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Before proceeding with the actual recommendations, we need to make clear the differences between laser cutters and laser engravers. The main difference between the two is that a laser cutter is generally optimized for speed as opposed to laser engravers which are optimized for a higher engraving quality. This way an engraving machine will always deliver cleaner cuts on the same range of materials, but because they don’t have the same laser power as the laser cutters they will not cut through the same thickness of material. It is very important to acknowledge this because it matters the most when deciding which of them is suitable for you.
Now a little technical explanation on this matter. The engraving machine uses a lens with a shorter focal length in order to have a fine spot size, this way the final results have a higher quality and can be very important on items where precision is a must. On the other hand, the longer focal length of the laser cutting machines is more tolerant of the focus height variations, so it is better for materials that do not require precision in the first place rather speed and power.
In summary, I could say that a laser cutter is more often used in industrial production and a laser engraver on things like customization of things by a small business.
Still, now most machines are a combination of both engraver and cutter in order to satisfy all needs. Since most of them are operated by computer programs, the power of the laser beam and other things are adjustable.
Now let’s see what the market has to offer. I made a selection of some of the best laser engravers/cutters to help you get exactly what you need. You can guide yourself using the sections bellow.
If you’re looking for a vinyl cutter, have a look at my page with the best vinyl cutting machines.
Laser Cutter/Engraver Reviews
Although I recommend this laser engraver for wood work and any related materials, it doesn’t mean you cannot use it for things like PVC or even marble. It comes equipped with a DSP control system that uses Corel Draw or AutoCAD as “printing” software and a proprietary driver, which basically means that it doesn’t require a computer connection due to the three parts: the U disk, control card and handle controller.
It is powered by one step motor and a linear guide that reduce the speed in order to assure a smooth cut or engraving. The focus lens and the metal reflect mirror are made in the USA and have a very high-quality engraving and even cutting capabilities along with a great precision.
As you may already know, most laser engravers work using a sealed CO2 laser tube, this one is no exception and it lasts about 3000 hours or 1-1.5 years and it comes with a water-cooling system and it can operate continuously as long as you take care of replacing the water.
Other materials that it can engrave on are the following: ceramic, bowler, A4 paper, decorations, souvenirs, arts and crafts, plastics, rubber, woolens, acrylic, greeting and wedding cards, shoes, silicone, Plexiglas, bamboo and wood (works very well on these), cloth and even leather.
If you consider it has what it takes, this laser engraver is a great choice for the money.
Kohstar Heavy Duty rotary fiber laser marking machine metal laser marking Tool Engraving Machines 20W
Laser engravers for metal are of a special kind. Generally speaking, you cannot use a CO2 powered laser and expect great results on metal. There is a trick which lets you engrave on metal using CO2 lasers that implies using some chemical substance applied on the surface of the metal but I don’t consider shortcuts like this to deliver any good results. That is why I chose this fiber laser as the best laser engraver for metal and guns.
Very important to know is that the fiber laser uses a completely different way of engraving. Explaining the process is quite complicated so I will link it here if you want to know what is the scientific explanation behind. So it doesn’t work with any kind of consumables like the CO2 tubes, this is why you can expect it to work for more than 10 years without considering any kind of maintenance on this matter.
It has an incredible speed of 800 standard characters per second, which is above most other models, a 1-micron laser beam and has a USB interface so you can connect your computer to upload the models. The whole power of the laser is 800 watts but the output is of 20W, a power supply of 220/110V 50/60 Hz and it has a marking depth between 0.01-0.02, according to the type of metal you are using and speed. The cooling process is done using air and the workspace is of 100 by 100 mm, which I consider enough for most users.
Remember that this is a quite industrial laser engraver so it requires some space to operate in good conditions and good ventilation as well. For this price you get a highly reliable metal laser engraver, this is why I highly recommend the Kohstar fiber laser metal engraver as a great choice for anyone who wants to professionally engrave any kind of metals.
For a small business which does not have so much money to invest in a laser engraver, this one might just be the best pick. It comes at dimensions of 115 X 97 X 86 cm or 45 X 38 X 33 inches with a pretty big working table of 27.5 X 19.68 inches (70 X 50 cm) and a laser power of 60W.
It has a DSP control system as you may have seen on other similar laser engravers that work along with CorelDraw. As consumables it uses a quality CO2 laser tube that will last for about 1 year or slightly more, the lens is also of high quality and they are made in the USA in order to have smooth, smoke-free precision cuts or engravings.
It uses a water cooling system as on most other laser engravers, which works very well and can let you use the engraver 24 hours a day as long as you take care of changing the water regularly. You can see where the laser beam will action thanks to the red dot pointer although I would recommend using it only when you need to know where to position the object or material you want to engrave because it may not last very long and can cause a lot of fuss to change it.
The connection with a PC is made through a 2.0 USB, and it supports the following file extensions: PLT, DST, HPGL, AI, and BMP. The table is made of aluminum with honeycomb holes for ventilation. It has a gross weight of 185 kg and at the size mentioned above it can fit in a small room with the requirement that it has access to the outside for the tube that takes the smoke out.
All in all a great laser engraver for many types of materials and objects that can make a good impact on your small business and at this price it is a bargain.
This laser engraver has one of the best quality/price ratios that I have seen on the market at the moment of writing this article. It comes at a power of 40W and can also work as a laser cutter, for thin materials.
It uses the same technology as other laser engravers, a CO2 tube with an operating life of about 1000 to 1300 hours which roughly means about 1 year until you will have to buy a new one, and obviously, this varies much depending on how much you use it. Of course, other more expensive laser engravers may feature CO2 tubes that can function for a longer period of time but considering the price of this one it still has a great operating life.
The software that comes along with the laser operates using a dongle which you will have to keep connected to the PC any time you want to use it. The following formats are supported: JPG, PLT, JPEG, EMF, BMP, and WMF.
The ideal operating temperature is between 4.5 – 40 degrees C or 40 – 104 F and uses a water cooling system so remember that you are required to change the water regularly. Since it only weighs 67 lb. and measures 31.5 X 19.5 X 10 inches you can easily find a place for it on a table or in any sort of small room that has good ventilation.
In this price, you do not only get the laser itself but also a laser tube, focal lens, and the reflection lens, along with the water pump that is required for cooling but beware that the accessories vary from seller to seller. So you only have to plug the laser engraver in a power source, get your designs into the laser’s internal memory using the software and you are ready to go. It can work on various metals like wood, leather, and even glass etc., although not metal. I do not recommend using this laser for any kind of metals, not even aluminum foil because they can cause damage to the optics and if somehow don’t, it won’t deliver any results. For a laser engraver/cutter that works on metal or guns check our pick above.
I can’t deny, you won’t see the same results as on a more professional laser engraver that can cost as much as $6000-$7000, but considering this one is cheaper it is worth every buck.
Before I start describing this laser engraver you need to know that although I recommend it especially for glass objects and Plexiglas, this laser is capable of engraving or cutting on many other types of materials which include but is not limited to wood, crystal, rubber, ceramics, marble, and leather.
It features a working area of 500 by 700 mm with total dimensions of 115 X 86 X 97 cm or 45.2 X 34 X 38 inches, also the laser power is of 60 W with a resolution of 1000 DPI and location precision of up to 0.01 mm. The big hole on the side is used for evacuating air from the laser when something is being engraved. Generally, this air suction feature can also be used for creating an air gap in order that the materials stick to the working surface.
It is powered by the same CO2 tube technology, and the receiving of files is done through a USB port. The supported formats are BMP, JPEG, DXF, DST, JPG, HPGL and AI. Also, depending on your seller in the package, you should get the necessary items like the smoke pipe, water pump, software and all cables needed along with an accessory bag.
Speaking of the casing and general feel it has a pretty beautiful combination of colors, black and red with small yellow indicators along with a sturdy body that will resist over time. Considering that the case is made of metal it only weighs 185 kg or 407 pounds, what I consider optimal for these kinds of semi-professional laser engravers.
At this price you get a quality laser engraver to expose your creativity on glass or some other materials and why not, maybe start your own business if you do not already have one. I highly recommend this laser engraver to anyone that finds it worth spending their hard earned money on a creation tool capable of transposing their ideas into tangible things.
A laser cutter for home, should first and foremost have small dimensions and a small weight in order to be easily displaced when you have to use the table for something else for example. Then it has to be easy to use and have an intuitive interface. Nonetheless, the price is also very important since at home you can’t expect to make any industrial kind of activity that can produce enough money to pay for the laser’s value.
This laser is the one that I found to have all these characteristics wrapped in a beautiful blue and eye-catching casing. It connects to a computer using a standard USB connection and with the Corel Draw software you can create your own designs, vectorize photos and so much more. Although all the pieces are assembled in China, some of this laser cutter’s parts come from Germany, like the stepping belt and motors, and Japan, like the motherboard and processing chip.
Also, the price you are paying is not everything; energy consumption is something else that takes money out of your pocket. Thankfully this laser cutter has a low power consumption, this way you won’t have to worry that your next energy bill will skyrocket.
Now speaking of more technical specs it works using a CO2 tube, the cooling is water based and the following file types are accepted: JPG, JPEG, PLT, WMF, BMP, and EMF. Depending on the material you are cutting it has a cutting speed between 0-1.38 inches per second or 0-35 mm per second and as said before it has small dimensions of 31.3 X 19.6 X 9.8 inches and a weight of 67 lb. / 30 Kg. Depending on your seller in the package you should receive the necessary accessories and tools to get the laser up and running like the water pump, smoke fan, smoke pipe, the CO2 laser tube, accessory bag, English user manual, USB cable and the USB dongle or key that you will have to connect to the computer anytime you want to use the laser cutter. But again the package contents vary a lot based on where you buy the laser from.
Considering that at a decent price you get a laser cutter with all the major features necessary to get your job done, this is a worthy item to regard for home.
If what you want is a reliable laser cutter for wood, this is the one that I would recommend. Of course, I do not refer to big chunks of wood but for most wood types that do not exceed 5mm in thickness this laser cutter is great.
It comes with a USB port for easy connection and file transfer and it works based on the Corel Draw software combined with LaserCRW. With Corel Draw, you create the templates and the designs and the LaserCRW program is used by the laser to cut or engrave the materials.
The same as other laser cutters in this price range it uses a CO2 laser tube as the cutting technology which in general will last about 1 year to 1.5 years depending on your usage time. The air evacuation is made by an evacuation tube.
Speaking of dimensions, it features a working area of 40 X 30 cm or 15.7 X 11.8 inches that is adjustable up to 15 cm (approx. 6 inches) and total dimensions of 36.6 X 26.4 X 18.5 inches. The movement is made by a reliable stepper motor and it has all the needed parts coming together in the package depending on where you buy the laser from like the laser tube, focal lens, and the reflection lens in order to assemble it right away and get the thing going fast.
Be careful that you must specify what type of power supply you need, considering that Voltage types are different in America than in Europe. If you are purchasing from the USA or Canada you will have to request an 110V power supply, otherwise, you will need a 220V one. Contact the supplier on this matter in order to be sure you get exactly what works in your area.
For a price less than some semi-professional laser cutters you get a reliable laser capable of cutting and engraving multiple surfaces besides wood like crystal, organic plastic, boulder, paper and even leather. I consider this laser cutter to be a safe and reliable investment for the money and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something similar to what I described above.
For leather cutting and engraving this Mophorn branded laser is probably the best pick. It should come with all the necessary accessories and has an industrial layout. What I especially like about this laser cutter and about Mophorn products, in general, is that most components are high quality and resist to heavy usage and here I include the optics, stepper motors, belts and others.
The worktable features a metal surface with linear holes for air evacuation, and 300 X 500 mm or 11.81 X 19.7 inches usable space; it also has a location precision of bellow 0.01 mm and a resolution ratio of 4500 DPI.
The file transfer is done through a USB port and it supports every extension that is supported by Corel Draw since this is the base software for template creation. Although I find it to be very good at cutting leather, in particular, this doesn’t mean it is limited to leather only. It can also cut or engrave on materials like PVC, solid wood, plywood, paper and even plastic.
In most cases, it should come with all the necessary components like the exhaust fan, CO2 tube, and other accessories in order to have a minimal contribution in assembling the remaining pieces and be ready to go in the shortest time. Of course, the items that you receive in the package vary from seller to seller. Other features include a water cooling system as you may have seen on other laser cutters, an operating temperature between 41 – 104 F or 5 – 40 C and a laser power of 50W. As an important mention, the software from this laser will only work with Windows-based environments up until Windows 7.
At this price, I think the Mophorn industrial laser cutter is a great choice. It has a great price / quality ratio, it arrives with everything you need, is reliable and can work 24 hours a day. What else would you need?
EnPoint® DTY & Pro Desktop 500mW Mini USB Laser Cutting Laser Engraver for Craftwork Artwork Paper Cutting
Since this is not a very complicated laser cutter I will describe it shortly. It is ideal for cutting small sized objects, especially paper, logos, photosensitive seal, cardboards and even bank cards; also it can engrave on materials like wood, plastic, phone cases, some types of leather and rubber. Very important to specify is that it cannot process any kind of metal no matter how thin. Basically, besides metal, you cannot use it for materials that have reflecting surfaces because the optics on this laser cutter can be damaged very easily. This is why I highly recommend it for paper and similar materials.
Of course at this price you won’t see any of the fancy features from professional laser cutters, but for what it was created it is enough. It has an engraving area of 16 X 20 cm and the cooling system is based on a fan,
What I really like about this cheap laser cutter is the way it was built. It has a simple layout with metal frames, motors, acrylic holders and that’s pretty much it. Nothing complicated involved, in order to be easily displaceable, practical and have a good look wherever you place it.
However what I am not a fan of is the limitation regarding the continuous operating time which is just 30 minutes. But I can consider this somewhat acceptable because from the start it was not intended for industrial use.
That’s pretty much it. If what you want is a cheap and reliable laser cutter for paper and all the related materials this laser cutter is probably one of the best picks.
A well-known laser cutter/engraver that I also like
This is a laser I recommend for everyone looking for affordability and reliability. It is made by to deliver good results and while it may not be the absolute best it is pretty good for nonprofessional projects.