The best laser cutter is now surprisingly affordable for makers, creators, agencies and small businesses everywhere. So if you want to do laser-powered cutting or engraving on a range of materials (including metal in some cases), they’re well worth checking out.
In this article, we’ve brought together the best laser cutters on sale today. So how do you choose between them? Well, that largely depends on what you want to use them for. If you want to create products to sell, you’ll need an accurate and reliable machine that won’t cost a fortune to run. You’ll also need to think about the price of replacement parts.
If you’re planning on making a lot of items, you’ll want a machine that can cut at speed. And depending on what you want to make with it, you’ll also have to consider the size of the cutting plate. Finally, think about how much space do you have in your house or studio, and what kind of ventilation.
Differences Between 5W, 40W, 90W Laser Cutters
5W Laser Cutter
A 5W laser cutter is the least powerful of all available laser cutters. The laser on a DVD or CD player is actually 5W, and you can buy kits online to retrofit an old player’s laser to make etchings. Bare in mind, however, that this would require a fair bit of technical knowledge and may not be safe due to a very high risk of creating a fire hazard. A 5W laser cutter can cut through many materials that are up to 4mm (1/6″) thick but are primarily used for etching.
If you are a hobbyist or professional who builds miniatures, dollhouse furniture, architectural models, polishing off 3D printed models, custom etched and similar items, then a 5W laser cutter will be perfect for your needs.
40W Laser Cutter
If you plan on working with a wider variety of materials with varying degrees of depth in your designs, a 40W laser cutter will be more suitable for you. In addition to etching and engraving, and the ability to cut most materials up to a 1/4″ thick, a 40W laser cutter will allow you the flexibility of cutting through thicker materials, giving you more flexibility on your designs. The Dremel LC40 is a 40W laser cutter that was designed to be the perfect balance between strength and ease for nearly all non-industrial applications.
Additionally, with our easy-to-use laser cutter software, which includes a customizable material library, never before has it been so convenient to bring the powerful benefits of a laser cutter into your home, classroom, or business.
90W Laser Cutter
If you’re searching for a really powerful laser cutter, such as for cutting marble and other strong materials, a 90W laser cutter will provide you with the capabilities to do so. A laser cutter of this strength is usually sought after by those who need extremely detailed designs engraved onto very thick materials, up to 1/2″ in most cases. For most just getting started in the laser cutting area, a laser of this magnitude is something to work your way up to, and usually not recommended for casual enthusiasts or users.
Things to Consider
Above everything else, you need to know what your budget is. The laser cutting and engraving machines we’re covering here range from affordable laser cutters under $500 to professional laser cutters of nearly $12,000.
This means it’s important to be aware of your personal needs. You may not need to drop several grand to perfectly fulfil your laser engraving requirements. In fact, you may find the best option for your company costs just a few hundred dollars.
It’s good to be aware of what you are comfortable spending and to only look for your perfect product within that range.
With a laser cutter and engraver, you’ll have two software options. The first is to ensure all your work is compatible with your engraver-specific software, while the second is to get a laser engraver that will support your current software.
The latter would be the more convenient option, as it means you can create your laser cutting project in CAD or an Adobe property and simply transfer it to your laser engraver.
Typically, utilizing included laser engraver software is going to cost less but it may reduce your ability to fully realize your creative visions, as you’ll be forced to stay within certain fonts and designs.
What materials are you wanting to customize?
Some of these laser cutters and laser engraving machines will only work on softer materials, such as leather or glossy applications you can place on mugs, while others will work on harder substances such as metal.
This will play a very big role in what the best laser engraving machine is for you. If you want to engrave materials like metal, there are very specific laser engravers you need to consider. If you want to print only on leather or softer materials, you may have a wider array of available choices
This is where you need to know exactly what your plans are ahead of time, otherwise, you might end up with a laser cutter and engraving machine that doesn’t do what you need.
Laser engraving machines and laser cutters have varied methods of connecting to your computer.
Most laser engravers on the market make use of a USB connection. However, others might connect via Bluetooth or a 2.4GHz wireless interface.
If you don’t mind a wired connection, you shouldn’t have a problem as this is the cheaper and more readily available option.
However, if you want to free up your workspace, you should consider laser engravers that use wireless technology.
Before you set your heart on a laser engraver, it is important to evaluate your space availability.
As laser engravers increase in price and impressive features, they also tend to become substantially larger (and heavier) than what you find on the less expensive side of the spectrum. These devices range from desk appliances to stand-alone hardware.
The size of laser engraving machines isn’t always obvious by the pictures, so make sure to look into the product specs. You don’t want to receive your package only to find out it doesn’t fit through your front door.
Our Top Picks
This spiffy-looking machine is one of the best on the market right now. With a mind-bogglingly powerful 100-watt laser, this model is designed to cut through myriad materials from mylar to marble. This laser cutter is compatible with all three major operating systems (Mac, Linux, and Windows) and can even accommodate outsize materials, thanks to its dual pass-through doors.
Plus, good news for tinkerers: It’s highly customizable, if the factory settings aren’t to your liking. Be advised that this a hefty piece of machinery, clocking in at 330 pounds. Even if you might be cursing while hauling it up the stairs to your apartment, we promise this laser engraver is a gift that will keep on giving. Plug it in, peer through its tinted acrylic glass cover, and watch it work.
Beamo markets this device as the world’s smallest carbon dioxide laser cutter and engraver. Weighing less than 50 pounds, it is capable of slicing through materials with speed—about 300 millimeters per second—while producing crisp and accurate cuts. The 30-watt laser is best used for cutting lightweight materials such as paper, wood, and acrylic; it has a maximum cutting depth between 3 and 5 millimeters, depending on the material.
A standout feature is its built-in, high-definition camera that captures the work surface so you can preview your design and ensure accuracy before you commence cutting. It’s mobile-compatible, so just upload a file of your design or sketch from your phone and let this whiz-bang engraver take it from there.
If you’re looking for a laser cutter with more power than Beamo’s machine, we recommend this well-built, charmingly retro option. It’s equipped with a strong, 60-watt laser that cuts with impressive speed and accuracy. However, it’s restricted to nonmetal materials, from plastics to paper. Easy to assemble and use, this is an excellent choice for those who want a reliable machine but aren’t quite ready to invest in a top-of-the-line cutter.
It’s fully compatible with the graphic suite CorelDraw, but some report that this model is generally clunkier on newer operating systems. In most cases, however, Ten-High’s responsive technical support staff can help you get going.
Most CNC laser machines in the lower price ranges don’t come with a laser protector on the laser head (another that does is the Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro), which filters the large majority of UV light away to protect your eyes. Atomstack says this allows you and your friends to be in proximity to the laser engraver while it works without goggles, making it perhaps the best home laser cutter if you’re on a budget.
For the low price, it’s an effective laser engraving machine — with a high-performance 20W laser head that engraves, as well as cutting up to 1/8th of an inch wood and acrylic depths.
It’s super easy to build, with a sturdy metal frame that you can fully assemble in just 10-20 minutes, and features auto focus modes to save you hassle or human error. The 50% smaller focal spot makes for precise engraving (up to 0.01mm precision) as well as relatively powerful cutting — though if you want to cut thicker woods, or generally tougher materials, go with a more powerful laser cutter.
A powerful and specialized machine, the Ten-high 40W laser engraver and cutter is one of the best laser cutters for the price. Featuring a large 300 x 400 mm laser engraving area it can handle even larger projects, and engraves quickly at up to 500mm/s, cutting at up to 30mm/s.
This new laser cutter model by Ten-High features upgraded rotary axis for better engraving on rounded and circular workpieces and less size restrictions, as well as an improved double door.
The machine’s digital display makes monitoring progress and temperature easy and convenient, and it comes with their software for a full cutting and engraving workflow.
The powerful 40W CO2 laser can cut depths up to 4mm in acrylic, 3mm in software woods like cork, and up to 2mm in hardwoods. However, it can’t engrave metal, requiring a far more powerful and industrial laser cutter.
Even if you’ve never looked into the world of lasers before there is a good chance you’ve heard of Glowforge. This desktop CO2 laser took the world by storm after a massively successful Kickstarter.
The Glowforge really shines in its ease of use and constantly updating software and firmware. That also is its biggest downside since it can only operate when connected to the internet.
This is the lowest in the Glowforge line and compares great in price to the desktop system CO2 lasers on the market.
If you don’t mind splashing a bit of cash, then get the 130W Reci W4 C02 laser tube engraver cutter machine, which has an engraving area of 1300 x 900mm. It’s speedy and precise and can cope with a range of non-metal materials, including glass, paper, bamboo and rubber.
Its compatibility is also decent, as it supports AutoCAD, CorelDRAW, as well as a range of file formats. Just be mindful of its size; with dimensions of approximately 72 x 56 x 41 inches, this is a beast of a machine, so make sure you have the space to accommodate it.
The Triumph Fiber Laser Cutting Machine is made for cutting metal, making it ideal for engraving. You can cut aluminium, stainless steel, copper, gold and silver without shadowing thanks to a high-speed galvanometer.
This isn’t cheap but as a result you get a very capable system able to cut on a work area up to 200 x 200mm and at a rate of 9,000mm/s. The interface is relatively simple to use with a touch screen and support for .CAD, .JPG, .PLT and plenty more. And best of all, it comes with software pre-installed so you can get right to work.
The OMTech 40 W Laser Engraver and Cutter is a compact, cost-efficient laser cutter with a cutting area of 300 x 200m, maximum speed of 80 mm/s, and resolution of ratio of 4500 dpi. This is a perfect entry level model if you are trying to get started in the world of laser cutting. It can also be upgraded and modified which can be a fun challenge for the user.
The LaserPecker L1 Desktop Laser Engraver is a miniature laser cutter you can keep right on your computer desk. It’s also portable enough to bring with you should you want to do some creative work away from home.
Just connect the engraver to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and you can transfer your designs to wood, felt, and corrugated paper, among other light materials. You can even engrave fruit, if that’s your sort of thing. A pair of safety goggles are included too.
What Type Of Laser Engraver Should I Buy?
Laser engravers are used for precision work that cannot be achieved by other types of machines. They are often used to engrave into materials that are too delicate for traditional cutters or saws. Laser engravers can carve wood, acrylic, soft metal, rubber, and more with extreme precision. These machines use a laser beam to etch an image on the material being engraved.
Before making a buying decision on a laser engraver, consider the materials you will be working with. Will you be engraving plastics, metals, or something else? The answer to this question will help determine the appropriate laser.
- Metal– Engraving on metal may be used for anything from key chains and necklaces to presents and brand tags. The engraving is exceedingly precise and accurate. The CO2 Laser Engraver and Desktop Laser Engravers can both engrave a wide variety of metals.
- Paper– When it comes to cutting paper, the laser engraver is a fantastic tool to have. Engraving on paper is possible with both the HTL QT Desktop and the CO2 Laser Engravers.
- Plastic– If you want to engrave plastic CO2 Laser Engraver is your best option. Laser engravers can accurately etch plastic without melting it, which is an advantage over conventional engravers.
- Glass– Also, when it comes to engraving on glass, the CO2 Laser Engraver is your best bet. Traditional engravers are unable to engrave glass or crystal because they are so fragile. Awards, trophies, and wine glasses may all benefit from laser engraving since the engravings are durable and accurate.
What Materials Cant I Cut With Laser?
Laser cutters are amazing machines with a myriad of uses. They can be used to cut wood, fabric, thin metal, and other materials. But what are the pitfalls that users should beware of? Here are some materials not recommended for cutting with laser because they could be destroyed or damaged or what is ever worse, they could be dangerous for your health.
- PVC– Cutting PVC will damage the lenses and cause corrosion of metal parts in your machinery, as well as destroying your controller.
- Thick polycarbonate– If you may attenition you may see that many laser cutter’s windows are constructed from polycarbonate. That is cause the material absorbs infrared radiation and this also makes it almost useless at cutting thicker than 1 mm polycarbonate.
- ABS– ABS is difficult to cut or engrave. As a result, it is more likely to catch fire and leave melted sticky deposits on the cutting grid.
- PolyStyrene Foam– is a real fire hazard and should be avoided near laser cutters. It also tends to melt quickly.
- Fiberglass– This material emits dangerous fumes when cut, so it is best to avoid it.