasers we found that the people on the production floor weren’t using the fancy options the owners paid for!

We also found that customers just didn’t notice it or just couldn’t tell when we presented samples. The Coke and Pepsi blind taste tests had better results than our tests so we decided to keep the price of the laser low instead!

Why are the liquid cooled lasers more expensive?

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Simply because you are adding in a higher quality of laser source, all the hardware and connections to connect the laser source to a chiller, so it’s easy to add $12,000-$15,000 in a heartbeat.

The best sources of lasers are still made in the USA. One of them being Synrad, the other one being Universal, another one being Coherent. As a past GMI distributor, we had a certain experiences one brand so we chose to prevent those issues and make the NGL lasers plug and play with the Synrad or Universal laser sources. Think of it as the Porsche and the Corvette of laser sources in our opinion.

What is the difference in the beam size of the laser?

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The power of the laser is an important factor but it is not the end of the world. We have lasers ranging from 50W to 200W.

Higher power lasers typically have smaller beams. This combined with more power results in more energy in the point and more rapid vaporization of the material you are cutting or etching. When cutting- this means less passes faster speed in/min or mm/sec and less browning. In etching it means MORE passes because the beam is more narrow!

When it comes to leather, any laser can cut leather but the lower power laser (50W) requires more passes and leaves a bigger residue or smell than a 100W or 200W laser. With textiles there is typically no smell left in the garment, leather is unique in this case!

At the end of the day, if you ask anyone who has and is using a laser for any length of time, they will always say that more power is always better after they own the laser. However, when you are buying a laser you’re in a dilemma because the price of a laser is appropriate to the power of the laser as well. Therefore, a 50W laser is a very economical laser and functions very well. Besides the NGL lasers are completely upgradable AT ANY TIME!

Lower than 50 watt lasers are used when the embroidery machine pantograph does the moving because it’s NOT powerful enough to use on a scanner!

Now the point is, if you are introducing something new, and you have never done it before, and a 50W laser does something to your business that allows you to double your output, it is more than adequate. But, if you understand that you are confident in yourself and the technology and where it’s going to take you, then it is better in the beginning to get the most powerful laser, right up front and never look back !

What makes cotton and tackle twill yellow?

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You have to understand the principle that, the narrower the beam, the more accurate is the cut, and thus the less smoke and less yellowing. So if you have a lot of smoke, it is impossible that the white area, which is clean, does not absorb some of it and stain the other area to the left and to the right. The better the quality of laser beam, the more accurate and focused it is and narrower with less smoke and less yellowing and therefore, less damage. The faster the beam moves the less the chance of the browning!

The truth is that some people will use the tackle twill that has the glue on it, because they are using up the original tackle twill that they used to use for their appliqués when they had to do a running stitch, to cut and place them on top. With the laser you don’t need the tackle twill with the glue, and use them on the back necessarily. So when you don’t burn the glue, you don’t create as much smoke, residue and yellowing.

When we use light colors it is a factor in a laser and there are things you can do in the last and set the frequency of the laser, power of the laser, pulsing of the laser and the little options that are there in a laser, and thus you can minimize that effect. Often times, you zig zag stitch or satin stitch to close it up. Sometimes the material gives you no choices and you need to incorporate it into the design or simple satin stitch it up and hide it!



















How do I identify what power is best for me?

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Again, summarizing what I had said before, if you understand that you are confident in yourself and the technology and where it is going to take you, and you have a large number of heads and a multi bar installation, go with the higher power, because you will notice the difference. In other words, if you have a Corvette with 500 horsepower but you only go to the office which is 1 mile away, or to Seven-Eleven or the grocery store which is another mile away, and that’s all you ever do, 500 horsepower is totally over-equipped. Though we agree that you look good but is it really necessary?…

So if you only have a 4 to 30 heads head machine you can get away with the NGL50. If you cut leather you really need to consider a 200 W laser. If after the warranty you want to upgrade its not an issue!

Do I need a foil and what is a foil used for?

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This is a big mystery, so to speak, or a big misnomer in the industry and sales people always seem to misguide people.

What you need to do, is to buy a laser pointer from a dollar store, then take any material that you intend to cut and point the laser at the material and check if any light comes out underneath it. (Here is a little video).Bridge Laser Alternative- Why You need to use foil with all Galvo lasers

If the light comes through, then you will need a foil. Bottom-line – show that to anybody with common sense or go to University professors, and they will agree with you. If you see the light coming through underneath the material then it will be even more so with a laser. Why?

Because that laser pointer that you have from the dollar store or the laser level that you have from Black & Decker is many, many, and many times bigger than the scanning NGL laser that we are offering you. So imagine if the light shines through, the laser will definitely go through.

The foils are available in different types. You can buy foil very cheaply from Costco or – and pull it out and use that. However, it is a nightmare to clean because it disintegrates so easily and so quickly that you are actually pulling out tons of little pieces. We sell a foil that has paper back and when you pull the paper, the foil goes with it, so it is more like tearing postcard out of a magazine and you decrease you cleaning time in specific cases.

Some designs are easy used one way and some designs are easy used the other but, some people just refuse to spend a half a penny more.