Until recently, laser cutters were something only found in industrial setups.
They were expensive and difficult to operate and maintain.
However, the times have changed and home laser cutting is affordable and accessible for hobbyists and small businesses.
At an affordable price, you can do etching, engraving, and cutting to make customized gifts and products.
In this guide, I list the best and most reliable laser cutter options for hobbyists and businesses.
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Best Laser Cutters
|Genmitsu Jinsoku LC-60A||5.5 W||Amazon|
|Comgrow COMGO Z1||10 W||Amazon|
|OMTech DF0812-40BG||40 W||Amazon|
|Full Spectrum Laser Muse Core||40 W||Check Price|
|Glowforge||40,45 W||Check Price|
Best Laser Cutters in 2022
I evaluated the laser cutters based on various performance parameters like build quality, power of laser tube, type of laser, material capability, and many more to give you a comprehensive idea on which one to go for.
Genmitsu is a popular brand known for its budget-friendly CNC router offerings.
The LC-60A is a 5.5 W laser engraver/cutter that can work on a variety of materials like wood, MDF, cardboard, fabric, acrylic, anodized aluminum, and painted metals.
You can use workpieces with a maximum size of 23.6” x 23.6” and it has a footprint of around 34” x 36”.
It has an aluminum frame and weighs less than 14 lbs. It uses profile rails and rollers for linear motion that allows you to move the axes at a maximum speed of around 390 inches per minute.
Genmitsu provides a 50 mm leg extension kit that you can use to accommodate a rotary roller to engrave on cylindrical workpieces.
The laser unit uses a laser diode which is better than a CO2 laser tube for low power applications as laser diode units are less sensitive and fragile than CO2 laser tubes.
It has a fixed focal length of 20 mm and comes with an adjustment tool to let you focus the laser easily.
An air assist system is also provided with the kit that uses a compressor (included in the kit) to blow air on the work surface to remove dust and fumes to provide a neat cut.
It comes with a 32-bit board that is compatible with LaserGRBL and LightBurn control and CAM software and supports file types like NC, JPG, BMP, PNG, and DXF.
They offer email support to their customers and their official website has troubleshooting tips for common issues faced by users.
Overall, it is an affordable machine that lets you engrave on large workpieces with good precision and has low maintenance.
- Massive Build Area: With a build area measuring 600 x 600mm, the LC-60A provides much more possiblities for home laser projects and also unlcoks the potential for laser engraving business.
- Integrated Air-assist System: The LC-60A laser engraver comes with an air-assist system that blows away smoke and debris from the material, delivering increased cutting power and smooth cut finish.
Orion Motor Tech or popularly called OMTech is headquartered in California and is well-known for producing reliable laser engravers of various ranges.
The 40 W laser engraver is an entry-level affordable offering from OMTech that can engrave on materials like acrylic, glass Delrin, leather, ceramic, fiberglass, anodized aluminum, plastic, cork, and more.
However, it cannot engrave properly on metals as it uses a CO2 laser head. CO2 laser heads are powerful compared to diode lasers but they cannot perform well on metals.
Depending on the material you are processing, you can engrave at a maximum speed of 1000 ipm.
The maximum speed is based on straight lines so the actual speed is going to be far less.
It has a 12” x 8” work area and has a footprint of 32” x 20” x 10” with a weight of 51 lbs. You can place it on most work desks.
You can use workpieces with a maximum thickness of 2.5” on the workbed of this laser engraver.
The machine is completely enclosed making it safe to operate and it has a transparent window on the top to let you view the engraving process.
It has a control panel on top that you can use to set laser power and view laser temperature. Additionally, it also features an emergency stop button to stop the laser immediately in case of emergencies.
You can achieve a maximum engraving resolution of 1,500 dpi using recommended settings.
The laser head is a 40 W CO2 unit that has a lifespan of 2,000 hours when used at low power settings and can work for around 400 hours when used at maximum power.
CO2 laser tubes produce a laser beam that is not visible to the naked eye and this means you cannot use it for positioning. To overcome this, it comes with a red dot pointer to indicate engraving points.
OMTech DF0812-40BG is a feature-packed machine and has a water pump to cool the laser head while in operation.
It also has a ventilation fan on the inside to remove the fumes created while laser cutting.
For controlling the engraver OMTech provides LaserDRW on a USB drive. You can also use it for converting your designs into G-code.
It can work on Windows OS computers and supports formats like JPG, WMF, JPEG, TIF, BMP, EMF, and PLT.
OMTech DF0812-40BG has a 2-year warranty which is a testament to its build quality. However, the warranty on the laser tube and power supply is only for 6 months.
The customer support is excellent, they have a US-based customer support team that you can reach over a phone call or email.
Overall, if you need a laser engraver that is reliable and requires very little tinkering to make it work the OMTech DF0812-40BG does a neat job.
- DESKTOP CO2 LASER: Whether professional engraver or inspired DIYer, this K40 40W home laser engraver from OMTech will allow you to bring your ideas to life with greater speed and precision than ever before, cutting up to 1/8" through plywood or acrylic; the advanced features of its intuitive digital control panel and bundled Windows-compatible editions of LaserDRW and WinsealXP will let you create and recreate even your most intricate designs perfectly
- VERSATILE 8x12 BED: The spacious 8x12 inch workbed provides 0.7 square feet of room to fit regular projects and gives you extra 2" height for thicker materials once the vented level board is removed; the stabilizer clamp fixes irregularly shaped items securely in place for accurate engravings
3. Full Spectrum Laser Muse Core-40W- Best Laser Cutter for Businesses
Muse Core from Full Spectrum Laser is a 40 W desktop CO2 laser engraver/cutter that has professional capabilities.
You can engrave on workpieces with a maximum dimension of 20” x 12” and a thickness of 2.5”. You can also remove the workbed to use thicker workpieces.
Muse Core has a footprint of 32.3" x 20.3" x 8.5" and looks like a desktop printer with a sleek look.
It can cut materials like acrylic, fabric, leather, paper, rubber, and wood with a maximum thickness of ¼’ and engrave on materials like coated metals, glass, and stone.
The laser module uses a 40 W CO2 tube with a resolution of 1,000 dpi.
You can customize Muse Core while purchasing and add on several accessories like a water pump, air compressor, rotary engraver, exhaust fans, and additional lenses.
It is a completely enclosed machine that adds to the safety appeal and has a 7” touchscreen on the top to fiddle with machine parameters.
For controlling the machine, FSL provides their custom software called RetinaEngrave v3.0 which is an all-in-one software that allows you to do everything from designing to controlling.
It has features that are at par with dedicated design software programs and is a highly capable software.
The software is hosted on the machine itself and you can access it by connecting to the machine using a WiFi or ethernet connection.
You can use Chrome, Safari, or Edge browser to use the software and it can run on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS computers.
Full Spectrum Laser is headquartered in Las Vegas and has a US-based customer support team and they provide phone and email assistance to their customers.
The Muse Core laser engraver/cutter comes with a warranty of 1 year which can be extended for 2 years at an additional cost.
If you are looking for a laser engraver/cutter for your business or small shop that requires less maintenance and has good speed the FSL Muse Core is a good option to consider.
Glowforge is an American laser engraver brand based in Seattle and is known for its robust CNC engraver/cutter.
Glowforge Plus is the mid-range offering. Apart from Plus, they offer a basic version and a Pro version.
The Plus version and Basic version can work on workpieces with a dimension of 19.5” x 11” and the Pro version allows you to slide through a 19.5” wide workpiece of infinite length.
All three versions have a footprint of 38” x 20.75” x 8.25” and allow you to work on materials with a maximum thickness of 2” (0.5” with tray).
The Plus and Basic versions come with a 40 W laser tube and the Pro version has a 45 W laser tube.
There is a difference in linear speed between the models, the Plus version is twice as fast as the basic version and the Pro version is thrice as fast.
It can be used for making various laser cutting and laser engraving projects with materials like wood, fabric, leather, Delrin, plexiglass, cardboard, rubber, paper, and cork.
Additionally, it can engrave on glass, stone, marble, ceramic tile, Corian, anodized aluminum, and titanium.
The linear motion components are made of extruded aluminum and use stepper motors for moving the axes.
It comes with an internal air assist and you do not need to purchase an additional compressor for air assist.
You can interface Glowforge with your Windows PC, Mac, Linux, or mobile devices over a WiFi network and it requires an internet connection to function.
Glowforge has two inbuilt cameras that allow you to place designs over your workpiece with a precision of 0.001 inches.
The web-based software is compatible with PDF, SVG, JPG, PNG, and other file formats. However, if you want to use DXF files you will need to purchase Glowforge Premium.
An interesting feature of Glowforge is that the software can automatically scan drawings and print without the need for additional design software.
The Pro and Plus versions come with a twelve-month warranty and the Basic has a six-month warranty.
The documentation provided is excellent and will help you greatly in setting things up initially.
Glowforge has a US-based customer support team that you can reach via phone or email.
Overall, it is a great package that offers excellent quality cuts and engravings suitable for businesses and light production.
Comgrow COMGO Z1 is a compact laser engraver/cutter that is feature-packed and lets you take on laser engraving jobs on a budget.
There are two variants for the COMGO Z1, a 5 W model and a 10 W laser model.
If you want to cut through wood with a maximum thickness of 5mm the 5W version is sufficient for you.
The 10W version will allow you to cut through wooden plaques with up to 10 mm thickness.
You can engrave on wood, leather, cardboard, acrylic, coated glass, stainless steel, and other metals that are coated with main or mask.
It has a work area of 15.7” x 15.7” with a machine size of 22.64” x 22.64” x 8.07” and is light enough to be picked up and moved without help.
The frame is made of aluminum and is rigid with a strong build quality.
For linear motion, COMGO Z1 uses a stepper motor on the X and Y axes paired with a belt drive mechanism.
The Y-axis uses two stepper motors on each side of the gantry to ensure accurate movement of the wide gantry.
The Z-axis needs to be adjusted manually based on the height of the workpiece.
The adjustment is easy as it has a fixed focal length of 20 mm and comes with a red box to let you set the Z-axis height quickly.
You can do it by placing the red box on the workpiece and moving the Z-axis all the way down till it touches the box.
Additionally, it comes with a roller accessory that allows you to engrave on cylindrical workpieces like a soda can.
The laser head uses an LD-FAC unit that produces a spot that is 0.08mm x 0.08mm wide which lets you engrave really fine lines. Additionally, it has an engraving resolution of 1,000 dpi.
One advantage of using an LD laser unit is that it is not as sensitive as CO2 laser modules and hence the maintenance and upkeep of the machine are easier.
It uses a 32-bit control board and you can control it using LaserGRBL or LightBurn laser control software.
It works on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux computers and is simple to operate.
You can import PNG, JPG, JPEG, BMP, and G-code files and engrave them onto workpieces using the software.
It has a g sensor onboard that detects any abnormal movement of the machine and powers off the laser to stop any mishaps.
There are a good number of instructional videos on the internet to help you get started with engraving using COMGO Z1.
Comgrow is a Chinese brand and the support is based in China and you can contact them over E-mail for any technical assistance.
A detailed review of this product can be found here– Comgrow Z1 Laser Engraver Review
Laser Cutter vs Engraver
Laser cutters and laser engravers are subtractive machining tools, similar to CNC routers, that remove the material from the surface.
However, in a laser cutter, the amount of material removed is significantly higher than a laser engraver and that allows you to cut all the way through the workpiece.
Whereas, a laser engraver only removes a thin layer of material from the top surface to leave a marking on the surface.
Another signficant difference between the two is the power level.
Cutters require high-powered laser tubes compared to engravers and therefore are noticeably more expensive than engravers.
Furthermore, the development of diode lasers have introduced cheap laser engravers that are ideal for beginners and DIY enthusiasts.
Theoretically, you can use a laser engraver as a cutter if you were to run multiple passes over the same line and change the focus each time.
But doing so is highly inefficient and hence the need for a laser cutter that can cut through in much less number of passes.
Another significant difference is the type of file used for the process. You can use image files for engraving and it is a relatively easy process that can be done in a single pass.
Laser cutting typically requires you to have a vector image of your design and can require multiple passes with varying depth to cut through the material.
A laser cutter is used when you want to completely detach parts of the material from stock like in the automobile industry where parts of vehicles are cut out of large sheets of steel.
You use a laser engraver when you want to print something onto a solid surface like the serial number on automobile engines and the serial number on guns.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What can a 45 W laser cut?
A 45 W laser can cut through wood, leather, acrylic, cardboard, and similar materials. However, the thickness of the material it can cut depends on the hardness of the material.
A typical 45W laser can cut through 0.25" thick wooden workpiece. However, cutting thick wooden materials using lasers will leave burn marks on the cut surface which would require sanding off.
What materials cannot be cut on laser cutters?
Low powered CO2 lasers like 40W lasers cannot cut through metal workpieces, they can only engrave on coated metal surfaces.
You also need to consider the laser safety factors when choosing the material as some materials that can be cut on lasers also produce toxic fumes and hence should not be cut on a laser cutter.
For example, PVC emits chlorine gas, ABS emits cyanide gas; HDPE, Polystyrene foam, and Polypropylene foam tends to burn when cut using laser.
Can you laser cut MDF?
Yes, you can. But it would also depend on the type of MDF you are using. MDF boards can sometimes have metal and sand particles in them which can affect laser cutting.
If you want to laser cut MDF you must choose good quality MDF boards that have less undesired particles in it.