Laser Engraved Ax head
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Find the Best Laser Engraver for Metal in 2023

Laser Engraved Ax head

I have to admit, I love laser cutting wood, so it took me a while to really dive into the world of metal laser engraving. While most lasers can’t cut through metal like they can with wood, it turns out there are still plenty of really cool and useful applications and designs you can make by laser engraving metal.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of metal laser engraving, delving into the best laser engravers for hobbyists and businesses alike, as well as the various engraving techniques, materials, and applications.

By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of the entire process and be well-equipped to make an informed decision when choosing the right laser engraver for metal for your needs.

Short Summary

The best laser engraving machine will vary depending on your needs. Here is a quick run down of the laser engravers in this article:

If you’re a hobbyist:

  1. xTool D1 Pro 20W

  2. LaserPecker 3 Delux

  3. Snapmaker 2.0 w/ 10W Laser Module

If you’re a small business:

  1. OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

  2. xTool P2

  3. Triumph 30W Fiber Engraver

  4. Epilog Fusion Pro 24

Top Laser Engravers for Metal if you’re a Hobbyist

For hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, there are several budget-friendly engravers that offer a perfect entry point into the exciting world of metal engraving. These machines are designed to be user-friendly and accessible, while still delivering impressive results on various materials. The machines below were selected specifically for their metal engraving abilities, but if you want to see the best all around laser engravers, see our comprehensive guide.

Each of these machines has its unique features and capabilities, so let’s dive in and explore what they have to offer.

xTool D1 Pro 20W

xTool D1 Pro 20W Laser Engraver

Overview

The xTool D1 Pro 20W is a high-performance diode laser engraving machine with impressive laser power, designed for those who need a machine capable of marking and engraving coated metals and other materials. With a spot size of 0.08×0.06 mm and compatibility with LaserGRBL and LightBurn software, this laser engraving machine offers exceptional accuracy and reliability. It’s made of very high-quality parts, with steel rollers on all of its axes and quiet stepper motors to drive them.

However, it is important to note that diode lasers are still largely restricted for metal engraving, and etching is only possible on coated metals such as anodized aluminum. To further enhance the capabilities of the xTool D1 Pro 20W, it is recommended to invest in the infrared laser attachment and the RA2 Pro rotary chuck.

From xTool.com:

The 20w laser module can engrave various colors on different metals, giving you 340+ vivid colors according to the metal you are engraving. It makes the engraving exceptionally beautiful. Other than metal engraving, you can engrave and cut various materials, such as wood, acrylic, and leather.

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

Price: $1,100 | View Product Page »


LaserPecker 3

LaserPecker LP3 Deluxe - Metal & Plastic Handheld Laser Engraver

The LaserPecker LP3 Deluxe is a compact and portable laser engraving machine for small-scale projects and personal use. This little powerhouse boasts a high-precision laser head, a large engraving area, and a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create stunning etchings on metal objects. It’s a handheld laser engraver for metal and plastic materials, and it’s also a great laser for beginners.

It uses a 1064nm pulsed laser, ensuring no damage to the material. With ultra-high precision and a 0.01mm spot, it can reproduce perfect pictures and visible details. This engraver offers flexibility with unlimited time, place, and angle of use.

Key Features:

  • Materials: almost all pure metals and alloys, like gold, silver, copper, aluminum, iron, titanium, and stainsteel, and plastics like AEV, PET, acrylic, PH, and PVC without pretreatment. Also: artificial leather, lacquered paper, lacquered wood, parts of stones, purple clay, etc.

  • Can cut through wood: No

  • Work area: 4″ x 3″

  • Laser power: 1W Fiber

See our comprehensive review of the LaserPecker 3 here

Price: $1,800 | View Product Page »


Snapmaker 2.0 with 10W Laser Module

Snapmaker 2.0 A350T Laser Engraver

The Snapmaker 2.0 is a versatile 3-in-1 laser engraving machine that combines a laser cutter, CNC router, and 3D printer, offering different work area size options, easy assembly, and compatibility with various materials. It’s a valuable asset for hobbyists looking to explore multiple creative avenues.

One of the standout features of the Snapmaker 2.0 is its modular design, allowing you to easily switch between laser cutting, CNC routing, and 3D printing functions.

The Snapmaker 2.0 is equipped with an autofocus feature that automatically utilizes the optimal laser height without the need for repeated testing of the focal point, ensuring precise engravings every time.

The standard 1.6W laser can not cut or engrave metal, but you can with the 10W laser module add on, which is certainly a worthy investment! The 10W Laser Module is equipped with the most cutting-edge laser beam splitters, effecting a power leap from 5W to 10W. This means you can now play with a wider variety of materials and hammer out more projects.

Key Features: 

  • Materials: Stainless steel, anodized aluminum, wood, leather, plastic, fabric, paper, non-transparent acrylic, and more being tested

  • Thickness it can cut in a single pass: 8mm basswood

  • Work area: 13″ x 14″

  • Laser power: 10W

Price: $1,399 | View Product Page »


Top Laser Engravers for Metal if you’re a Small Businesses

If you’re operating a business and require a laser engraver capable of handling more demanding tasks, there are several models designed specifically for commercial use. These machines offer advanced features, larger working areas, and higher power outputs to meet the needs of businesses both large and small.

In the following sections, we will introduce you to three laser engraving machines designed for businesses. Each of these machines is tailored to the unique requirements of commercial metal engraving, so let’s explore their capabilities in more detail. To find the best all around engravers for small business, see our comprehensive guide.

OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

OMTech 100W CO2 Laser Engraver

Overview

The OMTech 100W laser engraving machine is great for projects that require speed, large surfaces, or both. Being larger than the other laser cutters (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.

As 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 »


xTool P2

xTool P2 CO2 Laser Engraver

Overview

The xTool P2 CO2 laser is a powerful and efficient desktop laser engraving machine that is ideal for small businesses. With a maximum engraving speed of up to 500mm/s this machine is perfect for swift and precise engravings. This powerful 55W laser machine has a large work area and one thing we love about it is that it has passthrough capability for longer workpieces.

This means you can work on pieces of infinite length in one direction (as long as it’s not wider than 26.7″). It also has an automatic convert feeder that you can purchase separately.

Key Features: 

  • Materials:

    • Cut: wood, acrylic, leather, MDF, rubber, fabric

    • Engrave: glass, ceramic, slate, coated metal, anodized aluminum alloy, and anodized titanium steel. For stainless steel, you need to spray coating on it before marking it

  • Thickness it can cut in a single pass:

    • Wood: 18mm

    • Acrylic: 20mm

  • Work area: 26.7″ × 14.1″

  • Laser type: CO2

  • Laser power: 55W

Price: $5,000 | View Product Page »


Triumph 30W Fiber Engraver

Triumph 30W Laser Engraver

Overview

The Triumph 30W Engraver is a versatile and efficient laser engraving machine designed for metal, polymers, and various other materials. It’s user-friendly, with computer and monitor included, software installed, and ready to work right out of the box.

The package also includes free goggles for eye protection, a foot switch, tools, and other accessories. The machine is suitable for various applications, including electronic and communication products, precision parts, hardware tools, jewelry, garments, gifts, office devices, sanitary ware, dishware, food, and more.

One notable aspect of this fiber laser machine is that it can remove rust, so if rust removal is relevant to your business, it could be a very valuable tool in your arsenal.

Key Features: 

  • Materials: It can engrave steel, stainless steel( and black marking), copper, aluminium, gold, silver, and some plastic like polymer for metal tools or machine parts

  • Work area: 4.3″ x 4.3″, with an expansion of up to 8″ x 8″

  • Laser type: Fiber

  • Laser power: 30W

Price: $4,900 | View Product Page »


Epilog Fusion Pro 24

Epilog Fusion Pro 24 laser engraver

Overview

The Epilog Fusion Pro 24 is a professional-grade laser engraving machine designed for businesses requiring a machine with a large working area, high-speed engraving, and advanced features. Boasting a maximum engraving speed of 1000mm/s, a maximum engraving area of 610mm x 305mm, and a maximum engraving depth of 0.2mm, this laser engraver is perfect for businesses that need to generate high-quality engravings swiftly and efficiently.

What makes this laser engraving machine unique is its dual CO2 and fiber laser source, providing businesses with the flexibility to choose the best option for their specific needs. While more expensive than other engravers, the Epilog Fusion Pro 24 is a worthwhile investment for businesses requiring a reliable and powerful laser engraver.

Key Features: 

  • Materials:

    • Cut: Wood, acrylic and other plastics, fiberglass, leather, rubber, and more

    • Engrave (some metals require coating with a metal marking solution): Anodized Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Brass, Titanium, Bare Metals, Acrylic, Ceramic, cloth, corian, cork, delrin, fabric, fiberglass, glass, leather, marble, matte board, and more

  • Work area: 24” x 24” x 9″

  • Laser type: CO2 & Fiber

  • Laser power: 60W or 100W (CO2) / 30W (Fiber)

Price: $10,000+ | View Product Page »


What’s the Difference Between Laser Etching, Laser Marking, and Laser Engraving?

Laser engraving is an intricate process, and there are different techniques for engraving various types of metals. By understanding the three primary metal engraving techniques – metal laser etching, metal laser marking, and metal engraving – you can ensure the best results for your projects and make the most of your laser engraver.

In the following sections, we will delve into each of these techniques, exploring their unique characteristics and applications. This will help you determine the most suitable technique for your specific engraving needs and give you a clearer understanding of the capabilities of different engravers.

Metal Laser Etching

Metal laser etching is a technique that alters the metal surface color by creating a very thin surface depth change, resulting in a raised area that stands out from the untouched material. This method, along with laser cutting, is ideal for creating designs with contrast and easy identification.

Typically, metals such as stainless steel, aluminum, and copper are suitable for laser etching. This technique is commonly used to create black marks on metals for:

  • barcodes

  • serial numbers

  • logos

  • precious metal jewelry

Metal Laser Marking

Metal laser marking is another engraving technique that oxidizes the metal surface to create a black contrast. This process is particularly useful for logos and identification purposes, as it creates a distinct and easily recognizable mark on the metal.

Laser marking is often utilized for:

  • Stainless steel

  • Aluminum

  • Brass

  • Titanium

  • Other metal materials

The process is both efficient and precise, allowing for intricate and permanent markings on various metal surfaces.

Metal Laser Engraving

Metal laser engraving is a technique that involves cutting into the metal surface to create a deep recess. This method allows for high-quality engravings that are both detailed and durable. To laser engrave metal, this technique is suitable for a variety of metals, such as:

  • Stainless steel

  • Aluminum

  • Brass

  • Copper

  • Gold

  • Silver

The laser beam can be adjusted to create varying depths and widths of engravings, depending on the desired outcome. Metal laser engraving is widely employed in industries such as jewelry making, signage, and industrial manufacturing.

Metals and Their Engraving Characteristics

Different metals possess unique engraving characteristics, which can impact the quality and effectiveness of laser engraving. By understanding the properties of various metals and their suitability for laser engraving, you can ensure the best results for your projects and make the most of your laser engraver.

In this section, we will discuss some common metals used in laser engraving and their engraving characteristicsLaser engraving different metals requires understanding their unique characteristics, as they can affect the engraving process and the final result. Here’s a breakdown of the unique laser engraving characteristics of the mentioned metals:

Aluminum

  • Reflective Surface: Aluminum’s reflective nature can cause challenges in laser engraving, requiring specific laser settings.

  • Oxidation Layer: Anodized aluminum creates a thin oxidation layer that can be easily engraved, producing high-contrast markings.

  • Heat Sensitivity: Aluminum dissipates heat quickly, which can affect the engraving depth and quality.

Stainless Steel

  • Hard Material: Stainless steel’s hardness requires higher power settings for engraving.

  • Heat and Chemical Resistance: It can withstand high temperatures, allowing for deep engravings.

  • Color Marking: Specific laser settings can produce different colors on stainless steel, creating unique visual effects.

Steel

  • Variable Composition: Different types of steel may have different engraving characteristics.

  • Surface Treatment Sensitivity: Coated or painted steel can produce different engraving results.

  • Heat Affected Zone (HAZ): The heat from engraving can alter the surrounding material’s properties.

Brass

  • Soft Material: Brass is relatively soft, allowing for easy engraving but also potential deformation.

  • Oxidation Sensitivity: Exposure to air and moisture can cause tarnishing, affecting the engraving’s appearance over time.

Copper

  • High Thermal Conductivity: Copper’s ability to conduct heat can make engraving more challenging, requiring specific settings.

  • Oxidation: Like brass, copper can tarnish, affecting the appearance of the engraving.

Titanium

  • High Strength-to-Weight Ratio: Titanium’s strength requires careful laser settings to engrave effectively.

  • Biocompatibility: Often used in medical applications, titanium’s engraving must meet specific standards.

  • Color Marking: Like stainless steel, titanium can produce color markings with specific laser settings.

Gold

  • Soft and Malleable: Gold’s softness allows for easy engraving but requires careful handling to prevent deformation.

  • High Reflectivity: Gold’s reflective surface can cause challenges in laser engraving, requiring specific settings.

Silver

  • High Thermal Conductivity: Silver’s heat conductivity can affect engraving depth and quality.

  • Tarnishing: Silver can tarnish over time, which may affect the appearance of the engraving.

  • Soft Material: Like gold, silver is soft and requires careful handling during the engraving process.

Understanding these unique characteristics is essential for achieving optimal engraving results on different metals. It often requires adjusting the laser’s power, speed, and focus, and sometimes using specific laser types or additional materials like marking compounds.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Laser Engraver for Metal

Selecting the right laser engraver is crucial to ensure productivity, superior quality, and customer satisfaction. When choosing a laser cutter, it’s essential to consider factors such as material compatibility, laser optical power, work area size, and the user-friendliness of the software and device. Each of these factors plays a significant role in determining the efficiency and effectiveness of your laser engraving business.

Understanding these factors will not only help you make the right choice but also enable you to maximize the potential of your laser engraving business. In the following sections, we’ll dive deeper into each of these factors, providing you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.

Material Compatibility

The types of materials you plan to work with will play a significant role in determining the best laser cutter for you. CO2 lasers have the greatest level of material compatibility, capable of cutting and engraving wood, acrylic, leather, paper, foam, cardboard, MDF, rubber, and ceramic. However, they are not suitable for cutting metals.

On the other hand, fiber laser cutters are most suitable for metal workpieces like steel or brass, and can even do color engraving on metals, but are not recommended for wood, plastics, and other essential materials. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the laser cutter you choose is compatible with the materials you intend to work with before making a purchase.

Laser Optical Power

Laser power is another essential factor to consider when selecting a laser engraver. A higher-power laser enables faster cutting of thicker materials with minimal passes, thereby improving productivity and profitability. CO2 lasers typically used by small businesses have a power range of around 40W, although this can vary significantly.

Diode lasers, on the other hand, generally have a power range below 10W. Balancing price and laser power is crucial for small businesses to select a laser engraver that meets their requirements while staying within budget.

Work Area Size

laser cutter work area

Size matters when it comes to laser engravers and laser cutting. The size of the work area determines the size of the workpieces that can be cut and the number of jobs that can be accomplished in a single cutting cycle.

Most Diode lasers, for example, have a work area of about 16″ x 16″. You may be able to get creative by placing the laser in different positions on top of a large flat piece, but it will get complicated quickly trying to align patterns.

Fiber lasers are even smaller, with most work areas being about 4″ x 4″. Use these if you only plan to work on small projects.

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.

When selecting a laser engraver, it’s essential to consider the size of the workspace you’ll be using, as well as the size and type of materials you’ll be engraving, to identify the machine size that is most appropriate for your needs.

Ease of Use and Software

User-friendly laser-cutting machines are essential for efficient operation and productivity. Features such as laser cameras, autofocus, and easy-to-use software can significantly improve the performance of your laser cutting business. Additionally, the size and precision of the laser beam play a crucial role in achieving high-quality results.

Compatibility with various software programs, such as LightBurn, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDRAW, and LaserGRBL, can provide you with greater flexibility and control over your engraving projects. By choosing a laser cutter with advanced features and user-friendly software, you can streamline your workflow and increase the overall efficiency of your laser cutting business.

Tips for Using and Maintaining Your Laser Cutter or Engraver

To get the most out of your laser engraver and ensure its longevity, it’s essential to follow safety precautions, perform regular maintenance, and optimize settings for the best results.

By taking the time to properly care for your laser engraver and use it safely, you can enjoy years of efficient and accurate engraving.

In the following sections, we will provide tips for using and maintaining your laser engraver, covering safety precautions, regular maintenance, and optimizing settings.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure the optimal performance and durability of your laser engraver, allowing you to create stunning projects with ease and precision.

Safety Precautions

Safety should always be a top priority when using a laser engraver. This includes wearing protective gear, such as safety goggles, to protect your eyes from potentially harmful laser wavelengths.

Additionally, take care to avoid direct contact with the beam during operation and never leave the laser unattended when firing.

Proper ventilation is also crucial when using a laser engraver, as the process can produce fumes and smoke that may be harmful if inhaled.

Ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe operation.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your laser engraver. This includes cleaning and inspecting components, lubricating moving parts, and replacing worn or damaged parts as necessary.

To clean and inspect components, use a soft cloth and a vacuum cleaner to remove any dust and debris, and inspect the components for signs of wear or damage.

Lubricate the rails and motion system every two weeks using a lubricant specifically designed for laser engraving machines. This will help to ensure smooth operation and prevent wear on moving parts.

Additionally, consult the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing worn or damaged parts and make sure to use the correct replacement parts for your machine.

Optimizing Settings

Optimizing settings for your laser engraving involves adjusting laser power, speed, focus, and other parameters to achieve the best results for each material and application. This can help to ensure that your engraving is accurate, precise, and of the highest quality.

When optimizing settings, consider the material you are working with, the desired depth and precision of the engraving, and the type of laser you are using.

Adjusting settings can be a trial-and-error process, but taking the time to find the ideal settings for each material and project will result in better overall results and performance.

Experiment with different settings and consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommendations on optimal settings for various materials and projects.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive guide, we have explored the exciting world of metal laser engraving, discussing the various types of laser engravers, materials, engraving techniques, and applications. Whether you are a hobbyist looking to personalize metal objects or a business owner in need of a laser engraver for large-scale projects, there is a laser engraver designed to suit your specific needs and budget.

Armed with this knowledge, you are now ready to embark on your metal laser engraving journey and unleash your creativity. So, go ahead and explore the endless possibilities that laser engraving has to offer, and create stunning, personalized metal objects that will last a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of laser engraver do I need for metal?

Fiber lasers are the ideal choice for metal engraving due to their precision and versatility. They can be used to engrave a wide variety of metals, including stainless steel, aluminum, and titanium. The beam is highly precise and can be used to create intricate designs. CO2 and infrared lasers are also useful for metal engraving. To learn more about Fiber lasers, see our comprehensive guide here.

How much does a laser metal engraver cost?

Laser engravers typically cost between $100 and $10,000, with entry-level diode laser engravers typically costing between $150 and $500. For a full run down on how much laser engravers cost, see our comprehensive guide.

How strong of a laser is required to etch metal?

This depends on the type of laser you’re using. A 10W Diode laser can engrave metal, whereas a 1W Fiber laser can engrave metal. For CO2 lasers, you’ll need 40W or more to engrave metal.

Can you laser engrave metal?

Yes, laser engraving is possible on metal surfaces. Lasers are capable of marking and engraving both soft metals like aluminum and hard metals or alloys such as steel.

Can laser engravers work on all types of metals?

No, not all laser engravers can work on all types of metals; some may have limitations depending on the type of metal and engraving technique. For example, some laser engravers may not be able to engrave on stainless steel or titanium due to the hardness of the metal. Other engravers may be limited to engraving on softer metals such as aluminum or brass. Additionally, additional information is included.

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