Which Laser Cutter Should I Buy?


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Which Laser Cutter Should I Buy?   So, you are considering buying a laser cutting machine?   This is a big investment and should be researched.   If you are in the market for a laser cutter, this is a great time of year to buy one too!   Let's go over some features to help you decide which laser cutter is right for you.

Which Laser Cutter Should I Buy?



So, you are considering buying a laser cutting machine?


This is a big investment and should be researched.


If you are in the market for a laser cutter, this is a great time of year to buy one too!


Let's go over some features to help you decide which laser cutter is right for you.


What laser cutting machine should I get? Diode, CO2, fiber or infrared laser? All your laser cutter questions answered here!

Which Laser Cutter is best? 


That depends on what you plan to do with it.


I am fairly new to laser cutters and have used and owned only 2.


I have the xTool M1 10W and the xTool S1 20W.


These are both diode lasers and have their limitations...but they are really awesome.


I work with xTool and know more about their machines than other ones on the market. 


I am including my affiliate links as well.


Which Laser Cutter is best?    That depends on what you plan to do with it.   I am fairly new to laser cutters and have used and owned only 2.   I have the xTool M1 10W and the xTool S1 20W.   These are both diode lasers and have their limitations...but they are really awesome.   I work with xTool and know more about their machines than other ones on the market.    I am including my affiliate links as well.


I am trying to make this post more informational on the types of machines available and then let you do the narrowing down and deciding.


I hope this post is helpful!



I am trying to make this post more informational on the types of machines available and then let you do the narrowing down and deciding.   I hope this post is helpful!    xTool Machines:  CO2 Laser xTool P2 Machine  xTool F1 Portable Laser Cutter  xTool S1 20W or 40W ( I have the 20W--see this post)  xTool M1 10W Deluxe RA2 Pro (this is the one I have--see this post)   Compare xTool Machines here

First Question: What do you want to do WITH your Laser?


What kind of things do you plan to make, cut and engrave?


Lots of people buy a diode laser (clearly because it's cheaper) yet are disappointed that it cannot cut clear acrylic.


If clear acrylic is the THING you want to do, you need to get a CO2 laser and the price tag is about double the price of a diode laser.


If you are excited about cutting basswood, engraving on cutting boards, engraving leather, cutting cast acrylic in solid colors like green, red, black, orange, and yellow, cutting cardboard, etching glass and tumblers...


Then you could get a diode laser or a CO2 laser!


These factors are all key in picking the best machine.


A full scale business would not be efficient or fast enough using a hobby machine like the xTool M1 or Glowforge Aura.


Are you looking to expand business, start a full scale business or do a side hustle and DIY's?


First Question: What do you want to do WITH your Laser?  What kind of things do you plan to make, cut and engrave?   Lots of people buy a diode laser (clearly because it's cheaper) yet are disappointed that it cannot cut clear acrylic.   If clear acrylic is the THING you want to do, you need to get a CO2 laser and the price tag is about double the price of a diode laser.   If you are excited about cutting basswood, engraving on cutting boards, engraving leather, cutting cast acrylic in solid colors like green, red, black, orange, and yellow, cutting cardboard, etching glass and tumblers...   Then you could get a diode laser or a CO2 laser!   These factors are all key in picking the best machine.   A full scale business would not be efficient or fast enough using a hobby machine like the xTool M1 or Glowforge Aura.   Are you looking to expand business, start a full scale business or do a side hustle and DIY's?


Some of the things laser cutters can do:


  • Cut and engrave leather
  • Cut and engrave basswood/plywood (up to 6mm or so)
  • Cut and engrave acrylic
  • Cut and engrave rubber stamps
  • Etch Stainless Steel Water bottles and Tumblers
  • Etch Rock, Stone and Slate
  • Etch Glass
  • Cut felt, paper and foam
  • Engrave on fabric
Some of the things laser cutters can do:    Cut and engrave leather Cut and engrave basswood/plywood (up to 6mm or so) Cut and engrave acrylic Cut and engrave rubber stamps Etch Water bottles and Tumblers Etch Rock, Stone and Slate Etch Glass Cut felt, paper and foam



Laser Cutting Lasers


Consider which Laser Cutter is right for you.


There are many Laser Cutting machines on the market and it's important to know the differences and do some research.


Some laser cutters are enclosed, which is excellent for safety/eye protection.


Some lasers are open and can be set right on the surface to engrave, cut or etch.


Some lasers have conveyors so you can do giant projects with the blank sliding through the machine.


How to Make Acrylic Earrings with xTool!  Learn how to cut cast acrylic sheets with the xTool M1 Laser Cutting Machine.   I love the versatility of the xTool M1, perfect for a craft, hobbyist and even a small business!   I had to test my xTool with acrylic with a small pair of monstera leaf earrings--earrings are ALWAYS the first craft I make with a new machine!    Check out these wood earrings.

Cut acrylic earrings with the M1



There are a few different types of lasers:



We'll only touch on these three types of lasers: CO2, Diode, and Fiber.


(This xTool post is helpful in breaking down the 3 types of lasers)


I have an infrared laser with my S1 now, but haven't used it yet--it's for engraving metals.


There are a few different types of lasers:    We'll only touch on these three types of lasers: CO2, Diode, and Fiber.   (This xTool post is helpful in breaking down the 3 types of lasers)    I have an infrared laser with my S1 now, but haven't used it yet--it's for engraving metals.


DIODE


Diode lasers are a light emitting diode that focuses the light in a narrow point with a lens.


Diode are the least expensive, but they have a few limitations.


xTool M1 10W ($1399)  and Glowforge Aura ($1199).


They are unable to cut clear, white, blue, mirrored and transparent colors of acrylic. 


Can't engrave clear glass, (although some people find their way around this by painting the glass with black tempera paint).


They move slower than the CO2 lasers.


These machines are perfect for the home crafter or hobbyist.


Many people make a great side hustle income with their diode lasers.


The xTool M1 is also a hybrid unit, so it has a cutting blade and can compete with electronic cutting machines.


Materials Diodes can cut: solid wood, plywood, MDF, felt, leather, paper, dark cast acrylic.


Materials Diodes can engrave: solid wood, plywood, MDF, leather, paper, some opaque acrylic, dark glass, stone/ceramic/rock/brick/marble/jade/shale/cement, plated and coated metal, and fabric.


Lifespan for the diode laser is approximately 25,000-50,000 hours.



How to Make a Miniature Acoustic Guitar Studio!  This miniature guitar studio is one of my most favorite projects to date.   I love how this tiny little acoustic guitar turned out.   I love that mini hairpin leg stool.   I mostly love these little clay potted plants! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‚Learn how to make a miniature acoustic guitar and potted plants for the miniature lover in your life!

CO2


CO2 lasers use high voltage power to charge gas to create a infrared light, focused through mirrors and a lens, creating a powerful beam. 


CO2 Lasers are much more versatile in their cutting acrylic capabilities.


But they come with a much larger price tag.


xTool P2 Machine ($4499) vs Glowforge Plus ($4995) vs Glowforge Pro ($6995).


They are much faster than a Diode laser.


These machines are awesome for the home crafter and small business owner.


They make production faster with more options for growth.


Materials CO2 can cut: solid wood, plywood, MDF, felt, leather, paper, all colors of acrylic, glass, foam, and rubber.


Materials CO2 can engrave: solid wood, plywood, MDF, leather, paper, all colors of acrylic, glass, rubber, stone/ceramic/rock/brick/marble/jade/shale/cement, plated and coated metal, and fabric.


Lifespan for the diode laser is approximately 5,000-8,000 hours.



I Will Survive Disco Ball Plant Stake with xTool DIY  I will survive.🎡 🎢    Gloria Gaynor's I will Survive, It's my favorite Disco era song.   And exactly how I hope my new plant feels.   Make a disco ball-esque planter pick for your potted houseplant with xTool M1 Laser Cutting Machine.   My husband thought it was the death star...and I'm not even mad.   This cute plant stake is easy to make in just a few minutes with the FREE file I created at the end of the post.

FIBER


Fiber will actually cut and engrave some types of metal.


Fiber lasers travel through fiber optic cables or fiberglass that amplifies the beams with the presence of rare earth metals.


Much Pricier machine ($15,000 to $20,000).


Great for big business, not typically for side hustle, hobbyists or small business.


Fiber lasers have a long lifespan, approximately 100,000 hours.





Check out this post on Starting a Laser Cutting Business
Do you wear earrings?   I got my ears pierced when I was 6.    When I was 19 and got married, I stopped wearing them completely.    I love making earrings, but not wearing them...so I've got these ready for a last minute gift!

Space:

Narrowing down what you are looking for...and the space it can take up in your house is a big factor in the decision making process.


Laser Cutting Machines vary hugely in size. (My S1 is 30x22x7 inches)


A fiber laser is giant, you'd want a warehouse or large shop to justify it.


The xTool M1 or Glowforge Aura (both diode lasers) are hobby crafter size, and work awesomely in a house craft room or garage space.


It's best if they have windows to vent through, but a smoke purifier system can be purchased separately if that's not an option.


CO2 Lasers are much bigger and require a larger work space.


Space: Narrowing down what you are looking for...and the space it can take up in your house is a big factor in the decision making process.   Laser Cutting Machines vary hugely in size. (My S1 is 30x22x7 inches)   A fiber laser is giant, you'd want a warehouse or large shop to justify it.   The xTool M1 or Glowforge Aura (both diode lasers) are hobby crafter size, and work awesomely in a house craft room or garage space.   It's best if they have windows to vent through, but a smoke purifier system can be purchased separately if that's not an option.   CO2 Lasers are much bigger and require a larger work space.

Risk:

There is some potential risk involved.


Lasers are focused beams of light, that can potentially start on fire.


Laser Cutters should be monitored while the machine is working at all times. 


This can be tricky, especially since some projects take hours to cut.


Having the laser cutter in a convenient spot is very helpful.


Some people buy room cameras to monitor while they work, but the machine really should not be left unattended.


The Air Assist definitely helps reduced risk of scorching and charring too, so having that is a "must".


Having a Fire Extinguisher rated for electronics or a fire blanket is recommended.



Risk: There is some potential risk involved.   Lasers are focused beams of light, that can potentially start on fire.   Laser Cutters should be monitored while the machine is working at all times.    This can be tricky, especially since some projects take hours to cut.   Having the laser cutter in a convenient spot is very helpful.   Some people buy room cameras to monitor while they work, but the machine really should not be left unattended.   The Air Assist definitely helps reduced risk of scorching and charring too, so having that is a "must".   Having a Fire Extinguisher rated for electronics or a fire blanket is recommended.

That's it!

Have you decided which type of laser cutter you should get?


If you are ready to start using it as an awesome craft and DIY tool, get yourself a xTool M1 or xTool S1 diode laser cutter today!


Shipping is pretty fast and you'll be able to make a few things for holiday gift giving!


If you are going big and want to cut clear acrylic, get the xTool P2  or Glowforge Pro today!


It's the gift that keeps on giving!


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