Welcome to CNC Establishment if you are one of our first time readers. If you’ve been here before, then I’m excited to have you back as I cover the topic of cnc laser cutters.
Cnc laser cutters are cool. I’ve seen some fantastic machines come out over the last decade and it is an exciting time for cnc laser cutters – both pre-made machines and the diy cnc laser cutter scene.
I’m going to go over some top brands that you should be keeping an eye out for as well as some machines that I think are definitely worth a look at.
CNC laser cutter vs CNC plasma cutter
This is a common comparison. Cnc plasma and laser cutters are used in many different industries for their specific manufacturing processes. There are however some significant differences.
First of all a cnc plasma machine can be more expensive. These tend to be larger machines and are typically non-enclosed. This is a huge benefit as the table sizes can be much larger – much like a regular cnc router machine.
At the same time, laser cutters can sometimes be more expensive. I know I’m confusing you a little here, but typically cnc laser operators will charge more than a plasma cutter.
Lasers are fastest with gauge material of up to 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch. Laser will have a lot better accuracy at this level and will compete toe to toe with a plasma cutter. Once you start moving away and into thinker material, plasma will be the better cutter, but will lack a little in quality.
So overall a laser cutter is much more expensive. But do consider waterjet cutters which do not leave any heat damage. As technology develops in the plasma realm, high precision cnc plasma machines may be worth a look too.
What kind of job would you use a laser cnc cutter for?
When you need high precision and detailed jobs, you should go wit ha cnc laser cutter. A plasma cutter can be rough around the edges which can result in further finishing work to add to the cost, such as polishing, filing, or further machining.
Homemade cnc laser cutter kits
What’s great about cnc laser kits is that they are fairly straightforward to home-build. There are a ton of diy-er’s out there in the CNC community that have made custom enclosed cnc laser cutters.
Here are some solid resources that should get the diy enthusiast started:
BuildYourCNC – There is a great plan available here to build a 40W CO2 laser cutter and engraver.
BuildLog – This is a great site for the diy-er. You can purchase what you need here already pre-fabricated.
eBay – This one needs no introduction, but I have found a big variety of cheaper cnc laser cutters and engravers. These are already pre-made, but you can find kits online that are quality enclosed cnc laser cutters for sale.
Should you buy a laser cutter cnc machine or a cnc laser cutter kit?
This is a common question we get from some of our readers. There is no easy answer as it depends on the application. With larger more sophisticated CO2 laser cutters, we recommend just buying these as they come with the right cnc software, training and warranties. The last thing you want is for the CO2 laser to misfocus or break in the middle of an important job.
If the cnc laser is just going to be for personal use, then a kit would be a great way to go, if you have a bit of time to experiment, put together a kit and don’t mind hunting around for possible solutions when your machine goes down.
What experiences have you had with your cnc laser cutter?