There are numerous laser cutting machines out there. Many are under the impression that one laser cutting machine can do everything, or that all laser cutting machines do the same thing. This is not true. While there are similarities, different laser cutting machines do different things. Some are particularly good at creating one thing, and others are particularly better at creating others. Another thing to consider is what you are getting the laser cutting machine for. Are you using it for work? For home? Are you using it to supplement one of your hobbies? The following five laser cutting machines will be analyzed with those uses in mind. Not all laser cutters are created equal, and it is very important to know this.
Additionally, laser cutters are, for the most part, very intricate pieces of equipment. Many of them require a fair amount of assembly, while a handful of others are already assembled right out of the box. If one of the following laser cutters is one that requires assembly and contains many parts to operate, it will also be mentioned.
The Scan N Cut 2, provided by Brother, can scan and engrave on soft surfaces only. One particular feature that makes it stand out is that it works as a photo scanner as well as a laser cutter. In fact, it resembles a scanner. It can scan pictures or drawings and save them onto files that it makes ready for cutting. It can also connect to your PC wirelessly to transfer anything that you saved onto the cutting machine. There is an activation card that is required for this that is sold separately, but the Scan N Cut can also perform as a stand alone device. It also contains hundreds of built in designs. It also has an interface that allows you to upload your own designs, then save them onto a cloud file.
The scanning area is an impressive 12’’x12,’’ with the cutting area being 11.7,’’ which allows for some pretty large designs. The Scan N Cut itself can only engrave on cloth, textiles, or plastic, but you can purchase a stronger blade that can cut a little deeper for harder surfaces. Even with the stronger blade, the Scan N Cut cannot cut through metal, however. All things considered, The Scan N Cut is very user friendly and provides lots of design options even if you have thought of them yourself. The option of adding your own designs to its database and save them is also quite nice.
2. Orion Motor Tech 12″x 8″ 40W CO2 Laser Engraver Cutting and Engraving Machine with Water-Break Protection
One thing that stands out with the Orion is that it allows engravings on nearly everything except metal, which is fantastic. Additionally, the possible size of the engravings is only slightly smaller than the Scan N Cut; it only allows a 12’’x8’’ engraving area. It still can allow for some pretty big engravings on a more diverse array of surfaces. One characteristic that the Orion has that the other machines do not have is that it has water break protection. While the Orion does have software installed, it is also compatible with other forms of software such as CorelDraw.
It also has USB connection, this way you can watch over your engraving on your monitor. Another good thing the Orion has is an exhaust fan which will prevent overheating. One amazing thing the Orion has is predrilled holes that allow you for you to place a stronger laser tube in. Because it is an extremely versatile machine, however, the Orion is extremely heavy. It weighs well over 60 lbs, which is nearly five times heavier than the previously mentioned Scan N Cut.
The SUNWIN engraving machine is a good alternative to the Orion engraving machine if you wish to take a DIY approach to creating engravings. Similar to the Orion engraving machine, it can create engravings on more than just fabric and is every bit as diverse and versatile. It is much easier to use than many other laser cutters, as the machine is designed for direct engraving right on the surface. Most surfaces need to be completely flat when engraving, but because of the design of the SUNWIN, this is not completely necessary. The SUNWIN also comes with safety glasses in case you do not have a pair yourself. However, the SUNWIN engraving machine does not come with as many user-friendly materials as most other laser cutters.
You will not find design templates or wireless connections with this machine. It does come with software, but the only purpose of the software is to make sure that the SUNWIN is operable. The SUNWIN engraving machine is good for making signs and simple engravings, and if you are very skilled, you can even make complex designs: The engraving area is a very impressive 40cm x 50cm. A drawback of this machine is that it arrives disassembled. This means you must put it together before you begin using it. Different than the Orion, another machine that can engrave on quite a bit of surfaces, the SUNWIN weighs only ten pounds. It is easy to carry around, and even if you need to disassemble it to do this, it is easy to put back together as it does not come with a ton of parts that you must put together.
4. Orion Motor Tech 12″x 8″ 40W CO2 Laser Engraving Machine Engraver Cutter with Exhaust Fan USB Port
If this article has proven anything, it has proven that Orion creates some of the most versatile engraving machines on the market. Just like the other machine from Orion that is covered here, this one can also engrave on many surfaces. Also, similar to the Scan N Cut, it is very user friendly, offering similar options as the Scan N Cut. Like than the other Orion product, the Orion CO2 engraving machine is compatible with nearly all computer operating systems. It does not have the water-break protection like the other Orion laser cutter, but it does have a very powerful ventilation fan which can prevent fumes and smoke.
This allows users to operate the machine for a much longer time, even longer than the other Orion laser cutter. Because of this, it can help with longer projects which would overheat other machines. Also, because it uses a CO2 powered laser, the life of the laser is extended quite a bit. Most laser glasses have a life of around 800 hours. The Orion CO2’s laser glass lasts as long as 1300. It also arrives completely put together and set up, just like the other Orion machine. If there is any “all purpose” laser cutter category, the Orion CO2 would be it. Like the other Orion machine, the Orion CO2 weighs about 60 lbs and has a 12’’x8’’ engraving area.
5. Qiilu 1500mw Laser Engraver Printer Laser Engraving Machine DIY USB CNC Router Cutting Carver Off-line Operation with Goggles for Art Craft Science
Different than anything on this list, the Qiilu does not need to be connected to a PC to operate. It can be connected to a PC, but it does not need to be. You can use the Qiilu completely stand-alone if necessary. It is extremely small, and is designed for engravings on very small items. Like the Orion engraving machines, it can engrave on soft and hard surfaces. The only surface that it cannot engrave on is glass. Like the SUNWIN, the only purpose for the software it comes with is to have something to connect it to if you do not have any other engraving software around.
However, it is compatible with nearly any operating system. The Qiilu can also overheat quickly, making longer projects tedious. It is suggested that if you are working on a longer engraving project that you let this particular engraver machine cool off in between sessions.
How do laser cutters work?
Before analyzing these five laser cutting machines, it is important to know how a laser cutting machine works. The main thing a laser cutting machine does is create engravings. Very few machines can engrave on really tough surfaces, such as metal or stone, while the most common ones can engrave on solid but more breakable surfaces such as wood, or glass. Nearly all laser cutters are able to engrave on soft surfaces such as fabrics, textiles, or plastic. Although some machines can create engravings on all three types of surfaces, certain ones seem to specialize in creating engravings on a particular surface. These will also be mentioned throughout the article.
Some final words
There are many things to consider when getting a laser cutter. The very first thing that you should consider is what you need (or want) to engrave. As you can notice from all these descriptions, different laser cutters meet different needs. Some people want a laser cutter so they can create things as a hobby and some need a laser cutter for more serious things. It is up to you to decide which one will can get the most out of. One major thing to consider is if you possess the skills to construct the laser cutters featured in this article that are considered DIY. If you have the handiwork abilities to be able to build and set up these machines, they are cheaper and you should buy them. However, the more expensive ones do all the handiwork for you and can save you quite a bit of hassle.