If you own a small business that focuses on creating items out of plastic, wood or even glass, then a laser cutter could be a really valuable piece of machinery that will speed up your productivity and increase your creative possibilities.
A good laser cutter can engrave objects, etch on surfaces and cut shapes and patterns out of materials with incredible precision and speed.
Whether you are personalizing items, creating small parts for larger items, or cutting through materials, the right laser cutter will help you work with accuracy and pace, and could ultimately help to increase your turnover.
So if a laser cutter is something that you think your small business could benefit from, then read on to find out our top picks from the machines available at market today.
Overall Best Laser Cutter and Engraver for Our Custom Etsy Business: xTool D1 Pro and xTool M1
After originally writing this article, we started creating custom-engraved products for friends and family. That blossomed into making custom-designed products for customers in our Etsy store. Based on our experience, we recommend both of these laser cutters for small business from xTool. We own both the xTool D1 and the xTool M1, and they each machine has its own advantages. We got both of these laser cutter/engravers directly from the xTool store and received fantastic support from their team. And now xTool offers the even better D1 Pro which is even more powerful and accurate.
xTool D1 Pro
The 10-watt xTool D1 is the laser cutter and engraver we keep in our garage workshop, since the unit itself is not enclosed and it’s so easy to open up the garage door to vent the smoke and fumes outside with a simple house fan.
The biggest advantage of the xTool D1 Pro is well…it can cut and engrave larger objects because of its open design and overall size — you can cut and engrave items over 16×15 inches in total surface size (430×400 mm to be precise). And now, you can expand the xTool D1 Pro laser to cut and engrave items as wide as 36 inches (936mm) with the xTool D1 extender kit.
Take a look at the overall design of the machine in the photo above. Now imagine placing that lightweight and versatile machine on top of very large object (think doors, tables, plexiglass). With some ingenuity and determination, the xTool D1 Pro and your laptop could possibly become your mobile, large-format, custom engraving business where you can cut and engrave company logos and more for stores and restaurants in your local area.
Keep in mind that the xTool D1 and xTool D1 Pro machines do have some assembly required, so if you’re looking to get your small business laser engraving shop opened up right out of the box your best bet might be the other machine we use for our custom shop: the xTool M1.
xTool M1 – The Hybrid Laser Engraver and Crafting Cutter
We also use the 10-watt xTool M1 with Rotary Tool for our custom laser engraving projects, which is a machine with its own enclosure and vent fan. This machine is fully assembled and ready to go right out of the box and from our experience the orders for custom projects came not long after we used the machine for the first time.
The working area is a bit smaller than the xTool D1. You can cut and engrave materials up to 15×12 inches (385x300mm). But the sleek design and integrated vent fan (along with the craft cutting blade) make this machine a perfect fit for any office space.
An added bonus for the xTool M1 laser cutter and engraver is that it also has a blade-based cutter similar to a Cricut machine. On top of that, the M1 has an integrated camera which not only makes it super easy to align your design using their free Creative Space software, but also allows you to laser cut multiple items at once.
Be sure to check out our xTool M1 unboxing and review article as well for more details on how we’re using this great laser cutter for small business.
Most Popular: Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer
Next, we have arguably the best-known laser cutter for small business, the Glowforge Plus 3D Laser Printer This one does a lot of things really well, is easy to operate and is great for reliability.
The overall aesthetic of this machine is incredibly smart and clean, and at first glance it could be mistaken for a desktop printer.
This means that the Glowforge doesn’t look incongruous whether you are working at home, in a professional office environment or at an off-site commercial location.
The price point for this machine is pretty mid range, which is impressive considering the versatility of applications that it offers and the speed at which it can work.
The Glowforge is a CO2 laser cutting and engraving machine and it operates a 40 watt laser tube which is as fine as a single strand of hair but can cut over 1300 lines per inch.
These are pretty impressive tech stats, however the machine does tire if you put through too high a volume of work so is better for small businesses that don’t have a huge workload.
The body of the machine is just over 3 feet in length and just below 2 feet in width so it fits well on a desk and won’t be too imposing on most work surfaces.
You can print on materials as thick as 2 inches by removing the inner tray from the machine.
It is very important to vent the Glowforge in order to operate it safely, and the inbuilt dryer means that you can use this machine anywhere within 8 feet of an open window.
It is also a good idea to invest in an additional air filter for the machine, but this of course adds to the overall cost of your investment.
The really great thing about the Glowforge laser cutter is its easy-to-use functionality. The Glowforge only takes 30 minutes to set up even for first timers.
It doesn’t require any computer-aided design (CAD) whatsoever, but instead takes your doodle, sketch or drawing ideas and converts them effortlessly into 3D patterns and etchings.
It has sensors that detect the type of material you are using and adjust the laser settings accordingly, so you can laser cut your ideas on many materials with maximum efficiency.
Like most CO2 lasers, the Glowforge does not cut metal, however it can etch onto anodized aluminum.
The inbuilt cameras create a 3D image of what the design will look like and give you a live preview so that you can see your work take shape before your very eyes, and the results are impeccably precise and professional in quality making the Glowforge a great all round laser cutter for any small business.
- Smart, desktop sized printer that will fit on most work surfaces
- Powerful 40 watt laser, cuts through multiple materials with precision
- On board cameras provide live preview facility
- Easy set up with no CAD necessary
- Versatile machine with multi functionality
- Not great for high volumes of printing
- Cannot cut metal
- Must be ventilated to stop overheating
- YOUR IDEA, IN YOUR HANDS, IN MINUTES – Push the button and the powerful 40 watt laser creates meaningful gifts for your friends, unique products to sell, or something personalized just for you.
- SIMPLY AUTOMATIC– Autofocus. Material detection. Automatic print settings. Just pick your drawing, PDF, or photo, add one of dozens of household materials, and click print.
- FREE SOFTWARE & 30 MINUTE SETUP– There's nothing to install - the free app works with your PC, Mac, phone, or tablet.
- LASER PRECISION with DOZENS OF MATERIALS – Precise to the width of a human hair. Carve up to 1/2" deep, 11" tall, and 19.5" wide, at over 1,300 lines per inch. Engrave or print beautiful and useful products from wood, leather, paper, fabric, acrylic, glass, metal, cardboard... even chocolate!
- SAFE FOR HOME AND SCHOOL – The only CDRH Class 1 laser cutter and engraver. Independently safety tested to UL, CE, FDA, and FCC standards for peace of mind.
Best Value for Money: Orion Motor Tech Laser Cutter and Etching Machine
The Orion Motor Tech laser cutter for small business is approximately half the price of other, very similar models and performs incredibly well.
For this reason, the Orion is a wonderful option for small business owners who are just starting to investigate the world of laser cutting and engraving but aren’t ready to invest huge amounts of money just yet.
The Orion has a powerful 40 watt CO2 laser tube that is able to cut and engrave on materials such as fiberglass, marble, paper, fabrics, leather, bamboo, plastic, tile, rubber, ceramics and many more.
It really is a brilliantly versatile machine, and best of all, it can print onto different shaped objects, not just flat surfaces.
This is a brilliant feature that will open up all manner of creative possibilities, such as engraving trophies and mugs amongst other things.
The Orion has a stability clamp that helps you secure your object into place without unnecessary fuss, and the machine can laser on areas as large as 12 by 8 inches in size.
It also has a very handy leveling board to help keep objects perfectly aligned whilst the lasering happens so that the results are precise and professional.
The Orion Motor Tech is larger than the Glowforge but still small enough to fit on most work surfaces and desktops. It also comes with optional wheels that can be attached for added portability.
It uses its own design software (Shenzhou Yike Software) but is also compatible with other various design software such as Inkscape and K40 Whisperer, which is handy if your business already uses another software.
And just to add to the list of amazing features to this bargain buy, the Orion has an inbuilt water pump to prevent overheating, and red dot guidance that allows you to adjust the placement of your materials as you work.
- Low price point but high quality results
- Powerful 40 watt CO2 laser adapted for multiple materials
- Ability to engrave and cut various shaped objects
- Cooling fan increases safety and durability
- Compatible with many popular design software applications as well as offering its own
- Lacks some of the advanced features offered by premium models
- Unable to print on metal
- Water pump is slightly complicated to maintenance
- DESKTOP CO2 LASER: Whether professional engraver or inspired DIYer, this K40 40W home laser engraver from OMTech will allow you to bring your ideas to life with greater speed and precision than ever before, cutting up to 1/8" through plywood or acrylic; the advanced features of its intuitive digital control panel and bundled Windows-compatible editions of LaserDRW and WinsealXP will let you create and recreate even your most intricate designs perfectly
- VERSATILE 8x12 BED: The spacious 8x12 inch workbed provides 0.7 square feet of room to fit regular projects and gives you extra 2" height for thicker materials once the vented level board is removed; the stabilizer clamp fixes irregularly shaped items securely in place for accurate engravings
- SAFE & EASY OPERATION: A digital laser power supply provides sure and easily monitored operation for your DC tube's expected 2000 hour life; the wide viewing cover includes tinted eye protection; a built-in exhaust fan quickly blows away smoke and dust for better ventilation to protect your laser lenses and reflective mirrors; and a large E-stop is ready in case of emergencies
- FAST & FULLY ADJUSTABLE: This CO2 laser system marks wood, paper, plastics, leather, fabric, stone, and a wide range of other nonmetallic materials at up to 13.8 inches per second (350 mm/s) with pinpoint accuracy; its digital panel works with most third-party graphic software, easily receiving files via USB; and locking caster wheels allow you to easily move and secure your laser cutter whenever needed
- SUPERIOR SUPPORT & SERVICE: From garage artists to backyard businesses to professional workshops, the OMTech community continues to grow thanks to our passionate dedication to making quality engraving available to all; order your own engraver today and enjoy fast US-based shipping, a strong 2 year general warranty (6 months for tube & power supply), and ever helpful customer service and tech support
Best Laser-less Cutter: Bobs CNC Evolution 3 Laser Cutter
No, you aren’t going crazy – there is such a thing as a cutter that operates without an actual laser, and the Bobs CNC Evolution is a great alternative to a laser cutter for small business for any business owner looking to create more 3 dimensional designs.
You see, laser cutters can generally only cut 2D designs or cut through materials entirely due to the fact that you can’t alter the depth of the cut.
However, this machine uses heat generated from friction to cut through surfaces, and the depth of the cut can be altered to create a whole new world of design possibilities.
The machine itself is a reasonable desktop size and it has an impressive operating capacity with a bed size of 18 by 16 inches.
This machine also has a greater depth than most laser cutters and can handle materials up to 3.3inches deep.
The BobsCNC Evolution 3 Router kit comes with all the necessary items for set up, however, it is a slightly more involved set up process than a machine like the Glowforge.
The results are similarly precise and professional however, and the machine is operated by computer software that allows it to make cuts both in and out as well as side to side.
This CNC machine will not discolor the material like a laser cutter sometimes can, and it will allow for more nuanced designs, however it does not offer the same versatility in terms of materials that a laser cutter offers, and is therefore a good option if your small business works mainly on wood or thick stone.
- Cheaper than traditional laser cutters
- Able to cut 3D designs due to adjustable cutting depth
- Does not discolor surfaces and less safety risks
- Beautiful, nuanced results with precise finish
- Brilliant for wood and thick stone surfaces
- Complicated set up process
- Does not work on as many different materials as a laser cutter
- A rigid laser cut 5-Ply Baltic Birch frame with SG20U supported rail system.
- GT2 9mm belt drive on X and Y-axis and Tr8 Acme Rod mounted with an ACME Nut on the Z-axis.
- NEMA 17 Stepper Motors and Home switches on all axes with a Self-Squaring Gantry.
- 1/2” MDF with Aluminum T-slot Spoilboard and includes the Makita RT0701C Variable Speed Router.
- Designed to use GRBL1.1 firmware on the Arduino Uno with repeatability of 0.002” to 0.004”.
Best For Safety First: Dremel LC40 03 Digilab Laser Cutter
Some small business owners understandably worry about the safety risks involved with operating a laser cutting machine, especially if they have not used one before.
For this reason, the Dremel LC40 makes our list as a brilliant, and very safe option if you’re looking for a safety-focused laser cutter for small business.
There are a number of reasons why you should certainly be aware of safety features on any laser cutter or engraver.
Of course, there is potential damage to your eyes, but there are also fire risks if your machine overheats, chemical risks caused by emissions from burning certain materials, and the risk of electric shocks from unexpected power surges or electrical malfunctions.
However, the developers of the Dremel LC40 have thought of every possible risk and created a machine with amazing inbuilt protections that will provide any small business owner with peace of mind.
This machine uses 5 sensors to detect any changes in its ventilation system, cooling system, proper lid closure protocols and air assist system.
And if all this isn’t enough, Dremel also put their machines through hours of rigorous testing to ensure maximum safety results.
The quality of the laser cutter and engraver is incredibly precise and professional, and this machine has the capacity to work on large areas and a wide variety of materials.
However, the only downside is that the Dremel LC40 has a pretty high price point compared to other machines out there, and this is something that any business owner would have to factor into their decision.
- Slick design, fit for any desktop or work area
- Amazing safety features to put your health and peace of mind first
- Large capacity and versatility
- Been through hours of rigorous safety tests
- High price point will put many small business owners off
Buyer’s Guide To The Best Laser Cutter For Your Small Business
All small businesses are different and therefore the requirements for the type of laser cutter that is most suitable will change depending on what it is intended for and who is buying it.
However, there are a few key features that you should consider when deciding which is the best laser cutter for small business to use at your company.
It is always worth investigating what materials a laser cutter is capable of working on before you purchase it.
Most CO2 lasers are not capable of cutting metal due to its conductivity, however many can work on anodized aluminum.
The majority of laser cutters will work on a variety of materials from glass, marble, plastic and wood, right through to fabrics, leather and paper. So think what your business model requires and then pick accordingly.
The power of any machine is an important consideration, and relates to the amount of cutting you will require it to do each day.
More powerful lasers generally cut more quickly and can therefore complete projects in a shorter amount of time. If you have a high volume of orders then a powerful laser is most appropriate.
Of course, the CNC machines don’t employ a laser beam whatsoever, and are a great option if you want to create more nuanced, 3D designs on wood or stone.
Size Of Workspace
The environment that you will be working in will dictate the size of the machine that you should buy.
Most small laser cutters fit neatly on a desktop and are perfect for office use. However, if you are looking for something more powerful, then you may need to look for a larger machine or a versatile laser cutter for small business with an extender option such as the xTool D1.
Look out for the safety features on any laser cutter before you buy. Although advanced safety features may increase the price of a machine, you will avoid having to purchase additional air filters and cooling systems separately, and you will also have greater peace of mind when operating the machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Laser Cutter For Cutting Metal?
Most desktop CO2 laser cutters will not work on metal. Therefore, if you require a metal laser cutter you should look to buy a more expensive fiber laser cutter, like the Epilog Fusion Pro, which has the power to cut through tough metal surfaces easily.
What is the overall Best Laser Cutter for Small Business? (VIDEO)
The answer to this question will definitely depend on how you’re going to use your laser cutter for your small business. We have our favorites as we mention at the top of this article, but you really have to do your research and decide for yourself.
A great starting point to help choose the right laser engraver and cutter this video from Brandon at the Make or Break Shop. Brandon does a fantastic job of showing the features & benefits of 20 different machines in various categories (both diode lasers and CO2 lasers, in consumer through professional business levels) — and he’s used and reviewed a ton of machines so he definitely knows what he’s talking about.