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How Much Is a Laser Engraver or Laser Cutter?

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Whether you’re in the beginning of your exploration of laser engravers and laser cutters, or you’re thinking about starting a business using laser cutters, you may be wondering how much these things can cost, especially given how many different types and sizes of laser machines there are.

Laser engravers can be used to customize pretty much anything you use in your every day life. They can be used to make beautiful art, to put your logo on something, or just to make a personalized gift for a loved one. With such diverse applications, it’s essential to understand the factors that influence the cost of these machines and find the right one for your needs.

This guide will help you navigate the world of laser engraving, comparing different types and their costs, so you can make an informed decision when purchasing a laser machine.

Short Summary

  • Laser engravers vary in cost depending on the type, power, work area size, and additional features.

  • Laser engraver prices range from entry-level ($160-$600) to hobbyist ($600 – $3.5k) to small business ($3.5k – $7k) to professional/industrial grade machines ($9k – $400k).

  • When buying a used laser engraver, it is essential to inspect the machine, research the seller and history of the machine, and consider associated costs.

Understanding Laser Engraver Costs

Laser engraving comes in various shapes and sizes, catering to different needs and budgets. Factors such as:

  • Laser Type

  • Optical Power

  • Work area size

  • Additional features

Significantly impact the price of these particular model machines.

By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision and choose the best laser engraver that fits your requirements.

Types of Laser Engravers: Diode, CO2, and Fiber

There are many aspects to how laser engravers and cutters work, but when it comes down to it, there are three main types: Diode, CO2, and fiber laser engravers. Each of these types have different advantages and price points, catering to different applications and industries. Diode laser engravers are low-power and cost-effective, making them suitable for beginners looking to engrave on various materials.

Entry-level Diode machines are priced under $300, and higher-quality machines go up to about $2,000. Diode laser engravers can engrave most materials and cut through materials, but generally only to thicknesses of a few millimeters.

CO2 lasers are more expensive than Diode lasers and usually offer a higher capability in terms of what they can cut. If you’re looking to laser cut thicker materials, even 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch, a CO2 laser is your best bet. For Engraving, however, CO2 and Diode lasers are similar in terms of materials. Decent CO2 lasers are priced in the thousands of dollars.

Fiber lasers are another good option if you don’t have a large budget. For example, the LaserPecker Pro Engraver Mini is just $319. They are great for engraving on most materials; however, if you ever want to do laser cutting as well, fiber lasers are not a good option. While the LaserPecker Pro Mini is cheap, most Fiber lasers are over $1,000. Fiber lasers are also the best for engraving on metal.

Optical Laser Power and Its Impact on Price

laser power diagram

Laser power directly influences the cost and cutting ability of a laser engraving machine, with higher-power machines being more expensive. Greater power machines can cut thicker and more dense materials, making them more versatile and suitable for industrial purposes.

The higher power output allows for faster processing speeds and the ability to cut through thicker materials more efficiently.

One thing that was confusing when I was starting out is the different types of power that you will see referenced for laser machines:

  • Machine power

  • Laser electric power

  • Optical or output power

Machine power is simply the input power of the machine and is not relevant for beginners.

Laser electric power is the electrical energy that goes into the laser module and is also not relevant for beginners.

What you do want to pay attention to is the optical or output power of the machine. This is what will help you understand the engraving and cutting capability of the laser cutter.

It’s important to pay close attention to what power is being advertised by a company because sometimes they may intentionally mislead you by stating electrical power instead of optical power (electrical power will always be higher than optical power).

Diode lasers typically have an optical power between 5-15W. CO2 lasers are generally power powerful than Diode lasers, with an optical power range of 40W to 300W.

Fiber lasers are the most powerful (they can cut through metals) and can have an optical power of up to 4,000W for consumer machines, and industrial fiber lasers can have a power of up to 12,000W!

Work Area Size and Price

laser cutter work area

Size matters when it comes to laser engravers and laser cutting. The work area size affects the price of a laser engraver in the following ways:

  • Larger work areas require more advanced systems and a sturdier build.

  • A small work area size generally implies a reduced physical space or surface area for laser engraving.

  • A large work area size provides a larger space for projects.

Choosing a machine with the appropriate work area size for your needs is essential, as it can impact both the cost and the functionality of the laser engraver.

Most Diode laser engravers, for example, have a work area of about 16″ x 16″. Fiber lasers are even smaller, with most work areas being about 4″ x 4″. CO2 lasers have the largest work areas, with reasonably priced machines having a work area of around 20″ x 12″.

If you want to work on projects bigger than this, consider a CO2 machine that has a pass-through feature, allowing material of any length to stick out a door in the machine while you engrave it.

Additional Features and Their Influence on Cost

Additional features that can increase the cost of a laser engraver but also improve its functionality include:

  • Auto-focus: Allows the laser to automatically adjust the focus of the beam to the material being engraved, enhancing the precision and speed of the engraving process.

  • Air assist: Uses compressed air to displace debris and smoke from the engraving area, improving the quality of the engraving.

  • Exhaust systems: Expel smoke and fumes from the engraving area, enhancing the safety of the engraving process.

  • Rotary attachment: These are incredibly useful accessories that I highly recommend you consider getting so you can engrave on curved surfaces like cups or a baseball bat.

Considering these additional features is crucial when choosing a laser engraver, as they can greatly impact the overall performance and cost of the machine.

Price Ranges for Different Categories of Laser Engravers

The price ranges for laser engraving vary depending on their category, with entry-level laser engravers priced between $160-$600, hobbyist laser engravers priced between $600 – $3.5k, small business priced between $3.5k – $7k, and professional/industrial grade machines priced between $9k – $400k.

By comparing the best laser engraving machines in each category, you can find the right machine for your needs and budget. We’ve also created a comprehensive list of the best laser cutters for every price point that you can check out.

Entry-Level Laser Engravers and Laser Cutters ($160 – $600)

ATOMSTACK A5 Pro Laser Engraver

Entry-level laser engravers are ideal for beginners and can engrave on various materials and cut some materials, with prices ranging from $160 to $600. These machines are cost-effective and offer a range of features that cater to the needs of those starting out, such as simple assembly, user-friendly interface, and compatibility with multiple materials.

Despite their affordability, entry-level laser engraving still provides adequate engraving area and efficient engraving capabilities for basic projects, making them an excellent choice for those looking to dip their toes into the world of laser engraving. The primary difference between these and more advanced engravers is lower power and smaller work area.

Entry-Level Diode Laser Engravers and Laser Cutters

Diode laser engravers are generally the least expensive for the capabilities you get from them. They may require some basic assembly, requiring less than a half hour to put together. Here are a few examples of entry-level Diode laser engravers and cutters:

Entry-Level CO2 Laser Engravers and Laser Cutters

CO2 laser engravers for beginners are not too different from their larger cousins in that they can engrave and cut the same materials as larger CO2 lasers, just with less power and a much smaller work area, typically around 8″ x 12″ in size. A good example of a CO2 laser in this category is the OMTech K40.

Entry-Level Fiber Laser Engraver

Fiber laser engravers at this level are small and portable. They typically aren’t capable of cutting through material, but they can engrave on pretty much anything. The typical work area of these lasers is 4″ x 4″. A good example of this type of laser is the LaserPecker Pro Engraver Mini. For a more in depth list of the best portable laser engravers, see our guide here.

Hobby Laser Engravers and Laser Cutters ($600 – $3.5k)

xTool D1 Pro 20W Laser Engraver

Hobby laser machines offer more advanced features and capabilities, with prices ranging from $600 to $3.5k. These machines are perfect for enthusiasts with higher budgets, as they provide a greater range of features than entry-level laser engravers, such as higher power output, larger work area size, and additional features like air assist and rotary attachments.

The higher price range reflects the increased capabilities and features of hobby laser machines, making them a worthwhile investment for those looking to upgrade from an entry-level machine to work on more sophisticated and larger projects.

Hobby Diode Laser Engravers and Cutters

The main difference between these and their entry-level counterparts is optical power output, ranging from 10W to 20W. They are the same size as entry-level Diode engravers, but with greater power, they can engrave faster and cut through a greater selection of thicker materials. Here are a few popular hobby Diode laser machines:

Hobby CO2 Laser Engravers and Cutters

The primary difference between these CO2 laser machines and the entry-level ones is size and optical power output. These machines have a work area of 20″ x 12″, which provides for a much wider array of things you can engrave or cut. You can also cut pretty thick pieces of wood with these, upwards of 18mm thick.

Hobby Fiber Laser Engravers

The primary difference between lasers in this category compared to entry-level ones is material capability as well as speed. The LaserPecker 3 Deluxe, for example, is specifically designed for engraving on all types of metals and plastics. It’s also designed very well, especially for portability. Note that these are not designed to cut through materials; they are pure engravers.

Laser Engravers for Small Businesses ($3.5k – $7k)

OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

Laser engraving machines for small businesses are designed for heavy use and offer more advanced features. These machines provide a high level of performance and durability while remaining affordable for a small business.

Small Business CO2 Laser Engravers

In my opinion, these are the bread-and-butter machines. They have a higher optical power output, meaning you can more quickly cut much thicker materials compared to hobby CO2 lasers. They’re also very fast for engraving, and the work area is much bigger. Here are a few examples of lasers in this category:

Small Business Fiber Laser Engravers

Laser machines in this category are pretty specialized. They’re mostly used for mobile engraving in manufacturing facilities, while the Triumph below is good for rust removal. Fiber lasers in this category are not designed to cut through materials, unlike the fiber lasers in the industrial category below. Here are two lasers in this category:

Industrial Laser Cutters ($9k – $400k)

Industrial laser cutters and laser engravers are by far the most sophisticated, largest, and most expensive laser machines out there. Their high price point reflects the increased power, larger work area, and more sophisticated features that these machines offer.

For businesses or individuals that require the utmost precision and efficiency, professional and industrial laser engraving is the ultimate choice. They can cut through pretty much any material, even thick metals!

Industrial CO2 Laser Cutters

Industrial CO2 laser cutter

Machines in this category are what are used to make my larger 44″ Activated Art mandalas, which require a work area of at least 48″ x 48″. The primary difference with these machines is, in fact, their larger size, higher optical power, and precision when cutting and engraving.

They generally require much more maintenance than the less expensive CO2 lasers, with careful attention required for alignment and ventilation. Here are a few lasers in this category:

Industrial Fiber Laser Cutters

Industrial Fiber laser cutter

And finally, we arrive at the most expensive laser machines you can buy. Industrial fiber lasers can take up an entire room. They’re used in fabrication facilities for larger industrial projects, and the higher-powered ones can cut metal that is over an inch thick!

Here are a few examples of these lasers:

Comparing the Best Laser Engravers in Each Category

Comparing the best laser engraving machines in each category can help you find the right machine for your needs and budget. By understanding the features, work area size, and price of the best laser engravers in the entry-level, hobby, and professional/industrial categories, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a laser engraver.

It is important to consider the size of the work area and the features of the machine.

Best Entry-Level Laser Machine: ATOMSTACK A5 Pro Laser Engraver

ATOMSTACK A5 Pro Laser Engraver

Overview

The Atomstack A5 Pro is a high-quality diode laser cutter and engraver, especially given the price point. It’s high speed at 430 inches per minute and for its size, also high power, and it’s compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. It also comes with a touchscreen offline controller.

Key Features: 

  • Materials:

    • Engraving: wood, bamboo, cardboard, plastic, leather, MDF, slate, lacquered metal, mirror stainless steel.

    • Cutting: cardboard, non-woven fabric, veneer, acrylic, some thin plastic board, sponge, MDF, leather

  • Thickness it can cut in a single pass: Requires multiple passes to cut through wood

  • Work area: 16″ x 16″

  • Laser type: Diode

  • Laser power: 5.5W

Price: $240 | View Product Page »


Best Hobby Laser Machine: xTool D1 Pro 20W

xTool D1 Pro 20W Laser Engraver

Overview

The xTool D1 Pro 20W appears three times on our list, and there’s a good reason why: this is the best overall laser cutter when we factor in the functionality and pricing altogether. It’s made of very high-quality parts, with steel rollers on all of its axes and quiet stepper motors to drive them.

It has a high cutting accuracy and has an optional rotary attachment for engraving curved objects, which I personally love to utilize. It also has nice safety features like instant stop-on flame and motion detection.

Key Features: 

  • Materials: cuts and engraves wood, leather, paper, cardboard, opaque acrylic ( black, brown, red, yellow, green), stone, paint glass, paint ceramics, stainless steel, titanium, iron, and aluminum oxide

  • Thickness it can cut in a single pass

    • Wood: 10mm

    • Acrylic: 6mm

  • Work area: 16.9″ x 15.3″

  • Laser type: Diode

  • Laser power: 20W (also available in 10W)

Price: $1,100 | View Product Page »


Best Small Business Laser Machine: OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

Overview

The OMTech 100W is by far the largest and highest-powered laser we’ve included in this list, and it’s the best one we’ve researched for small businesses. =

It’s great for projects that require speed, large surfaces, or both. Being larger than other est (it’s not a desktop machine), you’ll need a bit of space in your shop to fit this bad boy, but it’s well worth it in my book if, like me, you love creating larger art pieces.

If you’re a small business, you’ll love this machine.

Key Features: 

  • Materials: wood, glass, leather, coated metals (anodized aluminum), and acrylic

  • Thickness it can cut in a single pass:

    • Wood: 18mm

    • Acrylic: 20mm

  • Work area: 20″ x 28″

  • Laser type: CO2

  • Laser power: 100W

Price: $3,800 | View Product Page »


Buying a Used Laser Engraver: What You Need to Know

If you don’t have the budget for a new laser cutter, you can buy a used one from a variety of places, such as:

Buying a used laser engraver can be a cost-effective option, but it’s important to be diligent and thorough in your research before making a purchase. Here are some essential steps to follow.

  1. Inspect the machine thoroughly, checking for any signs of damage or wear.

  2. Research the seller and the machine’s history. Look for reviews or testimonials from previous buyers.

  3. Consider additional costs, such as maintenance, repairs, and any necessary upgrades.

  4. Ask for a demonstration or test run of the machine before finalizing the purchase. By following these steps, you can ensure that you make a wise investment in a used laser engraver.

It’s important to take the time to inspect the machine in person, if possible. Look for patterns.

Inspecting a Used Laser Engraver

Inspecting a used laser engraver is crucial to ensure it’s in good working condition and worth the investment. When evaluating the machine, assess the overall performance of the device, inquire about any prior repairs or difficulties, and examine the power and speed capabilities.

Additionally, ensure the machine has been maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommendations by inspecting the seller’s records.

Researching the Seller and Machine’s History

Researching the seller and the machine’s history can help you avoid potential issues and scams when buying a used laser engraver. Here are some steps to follow.

  1. Consult online reviews to see if other buyers have had positive experiences with the seller.

  2. Request references from the seller and reach out to previous buyers to get their feedback.

  3. Contact the manufacturer of the laser engraver to inquire about the machine’s history and any known issues. By taking these steps, you can gather more information about the seller’s reputation and the machine’s history before making a purchase.

Considering Additional Costs

Additional costs, such as maintenance, software, and hardware upgrades, should be considered when purchasing a used laser engraver. Investigate the expenses of taxes, customs duties, courier service fees, and laser engraving services in your vicinity to estimate any additional costs associated with your purchase.

By taking these factors into account, you can make a more informed decision and potentially minimize additional costs associated with your used laser engraver.

Summary

In conclusion, laser engravers play a critical role in various industries, and understanding the factors that affect their costs is essential for making an informed decision. By considering the type, power, work area size, and additional features of laser engravers, as well as the price ranges for different categories, you can find the perfect machine for your needs and budget.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for an entry-level machine, a hobbyist seeking a more advanced system, or a professional requiring the best in laser engraving technology, there’s a laser engraver out there for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth buying a laser engraving machine?

Given the durability and quality of laser engraving machines, investing in a high-quality, affordable model is an investment that will provide years of service. It will also ensure top performance for any engraving job you need to do.

What is a good home laser engraver?

The Sculpfun S9 is an excellent home laser engraver for those looking for a cheap option. It offers great performance on a range of materials, including wood, acrylic, stainless steel, stone, and even glass, making it suitable for various projects.

How much does a laser metal engraver cost?

Laser metal engraving can range in price from $100 to $10,000, with entry-level models usually ranging between $150 and $500.

Can you make money with a cheap laser engraver?

You can make money with a laser engraver that costs around $200-250, with 5W optical power output. These machines are more hobby oriented but can be used to turn a profit.

What are the different types of laser engravers?

There are three types of laser engraving: diode, CO2, and fiber.

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