Are you on the hunt for a powerful CO2 laser cutting machine? Perhaps a tool that’s perfect for both home use and your craft shop. Something compact but with the might to cut and engrave a variety of materials with precision? If yes, you’re at the right place.
In this article, we present the top 6 CO2 laser cutters available on the market. We will highlight their key features, draw comparisons, and help you find the perfect CO2 laser machine for your upcoming crafting projects.
In This Article
- What is a CO2 Laser Cutter?
- Best CO2 Laser Cutters: A Quick Comparison
- Top 6 CO2 Laser Cutter and Engraver Machines
- What Can a CO2 Laser Cutter Do?
- Things to Consider when Buying a CO2 Laser Cutting Machine
- FAQs of CO2 Laser Cutters
What is a CO2 Laser Cutter? How Does CO2 Laser Cutting Work?
There’s a whole array of laser machines out there, from large fiber lasers to compact diode lasers, each tailored for specific applications. Among these types, the CO2 laser cutter is a powerful player. But what does CO2 indicate?
Most laser cutters are defined based on the material used for laser propagation. The same is the case here. A CO2 laser cutter has a carbon dioxide gas-filled tube. When this tube gets electrified, it emits a concentrated beam of light. This beam, with its high energy and precision, is directed towards the material to be cut or engraved.
CO2 laser tubes can provide a range of power outputs, from a few watts to thousands of watts. A range between 40 to 80 is enough for small-scale engraving and cutting applications while higher powers are reserved for industrial use. So, whether your project demands delicate engravings or robust cuts, the CO2 laser cutter is up for the challenge.
Best CO2 Laser Cutters: A Quick Comparison
As the crafting market has evolved, demand for desktop CO2 laser cutting machines has also risen; multiple options have saturated the market. So, it may be tough to find the ideal machine.
No, worries, though! We have done the legwork and shortlisted the top six CO2 laser cutters available today. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of each, here’s a snapshot of their standout features:
|Specification||xTool P2||Glowforge Pro||OmTech Polar||FSL Muse 3D||Flux Beambox Pro||Gweike Cloud|
|Working Area||600 x 305 mm||495 x 279 mm||510.54 x 299.72 mm||508 x 305|
|600 x 375 mm||510 x 300 mm|
|Engraving Speed||600 mm/s||--||600 mm/s||--||300 mm/s||600 mm/s|
|Accuracy||0.01 mm||0.025mm||0.254 mm||--||--||0.025 mm|
|Max. Material Cutting Thickness||20 mm (Acrylic)||12.7 mm||10 mm||6.35 mm||8 mm||20 mm (Acrylic)|
|Smart Camera||Dual 16 MP||Wide Angle & Macro Camera||5MP||3D Camera||HD Camera||5MP|
|Curved Surface Engraving||✔||❌||❌||✔||❌||✔|
|Built-in Air Assist||✔||✔||✔||❌||✔||✔|
|Software||XCS and Lghtburn||Glowforge Software||RDWorks & Lightburn||Retina Engrave 3.0||BEAM Studio||Lightburn and Gweike Cloud|
|Warranty||12 months||12 months||24 months||24 Months (+$300)||12 months||24 Months|
Top 6 CO2 Laser Cutter and Engraver Machines
You have had a quick glimpse of the CO2 laser engravers on our radar. Now, we are going to unpack each machine, covering all the essentials you need to know.
1. xTool P2 55W CO2 Laser Cutter and Engraver
Our list begins with a very popular CO2 laser cutter and engraver, xTool P2. In just a short span, it's carved out a niche for itself, offering distinctive features that were previously missing in laser engravers. It's one of the best CO2 laser engravers for small business and hobbyists alike.
Let’s start off with its power. It has a whopping 55W CO2 laser, which is capable of slicing through a 20mm transparent acrylic in just one go. Dreaming of some custom home decor or snazzy furniture? The xTool P2 has got you covered.
Home decor projects of xTool P2 CO2 laser cutter
There’s more! This CO2 laser cutting machine is not just powerful; it’s smart too. It has a twin 16MP camera setup, which can autofocus and closely capture anything you place inside. You can drag your designs right where you want them and even fill patterns on multiple objects at once. Batch CO2 laser engraving is a breeze with P2.
Got curved surfaces? No problem. The xTool P2 isn't picky. It can engrave on curves just as it works on flat surfaces, thanks to its automatic surface scanning and 3D model-building capabilities. And with its high motion accuracy of 0.01 mm, you’re guaranteed a crisp, fine result every time.
Besides being powerful, the machine is fast too. With CO2 laser high absorption efficiency on wood, it can achieve a cutting speed of 35 mm/s. This is 6 times what you would’ve got on a diode laser. The engraving is even quicker, reaching up to 600 mm/s. It’s the fastest CO2 laser engraver on our list.
Its space won’t be an issue either for bigger laser cutting projects. The xTool P2 boasts a larger working area illuminated with LEDs, measuring 600 x 305 mm. And if you’re thinking even bigger, for instance, engraving of long feature sheets, the pass-through feature and conveyor feeder have got you sorted.
The features don’t end here. The Riser base lifts the machine, allowing a height space up to 215mm inside; it’s perfect for higher items like suitcases.
And for those who like customized tumblers, mugs, and rings, the rotary engraving accessory, xTool RA2 Pro is a game-changer.
Speaking of safety, xTool P2 comes with a built-in air assist and exhaust system. Pair it with a smoke purifier and you can safely use it indoors. Moreover, the auto-shut-off feature turns off the laser when you accidentally open the lid while processing.
This robust CO2 laser cutter can tackle a vast array of materials, from acrylic and wood to leather and metals. And even with its plethora of features, it's impressively priced under $4,500.
xTool P2 CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- Dual 16MP Camera Setup for autofocus and material preview
- Can cut through 20 mm acrylic and 18 mm wood in a single pass
- Supports both curved and rotary engraving
- Exceptional engraving speed of 600 mm/s
- Compatible with XCS and Lightburn software
- Comes with adjustable air assist, a 145 CFM exhaust fan, and water cooling system
- Multiple Add-ons (Automatic conveyer, rotary attachment, riser, smoke purifier)
2. Glowforge Pro 45W CO2 Laser Cutter And Engraver
Glowforge has been in the laser machine game for a while, and the Glowforge Pro is their top-tier offering. It is 45 Watt CO2 laser machine, which Glowforge claims to be 12 times faster than Aura. However, they’re silent on precisely how fast each one is. Pro users say it can reach engraving speeds of approximately 200 mm/s.
Like xTool P2, Glowforge also has twin cameras, one wide-angle camera for the overview of the whole setup, and another macro camera to autofocus and capture close images.
And if you’re wondering about materials, it’s versatile in that segment. Whether you're into wood, acrylic, or leather, or even if you have a wild idea to engrave chocolate (yes, chocolate!), this machine can get it done.
And it doesn’t stop there. You can engrave on fancy stuff like glass, stone, and even metals like titanium and aluminum. Glowforge recommends their Proofgrade materials as they work best with the machine.
With its nifty passthrough feature, you can tackle some seriously big projects. We’re talking materials up to 50 mm high, 515 mm wide, and as lengthy as your imagination runs. And for those marathon cutting sessions, it has a built-in thermo cooling system that runs without a hitch.
When it comes to software, Glowforge takes a unique approach compared to other laser engravers. You will be working wirelessly through the Glowforge print web app. Feel free to whip up designs using your favorite design tools, like Illustrator or Inkscape, and then just pop them into the Glowforge software. Just a heads up, it doesn’t work directly with any other laser software like Lightburn.
Wrapping up with the price, it is listed at $6,995.00. Although it may not pack as many features as the xTool P2, given Glowforge's solid reputation in the industry, it’s hard to label it as overpriced.
Glowforge Pro CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- Equipped with a passthrough slot for very long projects
- Has a twin camera system for material preview and autofocus
- The cooling system lets you work continuously for hours
- Wireless (Wi-Fi) control and design with Glowforge Print software
3. Omtech Polar 5OW CO2 Laser Cutter And Engraver
Omtech Polar is a compact CO2 laser cutter, designed for both small business owners and home-based creators. It is sleek, innovative, and packed with features that make it stand out.
The Polar comes with a powerful 50W CO2 laser tube. What does that mean for you? Super-fast cutting and engraving speed, a maximum of 600 mm/s. And if you want to create designs on cylindrical objects, the custom rotary attachment is a game-changer.
Speaking of internals, you’ve got plenty of space. Its work area measures 510.54 mm x 299.72 mm; it is large enough for most crafting projects. However, if you want to engrave or cut some longboard, a rear pass-through ( < 7mm high) may be used.
The machine also has a 5 MP 360-degree panoramic camera. You can see how your designs will look on the material in real time. Just drag, drop, adjust, and you’re good to go.
Now, let’s talk about software. The Polar is ready to roll with LightBurn, which is pretty much the industry standard. It is user-friendly, and you’ll be creating designs in no time. Plus, it works comfortably with RD Works, another laser cutter software.
Safety is a big deal, and the Polar doesn’t skimp on it. It is designed to be safe and eco-friendly. The machine is fully enclosed, ensuring maximum protection, and has all the necessary certifications to back it up.
And if you’re wondering about the materials you can work with, the list is long. From wood and acrylic to fabric and rubber, the Polar handles them all. You can even engrave on materials like glass and slate.
OmTech Polar CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- Panoramic camera to preview materials
- Supports rotary engraving
- Boasts a maximum engraving speed of 600 mm/s
- Supports Lightburn software
4. FSL(Full Spectrum Laser) Muse 3D 40W CO2 Laser Cutter And Engraver
Muse 3D is another cool kid on the block everyone wants to hang it. For starters, it boasts a pretty spacious 508mm x 305mm work area. That’s more than enough for most of your projects, whether you’re crafting cutting boards or smaller trinkets.
But here’s the kicker: if you have something even bigger than that, you can just remove the entire floor of the unit. This means you can place the laser directly on top of, say, a massive table or even floor tiles.
Power-wise, it comes with a 40W CO2 laser, but if you're feeling a bit extra, you can upgrade to a 45W tube. And the focus lens? It comes with a standard 2in, but FSL provides options to switch to 1.5, 2.5, or even 5in. Handy, especially if you are thinking of diving into rotary engraving with those curvy surfaces.
Next, come its tech features. The Muse 3D is equipped with a 7-inch inch touchscreen that's your gateway to job controls, system preferences, and past projects. It is pretty intuitive, though there might be a slight learning curve in some areas.
Another standout highlight is auto-adjustments. Instead of manually adjusting the Z-axis, the laser does it automatically, faster, and with greater precision. It has a 3D camera that maps millions of 3D data points, to adjust the Z motor to the proper height.
Users can monitor the laser job through a live feed from the camera. This is especially useful in settings like STEM labs, where teachers can oversee students’ work without hovering over them.
Safety and convenience are also top-notch. The Muse integrates everything from compressed air to water cooling into the coolbox. Plus, there’s an additional exhaust fan option to help with pesky fumes, especially if you're working in a more enclosed space.
From tests, Muse is known to cut and engrave materials like wood, acrylic, fabric, paper, and rubber. It can even engrave stone! And for those wondering about metal, while you can't cut it, you can "engrave" using certain coatings or solutions.
On the software front, Full Spectrum offers its Retina Engrave 3.0, which works across all devices, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. You can design directly within it, or import designs from other platforms. Lastly, on the costs front, it’s a bit pricy, available at $6,499.
FSL Muse 3D CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- Boasts a motorized Z-axis that adjusts and focuses automatically
- Large 7-inch screen for controlling the cutting and engravings
- Camera to take 3D images of the material
- Supports a rotary attachment
- Web App that works across all devices
5. Flux Beambox Pro 50W CO2 Laser Cutter And Engraver
Launched in 2018, Bemabox is the first compact laser cutter and engraver from Taiwan-based Flux. It houses a 50W CO2 laser tube which is capable of cutting up to a thickness of 8 mm in a single pass.
With this much power, the laser setup may heat. Flux has got that covered with an internal closed-loop water cooling system to resist heat. If things get too hot, the machine takes a breath, pausing operations to prevent any damage.
The Beambox offers an 80mm working height, and the working area in the Pro model stretches 600 x 375 mm. That’s a lot of room for your projects! Sadly, no pass-through functionality is available. And to make things even more user-friendly, there's a built-in HD camera. It lets you preview the work area so that you may align your designs perfectly with your material.
Material-wise, it is versatile too. You can cut through wood, acrylic (5 mm), wood (8 mm), fabric, and leather. Plus, you can engrave on rubber, stone, and coated stainless steel.
The Beambox series is pretty flexible when it comes to connectivity. Whether you’re a fan of Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or good old USB, they've got you covered. The Beam Studio software, which is free by the way, supports a variety of file formats. For those who are on the move, there is a mobile app called Beam Go, essentially a portable version of the Beam Studio software.
Beambox Pro does support rotary engraving, however, you need to purchase a separate attachment for it. It is priced at $4,255, which is expensive considering the lack of multiple features other laser cutters on the list provide.
Flux Beambox Pro CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- HD camera to preview objects
- Internal water cooling system to resist heat
- Supports rotary engraving with an attachment
- Remote support with the Beam Go App
6. Gweike Cloud 55W CO2 Laser Cutter And Engraver
Gweike Cloud is another feature-packed CO2 laser cutter on our list. This sleek machine is the perfect blend of power, precision, and user-friendliness. At its heart, it’s powered by a 55W CO2 laser, which lets it handle various materials and gives an industrial-grade engraving speed of 600 mm/s.
Now, let’s talk about the built-in systems. The integrated water chiller, air exhaust fan, and air assist system all operate at a surprisingly quiet noise level of ≤ 70 dB. So, you're getting efficient cooling and smoke extraction.
It has a 5MP camera too. This multi-functional camera does two jobs. First, provides a live preview of your design. Second, it lets you extract patterns from objects, opening up multiple creative possibilities.
In terms of work area, the machine is again generous. With the honeycomb panel, you’ve got a spacious 510 x 300 mm area to bring your projects to life. To get you started, the package comes with materials like basswood, acrylic, and cardboard.
You can do all sorts of engraving on the machine. Whether it’s plain engraving, rotary engraving, or curved surface engraving, it shines well in all areas. You can even create 3D graphics on acrylics, glass, and diamonds.
On the software front, the Gweike Cloud stands out. Not only does it come with a free online design library, but it is also compatible with 3 control software, Lightburn, Gweike Cloud Software, and Cloud Online Control. So, you have accessibility via wired (USB) or wireless connections (Wi-Fi ).
And safety? They've got that covered too. The machine is fully enclosed, ensuring maximum protection, and it boasts certifications from CE, FCC, and FDA.
Gweike Cloud CO2 Laser Cutter Key Features:
- Noise rating of ≤ 70 db.
- Exceptional engraving speed of 600 mm/s
- Can slice 20 mm acrylic sheet in a single pass
- Comes with a built-in water chiller to keep the machine cool
- 5MP camera provides a real-time preview and extracts patterns
- Built-in Air Assist and Ventilation System
What Can a CO2 Laser Cutter Do?
The materials a type of laser can work with depends on how well its wavelength is absorbed by materials. CO2 lasers produce a concentrated infrared light with a wavelength of 10.6 micrometers. This wavelength is particularly effective in interacting with non-metal materials.
Here are some common materials for CO2 laser cutting and engraving:
- Wood: softwood, hardwood, plywood, and MDF are excellent absorbers of the CO2 laser's infrared light, making them ideal for intricate designs in signage, architectural models, and decorative items.
- Acrylic and Plastic: The laser can cleanly cut and engrave acrylic (also known as Plexiglass), commonly used in signage, jewelry, and deorative items.
- Paper and Cardboard: Suitable for everything from thin paper to thick cardboard, CO2 lasers are perfect for creating detailed invitations, packaging, and models.
- Fabrics and Textiles: CO2 laser machines can cut and engrave materials like denim, felt, and linen, used in custom apparel, accessories, and home decor.
- Leather: Both genuine leather and synthetic alternatives can be intricately engraved or cut for fashion accessories, upholstery, and personalized items.
- Glass and Crystal: While CO2 lasers can't cut glass or crystal, they can etch detailed decorative designs on drinkware, awards, and home decor items.
- Stone and Ceramic: Engraving on materials like marble, granite, slate, and ceramic tiles is possible, often used for decorative and architectural purposes.
- Rubber: Laser-grade rubber is suitable for creating custom stamps and printing blocks.
- Metals (Coated or with Marking Agents): CO2 lasers can mark anodized aluminum and coated metal.
Things to Consider when Buying a CO2 Laser Cutting Machine
Laser cutting technology has come a long way. Those massive machines we once spotted only in industrial settings, now come in sizes akin to your everyday printer. For professionals eager to breathe life into their creative visions, these compact powerhouses are a dream come true.
Choosing a desktop laser machine can be a challenge, especially for newbies. For those who are new to the CO2 laser cutter world, these seven critical factors will be your guide for finding the right machine:
1. Optical Power
Optical power is the primary indicator of the machine’s might. This power hinges on the CO2 tube size. Generally, more power means thicker and swifter cuts. CO2 lasers can pack power up to kilowatts. However, for your desktop laser cutter, anything between 40 to 80 watts hits the sweet spot.
2. Processing Speeds
Just as you would gauge a car’s prowess by its engine capacity and top speed, a laser cutter’s efficiency is measured by its engraving and cutting speeds. These speeds, measured in mm/s or inch/s, reveal how briskly a machine can get the job done. If you are running a business, this metric is non-negotiable.
3. Size and Working Area
Your ideas have no limits but a machine’s working area can set boundaries. So, when you're envisioning grand projects, make sure the machine’s working area aligns with your ambitions. Check for length, width, and height when buying.
And here’s a pro tip: the machine’s dimensions aren’t the same as its working area. Ensure the working size is enough to fit your crafts.
Some machines offer a bit of wiggle room with height, thanks to removable bases. And for those lengthy projects, look out for the ‘pass-through’ feature. It allows you to slide in longer materials.
4. Camera Setup
Cameras are the device’s eyes; the sharper they are, the more pristine the outcome. While some machines sport dual cameras - one for close-ups and another for a wider view, others manage with just one. However, the real gems are those machines that assign dedicated cameras for specific tasks. Keep an eye out for them!
In the laser cutting world, attachments are like a secret sauce that amps up a machine's versatility. They are the add-ons that bring in that extra oomph. When scouting for a laser cutter, look for those that are compatible with rotary attachments. Machines that come with riser bases are a plus, and if they are equipped with air-assist and smoke purifiers, you’re in for a treat.
The way your laser cutting machine connects can make a world of difference. While some machines are old school and prefer the trusty cable, others have embraced the digital age and connect remotely via web apps. It’s something one overlooks, but knowing this is important as it will define the ease of operation.
7. Software Compatibility
Most CO2 laser cutter machines come with their own tailor-made software. But, it’s a good idea to try that software before buying. And if you’re someone who likes to switch between different software or have a personal favorite, go for machines that are compatible with multiple laser cutter software.
FAQs of CO2 Laser Cutters
What is the best CO2 laser cutter?
The xTool P2 stands out as the premier desktop CO2 laser cutter. It is a powerhouse with a 55W laser, zipping through designs at 600 mm/s with pinpoint 0.01 mm accuracy. Plus it can cut through a 20 mm thick acrylic sheet in a single pass. Whether you’re working on flat, curved, or even spherical surfaces, the P2 handles it with ease. This combination is quite rare and P2 has got all in one sleek machine.
2. Can CO2 laser cutters cut metals?
Typically, CO2 lasers and metals don’t mix when it comes to cutting; the metal tends to reflect the CO2 laser’s wavelength. If you want to cut metals, fiber lasers are your go-to. However, for engraving tasks, especially on coated or sprayed metals, CO2 laser engraving machines shine as both cost-effective and proficient.
3. How much does a CO2 laser cutter cost?
The cost of desktop CO2 laser cutters ranges from $3,000 to $7,000. Tack on essential attachments, and the cost climbs a bit higher.
Finding a laser cutter is like searching for an ideal timepiece. It has to be something that resonates with your rhythm, be reliable in its function, and reflect your essence. And like timepieces, the perfect match might require some exploration. Whenever buying a CO2 laser engraver, make sure to consider factors like optical power, engraving speeds, work areas, connectivity, and ease of use.
From the array of six CO2 laser machines we dissected, xTool P2 confidently rises as the top CO2 laser cutter of 2023. It is nicely priced and packed with all the features a professional crafter or small business owner needs.