CNC router or Lazer engraver ?

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Looking at adding to the tool options
CNC Router or Lazer engraver what to start with 
Most of my projects are small box's would like to be able to  to do more personalized 
Looking at hobby priced not pro business sized machines not sure which would be a better starting point

13 Replies

i just recently got a laser engraver for doing logos and such. you can a basic laser pretty cheap. cnc tend to run a quit a bit more. plus i just dont have the space for one of those at this time. a lot of lasers are very compact.

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

A simple laser engraver  will do it,s work. A simple CNC  router is mostly not capable to be used as a router for wood.

https://dutchypatterns.com/

I don't have a CNC, but a decent laser.  This may be my disillusioned reason for no CNC (and space).

CNC's are messy and with budget machines with small beds, dust extraction and holding down parts for intricate work is a pain.

If you do choose the laser's dark side, before committing, at least look for budget options where you can cut around 6mm (or even add that extra .35mm and make it 1/4")... at least 3mm (+.175mm = 1/8") as you can always laminate (with dowel alignment).

An el-cheapo will char to engrave, however, a tad more powerful (Splinter is the go-to-man) that can engrave to at least 1mm(+) depth will permit infilling for greater results.

Just remember that with either CNC or laser (or 3D printer), they don't just miraculously appear... you'll need to learn some design software.

If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

I've been playing with diode lasers for about 2 years, these are the usual entry point for people exploring some form of CNC that is affordable.

You can start for the least expensive or jump in at a bit higher level and get a bigger work area and/or power level.

I've done a number of different laser projects but the most satisfying so far has been cutting veneers for inlays.

There is a lot that can be done at the lower price end and it lets you become familiar with what can be done and if you want to step up to the fancier equipment.

A CNC router is priced like a CO2 laser which I consider the 2nd tier of getting into the CNC world
yeah as for lasers id say start with a cheap one and if trying to make it work pisses ya off you didn't waste a lot of money. i dont know about you but im not low tech, im no tech. the small laser i bought can be run off my cell phone. and it does all i want or need, just burning logos.

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

I just bought an X Tool 20 watt CNC laser after watching my neighbor engrave everything from flat work to cups to round balls on it.  It makes everything so professional looking

Cheers, Jim ........................ Variety is the spice of life...............Learn something new every day

If you have the room, a great accessory!

How big is your units workspace?
For me, a lot of this discussion comes around how much space you’ve got. There are options aplenty, but you also pretty much get what you pay for. 

I’ve got a 10w diode laser on a 2x2 gantry and a Shaper Origin. I wish I had a more powerful laser module, but certainly don’t have room for a CO2 box. Maybe a 20w some day. The small gantry can hang on the wall when not in use and the Origin is the same size as a standard hand router, so they pack away easily enough for my shop. That said, I’d really like to have some sort of an adjustable lift table under them (well the laser at least) for use on over sized or odd shaped projects. 

As has been mentioned, there’s software requirements for anything you do. Not that that stuff is impossible to learn, but it’s not plug-and-play.

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

X-Tool has some notoriety for having some proprietary functions that can cause issues with software, nothing crazy though.

I recently ran a focus test on my laser (way past due) and found the small focus kickstand placed my unit about 2-3mm too close. Plenty of tweaking required to dial these things in 100%, but as with any shop tool that is half the fun!
Sorry taking so long to get back .thanks for all the input from everyone
I am actually going  to go with a CNC 
A genmitsu 4040 pro looks like it will do more of what I hope to do .....with a steep learning curve of course 
They look to be best  for a reasonable price point from I have read spindle not belt drive
I can also add a Lazer to the unit later if I want
First have to reorganise the garage  to be able to fit it in 
I figure will be a couple months

I have an X Tool D1 Pro 20 watt laser and need to learn how to run it. The book that came with it does not show you how to do any programming or even how to start with a project. I'm looking for local help. I bought a computer and had the guys at the store download the XCS software/ I need to find a place to set it up where I can get rid of any smoke. the you tube videos go so fast and talk in terms I never heard of. I'm an analog person so I hope I can learn this digital stuff!!!!

Cheers, Jim ........................ Variety is the spice of life...............Learn something new every day

The easiest way to deal with the smoke issue is to set it up near a good opening and just put a fan behind you to blow the smoke away from you and out the door. 

I’m not familiar with their software, but someone will speak up about it I’m sure. 

You might want to check out the LA Hobby Guy website. It’s got a pretty good forum with lots of information, as well as art libraries and the like.

Looking forward to seeing what you make!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".