The best laser cutters in 2022 | Creative Bloq

2022-11-17 17:05:09 By : Mr. Martin Chen

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With the best laser cutters, you can cut intricate designs into wood, glass, paper, plastic and even metal. Rust Cleaning Laser

The best laser cutters in 2022 | Creative Bloq

Choosing from the best laser cutters has now become harder than ever as these devices have been revamped to bring into the home and used for craft projects, art and more. The best laser cutters can be used to cut materials but also engrave and score to create consistent professional projects with speed. If you're a crafter who uses Cricut, for example, the top laser cutters can add to your workflow.

What might you use a laser cutter for? It varies, but the precision with which they can make cuts in material lend them all sorts of functions. Working with digital drawing software, you can transfer the most meticulous designs to a material of your choice. Most of the best laser cutters now make use of bespoke apps too, and you can read my Glowforge tutorial: how to engrave digital art onto wood, for an example.

While laser cutters are much cheaper and more accessible than they used to be, they still represent a significant financial investment, so it pays to do your research and land on the right one. They can, however, help elevate your craft projects to the next level and are the perfect companion to craft machines, take a look at my guide to the best Cricut machines and the best sewing machines to see how to improve your workflow.

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Glowforge Pro does for laser cutters what Cricut has done for craft cutters; this is a beautifully designed 'laser printer' that removes the mess and fuss and packages it all in a clean and approachable device. This model is the top Glowforge laser cutter, while the brand has a the medium Plus edition and a slightly less powerful Basic model. 

The Glowforge does the same cutting and engraving as many of the best laser cutters on my list, but its design keeps any mess inside the machine (a filter sucks away any dust and debris into an external air filter. Designs are sent to the machine via a bespoke app, and the Glowforge machines support Windows, Mac and tablet devices.

The Glowforge Pro uses a high-spec Class 4, 45 watt laser which is the most powerful you can get outside of an industrial use. (The Plus and Basic use a 40 watt, Class 1 laser, which is still more powerful than most on this list.) In my Glowforge Pro review this laser cutter impressed with its speed, ease of use and an excellent design app. It does, however, ideally need to be used with the Glowforge Air Filter accessory.

It's this ease of use and clean approach to laser cutting and engraving that ensures the Glowforge makes it to No.1 on my list. It looks like a standard printer but can engrave everything from metal to wood and tiles to paper and leather – it's perfectly suited to every task that requires accurate cutting too, from costume creation to model work. Perfect.

Read more about the Glowforge Pro and the rest of the Glowforge lineup in our guide to the best Glowforge machines.

The xTool M1 laser cutter is something quite different to the other machines on my list as it features both laser and a blade cutting technology inside its curved, neatly designed box of tricks. No wonder it's a Red Dot Award-winning design, the combination of tools plus a compact design means the xTool M1 really stands out.

The fact you can do what the best Cricut machines can and make use of a laser to engrave, cut and score means this top laser cutter can do a little more than some of the pure laser cutters on this list. The blade can cut cleaner than some lasers, with no scorching, and means you needn't spend time masking materials ahead of cutting.

The downside is the laser in the xTools M1 isn't as powerful as the Glowforge or some of the other xTools machines on my list. Inside is a 5 or 10 watt diode laser which is less powerful than the Glowforge CO2 45 watt laser, meaning it's a little slower and can take multiple passes. But, a diode laser will likely last a little longer and is cheaper to replace if it goes wrong. The blade isn't a rotary blade either, as you'd find in a Cricut Maker 3, but is similar to that found in the best Silhouette machines.

If you don't have a craft machine already, then the xTools M1 is a good option as it blends the abilities of a Cricut with those of a decent laser cutter and engraver. You can find out more in my guide to the best xTools machines.

The Glowforge Basic offers the same design and approachable use of the more powerful Glowforge Pro, No.1 on my list, but it has a number of changes to bring the price down, for example it has a slower cooling system and a 40 watt laser rather than a 45 watt beam.

But don't let the word 'basic' in the name put you off, the Glowforge Basic remains an incredibly powerful and fast laser cutter. Its CO2, 45 watt Class 1 laser is more powerful than the xTools M1, which means it's a little quicker to work with. It also lacks the Pro Passthrough slot of the Glowforge Pro so you're restricted to smaller projects or designing projects around the space.

However, in use it offers the same fast and clean approach of the higher-spec Glowforge Pro and uses the same app and workflow. So you just need to set up your design, wait for the laser cutter to focus and push the glowing 'print' button. Easy. The advantage of the Basic over the Pro is you won't need the Glowforge Air Filter too, as its slower laser doesn't produce as much smoke and dust. That's roughly a $1,000 / £1,000 saving.

If you want a high-end laser cutter for a little less, the Glowforge Basic is one of the best around at the moment. And Glowforge's ecosystem of laser-primed materials, app and support is welcome.

The xTool D1 Pro Laser Engraver is one of many laser cutters and engravers xTool makes, this one is my favourite. Coming in either red or grey, this machine makes use of new laser tech that sends four beams through the reflector to combine into one 20W laser. An upshot of this is it oxidises metallic surfaces in an instant meaning you can create over 300 colours from your metal engravings. It does this at a respectable speed of 400 mm/s.

While my eye was taken with the Glowforge at No.1 the xTool D1 Pro is still a neat little device made from all-aluminium for a sturdy base. It's an older style design compared to Glowforge; with an open top things can get dusty. But like Glowforge the xTool is an approachable laser cutter and engraver that comes with a good app to help your designs and its size, slightly greater than A3, means large designs are doable on this machine. The downside? The 'risers' to heighten the device for larger objects are sold separately.

Highly capable and relatively straightforward to use, the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 is going to be the best laser cutter for the majority of users – in the US, at least. It can slice through a wide variety of materials, including wood, leather, plywood, acrylic, density board, bamboo, cloth, double colour plate and glass. Note that it won't cut through metal, so if you're aiming to do some metal laser cutting, you'll want to skip down to the Triumph Fiber Laser Cutting Machine at #3, which is specifically designed for that purpose. 

Lining up your materials for cutting is made easier with the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 thanks to a clever red light positioning system, and for safety, there's a suspension system that immediately shuts off the laser the moment the doors are opened. With a generous amount of space for your engravings, and a ventilation fan to keep the exhaust smoke moving, the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 has been comprehensively equipped. It's also compatible with CorelDRAW, and connection is easily achieved via the USB port.

Want to see the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 in action? Check out this video (opens in new tab) for a quick demo. 

Fair warning, this is not a laser cutter to choose if you working in a small space. The 130W Reci W4 Co2 is a big beast with an engraving area of 1300 x 900mm, offering engraving speeds of up to 600 mm/sec and cutting speeds of up to 300 mm/s. If you have a feeling you're going to be tearing through a lot of laser cutting projects, and have plenty of space to be doing it, this may be the machine for you.

It'll cut just about anything except for metal, so if you're working with wood, plastic, plexiglass, crystal, leather, rubber, marble, ceramics or whatever else, you should be fine. It's also got wide digital compatibility, accepting a range of file formats and working with AutoCAD and CorelDRAW. Again, though we really can't stress enough, this thing is big. Its footprint is about 1829 x 1422 x 1041mm, so you're not going to be tucking it into the corner of a cupboard. 

Need to work with metal? The Triumph Fiber Laser Cutting Machine is made for it, making it the ideal choice for engraving. You can cut aluminium, stainless steel, copper, gold and silver without shadowing thanks to a high-speed galvanometer. 

It's not cheap, but overall, this is a very capable system that allows you 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 touchscreen and support for CorelDraw, AutoCad, and Photoshop format files. And best of all, it comes with software pre-installed, so you can get right to work. 

This cheap laser cutter may seem like a bit of an intimidating prospect at first, arriving as a pile of parts that may have you wondering what on earth you've got yourself into. However, once you get through the easy assembly process, you'll quickly discover you have a solidly capable cutter on your hands, and a great one for the price you paid. 

The ORTUR Laser Master 2 has no interface to speak of, so needs to be wired up to computer at all times for programming in your cuts. You may find you want to have some excess of your materials available, as there can sometimes be some fine-tuning and trial/error involved in getting the settings right for your particular designs – though once you manage it, the results are reliably pretty good across the board. There are also some handy safety features that will ease any worries about how open and exposed the design is – the Laser Master will cut out if knocked or moved, or if the USB cable is knocked out.

There is an ORTUR Laser Master 3 available, however it is considerably more expensive, and we love the affordable versatility of the Laser Master 2, so are sticking with it as our recommendation for now. 

If you're a beginner or hobbyist, you're probably looking for something cheap and lower powered than the laser cutters we've mentioned so far. In which case, let us point you to the AtomStack Portable Mini Laser Engraver. While it's nice and portable, its 5W laser power can cut cardboard, non-woven fabric, veneer, acrylic, some thin plastic board, sponge, MDF and leather, and engrave materials like wood, bamboo, cardboard, plastic, leather, MDF, slate, lacquered metal and stainless steel. 

A great little machine for home projects, this machine comes 85% assembled, which may sound like a strange brag but it's actually very welcome when dealing with laser cutters. Its all-aluminum alloy anodized structure design makes it impressively durable, and it can cut and engrave most small items you'd want to use it with, from glasses to leather bags and picture frames. 

If you're a hobbyist looking for a versatile laser cutter, we'd recommend the OMTech 40W. It works with a wide range of materials, including bamboo, acrylic, fabric, glass, ceramic, delrin, cloth, leather, marble, matte board, melamine, paper, mylar, pressboard, rubber, fibreglass, anodised aluminium, tile, plastic and Corian.

There's a decent-sized 300x200mm surface, with clamps to keep your cutting material in place and a level board to enable you to work with bulkier objects. A red dot pointer indicates the engraving point and path, to help you ensure you get the right position and scale for your object. 

Elsewhere, the pre-installed exhaust fan keeps everything cool, with low noise. And there are four detachable wheels you can use to move this laser cutter around easily. On the downside, while this machine does come with software, it's not really worth bothering with, so we'd recommend downloading K40 Whisperer and Inkscape instead.

Need a laser cutter you can carry about easily from place to place? The LaserPecker 2 Laser Engraver is a great choice for a home crafter or DIYer. Compact in size (162.5 x 60 x 122mm), weighing just 2.2kg and with a useful handle, it's lovely and portable. 

This machine can cut wood, paper, acrylic and leather that's 5mm thick or less, and offers a maximum engraving size of 100x2000mm. It's packed with safety features, too, including a protective shield, goggles, over-heating protection, password lock, motion detection, laser indicator and overheat shut down.

The Laserpecker Mini Desktop Laser Engraver is a miniature laser cutter you can fit 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. To make this possible it's quite stripped back and limited in its capabilities, but it's still a handy device to have. 

Just connect the engraver to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth and you can transfer your designs to a range of light materials. It's capable of engraving most non-metal materials, including wood, leather, paper, bamboo, plastics, and cloth. A pair of safety goggles are included too. While it's not as robust or as feature-laden as number 3 on our list, this is still a solid entry-level engraver.

As the name suggests the Pergear LaserStorm S5 Laser Engraver's primary purpose is to etch and engrave your collectibles and craft items. While this can cut various materials, including thin plastic and leather, this isn't what the LaserStorm is made for; it's on our list as it's a great engraver.

The Pergear LaserStorm can carve into most materials you'll be using for craft projects, including wood, bamboo, cardboard, plastic and leather. It can even engrave onto slate, which is great news for anyone who wants to name their home. This is a well-designed product that's great for one thing – engraving – and okay at cutting. 

A laser cutter is a device that creates patterns, shapes and designs in materials such as wood, glass, paper, metal and plastic, by cutting into them with a high-power laser. The precision of a laser makes for a clean cut and smooth finish. Laser cutting has been used for many decades in large-scale manufacturing, but more recently laser cutters have become more affordable and are increasingly used by hobbyists, schools and small businesses.

First, you'll need to set yourself a budget. Remember that if you're going to be monetising this skill, then pushing your budget as high as possible makes sense to get the best end product in the fastest time, and with the lowest usage costs. It is vital to consider the cost of replacement parts – you don't want to find yourself unable to keep the machine running. Another is speed, especially if your aim is to mass produce a product to sell within a limited time. Accuracy is also important so you may want to focus on that when narrowing down your options.

Size, weight and power usage are further considerations, since you may have a space that simply won't fit one of these beasts, or they may be too power hungry for you to run. That said, if you want speed you may need to use more power for a more powerful cutting laser that gets your final result faster. You will also need to check the cutting plate size to make sure it's big enough to suit whatever it is that you're cutting.

There are three main types of laser cutter. CO2 laser cutters use electrically-stimulated CO2, and are typically used for cutting, boring and engraving. This is the most common laser cutter to be used by hobbyists and makers. Crystal laser cutters use nd:YVO and nd:YAG, and are high powered, so they can cut through thicker materials. Fibre Laser Cutters use fibreglass and can work with both metal and non-metal materials.

In our opinion, the best laser cutter you can buy today is the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 Laser Cutter (opens in new tab) . It's suitable for engraving on most non-metal materials, including acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth, bamboo and paper. You can cut materials of any length. There's a red light positioning system to help you line up your materials carefully. It connects to your laptop via USB, and it's compatible with CorelDRAW design software (not included).

There are certain materials that you should never cut with a laser cutter. These include PVC vinyl, pleather or faux leather, and ABS polymer, which is commonly used in 3D pens and 3D printers. Both emit chlorine gas when cut. You should also not laser-cut polystyrene foam, polyprylene foam or HDPE (a plastic used to make milk bottles), as these will all catch fire. There are many other materials that should not be laser-cut, so always read the instructions carefully.

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