The best laser cutters were once something only big business and heavy industry used. But these days, they're getting cheaper, and are now being used by everyone from makers, creators and agencies to DIYers and hobbyists.
Why? Because the best laser cutters allow you to make accurate and precise cuts to materials such as leather, wood, glass and plastic, without needing special skills. So whether you want to engrave calligraphy fonts onto jewellery or imprint a logo design onto a sign, you'll find it quick and easy.
That said, laser cutters are still quite expensive, so you don't want to waste your cash. Below, you'll find the best laser cutters available to buy today. We'll start with the best laser cutters for Amercians, but if you're British, skip forward to the the best laser cutter in the UK.
Need to buy more equipment for your agency or home studio? Then also check out the best office chairs in general, and the best office chairs for back pain, as well as the best desks, the best printers and the best 3D printers.
The best laser cutters: US
For most people, the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 is the best laser cutter you can buy right now. This fantastic device is capable of slicing a huge variety of materials, including acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth and bamboo. (Note, though, that it won't cut metal.)
A red light positioning system make it easier to accurately line up your materials, plus a suspension system immediately halts the laser whenever you open the doors. Speaking of doors, the front and rear double doors allow you the space to engrave materials of any length. There's also a ventilation fan for exhaust smoke, and a display that shows you the cooling water temperature for safety.
This laser cutter is compatible with CorelDraw (not included), and there's a handy USB port you can use to get your designs onto the machine. You can see it in action in this video (opens in new tab).
If you've got a lot of workspace, and need a general working area for your projects, then you'll love the 130W Reci W4 C02. With a generous engraving area of 1300 x 900mm, it's fast and precise, offering engraving speeds of up to 600 mm/s and cutting speeds of 300 mm/s.
This laser cutter can cope with a range of materials, including wood, bamboo, plexiglas, crystal, leather, rubber, marble and ceramics, although not metal. It's compatible with a wide range of software, including AutoCAD and CorelDRAW, as well as a range of file formats. Just be mindful of its size; with dimensions of approximately 72 x 56 x 41 inches, you're going to need a lot of space to accommodate it.
Need to work with metal? The Triumph Fiber Laser Cutting Machine is made for it, making it the ideal choice for engraving. You can cut aluminium, stainless steel, copper, gold and silver without shadowing thanks to a high-speed galvanometer.
It's not cheap, but overall, this is a very capable system that allows you to cut on a work area up to 200 x 200mm and at a rate of 9,000mm/s. The interface is relatively simple to use with a touchscreen and support for CorelDraw, AutoCad, and Photoshop format files. And best of all, it comes with software pre-installed, so you can get right to work.
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.
The best laser cutters: UK
The Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 is the best laser cutter you can buy in the UK today for most purposes. Impressively, it can cut at a rate of 3600mm per minute on its 400 x 600mm cutting plate. And it works with all sorts of materials, including acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth, bamboo and paper (although not metal).
A red light positioning system makes cutting easy to line up, while a cooling system keeps everything safe. There's a handy USB port, and the machine is compatible with CorelDRAW and image formats like JPG, BMP, PNG,CDR, DXF, PLT and TIF. Overall, unless you need to cut metal, you won't find finer.
If you're a hobbyist looking for a versatile laser cutter, we'd recommend the Orion Motor Tech 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.
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 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.
As the name suggests the Pergear LaserStorm S5 Laser Engraver's primary purpose is to etch and engrave your collectibles and craft items. While this can cut various materials, including thin plastic and leather, this isn't what the LaserStorm is made for; it's on our list as it's a great engraver.
The Pergear LaserStorm can carve into most materials you'll be using for craft projects, including wood, bamboo, cardboard, plastic and leather. It can even engrave onto slate, which is great news for anyone who wants to name their home. This is a well-designed product that's great for one thing – engraving – and okay at cutting.
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 our opinion, the best laser cutter you can buy today is the Ten-High Upgraded Version CO2 Laser Cutter (opens in new tab). It's suitable for engraving on most non-metal materials, including acrylic, plywood, density board, leather, wood, double colour plate, glass, cloth, bamboo and paper. You can cut materials of any length. There's a red light positioning system to help you line up your materials carefully. It connects to your laptop via USB, and it's compatible with CorelDRAW design software (not included).
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.