10 Best Laser Engravers & Engraving Machines 2023
Laser engravers are ideal for starting a small business, creating art pieces, making personalized items, creating custom parts and pieces, and DIY stuff. These are quite popular on the market because there is a massive demand for laser engraving products and work/tasks.
If you are thinking about buying a laser engraving machine, it might be difficult for you to decide which one you should choose. There are dozens of laser engraving machines available, so it becomes challenging to pick one.
As a beginner, you might get confused about what to choose and what to ignore. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about a laser engraver. Moreover, we have hand-picked some of the best laser cutting and engraving machines to help you shortlist the best of them.
In This Article
- What is a Laser Engraver?
- How Does a Laser Engraving Machine Work?
- What is a Laser Engraver Used For?
- Top 10 Laser Engravers
- Laser Engraver Guide for Beginners
What is a Laser Engraver?
A laser engraver emits laser beams that are used for engraving different types of materials. It is a machine that has a laser source to produce powerful beams. These beams are capable of engraving the material. It takes out or removes the material from the surface, and there is a cavity or deep mark left on the object that can be felt through touch.
You might have seen wood carving. It is a traditional process of removing the material from the surface of the wood to get the desired design or shape. A chisel or sharp-bladed tool is used to remove wood.
Similarly, a laser engraver removes the material from the surface of the object. The object can be shaped or designed as required. The only difference is the working process and the tool/method used for engraving.
A laser engraver is an advanced technology that uses software for control. The design or image is uploaded through software, and it commands the machine to work accordingly. Due to the usage of laser, computer, and high-quality graphics, the accuracy and precision achieved are unmatchable.
How Does a Laser Engraving Machine Work?
The laser beams are produced by the laser source, which can be a pump diode, CO2 glass tube, etc. These beams are directed using reflectors, and they are finally converged through a convex lens. After passing through the lens, the laser beams are concentrated at a tiny focal point, which is called the laser spot. Now, this laser is ready to engrave the material.
The laser module is the component in which all these things happen. It is located on the machine and moved through the commands of the software. Therefore, the machine is controlled to get the desired engraving result.
When the laser comes in contact with the object, it increases the temperature of the material. The temperature shoots quickly, and it reaches the boiling point of the material. With that being said, the material starts to vaporize. The material is directly converted from solid to gas because of the instant rise in temperature, and this is known as sublimation.
Once the material from the surface is converted into vapors, there is a cavity left, which is called engraving. This is the simple procedure or working of a laser engraving machine.
What is a Laser Engraver Used For?
A laser engraver is used for a wide range of purposes. The most important use of the engraving machine is to make the required design on the objects. It could be a pattern, name, quote, picture, or anything else. It gives a new taste or meaning to the object. For instance, on a piece of wood, you can engrave your photos.
Secondly, laser machines are used for the sole purpose of customization and personalization. You might have seen various customized gifts, such as wallets, tumblers, bags, keychains, lockets, rings, wall hangings, door hangers, etc.
All these things are made or engraved using a laser engraving machine. The machine can engrave anything on a compatible material.
Customized products are in great demand. These are used for gifting, and people usually buy them for their loved ones. Moreover, companies and businesses also buy customized gifts and products for their customers, workers, and visitors. Therefore, there is massive business potential.
A laser engraving machine is not only for engraving, but it can also do cutting. The machine can undoubtedly customize various objects, but it can also make products from scratch. Using cutting and engraving, you can make different items, such as jewelry boxes, wall hangings, jewelry, showpieces, and toys.
DIY lovers use laser engravers to make various projects and products. It allows them to express their creativity and turn their imagination into reality. Moreover, artists and professionals also use laser engraving and cutting machines. They cut the desired shape of the material to use in various projects.
Another use of laser engraving is permanent marking. It allows the user to engrave barcodes, numbers, logos, and other things on various materials. It is a necessity for some businesses.
Top 10 Laser Engravers
1) xTool D1 Pro
The first laser engraving and cutting machine on our list is xTool D1 pro, the best alternative to Glowforge. It is in first place because it has received the Red Dot Design 2022 Award. The outstanding design and state-of-the-art technology set this machine apart from other machines on the market.
xTool D1 pro is a high-accuracy DIY diode laser engraver. It is perfect for DIY enthusiasts, small laser businesses, artists, hobbyists, and professionals.
Beginners can effortlessly use this machine and start their laser engraving journey. It is quite simple to operate and has specialized software to make everything easier for beginners.
The machine has commendable precision because of the ultra-fine laser spot measuring 0.08 x 0.06mm. It covers even the tiny details on the graphics and does vector and raster engraving with ultimate precision. The repeat position accuracy of the machine is 0.02, making it ideal for vector graphics.
There are many add-ons and accessories available to upgrade the machine. First of all, it has the world's most powerful diode laser module that can be attached to the machine. Secondly, with the help of the world's first 4-in-1 rotary attachment, the machine can work in 99% of cylindrical engraving scenarios.
- The machine has an industrial-grade structural design that makes it durable and stable.
- The wheel and shaft are made of steel to support 100,000+ times of sliding and increase the life of the machine three times.
- Due to the innovative dual laser technology, the laser is more powerful than a similar machine of the same optical power.
- The focus of the laser can be easily adjusted using the focus lever. It hardly takes a few seconds.
- The engraving area is 430 x 390 mm, which is large enough for most of the engraving and cutting projects.
- It can also work in offline mode using a TF card.
- It works on xTool Creative Space and Light burn, and it supports a wide range of formats, including SVG, PNG, JPEG, BMP, DXF, and NC.
2) xTool M1
xTool M1 is also the Red Dot Design 2022 winner and the world's first hybrid laser and blade-cutting machine. The laser module of the machine has a laser head along with a blade head. Thus, it can cover a wide range of materials and offer perfect results.
The machine is compact and like a desktop printer. It can be used inside a house or small shop. It is portable and compact enough to be carried easily.
The FAC lens used in the machine combines the laser beams at a very tiny spot measuring 0.08 x 0.08mm. Due to high focus, the machine offers high accuracy and precision.
The built-in camera in the machine makes it super easy for the user to align the graphics over the object. The user can see the real-time image of the object under the laser module.
The camera also helps in auto-focusing by detecting the material thickness and type. It adjusts the optimal cutting and engraving parameters on its own.
The machine can do batch processing. It can engrave and cut multiple objects of the same shape simultaneously. Its AI algorithm detects the shape on its own and does the engraving.
- The safety features of the machine are commendable. It has a blue-light blocking lid that blocks harmful rays. Moreover, the machine shuts down if the lid is up.
- The machine can extract the image through its camera. Later, the image can be used for engraving.
- It is ideal for beginners and safe enough. Children can also use it under the supervision of adults.
- Has dual-laser technology that makes the laser machine more powerful.
3) Snapmaker 2.0
Snapmaker is a 3-in-1 machine that can do 3D printing, CNC carving, and laser engraving and cutting. It is a one-of-a-kind modular and compact machine perfect for home and small businesses. You can do almost anything with the machine.
image credit: Snapmaker
There are three models of Snapmaker 2.0, so users can easily select the right one according to the size they need. After all, it is a compact machine that can be used in a small shop or garage.
Due to the 3-in-1 feature, it works on a wide range of materials. As far as laser engraving and cutting are concerned, it is compatible with plastic, leather, wood, paper, fabric, non-transparent acrylic, and some other materials.
The hardware and build quality of the machine is commendable. It is undoubtedly made from high-quality aluminum alloys and high-quality components. It looks premium at a glance.
There is 3-in-1 software to do 3D printing, engraving & cutting, and carving. The company has combined everything in one application. Although it needs improvement, it is still excellent to get the job done.
- The machine has a built-in camera that helps you align the object and have an idea of the final result.
- The auto-focus feature of the laser module adjusts its focus automatically according to the material.
- The compact design and 3-in-1 functionalities are amazing. The machine can do almost anything and help the user create a wide range of objects and products.
4) Glowforge Pro
Glowforge Pro is one of the high-end desktop CO2 laser engraving machines. It is a compact machine packed with a wide range of outstanding features.
image credit: Glowforge
The machine has a live camera preview that helps you see your design and the result before you start the engraving. It also helps in the accurate positioning of the design over the object. In addition, the height of the module or focus is adjusted automatically to offer high precision.
The high-resolution engraving of the machine is awesome. It gives the perfect 3D appearance and feel and supports 3D curves with 1,000 DPI resolution. In addition, the movement of the motors in the machine is more precise than a thousandth of an inch.
A distinct feature of the machine is that it does not require desktop software. It works on cloud-based software that you can use on your internet browser. Moreover, the software only requires dragging and dropping. It supports vector and raster graphics formats, including PNG, SVG, JPG, and PDF.
- The 45W CO2 laser tube is powerful enough to engrave materials at a very high speed. Glowforge Pro has three times enhanced speed to complete the job quickly.
- It supports hundreds of materials that allow the user to make a wide variety of products.
- The machine is compatible with Mac, PC, Android, and iOS.
- The autofocus makes engraving easier for beginners.
5) Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro S2
Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro S2 is undoubtedly an amazing laser engraver that has won the hearts of users. Firstly, the speed of the machine is outstanding. It engraves almost two times faster than similar machines on the market. The fast speed due to the latest firmware optimizes the motion algorithm and offers a maximum speed of 15,000mm per minute.
image credit: Ortur
The machine is full of safety features. First of all, there is an emergency stop button and a flame detector alarm. Additionally, it contains position deviation protection, excess exposure detection, laser beam safety, and power control. All these features make the machine suitable for beginners.
There are four options for the buyer to choose the laser module. All modules have different optical power and focal spot dimension. The user can choose a suitable module for engraving. The highly focused laser module has focal spot dimensions of 0.07 x 0.06mm, which is ideal for fine details during engraving.
The accessories and attachments, such as Air Assist, Air Flow Regulator, z-axis lifting device, roller rotary, and enclosure casing, are also available.
- The machine is made of sheet metal and aluminum, which makes it durable and stable.
- It comes with a flexible chain cable that does not break during operation.
- The users can choose the right module, considering whether they need to prefer engraving, cutting, or both.
- The engraving area is 400 x 400 mm, which is large enough.
- It supports all commonly used file formats for laser machines.
6) OMTech 40W Laser Engraver and Cutter
This is a powerful 40W CO2 laser engraver. It is a compact desktop machine that can be used in homes and small offices.
image credit: OMtech
The control panel on the machine makes it easier for the user to control the laser and its operation. It also has a laser test switch and an emergency stop button. In addition, there is an LED display to show the power and temperature of the laser tube. The power is easily adjusted using the control panel.
The machine is enclosed in a sturdy frame that provides a stable bed for the object. It also has a built-in exhaust fan and water-cooling system to keep the machine in optimal condition and deal with fumes and smells.
It shows a wider range of compatibility with software and file formats. It is compatible with CorelLaser and CorelDraw. Moreover, it supports TIF, JPG, JPEG, WMF, EMF, and PLT. It engraves a wide range of materials, including wood, glass, fabric, paper, fiberglass, acrylic, ceramic, plastic, anodized aluminum, mylar, and other types of non-metal materials.
- The machine is made of heavy-duty and quality materials to offer long life.
- The control panel is excellent for controlling the laser power and other things.
- It has a built-in cooling fan to remove harmful gasses, small, and smoke and ensure proper ventilation.
- There are detachable wheels to move the machines without lifting them.
- The engraving area is only 300 x 200 mm, which is not enough but suitable for a wide range of applications.
7) ATOMSTACK A5
ATOMSTACK A5 is a popular laser engraving tool among DIY lovers. It is a diode laser machine that can work on a wide range of materials. It can engrave on wood, paper, plastic, leather, bamboo, and lacquered metal and can cut cardboard, plastic board, wood, acrylic, and fabric.
image credit: Atomstack
The machine contains a protective glass on its laser module that protects your eyes from harmful rays. The module also has the autofocusing feature to focus correctly on the objects.
The engraving area is large, 410 x 400 mm, to work on a wide range of objects. Any object can be engraved with ultimate precision because of the fine laser spot and controlled movement of the motors. The engraving accuracy reaches 0.01mm, which is commendable.
The machine is compatible with Windows and Macs and supports different formats of graphics, including NC, JGP, BMP, DXF, and PNG.
- The structure is entirely made of metal to make the machine solid and stable. It can be assembled in 20 minutes.
- There is no need to adjust the focus of the laser machine. It has a high-power and autofocusing laser.
- It has a built-in cooling fan to remove harmful gasses, small, and smoke and ensure proper ventilation.
- Engraving can be done with high precision
- It works on LaserGRBL and LightBurn.
- The eye protection filters 97% UV light and protects your eyes without goggles.
8) FLUX Beamo 30W CO2 Desktop Laser
This Flux Beamo is a CO2 laser in a compact design like a desktop printer. It has a 30W laser optical power to work on cardboard, wood, bamboo, leather, fabric, rubber, cement, acrylic, stone, stainless steel, and anode metal.
image credit: Flux
Surprisingly, an add-on is available that has a diode as well as a CO2 laser to improve the cutting speed and efficiency.
Users can use its desktop software on Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, and Linux, and the mobile application is for iOS and Android. Beginners can easily use these applications and get the job done without any hassle.
The high-resolution laser of 1,000 DPI offers small engraving width. It covers minute details during engraving at a depth of 0.05mm. Due to the presence of a built-in HD camera, the object can be seen on the software so that the design can be placed on the object easily.
The machine has a rare built-in feature of internal water cooling. The feature is only available in industrial machines, and it keeps the components at optimal temperature and increases the lifespan.
- The machine can cut materials up to 5mm thick.
- The compact and sleek design attracts the eye.
- It has a built-in cooling fan to remove harmful gasses, small, and smoke and ensure proper ventilation.
- It has a water-cooling feature to keep the temperature of components in the optimal range.
- There are various safety features, including emergency shutdown and open lid detection.
9) FSL Muse Core 40W Laser
This is a massively powerful 40W CO2 laser engraver. The touchscreen LCD comes to attention in the first place. In addition, the internal LED lighting also illuminates the object so that the user can see it during engraving and cutting.
image credit: FSL
The machine is compatible with its own specialized software Retina Engrave V3.0. It is beginner-friendly and does not require any internet connection. The best part is that the software can design advanced vector trajectories, so you might not need other software all the time. You can also alter the existing or imported designs using the software.
An add-on called COOLBOX is an excellent accessory for the machine. It keeps the laser machine cool through air and water cooling. It also throws the fumes and smokes away.
The machine can work on hard as well as soft objects, such as wood, acrylic, leather, fabric, stone, and glass. It is an awesome machine for beginners as well as experts.
- The user can design the graphics using the specialized software of the machine. It can also help you edit an existing image.
- The powerful laser can cut and engrave a wide range of objects easily.
- It has a 7 inches large LCD display to control the laser.
- The design and look of the machine are compact and fascinating.
- The internal lighting illuminates the working area.
10) TEN-HIGH 40W Small Desktop Laser
TEN-HIGH is a desktop CO2 laser having a large engraving area of 400 x 300mm. There are other versions having different working areas, so the user can choose what he needs to buy. The power is enough for cutting 0-4mm acrylic, but the speed should be slow.
image credit: TEN-HIGH
The machine works with CorelDraw, a feature that professionals would love. It supports JPG, BMP, DXF, CDR, PNG, PLT, TIF, and many others. It is suitable for commonly used non-metals on laser machines and anodized metals.
The catchy feature of the machine is the control panel. There is a small LCD display to show the temperature. Then, there are a few buttons to quickly adjust the laser power as needed.
The machine has an industrial-grade laser module to last for a long time. It also has a red-light positioning system to ensure the correct positioning of the object.
- Engraving can be done at a high-resolution ratio of 1,000 DPI
- The electric lifting system helps to operate the machine easily.
- The quick buttons on the control panel adjust the power instantly.
- It works on wood, acrylic, fabric, leather, paper, plywood, PVC, silica gel, resin, etc.
More Laser Engraver Tips for Beginners
Laser Engraver Types
There are commonly three types of laser engravers on the market: diode laser engraver, CO2 laser engraver, fiber laser engraver.
1) Diode Laser
This is a very common type of laser machine, which is usually preferred for small working spaces, homes, and shops. It is compact, beginner-friendly, and affordable.
The laser source is the pump diode, which emits the laser beams. Then, these beams are converged using a convex lens.
Usually, the wavelength of a diode laser is 450-455nm, which is called Blue Laser. Plus, you can also get the infrared laser of 1064 nm wavelength in some machines. These wavelengths decide which materials the laser can engrave.
A diode laser machine is ideal for new users. They can engrave whatever they want with minimal practice. It is suitable for engraving and cutting.
2) CO2 Laser
A CO2 laser is also another option for those who want to start a small business or use the laser machine in their homes and small shops. It is a bit more expensive than the diode laser machine, but it is still an affordable option.
The laser source in the CO2 laser is the CO2 tube, which contains various gasses, but CO2 is in the highest proportion. When a high potential difference is applied at the electrodes of the tube, laser beams are generated.
This laser is a bit more powerful than diode lasers. Therefore, it engraves material at a better speed. It can also engrave a wider range of materials because of its higher wavelength of about 10,600nm.
CO2 lasers are also suitable for new users. They have various advanced features and safety features that ensure easy operation and safety.
3) Fiber Laser
The last commonly used type of laser is a fiber laser. It uses a fiber optic cable to amplify the laser beams and make them more powerful and highly directed. This laser machine is much more powerful than the other two, and it is also very expensive.
The fiber optic cable is doped with a certain rare earth metal. Depending on the doping of the cable, a fiber laser is made for various purposes. The desired wavelength is achieved by using the right rare earth metal.
Fiber lasers are very expensive, and they are not suitable for new users or beginners. It is used for limited materials, and the size is also larger than CO2 and diode lasers. However, the power of the laser is immense, which is ideal for specific purposes, such as metal engraving, welding, and cleaning.
It is preferred for large-scale businesses where there is a high speed required, and there are many products or orders to recover the cost of the machine.
Is a Laser Engraver Difficult to Learn?
No, a laser engraver is not difficult to learn. The desktop laser engraver machines are user-friendly, and you can use them without prior experience or expertise.
You only need to learn a few simple things, such as uploading the program, entering the settings, framing, using the rotary, etc. These are the basics of a laser engraver that you can easily learn through tutorials or quick-start guides.
Most importantly, there is dedicated software for machines. This software is developed according to beginners to make engraving and cutting easier. But even if you want to switch to advanced software, it is not difficult to learn.
It won’t take much time to master the machine. But mistakes are part of the learning process. When you start using a laser engraver, you will waste some materials. It could be because of selecting the wrong power or speed, selecting the wrong material, the improper focus of the laser, wrong framing, etc.
But you learn from these mistakes, and in a few days, you are able to make whatever you want without wasting materials.
6 Laser Engraver Tech Specs Explained
Tech specs are the most noteworthy things that the buyer needs to understand. These specs give you an idea of the machine. For every buyer, especially a beginner, it is a must to learn the meaning and background of the specs to choose the right machine. Let's have a look at the important tech specs.
1) Laser Optical Power
The most important tech spec of a laser machine is the laser optical power. It is the optical or output power of the laser module that shows how powerful the laser beams are and what the machine can do.
If the laser is 10W, then it is more powerful than a 5W laser. Thus, the 10W laser can engraver at a faster speed and can cut more depth in one pass.
The common optical power of diode lasers is 5W to 20W, an infrared laser is 1-2W, a CO2 laser is 30-40W or more, and a fiber laser is more than 20W.
You should not confuse it with laser electrical power and machine power.
The electric power shows the electricity consumption of the laser module, while the machine power shows the electricity consumption of the machine.
These powers do not show the power of the laser beams. These are always more than optical power, and some companies also pretend these powers are optical power. So, you need to look at the right power to get the best idea of what the machine can do.
2) Laser Spot
The laser spot of the laser module is the primary thing that tells you whether the laser is suitable for engraving or not.
It is the measurement of the dimensions of the laser post. The smaller the laser spot, the better it is for engraving. It ensures finer details and excellent engraving results.
But keep in mind that the measurement of the laser spot increases with the optical power. For engraving, a smaller laser spot is preferred.
A 5W diode laser spot measures nearly 0.06 x 0.06mm. There is a slight increase in the measurement when we increase the power. So, you need to check the measurement of the laser spot while comparing various laser machines.
The speed at which the machine can work gives you a better idea of how much you can do and earn in a day. It is actually the speed of the laser module.
Diode lasers are slower than others, but their speed can be 200mm/s. High-powered diode lasers can work at 400m/s. CO2 lasers come next, and their speed is better than diode lasers. They can engrave at a speed of 300-400mm/s or more, depending on the power. The last one is the fiber laser, which is the fastest, and the speed can be up to several meters per second.
Accuracy defines the error in the movement and engraving of the laser module. If the accuracy is 1mm, it means that the movement will be 1mm accurate. There could be an error of 1mm, but not more than that.
Accuracy is a very important aspect of the laser machine. If the machine is not capable of offering high accuracy, you will not get the best results. There could be overlapping between the engraved lines, and you will encounter various other errors.
The accuracy should be as good as possible. Usually, the engraving accuracy should be less than 2mm, and the repeat positioning accuracy should be less than 3mm to get the best results. The lesser, the better it is.
5) Working Area
The working area shows the maximum size of the object that the laser can engrave. If the size is large, you accommodate more objects. Some machines also offer extensions to increase the size of the working area.
Usually, laser engravers have a working area between 250 x 250 mm and 400 x 400 mm.
6) Life Span
Beginners do not know about the lifespan of the laser machine. This is the expected life after which you either need to replace some parts of the machine or the whole machine.
The lifespan of fiber lasers is exceptional. It can be up to 100,000 hours. Then comes the diode lasers that can have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. CO2 lasers have the least lifespan of around 10,000-15,000 hours.
It varies from machine to machine, so you should check the expected lifespan of the laser machine in the specs to get the right idea.
8 Factors to Consider Before Buying a Laser Engraver
To buy the right laser engraver, you need to consider a few important things. These help you compare different engravers and choose the best one among them.
1) Types of the Laser Engraver
The first thing that you need to consider is the type of laser machine. We have discussed three types of laser machines in this article. You need to decide which machine is the right choice for you.
To make the right decision, you need to look at the materials you want to engrave. Then, you will be able to select the best option.
For instance, if you want to engrave wood, you can go for a diode or CO2 laser, but a diode laser is cheaper. For metal engraving, fiber laser is the best, but the affordable option could be an infrared laser that can engrave precious metals.
You need to make up your mind regarding the type of laser engraver you need. Then, it will be easier to select the right machine. For beginners and experts, a diode laser is the first option, and if they want to target more materials, CO2 lasers are the right choice.
2) Laser Module Specs
The specifications of laser modules must be checked while comparing the machines. The first thing that you need to check is the laser optical power. We have already discussed what it is.
Secondly, you need to check the measurement of the laser sport. It gives you a better idea of the details that the machine can consider.
You can also check the wavelength of the laser beam and the routing speed of the machine.
Check the movement and repeat positioning accuracy. These are very crucial when it comes to engraving. The accuracy should be as good as possible. For some lasers, the movement accuracy is less than 1mm, and the repeat position accuracy is less than 2mm.
4) Focus and Positioning
The laser is focused on the object to get quick and excellent results. There is a special method of focus in machines. You can check that method; it should be easy enough for beginners and not waste much time.
The second thing is the positioning of the laser module. Sometimes, the engraving starts from the wrong place; it is either skewed or missing. There can be various other issues. It is because of the wrong positioning of the object under the laser machine. Some machines also have a built-in camera to assist with positioning.
In various machines, there are limit switches. These ensure the correct positioning of the object. If the laser module is about to touch the end of the machine, it indicates the issue through an alarm.
You also need to pay attention to the software. Laser machines work on specific software that controls the movement and working of the laser module. The software should be easy enough for the users and offer the best results without any issues.
Some laser machines use a third-party software, such as LaserGRBL and LightBurn. In such cases, there is mostly a compatibility issue. But some machines also have dedicated software. It is perfectly developed to offer the best results.
Check the software that the machine uses before buying it.
6) Accessories and Attachments
Laser machines require various accessories and attachments to do various tasks. For instance, there is a need for rotary attachments to rotate cylindrical objects 360 degrees during engraving. You also need an air assist to get better results.
The accessories and attachments give you an edge to make your products better. If these are not available with the machine, then there will be various issues.
There are various accessories and attachments, such as an exhaust system, honeycomb panel, enclosure, and extension. Make sure to see whether these are available or not, and it is better to buy the necessary items along with the machine.
7) Working Area and Height
Check the working area and height of the machine. These dimensions give you an idea of the size of the object that you can engrave. Sometimes, beginners buy various laser machines, and after delivery, they get to know that the working area or height is very small for their needs. Therefore, it is better to check it in the first place.
Moreover, to work on various objects and use attachments, you need to increase the height. Some machines offer height adjustment knobs, legs, or other things that you need to check.
8) Safety Features
Safety features are very important, but people usually ignore them while looking at the specifications of the machine. The powerful laser can start a fire and harm people if it is tipped over. Therefore, there must be some safety features like fire detection, tip-over safety, and emergency stop.
Materials that Can/Can't be Laser Engraved
The materials that a laser machine can engrave depend on the type of laser.
1) Materials that Can be Engraved with a Diode Laser Engraver
The blue diode laser emits a wavelength of 450-455nm. It is mostly preferred and used for wood and acrylic, and if it is of very high power, it can also engrave metals.
2) Materials that Can be Engraved with a CO2 Laser Engraver
CO2 lasers can engrave a wider range of non-metals. It can engrave wood, glass, acrylic, leather, cardboard, stone, paper, rubber, food, and fabric. It can also engrave a few metals.
3) Materials that Can be Engraved with an Infrared Laser Engraver
The infrared laser emits 1064nm radiation, which is ideal for metal and plastic engraving. It can also engrave precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum, titanium, and copper.
4) Materials that Can be Engraved with a Fiber Laser Engraver
Fiber lasers are used for engraving metals and various types of plastics. It is a very high-powered laser that can easily engrave hard materials.
These are the compatible materials for each type of laser. Other than these, the laser machines cannot engrave other materials.
What Software is Used to Create Design for Laser Engraving and Laser Cutting?
A laser engraving and cutting machine requires a design that you need to import into the software. Once the design is imported, the machine cuts and engraves accordingly. The design has the information on every spot that the machine needs to make on the object. Thus, it is the most important thing in laser engraving and cutting.
For designing, you need special software and tools that can help you make graphics. There are multiple software options available, and you can choose them according to your expertise. Some tools are for creating graphics from scratch, and you can do anything according to your creativity. However, some tools are for minimal editing, writing names, and creating simple designs.
Laser engraver software requires special file formats for cutting and engraving. They usually support AI, DXF, SVG, PDF, PNG, JPG, etc. These files are created through special tools and software. Let’s discuss some of them in detail so that you get a complete idea of what you need and how you can get started.
1) Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Illustrator does not need any introduction. It is one of the masterpieces that Adobe has created to date. Whenever we talk about creating vector graphics, Adobe Illustrator comes into our minds in first place.
Adobe Illustrator does not need any introduction. It is one of the masterpieces that Adobe has created to date. Whenever we talk about creating vector graphics, Adobe Illustrator comes into our minds in first place.
There are endless possibilities when you use Adobe Illustrator. You can make almost anything you want and express your creativity. The tools of Adobe Illustrator allow you to create vector graphics from scratch. You can make a unique design of your choice and liking. The vectors that you draw in the software can be engraved by the laser machine.
But Adobe Illustrator is not for beginners. You need to learn how to make vector graphics before you get started. The interface and the tools are not self-explanatory; therefore, you need to watch some tutorials, and it is better to grab a complete course. Moreover, the software is expensive for some users. You need to buy its subscription.
If you are looking for a free vector-based graphics tool or software, then Inkscape could be the right option. It is an open-source graphics editor that offers complete features without charging you a penny.
Many users think that Inkscape is a better option because it is free and a bit easier for beginners. Although it requires prerequisites and knowledge to use the tools, you can learn everything easily.
Using Inkscape, you can make incredible vector graphics. It also supports 3D. You can create SVG files using the software and then use it on your engraving machine.
Lightburn is an advanced and professional laser engraving and cutting software. It is compatible with a wide range of laser engraver machines that are used for personal as well as commercial purposes.
The software has some advanced tools and settings options that give it an edge over other software.
You can even start and pause engraving if you want, and this exceptional feature is not available in various tools. The settings, layers, modes, and other options are easily visible, and they make engraving and cutting easier. You can easily identify the vectors that are for cutting and engraving. The most important thing is that you can control the result by adjusting the settings in the software.
You can edit vector graphics and make them better according to your liking. You can arrange all the vectors and shapes as you like. Moreover, you can also create simple graphics and shapes from scratch by using its tools.
Lightburn is a paid tool, but you only need to pay once. After getting the key, you can use the software for a lifetime. But keep in mind that it is for the laser machine. It controls the laser machine and engraves and cuts according to the imported file. It is not for creating vector graphics.
LaserGRBL is simple laser engraving and cutting software that is compatible with various laser machines. It is open-source and completely free, which is why many beginners try it out in the first place. The engraver machines that do not offer any native or special software are usually compatible with LaserGRBL because it is open-source and free.
LaserGRBL does not have advanced features. You cannot make graphics from scratch and make special edits. It is a very simple software to get started, but you cannot rely on advanced engraving and cutting. Moreover, it is only available for Windows.
XCS, or xTool Creative Space, is an incredible tool for laser engraving and cutting. It is specifically made for xTool machines, such as D1 Pro and M1. The software is completely free, and the users can enjoy all the features of the tool and engrave/cut whatever they like using the xTool machines.
The software contains the basic designing tools that can help you write the names and add shapes. The best part is that you can draw complete vectors using its vector tool. Therefore, it is a complete tool that you can use to draw and edit graphics. You can cut and engrave by adjusting the images and selecting the optimal settings.
The most important thing is the Project Center. It contains dozens of projects. You can directly open them and start engraving/cutting. It makes things a lot easier for new users. Moreover, there are built-in settings for various materials to get started quickly. It supports a wide range of formats and allows you to use it on Windows and macOS.
How to Design for Laser Engraving and Laser Cutting?
1) Download Free Designs from Laser Projects Websites
There are dozens of websites from where you can get free designs or buy special rights for laser engraving and cutting. You can get those laser designs, import them to the software, and get started.
Almost all types of vector and raster files are available, such as cake toppers, boxes, toys, decor items, customized pieces, etc. These files make everything easier for those who do not know how to design and create such files.
2) Use Software that Creates Design from Scratch
But if you want to make something unique, exceptional, and appealing, you need to make your own designs. You can use various designing tools and software and create the design from scratch.
For instance, if you want to engrave a name on an object, you can make the design on the native software. There is no need for advanced software.
But if you want intricate engraving and special designs, it is recommended to use professional vector graphics software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.
3) Only Submit Vector Files for Cutting
For making a design on any graphics software, you should have a complete idea of the design and its measurements. You can also draw it on a piece of paper to make the process easier. Some parts of the design can be in the vector format, while some can be in the raster format. For instance, the image or logo in the design can be a raster graphics file, and the cutting should be in vector format. Thus, you need to consider these things before you start designing.
Necessary Laser Engravers Accessories
1) Air Assist
Beginners usually ignore air assist while buying a laser engraving and cutting machine, but it is a must. When you cut wood and other materials, the edges are not smooth. The particles stick to the surface of the material and near the laser module. Eventually, the laser energy for performing cuts is reduced. Moreover, due to hot smoke, the wood turns yellow. Thus, if you want clean and smooth surfaces, you must use an air assist.
An air assist provides a steady flow of air during the cutting and engraving process. It removes smoke and debris from the area and allows the laser to cut without any hassle. Due to steady flow, there is no accumulation of smoke, so the original color of the wood remains intact.
An air assist helps in clean and deeper cuts. You get better cutting results because it removes the debris from the laser path. Secondly, it protects the laser head and increases its life.
2) Rotary Attachment
A laser machine can only engrave flat objects by default. But if you want to engrave cylindrical objects, such as tumblers, cups, and pens, and spherical objects, such as a ball, you need to get a rotary attachment.
With the help of a rotary, the object is rotated at a certain speed. It helps you cover the surface of the cylindrical or spherical object 360 degrees. You get exceptional results that you cannot achieve without a rotary.
Thus, if you want to increase the number of products and varieties in your inventory, this is a must-have.
Undoubtedly, an enclosure is quite useful when you are using a laser engraver. It does not allow smoke and debris to spread in the room because it has a proper exhaust system that keeps your area clean. You don’t feel any pungent smell or suffocation because ventilation is greatly improved. It ensures the health as well as the safety of the user.
Most enclosures are made of fire-proof material, which is a must. It prevents fire accidents. Secondly, there is a window that filters the laser light and protects your eyes. Therefore, you can easily observe the machine without any worries. Moreover, the noise of the machine is also reduced.
4) Honeycomb Panel
There are multiple benefits of using a honeycomb panel. Firstly, it protects the desk where you are working. Otherwise, you will see laser marks and burns.
Secondly, it accelerates the exhaustion of the smoke and fumes. Therefore, the object never turns yellow. You get clean and smooth edges and surfaces.
The panel is flat and sturdy, and it keeps the object stable during engraving or cutting. It improves your creation, and you can do whatever you want without worrying about the desk under the machine.
Laser Engraving Safety Precaution
While using a laser engraver, you need to ensure some safety measures and precautions.
1) Put on Safety Goggles
Laser engravers emit harmful blue and other types of rays, depending on their wavelength. These rays are harmful to your eyes. Therefore, you must wear safety goggles while using the machine.
Keep in mind that not all goggles can prevent these rays, so use an appropriate one that is designed for this purpose.
2) Use a Smoke Purifier
The smoke generated from cutting and engraving various materials is harmful. It pollutes the area where you are using the machine. Any visitor to your house will experience the pungent smell and smoke.
But this smoke can be purified by using a purifier. It contains a special filter that removes the smell and particles from the exhaust air. Thus, the environment where you are using the machine remains clean. For health benefits, a smoke purifier is also essential.
3) Use a Fire Safety Set
Laser machines are capable of starting a fire. When a material is burnt, its particles can start a fire. Although there are safety features in the machine, such as automatic stop and fire detection, these are not enough as they do not extinguish the fire or detect it in the early stage.
A fire safety set monitors the machine through various sensors. Once it finds an issue, it raises the alarm, cuts the power, and helps extinguish the fire. CO2 gas is automatically released, and it quenches the fire in the first instant.
Can You Make Money with a Laser Engraver?
In a word, YES. You can make money with a laser engraver. A laser engraving and cutting machine allows you to make a wide range of products that can be sold in online stores, trade shows, local stores, etc. There are limitless possibilities, and the sky’s the limit.
Customization is a great business. People love to have customized tumblers, wallets, glasses, pens, shirts, jewelry, decor items, and other things.
Using the laser engraver, you can engrave various materials, such as wood, acrylic, leather, ceramics, glass, metals, and other materials. You can customize different products by engraving names, dates, quotes, or anything according to the customer. You can take any compatible object and engrave it according to their liking.
You can also grab corporate giants, local businesses, and companies. They also require customized products for their customers, visitors, students, and workers. You can make products for them as well and earn a handsome profit.
Furthermore, you can also make unique and appealing items from scratch by using a laser engraving and cutting machine. Users make wall hangings, photo frames, keychains, desk organizers, miniature items, toys, wall clocks, signs, decor items, lamps, and tons of other things that are uncountable. It is completely up to your choice and liking. You can make various items and fill up your inventory with a wide variety of products.
Laser engraving and cutting is an in-demand business. You can start from your home using a simple desktop laser engraver and cutter. With minimal investment, you can start a laser engraving business and earn a handsome amount. Make products after proper research and market them properly. If you do these two things, you will have tons of orders.
Laser Engraver vs 3D Printer
3D printers and laser engravers are completely different. They are used for different purposes, but many people who do not know much about them consider them the same machines.
A 3D printer is a machine that can make objects from scratch. For instance, if you need to make a keychain, you can make it by using a 3D printer. It uses spools of the 3D printing filament, which is melted to make the objects. Often people need tailored or special objects, so these can be made with the help of a 3D printer. All you need to do is provide a compatible design to the machine, and then it will melt the filament and direct the head in the required directions to make the object.
On the other hand, a laser engraving machine engraves or cuts existing objects. For instance, you can engrave your name on a keychain or make desired cuts. By using the powerful laser, it removes the particles from the surface of the material, and eventually, you get cutting or engraving results.
Laser Engraver vs CNC Router
Many people get confused between a laser engraver and a CNC router. Both then are used for engraving and cutting purposes, but they have different mechanisms.
A CNC router uses various bits, just like a drill machine, to engrave or cut an object. The bit is rotated at a very high speed, and the machine controls its movement. The bits of various sizes are available to get the desired results. There is mechanical contact between the object and the CNC router, and you do not get any burn marks after the process. It is preferred where in-depth carving is needed.
A laser engraver uses powerful laser beams to increase the temperature of the material. Due to the rapid increase in the temperature of the material, the particles are removed from the surface. There is no physical contact between the laser machine and the object. It is preferred for engraving and cutting a wide range of materials. It offers exceptional precision and can work on intricate designs.
Dozens of laser engravers are available on the market and in online stores. But it becomes challenging to select when you are new to the field and industry. You need to learn everything about laser engravers to understand specifications and pick the right machine. We have explained everything you need to know about laser engravers, from their working to the factors you need to consider while buying them. We have also explained the types of laser engravers, important specifications, and the materials you can engrave with different laser machines.
For your ease, we have picked some of the best laser engraving machines and discussed their features, quality, and capabilities in detail. Beginners can easily decide which engraving machine is suitable for them after looking at the details we have mentioned. We hope you will find this article helpful.