Looking for the best laser engraver? We’ve got you covered…
Engraving can add a whole new dimension to your DIY and craft projects.
Many laser engraving machines are available for home use, opening up endless new and exciting possibilities from within the comfort of your own four walls.
Let’s take a look at how a laser engraver works, and how you can put it to use for your creative projects.
- 1 What is a Laser Engraver?
- 2 What Can I Use a Laser Engraving Machine For?
- 3 Tips for Using a Laser Engraver
- 4 What Makes a Good Laser Engraver?
- 5 Best Laser Engraving Machines
- 5.1 SUNWIN USB Desktop Laser Engraving Machine
- 5.2 Cubiio: The Most Compact Laser Engraver
- 5.3 Orion Motor Tech 60W CO2 Laser Engraver Machine
- 5.4 Qiilu 1500 mW Laser Engraving Machine
- 5.5 Meterk 1500 mW Laser Engraver
- 5.6 GanGou Mini Desktop Laser Engraver Machine
- 5.7 SHUOGOU 15W High Speed Mini Laser Carving Machine Engraver
- 5.8 Orion Motor 40W CO2 Laser Engraver Cutter
What is a Laser Engraver?
These hi-tech pieces of kit use mini lasers to cut away a layer of material on a surface — this could be metal, wood, or plastic for example — in order to create a design or text.
Varying the intensity of the laser beam allows you to engrave at different depths, or even to cut through the material entirely.
Home laser engravers are less powerful than industrial laser engraving machines, but are still hefty enough to be used in a wide variety of ways — as well as being small enough to fit easily into a home workspace.
For the hobbyist crafter, they’re the perfect piece of kit.
Here’s a handy video showing how they work:
Designs are created in raster or vector format using PC graphics software, and then uploaded to the laser engraver — usually via USB cable — to be engraved into the surface of your chosen object.
Many laser engravers even come supplied with their own dedicated image design software.
What Can I Use a Laser Engraving Machine For?
The uses for a laser engraver are honestly as limitless as your imagination.
Create unique and eye catching business cards engraved on plastic, metal or wood.
Personalize jewelry, watches and other gifts with ease, or engrave designs onto leather items such as wallets and belts.
Craft wooden puzzles, intricate jewelry, seals and stamps for scrapbooking, or engrave special messages onto crystal glasses or coasters to mark a special occasion.
Create delicate lacy papercut images and stencils, or produce signage or labeling for your business.
The opportunities are endless.
One of our favorite things to do is trawl sites like Etsy looking for inspiration.
Tips for Using a Laser Engraver
Always think about safety first and foremost.
Lasers are focused points of intense energy, and can be extremely dangerous if improperly used.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy at all times in case of fire.
- Use your laser cutter in a well ventilated space when cutting plastics to avoid breathing in harmful fumes.
- Protect your eyes with a pair of protective goggles, and never put your hands in front of the laser.
Smoke caused by the engraving process can stain the surface of certain materials.
To prevent this happening cover the areas around the engraving area with masking tape before you start, this will keep the surrounding surface areas clean and free from stains.
Don’t expect to get it right first time, every time, and there’s nothing worse than ruining a project by being too hasty.
It is always worth taking the time to test your design by engraving onto a piece of scrap material before moving on to the real thing.
Your laser engraver is an expensive piece of kit, so treat it well to ensure that it will last for years of use.
Make sure that you clean the laser lenses regularly.
What Makes a Good Laser Engraver?
- Durability — quality construction and parts made from quality materials mean that your laser engraver is less likely to break, and will last longer.
- Support — lasers are fragile and laser engravers do sometimes need repair. A good laser engraving machine will come with excellent customer support and replacement parts should be easily available.
- Size — the dimensions of the machine determine what size objects can be placed inside for engraving. Make sure that the laser engraver you choose is the right size for the projects you have in mind.
- Power — the more powerful the laser, the more versatile your laser engraver will be. A laser with a higher wattage will increase the cutting speed and the reliability of the cut.
Best Laser Engraving Machines
Designed to be used on a desktop, the SUNWIN laser engraver features a generous engraving area of 40 x 50 cm, making it ideal for projects of a wide range of sizes.
It’s light and portable thanks to its sturdy aluminium frame, and comes equipped with design software, USB cable, protective goggles, and a 500 MW laser.
- Capable of engraving larger items
- Good customer support
- Excellent for engraving text
- Ideal for thinner materials like bamboo, wood, paper, plastic and leather
- Comes with its own software
- Feels durable
- Comes with goggles and other accessories
- Cannot engrave metal as laser is not powerful enough
- Assembly can be a little fiddly
Cute and colorful, the Cubioo laser engraver boasts a lightweight compact design that is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.
It uses an 800 mW laser designed for cutting and engraving thin materials such as paper, card, leather, wood and acrylic, and is ideal for artwork and craft projects.
Use your phone to connect to Cubiio to upload your design files from the microSD card — you can even hand draw designs directly on your phone and engrave them using the app.
- Can engrave on surfaces of any size
- Very easy to use
- Well built and durable
- Good, reliable phone app
- Strong enough to work on metals
- Lots of safety features including password lock and overheat shutdown
- Small footprint
- Can be noisy — not to be used in the dead of night if you’ve got roommates!
Not our only laser engraver by Orion on this list, this machine has a powerful 60W laser and a sizeable engraving area of 20 x 28 inches.
Capable of engraving all sorts of materials including wood and bamboo, ceramics, glass, stone, and even rubber, it features a handy red dot guide light and benefits from a built in air compressor which removes any dangerous gases and hot air from the atmosphere.
Thanks to its 60W laser, this engraving machine can engrave up to a maximum depth of 4mm, and is compatible with CorelDraw and AutoCAD software.
- High quality and highly accurate — very close to a professional level machine
- Extracts dangerous fumes and heat from the air as it works to create a safe environment
- Fully enclosed so safe to use
- Large engraving area
- Arrives ready assembled and calibrated
- Good customer support
- Software not included
- Doesn’t engrave metals
- Comparatively expensive
The 1500 mW laser of the Qiilu laser engraver has enough power to burn designs into many materials, but unfortunately not glass, stone, ceramics and metal.
The engraving space is a compact 4.2 x 4.2 x 7.8 cm — which should suffice for small projects — and an electronic fan keeps the laser cool while in use.
Designs can be printed using either a Windows PC, tablet or the handy Qiilu smartphone app, and the machine has the added advantage of being able to run without being permanently connected to a device.
- Good connectivity
- Can be used ‘offline’
- Easy to set up and use
- Sturdy metal construction
- Affordable price
- Works with a limited range of materials
- Software could be improved
- Only for small designs
Another laser engraving machine that can be operated via either your PC or a smartphone, the Meterk laser engraver printer is totally wireless and capable of working offline.
The 1500 mW laser can engrave non reflective metals, wood, plastic and more up to a size of 4.2 x 4.2 x 7.8 cm.
A built in battery and fan ensure that this machine can keep running safely for hours, and is also powered by USB cable which can be connected to your phone, tablet, or PC.
The sturdy frame is made from a combination of metal and acrylic. Comes supplied with protective glasses.
- Ideal for beginners
- Works with both PC and smartphone
- Good software
- Simple to use
- Reasonably priced
- Well built and feels durable
- Not good for deep engraving
- Laser can burn out quickly so better to use in quick bursts rather than long, drawn-out sessions
Wood, paper, bamboo, rubber, leather and plastic can all be engraved with the GanGou laser engraving machine.
It features a powerful 3000 mW laser, a 7.5 x 7.5 cm engraving area, and is Windows compatible.
This laser engraver is shipped supplied with power adaptor, USB cable for PC connection, a special protective panel to protect the eyes, and accompanying software.
- Small and compact design
- Surprising degree of accuracy considering the price
- Reasonably powerful laser for a budget engraving machine
- Supports multiple picture formats
- Excellent for small arts and crafts projects
- Anti-slip pads keep the engraving machine securely in place
- Great price
- Doesn’t print on metal, stone, glass, ceramic or reflective or transparent surfaces
- Not compatible with Macs
This compact laser engraving machine from SHUOGOU benefits from 15 Watts of laser power and a space saving design.
It has been designed to be super simple to use — just plug it in and get started straight away.
Metal, plastic, wood, acrylic, stone, and more can be engraved with the Shuogou laser engraver, as long as the object size doesn’t exceed the 14 x 20 cm dimensions of the machine bed.
A USB cable connects the machine to any PC, and the design software is Windows compatible.
- Easy to install and use
- Good value for money
- Can engrave a wide variety of materials considering its small size
- Small footprint
- Feels sturdy and durable
- Comes with protective glasses
- Can only engrave small items
- Not Mac compatible
Suitable for engraving on most organic materials as well as plastics, the Orion Motor Tech laser engraver has an engraving area of 30 x 20 cm — large enough to engrave items up to 26 x 20 x 7 cm in size.
This fully enclosed engraving machine is Windows compatible and comes complete with its own design software and USB cable.
It also comes equipped with an extractor fan to eliminate noxious fumes and smoke.
- Solid, German built machine
- Operates quietly
- Extracts fumes from the atmosphere effectively
- Gives good quality engravings
- Compatible with CorelDraw
- Fiddly to set up
- Doesn’t engrave metal
- Not Mac compatible
Which do you think is the best laser engraving machine?