The best laser cutters are both increasingly capable and increasingly affordable. And so you don't have to be a big business or professional manufacturer to use them: hobbyist and small business owners are finding they can greatly enhance their productivity and creativity too.
The best laser cutters can be used to cut materials, of course, but also engrave and score. 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 come with bespoke apps too: read my Glowforge tutorial on how to engrave art onto wood for an example. Also check out Bear Walker's skateboard designs for inspiration.
But which model should you buy? With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to choose the right one for your specific needs. In this article, we bring together the best laser cutters available today, considering factors such as cutting power, precision, software compatibility, and ease of use.
Meanwhile, if you wish to complete your crafting setup, take a look at my guides to the best Cricut machines and the best sewing machines as well.
The best laser cutters available now
Why you can trust Creative Bloq Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
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, making it easily the best laser cutter around at the moment (for a price). 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. This Pro model comes with a 'passthrough' slot for large lengths of material, making it an ideal wood laser cutter – you can even make furniture. The results are always great, making this the best laser cutter for small business overall.
The Glowforge Pro, above, may be the best laser cutter on our list, but it is pretty expensive. So if you're looking for a desktop model for personal use rather than using the company account, you want something a bit more affordable. In which case, this 50W laser cutter from Gweike offers exceptional value.
Despite being cheaper than the Glowforge Pro, it offers more power (50W) and the company claims it's three times faster at cutting, achieving speeds of up to 600mm/s on the x axis.
It comes with cloud-based laser software which links directly with your machine via Wi-Fi. It can also be controlled by Gweike's offline software or Lightburn. This enables you to control a variety of cutting and engraving techniques in one cutting cycle with multiple layers. There's a pre-configured and fully editable material settings library on board, and a built-in 5MP camera for positioning your material precisely.
Along with your laser cutter, you get a material pack, including laser plywood, acrylic and corrugated card, an extractor fan and a tool kit, including lens cleaning cotton swabs, allen key set and laser alignment targets to assist with routine maintenance.
All in all, this is a great choice for a home or small workshop, if you need plenty of power. The main downsides are that there's no autofocus, and there's a lack of instructions or guidance for how to use it. That means there's quite a steep learning curve, and if you're using it for business then that's going to take the shine off the lower price (because after all, time is money). If you can spend the extra time getting used to its ways, though, then this is a real bargain.
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. That makes it the best laser cutter for crafter we've used to date.
However, it's important to note that xTool has just launched a successor, the P1, which looks like it'll probably be better. (Scroll down to the next entry on our list to find out more.)
Essentially, the M1 allows you to do what the best Cricut machines can, and make use of a laser to engrave, cut and score. The blade can cut cleaner than some lasers, with no scorching, and means you needn't spend time masking materials ahead of cutting. In my xTool M1 review I also found you'll need the enclosed metal risers, but ideally you'll need the Air Filter too (see my guide to the best xTool accessories).
The downside is the laser in the xTool M1 isn't as powerful as the Glowforge or some of the other xTool machines on my list. Inside is a 5 or 10 watt diode laser (depending on the model), which is less powerful than the Glowforge CO2 45 watt laser, meaning it's a little slower. 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 xTool M1 is a good option as it blends the abilities of a Cricut with those of a decent laser cutter and engraver, and you can extend the height and attach rotary device. You can find out more in my guide to the best xTool machines.
As we mention above, the xTool M1 laser cutter and engraver is our current pick as best laser cutter for crafters. But now xTool has upped its game with the launch of the P2, which is currently available for pre-order at a special early bird price of $4,199 / £3,899, which will end on May 14.
So is it worth the investment? Well, we haven't got our hands on one yet, but it looks like being a winner, offering the same design sensibilities of the xTool M1, but with the power and speed of a CO2 laser cutter. Most impressively, it has a 55W CO2 laser cutter with 26 x 14 inch bed size, making it the most powerful laser cutter on the market right now. It also boasts an automated passthrough slot, two 16MP cameras for high definition accuracy, the ability to engrave curved materials as well as rotary engraving.
In short, the xTool P2 really sounds like it's a laser cutter that can do everything. For more information, see my article on the new xTool P2 laser cutter.
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 xTool 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.
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 xTool D1 Pro Laser Engraver is one of many laser cutters and engravers xTool makes. 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 a very capable laser cutter for most 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, 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 for a quick demo.
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.
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.
What is a laser cutter?
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.
How do you choose the best laser cutter for your needs?
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.
What are the different types of laser cutter?
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.
What's the best laser cutter?
In my opinion, the best laser cutter you can buy today is the Glowforge Pro. A powerful, fast and accurate laser cutter, it's ideal for professional projects and high-end crafting. The addition of the Pro Passthrough slot means you can make large projects, and the Glowforge app is excellent and easy to use. It is expensive, though, and perhaps provides too much power for most crafters, in which case other models on our list above may be better suited to your needs.
Can you cut anything with a laser cutter?
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.
- These are the best art printers
- Cheap 3D printers: the 8 best affordable 3D printers
- Best Glowforge machines