Which laser wood engravers are best?

The art of engraving by hand is practiced by an ever-smaller number of craftspeople, but thanks to advancements in modern technology, anyone with a little programming experience and a willingness to learn can create all sorts of designs using a laser wood engraver. 

In fact,with a handsome and capable unit like the Anycubic Mega Pro 3D Printer as part of your toolkit, you’ll be amazed by the detailed art you can create for fun and profit.

What to know before you buy a laser wood engraver

Power

While industrial laser engravers can channel up to 130 watts of electrical power to cut through plastic, stone and even steel, much less powerful 500-milliwatt lasers are used for placing designs on delicate materials such as wood and leather.

Safety

An improperly secured and unshielded laser can damage your skin and even lead to permanent loss of vision. Before you buy or use a laser wood engraver, familiarize yourself with safety procedures and purchase appropriate protective equipment.

Connectivity, speed and options for software input

Having the ability to create custom art pieces with your engraver is wonderful, unless you’re stuck waiting for hours as it completes a relatively simple design. Unfortunately, a greater amount of detail will always take longer to create with lasers than a simple concept. And depending on the technical capabilities of your machine, your ability to change parameters of resolution may be limited.

Of course, that assumes you can easily connect your engraver to your PC or tablet to enter designs and modifications. Sadly for those who prefer to use iOS-based devices, engravers are generally much more compatible with Android and Windows. You also should determine whether your engraver has its own proprietary design software or is capable of accepting a variety of file formats.

The size of your laser wood engraver

Laser wood engravers come in a large array of sizes, so depending on your budget and the amount of space at your disposal, your engraver’s footprint can range from minuscule to massive. One of the biggest factors in the size of your machine is whether the laser array’s frame is closed or open. While open frames offer much greater creative potential due to their larger size, they are inherently more risky due to their using an unshielded laser unit.

What to look for in a quality laser wood engraver

Offers other capabilities including 3D printing 

If all you want out of your laser wood engraver is to engrave wood, you will likely be satisfied with a standard unit. However, given recent advancements in technology and decreases in costs, you can purchase a laser wood engraver with additional advanced functions. For example, while you might be using your engraving unit primarily on wood, you also can print on paper, bamboo, horn, smartphone cases and much more. And some engravers are part of a fourth-generation 3D printer with a double filament extruder and a host of advanced sensor technology. 

Low effort and automatic leveling features 

The more complicated the design, the more important it is to keep your wood firmly in place as the laser does its work. Look for a model with low-effort large leveling wheels for easy one-finger operation as well as beginner-friendly features such as sensors and beep alerts to keep you on target. 

Wi-Fi control

Depending on how complex and time-consuming your design is, you might wish you could walk away and trust that your machine could look after itself. Laser wood engravers that offer Wi-Fi control let you do just that. By allowing you to input programs and designs from your PC, tablet or smartphone as needed, you can go about your day while being alerted to potential issues and project completion.

Multiple file types and recommended design software

Determine if there are particular apps or design software that work best with your engraver. You should also check that your preferred software input formats like .STL, .OBJ, and .DAE can be easily transferred to avoid disappointment and wasted time.

How much you can expect to spend on a laser wood engraver

Depending on your desired features, a quality laser wood engraver can cost between $170- $649.

Best laser wood engraver FAQ

Should I stain my wood before or after laser engraving it?

A. This depends on your desired effect. Staining your wood after engraving will cause any engraving to stand out more. Engravings that will be paint filled should be stained before the engraving process.

Is it hard to learn how to use a laser wood engraver?

A. Since a large number of engravers are compatible with pre-existing operating systems and design programs, you will likely not need to learn any additional software to get started.

What’s the best laser wood engraver to buy?

Top laser wood engraver 

ANYCUBIC Mega Pro 3D Printer, 4th Gen 3D Printing - Laser Engraving Unit

Anycubic Mega Pro 3D Printer

What you need to know: This is a handsome, capable engraver and fourth-generation 3D printing unit.

What you’ll love: It features beep alerts and the ability to automatically locate the leveling spot for your wood to ensure correct placement before engraving. It is covered by 24-hour customer service as well as lifetime technical support.

What you should consider: Some users have reported issues with the proprietary software and the heat bed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top laser wood engraver for the money

DIY CNC Engraver Kits Wood Carving Engraving Cutting Desktop Machine

DIY CNC Engraver Kits Wood Carving Desktop Machine

What you need to know: This  affordable engraver is suitable for use on a variety of materials.

What you’ll love: It can engrave wood as well as paper, bamboo, plastic phone shell, horn and sponge paper. 

What you should consider: It can only engrave softwoods, not hardwoods. Some users have reported the laser failing after a few dozen projects.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

BIBO 3D Printer Dual Extruder Laser Engraver Sturdy Frame WiFi Touch Screen

Bibo 3D Printer Dual Extruder Laser Engraver

What you need to know: This is a fully equipped laser wood engraver and 3D printer with impressive technical capabilities.

What you’ll love: It can engrave wood as well as offering dual filament extruders for multiple projects and remote access via Wi-Fi. In addition, the full color touchscreen makes inputting information and adjusting settings a breeze.

What you should consider: Some reviewers say the nozzles clog easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Daniel Martin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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