In this guide we’ll look at the best laser engraver for the UK market.
I’ve compared build quality, performance, design and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What is the Best Laser Engraver?
In a rush? Here’s my top choice…
Creating unique objects and artworks with a powerful CO2 laser engraver is quite addictive. Once you master the controls, the Sfeomi 40 Watt laser engraver is easily the best CNC engraver for the money. Cutting, shaping and etching on a range of materials is satisfying and a lot of fun. I love it.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Laser Engraver Reviews
Sfeomi 40W Laser Engraver & Cutting Machine Review
The Sfeomi is probably the best 40 Watt laser engraver because it’s one of the easiest to set up, it’s good to use straight from the box without calibration and it has a large engraving area to work with.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this is an all-in-one laser engraver that is delivered ready to go. It’s all encased in a professional-looking industrial style blue case. All the moving parts are kept hidden away inside, so it should stay dust-free and clean when not in use.
The large engraving area means you can tackle larger engraving jobs than the competition, and the powerful CO2 laser is tough enough to cut a range of materials including stone, glass, bamboo, leather, wood, acrylic and plastics up to 3 mm thick.
The cutting table has a clamp for holding down odd-shaped objects as well, so you’re not just limited to engraving or cutting flat boards. I think it’s one of the best laser engravers if you want to get into the craft because there’s everything here to get you started.
This laser engraver runs Shenzhouyike software as standard, but is compatible with other laser engraving programs, and runs on Windows 8, 7, 10 (64/32 bit), XP and 2000. No iOS compatibility.
SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer 60W Router Machine Review
The SainSmart Genmitsu 3018-PROVer is a popular choice for home CNC enthusiasts, and one of the best engravers that you can get for the money. Just be aware that it’s not supplied with a laser attachment, you’ll need to buy that separately.
In terms of build quality, everything feels well made and they haven’t skimped on essential features like limit switches and X axis probes for automatic depth finding. You can even set a home position anywhere on the engraving area, meaning the cutting head will return there automatically when a program is finished.
There’s a fair amount of assembly required to get started, but SainSmart have labelled everything well and included a well-detailed guide and even the tools you need to finish what they started.
What makes this one of the best CNC engravers is that you can run the machine without a computer. Using the GRBL offline controller, you can control all functions that you would otherwise input with your computer.
They’ve even included a USB stick and 16 GB memory card to transfer GCODE files to your computer, that also contain all the manuals and guides for operation. It’s a nice machine that lets you mill with the spindle or engrave with the laser. It’s one of the best home CNC machines I’ve found.
Neje 20W Laser Engraving Machine Review
The good people at NEJE have a history of making the best laser engravers, and their Master 1 was a popular choice for anyone wanting to get into the craft. The NEJE Master 2 mini engraving machine is a welcome upgrade and provides one of the most straightforward engraving devices I’ve tried out so far.
Starting with the packaging- the Master 2 was delivered in a series of cardboard and foam boxes that kept everything secure during transport. This is incredibly important when dealing with a delicate CNC engraver that doesn’t like to be dropped or knocked.
Assembly is relatively straightforward. The instructions are easy to follow, and it didn’t take long to get the machine up and running with the included tools. There’s everything you need to get started and NEJE have even thought to include safety glasses, a welcome addition to any laser engraving machine. They even threw in an aluminium dog tag to practise on!
Seeing as the laser included is a smaller 20 Watt version, it’s more suited to decorative engraving and shouldn’t be used for cutting through materials. You can cut through thin plastic or wood, but it takes several passes which might not be ideal if you want to cut a lot of shapes.
You can connect the engraver up to your computer, it runs on Windows 7, 8, 10 and above, or use NEJEs app for Android or iOS.
MathRose 20W Laser Engraving Machine Review
Offering a wide range of tools and homewares, MathRose aren’t CNC machine specialists, but they’ve produced one of the best basic laser engravers that costs less than you might think.
It’s a professional-looking bit of kit that is supplied with everything you need to engrave in a range of materials such as painted metal, wood, plastic and leather. Supplied with all the tools and connectors you need; setup is surprisingly easy if you follow the instructions closely.
What makes this one of the best laser engravers out there is the size of the area you can work on. Having this much space means you can tackle much larger projects that more expensive laser engravers just aren’t capable of.
The tinted plastic shield around the laser cutting head is a nice touch as well- they’ve included safety goggles, but it’s good to see that safety has been considered here. It’s a shame that there aren’t any limit switches included, but on an engraving area of this large size, it’s much harder to go wrong.
Compatible with most modern laser engraving programs, this is a versatile but basic CNC machine that will suit beginners that don’t want to fork out for more advanced features.
Yofuly CNC 2018 Pro Engraver Router Machine Review
Another three axis CNC milling and laser engraving machine, this is a surprisingly professional machine that comes at a very reasonable price. You can swap the 120 Watt spindle motor out for a laser engraving machine, sold separately.
All the bits and pieces required for assembly come in a handy little box, and Yofuly have included the tools you need to get set up. It’s a bit of a job getting set up though, the instructions aren’t quite as good as on the best laser engravers and you need to commit a bit of time getting everything set up and squared away.
There are small clamps with butterfly screws attached to hold odd-shaped items down on the engraving area, but you could swap them out for larger ones if you want. The cutting head can spin up to 10,000 rpm, so it should be able to mill out a decent range of materials.
The engraver comes supplied with proprietary software that links to the GRBL control board, but you can also use just about any engraving program to set up a cutting routine. It all runs on Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10.
LaserPecker Mini Laser Engraver Machine Review
The LaserPecker mini laser engraving machine is a cut above the competition when it comes to design and functionality. You could literally put it in your pocket and take it with you and engrave high quality images in a range of materials when you get there.
The design of this engraver looks more like a slick gadget than the industrial-style engravers on my list, and the fact it’s a minimalist gold cylinder just adds to the attraction. An ideal tool if you don’t want to give up vital bench space, you must make do with a vastly reduced engraving area.
Supplied with a tripod that will keep the laser engraving head at the right height, you can remove it and engrave horizontally if you want- this opens a world of possibilities where you can engrave directly onto walls or other objects that would otherwise never fit onto even the biggest engraving areas.
Simply connect the engraver up to your phone via Bluetooth and use the app to create your designs.
I honestly think this is one of the best laser engravers out there, but it depends on what you plan to do with it. It’s not designed for cutting or producing large images, but it can do things that even the best CNC engravers can’t.
HomdMarket Mini Engraving Machine Review
Another micro laser engraver, the HomdMarket K5 is a capable little laser device that won’t take up too much bench space and won’t empty your wallet either. In fact, it’s one of the best budget laser engravers available right now.
More suited to hobbyists or someone who wants to get involved with laser engraving but doesn’t want to have to assemble a full-size machine, there’s minimal setup involved before you can get working with this device.
It’s a pretty basic engraver, but you can still engrave on a range of softer materials with a bit of practise- it’s good for leather, plastic, wood and paper, but shouldn’t be relied on for cutting unless you make several passes.
The drawback of such a small laser engraver is the size of materials you can fit into it- you could rest the entire machine on top of a large piece of material, but odd-shaped items must be able to fit under the legs.
Things to Know Before Buying a Laser Engraver
It wasn’t all that long ago that owning a laser was the stuff of science fiction. Thanks to advances in home CNC milling machines though, you can own the best laser engraver in your own home for less than you might think.
Laser, or light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, comes in a range of strengths and can be grouped into three broad types when it comes to laser engravers:
Diode lasers ranging from 1 – 5 Watts are suitable for engraving designs onto soft materials. They’re generally less expensive and can’t be used for cutting out shapes.
CO2 lasers are much more powerful machines, ranging from 30 Watts upwards. They can engrave a much wider range materials, but also cut out shapes as well.
Neodymium lasers are usually more powerful and used in professional level and industrial laser engraving. They can be used to cut through extremely hard materials but only for short periods.
Standing for Computer Numerical Control, it’s a process that controls a cutting head or laser probe along a path in two or three dimensions. The operator enters in coordinates and instructions that the CNC interprets and carries out. It’s the process used by 3D printers, lathes, milling machines and drills when precision and repetition is vital.
Think of the engraving area as your workbench- when you program the cutting head or laser probe, the size of the work you can do is governed by the area you’ve got to play with. If you’re planning on engraving large, odd-shaped items then you’ll need a laser engraver that can handle X, Y and Z coordinates. But, if you’re only tackling small and flat items, you can get away with a mini engraver that only works on X and Y planes.
As always, the bigger the machine is, the more work you can do but if bench space is at a premium, you can still create interesting results with a small engraving area.
Laser Engraver FAQs
Working with lasers carries the same risks as any other tool. If you follow the necessary precautions and treat it with respect, it’s very safe. Most of the best laser engravers are supplied with tinted acrylic shields around the laser probe as well as tinted safety goggles, but always make sure you wear them.
Something that all users of laser engravers should take seriously is the fumes produced by laser engraving. The best engraver like the excellent Sfeomi comes supplied with an exhaust system, but you should consider the fumes whenever your engraver is in use.
The strength of your laser engraver depends on the type of laser you have installed and its Wattage. You could use a low powered laser to try and cut very thin materials like wood veneer or paper, but you’d have to program in several passes to get anywhere. There’s a chance you’d set the workpiece on fire before you cut through it anyway.
More powerful CO2 laser engravers are designed for cutting out shapes as well as engraving and etching. Different materials and thicknesses will call for multiple passes to get a clean cut, so always practise on scrap materials before you move onto your prize project.
Yes. The best laser engraving machines can be linked up to specialist engraving software like DraftSight or TurboCAD or come supplied with proprietary design software already installed. The best mini laser engraver I tried out, the excellent LaserPecker L1, comes with an app for your smartphone that means you can upload a photo, press “go” and engrave your favourite photo onto a range of surfaces.
It depends how deep into laser engraving you want to go. Some of the more advanced laser engravers on my list take a fair bit of setting up and aren’t suitable for a casual user. Getting used to CAD programs is a skill and can take a long time to master. If you just want to play around with engraving, don’t invest in a professional level CNC milling machine, start with a mini and see how you get on.