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Laser engraving is highly expensive, uses complicated machines and isn’t accessible to the average hobbyist.
well... that used to be true.
Whether you’re a garage-tinkerer or a full-blown professional, now there are low-cost, high-quality options available to anybody interested in laser engraving.
But, the question is:
Which laser cutters are good fit for you?
In this post, we’ll discuss your options: whether you’re a pro looking for a beast that can get any job done quickly with high precision, or just a DIYer looking for a new garage toy, we’re sure to have something here for you.
First, let’s have a quick look at the best wood laser cutters/engravers of 2019 -
#1 TEN-HIGH 50W
400 X 600 mm
#2 Suncoo Engraver
305 x 203 mm
#3 Qiilu 1500mw
42 X 42 X 78mm
#4 Sunwin Engraver
(Best desktop engraver)
400 X 500 mm
#5 Mophorn Laser Cutter
305 x 203 mm
10 BEST WOOD LASER CUTTERS/ENGRAVERS
1. TEN-HIGH CO2 - Top Pick
Right off the bat, we’ve got the best laser engraver on the market.
The Good -
A Mustang under the hood:
15.5” by 11.5” engraving area, 40W laser, .005” accuracy.
What does this mean?
It means you can engrave big, you can engrave deep, and you can engrave with precision. The 40W laser will get jobs done fast and last you a long time.
Keeping it safe:
Safety is numero uno with the Ten-High.
The key functions:
A flame retardant system to make sure your work doesn’t get burned,
A water shutoff protection valve to protect the laser,
An around-the-clock water temp display.
That’s not all:
Like a microwave, the laser shuts off automatically when you open the door, which minimizes risk of injury.
Materials and Software:
You’ve got a lot to choose from.
The Ten-High can do acrylic, wood, plywood, paper, bamboo, leather, glass and cloth...too many to name, let me take a breather here!
You can use CorelDRAW Software.
It’s also compatible with Windows 7 thru 10, AND comes with LaserDRW software so you can get started right away.
If you’ve got a problem, shoot the Ten-High crew a message. They back up a great product with even better customer service.
A Teensy-Weensy learning curve?
The setup may require some tinkering. Many of the instructions are in Chinese. Other than that, it should be smooth sailing with the T-H.
The Renaissance Man of laser engravers...
The Ten-High is a serious machine made to engrave, engrave well, and engrave quickly.
But: Hobbyists beware. The Ten-High might have a little too much “oomph” for casual engravers.
2. Mophorn Cutter – Premium Pick
The machine: The Mophorn Laser Engraving Machine combines usability with quality.
Plays nice with everyone:
The Morphon, like the Ten-High, prints on just about any material you can think of.
The best part is:
It’s compatible with just about every file type under the sun.
Ease of Use:
Setup is both quick and painless, and at about 3ft by 2ft it’s a powerful laser engraver that won’t take up too much space in the shop.
Handles like a porsche:
The laser is strong: 40W. The engraving area is big: 12” x 8”.
That’s a bit smaller than the Ten-High, but more than acceptable for the price.
Surprising software and hardware:
This is huge:
The Mophorn comes with CorelDRAW included. You won’t get that just anywhere.
The Germany-made internal stepping belt extends the machine’s life and ensures high-quality engraving.
Not everyone’s a pro. You may want to look up how to adjust the mirror, fan, and other internals.
Parts can get jostled around in shipping. Knowing your way around laser engravers will keep headaches to a minimum.
The little brother that exceeds expectations...
A small step down from the Ten-High, the Mophorn is for you if you’re looking for high-quality engraving at a very reasonable price.
3. SUNCOO 40W - Budget Pick
The Suncoo is the adopted brother of the Mophorn above.
A Time Machine:
The Suncoo 40W is compatible with every Windows operating system since Windows 2000.
What does that mean?
Even if you use an OS from the stone age, you still have access to a high quality engraver.
Like the Mophorn, the Suncoo 40W boasts a respectable 12” by 8” engraving area.
It’s not just big: it’s fast too.
Engraving speeds can reach a blazing 14” per second.
Keep it cool:
The Suncoo 40W’s fan draws smoke out of the machine.
That means your piece doesn’t burn, and the machine works for longer.
Sticky setup situation...
Setup is a bit tricky with this machine, the instructions aren’t too clear.
The runt of the litter...
The Suncoo 40W and the Mophorn are like the twins of the engraving world.
Neither beat out their older brother, the Ten-High. BUT, that’s to be expected.
They come close. The Mophorn edges it out because it includes CorelDRAW software.
4. Qiilu 1500mw - Mini Size
The Qiilu is a true curiosity with the look of a tiny 3D printer. It’s a small machine but it’s got character packed into every inch.
Every device is invited to the party:
This little guy’s got bluetooth.
Here’s the deal:
It can connect to damn near any device. PC, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, doesn’t matter.
Also, the provided software is simple and effective.
Little body, big heart:
This is a small machine. It weighs in at about 4 pounds and will take up the same amount of space as a large coffee cup or small potted plant.
Acrylic filters - It's like sunscreen for your eyes:
We’re working with lasers here.
I get it: this machine is tiny. But lasers can still hurt your eyes.
Luckily, the included acrylic filter protects your eyes--without you having to wear glasses.
Weaklings with heart are still weaklings...
This machine really is small. The 1500 mW laser is like an old man peeing into a urinal: not very strong.
A fun toy to play with...
Though it may have character, the Qiilu is ultimately for the hobbyists and DIYers.
The laser’s simply too weak to handle heavy duty loads.
5. SUNWIN 40X50CM - Best desktop laser engraver
With its unique, minimalist design, what this engraver lacks in other areas it makes up for in its versatility.
Take it anywhere:
The Sunwin lets you take engraving with you on the go.
How it's possible?
Well, it’s just 10lbs. It’s lighter than the average daschund and will take up about 22” by 8” of table space.
You can take advantage of a lightweight, high quality aluminum frame,
Engraving on any plane:
The Sunwin is an intimate machine, alright?
It’s just you and the printing mechanism.
What does this mean?
You can put the machine ON TOP of any surface you want. Engrave on surfaces far too big to fit *inside* the other machines on this list.
IKEA-style assembly could frustrate:
The Sunwin comes IKEA-style: disassembled.
Putting all the pieces together yourself can be fun.
It can also be a nightmare.
Luckily, there are many YouTube videos out there that can help.
That’s one pathetic light...
The puny 500mW laser is also the weakest one on this list. It really doesn’t pack much of a punch.
Calling all concept designers, macbook owners...
Another one for the casual hobbyists, the Sunwin looks awfully cool and can print on very large surfaces such as tables.
The laser’s pretty weak: go easy on it if you happen to buy one of these.
6. EverVictory Laser Engrave
Basically the Sunwin’s older brother. The EverVictory 10W boasts the strengths of the Sunwin and few of the weaknesses.
Feel the power:
At 10 Watts, the laser on this thing is 20 times stronger than the Sunwin.
20 times stronger.
Prints on metal...?!
This could be the only engraver on the list *advertised* to work on metal.
But I should say:
With metal, the engraving lines don’t go very deep, so it’s more like printing. But still. Not many engravers can claim this feat.
Plug and play, anywhere, any way:
Like the Sunwin, you can place the EverVictory 10W on just about any surface you want. The engraving area itself is a healthy 5.5” by 7.5”
Not the biggest
...but definitely not the smallest.
Like the Sunwin, setup seems to be a small issue as the English instructions are fairly limited.
Basically the Sunwin on steroids...
The EverVictory 10W is simply a meaner, beefer Sunwin. The choice is obvious...
That is, if you can shell out the cash (2x more than the Sunwin).
7. Orion Motor Tech
The Orion shines brighter than the constellations in the night sky.
Bright future--brighter laser:
The Orion packs a punch.
The 40W laser can cut through 1/8” of wood or acrylic like it’s butter.
Here’s the bottom line:
The deeper the cut, the nicer the engraving. Plain and simple.
So much room for activities!
An engraving area of 12” x 8” competes with the best machines on this list.
German engineering at its finest (kinda)
Okay not all the parts are made in Germany.
The bearing Y axis guide rails sure are. And the Orion has CNC machined parts for prolonged durability.
Don’t go in over your head...
This is for those who already know what they’re doing.
The mirrors and exhaust fan may need some adjusting. If you’re a first time laser-engraver, some youtube and tinkering may be on the menu.
The middle path...
The Orion, like the Mophorn and Suncoo 40W, combines quality with affordability, giving you the best of both worlds.
8. TEN-HIGH 50W Upgraded Version - The Mike Tyson
You remember the Ten-High from the beginning of this post right? Thought it couldn’t get any better?
We lied. It can:
Introducing the Ten-High 50W Upgraded Version.
Laser power reaching critical mass...
The engraving area on this thing is an absolutely massive 15.5” x 23.5”.
That’s the size of a big fluffy pillow.
Everything else is just a little bit beefier than the first Ten-High machine. The laser on the basic model is 50W, but you can go all the way up to 100W with this thing.
You can go up to 100W. Insanity.
No need to grab the life jackets:
The Ten-High 50W maintains all of the safety features of the original Ten-High.
If you don’t remember:
Water temp indicator.
Flame retardant system (so you don’t burn your piece).
Laser suspension protection which turns off the powerful laser when you open the door.
Rotary Axis unlocks new dimensions:
The standard model comes with a pre-installed rotary axis interface and rotary axis switch. This means it can be easily modified for rotary engraving (engraving on non-flat surfaces).
With the basic model, you’d have to do this yourself, or you can skip the hassle and buy the Rotary Axis version of the machine for a little extra.
Packin’ on the pounds...
This bad boy is HEAVY. At 265 pounds, don’t expect to be moving it around the shop on a weekly basis.
The heavyweight champ...
What can I say, this is the cream of the crop. No complaints here. This is a serious machine for serious output.
9. Meterk Laser Engraver - A Sleek Little Machine
Next up is the Meterk. The Meterk is a close cousin of the Qiilu discussed earlier.
Bluetooth in the bathroom, engrave while you eat:
You can connect to the Meterk from anywhere in the house with just about any device.
You’re kicking back on the couch with a cold one, when suddenly, genius hits.
No need to get up!
Open up your smartphone and get it started, right there.
Keep the money in the bank:
The Meterk and the Qiilu are both very affordable engravers. If you’re looking to play around or experiment, these fit the bill.
Not much room to party...
The engraving space is quite small, only about 3” x 3”
Going, going, gone...
The laser is weak and will likely burn out after a few months of use.
Turn your trinkets into treasures...
Like the Qiilu, this engraver is more of a cool toy than anything. Best uses would be engraving wallets, tags, coasters, and other small objects
10. NEJE DK-8-KZ - The Christmas Gift
Last but not least, the Neje, another member of the Meterk/Qiilu family.
Vent fan keeps Neje cooler than a cucumber:
The Neje unit includes a small fan on the top to draw smoke out and away from your piece. This keeps the material from burning and the laser from heating up too much.
Acrylic filter like the tinted windows of a Cadillac...
The Neje, like it’s cousins, keeps your eyes protected so you don’t have to.
File compatibility puts the choice in your hands:
This machine can take a variety of file types from a variety of programs, so whether you’re using JPEGs or Bitmaps, the Neje will probably be able to handle it.
In some cases, you get what you pay for...
The Neje, like it’s cousins the Qiilu and Meterk, is strictly a hobby machine. It’s engraving area is really too small for serious projects.
A cooler-than-average Christmas gift...
Calling all tinkerers, designers, and people that are downright curious about laser engraving. This simple machine will surely go a long way with a little creativity.
Questions to ask before buying laser cutter/engraver:
Three main questions:
There are 3 crucial questions to ask before buying a laser engraver:
- How often?
- How quickly?
What is it you wish to engrave?
The size of your materials affects the size of the engraving area you’re going to want.
Will you be engraving wallets and coasters or storefront signs?
Generally, a bigger engraving area means a bigger, heavier machine, which means you’ll have to open up the piggy bank a bit more
How often do you plan on engraving?
Are you a weekend warrior hobbyist...
...a nose-to-the-grindstone, dedicated laser shop?
...somewhere in between?
This will determine the power of your laser.
If you’re not using the engraver very often, a lower wattage will be fine.
If you’re using it more often, a higher wattage will ensure that your laser lasts a bit longer before burning out.
How quickly do you need to produce engravings?
What’s your turnover time?
If you’re a shop doing wood engravings every day, you’ll want a high-powered laser to cut your pieces efficiently.
On the flip side:
Hobbyists will be more likely to turn on the machine, make a fresh pot of coffee, and come back to it whenever it’s finished.
Laser Cutting VS Engraving
The main difference between the two is -
Laser engravers typically use less powerful lasers to produce images,
While cutters use more powerful (and slightly more messy) lasers to cut.
The key is the machine lens:
Engravers have shorter focal points creating a smaller spot size.
-Think of a thin, delicate paintbrush.
Cutters have longer focal points which makes the spot size larger, more powerful, and less delicate.
-Think of a paint roller.
If you try to cut with an engraver, you may not get through your material; if you try to engrave with a cutter, you’ll end up with a messy image.
Best woods for laser cutting and engraving
So now you’ve got the best wood engraving machine and want to use it on some wood.
If you pop in a piece of walnut right off the bat, you’re bound to be disappointed. There are a few things to keep in mind to get the best engravings on wood:
Contrast is key:
Choose a light wood in order to create contrast between the wood and the burn marks.
Here’s the deal:
This will make your engraving “pop” and make it harder to see any heavy grain, streaking, or other abnormalities in the wood.
On that note...
Choose wood with minimal streaking, and a subtle, consistent grain. Grain lines that are further apart will produce a cleaner image and...
...grain lines that are densely packed will end up looking messy.
Resin, Resin, Resin:
The more resin a piece of wood has, the darker the engraving lines will be. Resin burns well, and the extra resin burning alongside the wood will highlight the marks.
Alder and cherry both generally have high resin content.
Any wood can be tricky:
If you’re unsure about the resin content of the wood, give it a test run to see how dark your engravings will be.
The big three:
It’s generally agreed that -
Alder, Cherry, and Maple make for good engraving blanks.
Alder and Cherry are both high in resin, and Maple is generally light in color.
With Cherry, make sure to choose lighter cuts as the color can vary somewhat.
To top it all off...
In terms of raw laser engraving power, the Ten-High 50W tops off this list clearly.
If you’re looking solely for quality and aren’t worried about price, then look no further.
If you’re a real go-getter, the Rotary Axis edition will open your doors even further.
If the Ten-High 50W is the dad, then the Ten-High 40W is the firstborn son.
It’s got power, a solid 15.5” x 11.5” engraving area, and safety features to make its father proud.
For more serious hobbyists, the EverVictory 10W is best. It’s got enough power and portability to boot.
Curious tinkerers will love playing with the small Qiilu.
Now listen carefully...
Laser engravers give you endless creative possibilities. Hopefully this list hopes you choose the right one for you.
Now I have just one question:
What will you do with yours?
Icons credit: Laser Cutter by Hans Gerhard Meier from the Noun Project