Buying a new laser engraving machine can be daunting. There are a lot of solid brands and machines out there, but there is no one place where you can go and get some solid, gathered advice. So this is where I will try and cut some of the work down for you.
Below is a guide on what the best laser engraving machines are to buy:
Top Engraving machines (in no particular order) – This list goes by supplier/manufacturer so you can choose what particular machine is best for your needs.
Universal laser systems (U.S.) has a lot of variety in terms of models. As of Jan 2012, they have 12 models of engraving laser machine for sale. There are a few models that are even small enough to fit onto a desktop. Great for both a laser wood engraving machine and small laser engraving machine for your work-shop.
Epilog (U.S.) have a solid selection, with three different series: Epilog Zing starter series, legend elite series and the FiberMark industrial series line of laser engraving machine models for laser engraving wood. These are all worth checking out.
Epilog has been around since the late 1980’s so are a trusted company to deal with. They also have a solid comparison chart so you can compare the difference between their laser engraving machine models.
RedSail also have some good models over at hflaser.com (contact details to Canada or China). They have two larger models, the M700 and the M900 that do laser engraving with a C02 laser tube.
Trotec has a solid range of C02 laser engraving cutting machine units. As of Jan 2012, they have 6 in their collection of laser Co2 machines, from desktop laser engraving machine to larger machines definitely worth checking out.
York Laser (Europe and China) has 8 laser engraving machines at the time of checking, with one being able to be used on a desktop, once again, they have a solid range.
Jorlink – (U.S. and International) has a really solid range of machines and laser engraving machine prices.
Jorlink has 7 specifically designed for laser engraving, and a whole range of other machines designed for laser marking and other production needs.
WK Laser (China, but ships to U.S.)
Top Software for laser engraving
Coreldraw: Coreldraw has Graphics Suite X3, which is a pretty solid package that includes the ability to engrave and draw
Gravograph: Gravostyle 5 is definitely worth checking out from Gravograph
Xentech Global: Xentech Global has a software package called XGW-32 which is designed for both the beginner and advanced user
Kern lasers: Kern Lasers have developed their own package for 3d laser engraving which is worth a look
Things to think about before buying
– There is a difference between a Co2 laser engraving machine compared to a laser engraving cutting machine. You need to decide what you will be doing more, marking, etching, engraving or cutting with your laser and go from there. It is better to get a more specialized machine to your needs.
– If you choose to import a machine, you may save money if done right, but you will also lack local support which sometimes can be a huge factor.
– Remember to factor in cad/cam program costs. CNC software can get really expensive. A single licence for a top end 3d cad program can cost over $10,000. For a free open source vector based piece of software, try Inkscape.
– You could go the used laser engraving machine route. Finding one for sale can be hard and will require a lot of patience. You could head on over to the cnczone forum and see what advise the community will give you there.
-For 3d laser engraving machines, check out this earlier article.
-Start with the manufacturers above. Remember that the best machine isn’t any one particular machine. There are always trade offs. Things like maintenance costs, upfront costs, size, extra features can sway anyone any way. Choose what is best for you, not what others say is best for them.