ARTICLE – I asked everyone on The Gadgeteer team who has reviewed laser engravers to tell me their favorites so we could share what we think with all of you, and here are the results!
XTool D1 Pro Laser Engraver
This is still the only laser engraver that I’ve personally used or reviewed. It continues to function well and has proven quite reliable in the year that I’ve had it. The learning curve isn’t too steep and only reemerges if you switch to a new, unfamiliar material. It continues to be their lowest cost laser engraver and accessories and upgrades are available for it. If you’re looking to step up they have a number of additional options as well.
It does have a pretty big footprint that takes up some room if you aren’t using it regularly. I’d love to see hinged, foldable sides that would let you collapse the machine to 1/4 of the size if you weren’t going to use it for a while. Other than that it’s a solid machine.
Where to buy: xTool
Longer B1 30-watt laser engraver
I’ve reviewed several laser engravers, but nothing comes close to the speed and power of the Longer B1 (reviewed here). For cutting, its 30-watt diode quickly blasts through even thicker materials with ease and can even engrave metals that products with less intensity can’t even scratch. More power translates into faster engraving and less time in the garage and the air assist helps prevent scorching. My wife is amazingly creative and has ideas to keep the busy B1 firing photons for the foreseeable future, including a boatload of Christmas gifts this year! Shhh, don’t tell!
iKier K1 Pro Max 24W/48W laser engraver
The iKier K1 Pro Max 24W/48W laser engraver is my favorite laser engraver of those I’ve reviewed so far. It has five features that I love:
- Power switching (24W/48W laser module): This feature allows you to change the amount of power needed to engrave material (24W) or cut it (48W) with the flip of a switch.
- Automatic air assist: The air assist’s power cable is plugged into the control box so that when the laser engraver is connected to LightBurn, LightBurn can automatically turn it on or off according to the settings I use.
- Autofocus: The Z-axis is motorized so that you can adjust the height of the laser module to the correct focal length automatically with the click of a button that you set up in LightBurn.
- Auxiliary positioning: The engraver includes an auxiliary positioning infrared laser attached to the side of the engraver’s laser module. When the laser engraver is powered on, the positioning laser emits a red crosshair pattern on your material. When you properly calibrate it, you can position your material under the infrared laser, and with the click of a button that you set up in LightBurn, the laser head will move to that precise position.
- Automatic sinking: The Automatic sinking feature helps you to cut thicker materials. The Z-axis motor lowers the laser head with each pass over your material so that the focal spot descends into the material until it is cut all the way through. You still have to figure out how many passes it will take to cut the material, but this feature makes it possible to cut up to 20mm thick wood.
I was able to produce beautiful results on a variety of materials like wood, clear acrylic, cardstock, aluminum, stainless steel, and slate. I was even able to cut a 20mm pine board using the auto-sinking feature.
One thing I wish the iKier K1 Pro Max had was Bluetooth connectivity like my Sculpfun S30 Ultra. I want to be able to power up the laser engraver and have it connect to my laptop immediately so that I can send my projects to it via LightBurn without having to mess with cables or flash drives.”
Laserpecker 4 laser engraver
I’ve really enjoyed reviewing laser engravers for the Gadgeteer this year. It’s a lot of fun to create and make unique gifts for family and friends or to sell on the side. My favorite laser engraver is the Laserpecker 4. I had reviewed the Laserpecker 3 and was let down by the software. Well, the fine folks came back with even better hardware this time and updated software. On top of that, they made the Laserpecker 4 compatible with Lightburn, one of the best laser engraving software programs available.
The Laserpecker 4 also has two different lasers which give you a wider variety of materials to use in your projects. Controls are much nicer on this model with a bright touchscreen. It comes with a hood with a fan this time to help pull smoke out and away from the work and you. Even their add on accessories got updated. All of which felt sturdier and easier to use. This is not cheap but if you’re looking for a laser engraver with a small footprint, capable of cutting and engraving a wide variety of materials, and compatible with great software. Then you should definitely check it out.
xTool S1 Laser Engraver
I reviewed a few laser engravers this year. It might surprise you that my favorite laser engraver for 2023 is not the most expensive and powerful. The 40W xTool S1 laser engraver provides as great balance between price, power, and capability. One of my favorite aspects of the xTool S1 is that it’s quiet. The working area is large enough for everything I do and the power is great for getting projects done quickly.
Where to buy: xTool
Be sure to check out all of our laser engraver reviews.