Affordable Laser Engravers: What’s the Best Budget Laser Engraver?
This blog is a side-by-side comparison of the OMTech Laser AF2028-60 (60W), Thunder Laser Nova 24 (60W), Boss LS-1416 (50W), Glowforge PRO (45W), and Aeon Mira 5 (40W). The model specifications listed reflect official company offerings as of March, 2022.
If you’re looking to buy a laser engraver for personal use — whether for a workshop in your garage or a hobby station in your spare room for customizing gifts — it can be difficult to find a quality home CO2 laser engraver at an affordable price.
You don’t want to sacrifice quality for the sake of a lower price tag, but your needs don’t require the use of heavy-duty commercial-grade laser engravers. Luckily, there are several machines that balance advanced functionality, quality, and affordability.
We’re setting out to find the best budget laser engraver on the market today and are comparing five top-of-the-line CO2 laser models.
The 5 Best Budget Laser Engravers
We’ll compare the following models to determine the best affordable laser engraving machine:
- OMTech Laser AF2028-60 (60W)
- Thunder Laser Nova 24 (60W)
- Boss LS-1416 (50W)
- Glowforge PRO (45W)
- Aeon Mira 5 (40W).
These CO2 laser engravers share many standard features, but each machine offers unique functionalities and varying workbed sizes, laser power, pricing, and customer service options.
OMTech Laser AF2028-60 (60W)
The OMTech Laser AF2028-60 is one of the best budget laser engravers for handling cutting and engraving projects. This machine is excellent for cutting paper, plastics, fiberglass, leather, fabric, and softer woods. Additionally, you can mark and engrave materials like wood, brick, stone, glass, and treated titanium. The OMTech AF2028-60 also has a two-way pass-through to accommodate oversized materials.
Its honeycomb bed is suitable for smaller objects, while its aluminum knife bed will engrave hard materials like acrylic blocks. It is LightBurn certified, but does not come with the software. This affordable laser engraving machine is also compatible with third-party graphic software like AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, and CorelDRAW. It connects easily to your computer and works even if your home workshop is out of WiFi range.
The OMTech AF2028-60 engraving machine comes with a Ruida digital controller, red dot guidance, and a viewing window to better control the laser head. With these features, you can protect your eyes, effortlessly set up projects, and maintain complete control of the laser head while you work.
This laser engraver is well worth your money, as it also comes with built-in ventilation, a water cooling system, a water flow sensor, and an automatic shutdown to pause or end an engraving operation. And, it comes with a detachable base so you can easily transport the laser machine through smaller door frames.
Thunder Laser Nova 24 (60W)
The Thunder Laser Nova 24 is a great desktop laser engraver designed for cutting, marking, and engraving various items made of glass, tile, ceramics, marble, or other materials. It has a 60-watt laser tube, a hybrid-servo motorized engraver, and a laser that lasts between 2,000 to 4,000 working hours. The Nova 24 has Smart Board technology that automatically shuts the exhaust system off when not in use, so you save energy and don’t waste HVAC. Like the OMTech AF2028-60, this machine can easily fit through a standard door frame, making it an optimal choice for a home enthusiast. The Nova 24 comes with everything you need to run the laser (with the exception of two gallons of distilled water).
In addition to features that improve the engraving experience — such as an air assist, LightBurn technology, pass-through doors, and auto-focus — the Nova 24’s honeycomb table reduces underside reflections, its motorized table prevents it from moving, and the aluminum blade cutting table reduces the effects of reflection on the laser.
Boss LS-1416 50W Laser Engraver
The Boss LS-1416 laser cutter and engraver is a compact desktop laser machine that comes with safety lock panels and flexible connectivity options. Its all-in-one laser head comes with air assist and auto-focus, making this engraver very easy to use.
This machine includes both the knife blade and honeycomb platforms to provide you with more flexibility while engraving. The machine is durable and has a mounted, illuminated LCD touchpad for controlling the power and laser head.
Glowforge Pro (45W)
The Glowforge Pro laser engraver is a small, budget laser engraver for DIYers and hobbyists, due in large part to its easy set-up. With a push of a button, you can create beautiful designs from hundreds of materials, including fabric, wood, rubber, acrylic, marble, metal, leather, stone, titanium, and even food.
The Glowforge laser printer is sought-after by amateur crafters because they can easily upload sketches and digital images, and Glowforge’s cloud-based software handles the rest of the engraving settings. However, you must have a WiFi connection to use it.
This 45-watt laser engraving machine prints up to 23 inches per second and has a convenient, built-in water cooling system. Glowforge Pro is compatible with your PC, Mac, tablet, and phone. Plus, it comes with free web-based software and a live camera for previewing your work and perfecting your designs.
Aeon Mira 40W Laser Cutter
The Aeon Mira CO2 desktop laser cutting machine is a sleek, professional-looking laser engraver. The Aeon Mira comes with a suite of features, including high-speed digital stepper motors, multiple interfaces, and a compact, all-in-one system that saves space. You also have the option to purchase a remote control to program operations.
The Aeon Mira comes with a red dot pointer to assist with mirror alignment and ensure accuracy. To ensure that you do all the work without any distracting movement or challenging transportation, you can purchase a sleek, modern stand for your laser engraver that holds your machine in place.
OMTech vs. Glowforge Pro vs. Aeon Mira vs. Boss vs. Thunder
Now that you have a basic understanding of these five machines, let's compare them by laser power, laser speed, workbed size, software compatibility, warranty, added features, and price. These are all important factors DIYers should consider when choosing the best budget laser engraver.
Laser Power: Wattage and Maximum Cutting Thickness
To successfully run an engraving operation, you’ll need a laser engraver that’s equipped with the right energy and capacity to cut through your materials. Thankfully, these affordable laser engravers have high cutting power and the required wattage to do the job.
OMTech Laser AF2028-60’s power will cut 0.25 inches deep into acrylic or plexiglass and deeper into the likes of fabric, leather, food, ceramic, and marble. Use the controller to adjust the speed and cutting power on this high-powered budget laser engraving machine. You can even view the electric current levels in real time on a separate LCD panel.
Like the OMTech AF2028-60, the Thunder Laser Nova 24 has a 60W high-quality laser tube that cuts up to 1.1 inches deep.
The Aeon Mira has a lower cutting power, compared to OMTech and Thunder engravers. At 40W, its laser can engrave up to 0.78 inches deep, depending on the type of material.
For the Boss LS-1416 engraver, you’ll get between 50 and 70 watts of cutting power, which can last up to 12,000 hours. This laser engraver cuts up to 0.38 inches of wood or acrylic.
Slightly weaker than the LS-1416 is the Glowforge Pro, with its laser tube operating at 0.01mm and ability to cut up to 0.35 inches.
Laser Speed: Faster Production Times
The best budget laser engravers all have enhanced top speed and upgraded hardware. The fastest laser engraver out of these five models is the Boss LS-1416 laser engraving machine, which engraves up to 51 inches (130cm) of material per second.
Following it is the Aeon Mira, with an engraving speed of up to 47 inches (120cm) per second and a cutting speed of 27 inches (68cm) per second.
Thunder Laser Nova 24 is slightly slower, with its closed-loop stepper engraving 39 inches (100cm) per second. This engraver also allows you to control its power and speed from 0–100%.
Next up is OMTech Laser AF2028-60, which has an engraving speed of 23.6 inches (60cm) per second and a cutting speed of 25.75 inches (40cm) per second. While OMTech laser’s recommended engraving speed is 10–50 cm/s and 0.1–3 cm/s for cutting, it doesn’t matter how fast the engraver goes; the built-in air compressor will keep the cutting surface cool.
While Glowforge Pro is said to engrave three times faster than the company’s Basic and Plus models, its laser speed is not specified.
These budget laser engravers are an optimal size for hobbyists and home engravers. They’re all compact enough to fit in smaller spaces, but not all are large enough to engrave sizable projects. We ranked all the best budget laser engravers to see which has the largest workbed.
1. OMTech Laser: 560 Square-Inch Workbed
By far, the largest workbed is OMTech Laser’s AF2028-60 engraver. Its cutting area is 20″ x 28″, and you have the ability to adjust the workbed’s height up to 11″ as needed. It’s sturdier than the Glowforge Pro, and while it weighs 331 lbs, you won’t have any issue moving it through smaller door frames thanks to its detachable base.
2. Thunder Laser: 370.5 Square-Inch Workbed
Thunder Laser Nova 24’s workbed size is smaller than the OMTech model. At 15.7″ x 23.6″, it too will fit through a standard doorway.
3. Glowforge Laser Printer: 240 Square-Inch Workbed
The Glowforge Pro, with workbed dimensions of 12″ x 20″, is less than half the size of the OMTech Laser’s workbed. It is considered a desktop laser engraver, great for petite projects.
4. Aeon Mira: 230 Square-Inch Workbed
Aeon Mira weighs 265 lbs and has a workbed size of 11.75” x 19.75”. The 12cm-deep motorized bed makes it easy to maneuver large materials and allows you to use a rotary device to engrave cylindrical objects.
5. Boss Laser: 216.5 Square-Inch Workbed
The Boss LS-1416 laser engraving machine is quite heavy — the machine alone weighs 415 lbs — and comes with a smaller workbed than OMTech and Thunder, with a cutting area of 13.75″ x 15.75″.
All five laser engraving machines come with pass-through doors or hinges that you can adjust to accommodate oversized items that are larger than the standard workbed. As you search for the best budget laser engraver, consider the size of the materials you want to work with, and be certain the workbed is large enough to fit them.
Laser Software Compatibility
To customize projects with your laser machine, you need first to check how compatible your favorite design software is with the laser engraver. Luckily, we’ve picked budget laser engraving machines with the necessary features to make your engraving process hassle-free.
OMTech Laser AF2028-60 lets you send images offline through a USB cord, Ethernet cord, and flash drive. Its Ruida control board is compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10, XP, 2000, and Vista. In order to work with Mac computers (macOS 10.11 and above), you’ll need to use LightBurn software. The OMTech supports graphics like JPEG, HPLG, GIF, DXF, JPEG, BMP, and DST and allows you to adjust power dimensions and laser positions.
Boss LS-1416 combines Ethernet and internet transfers and even comes with its own router. It works well with Windows, Linux, and macOS, whether 32 or 64 bits. This engraver also has a 256MB USB flash drive for storing projects.
Like the OMTech and Boss LS-1416, the Aeon Mira allows you to send Mac or PC jobs using Ethernet, USB, or WiFi. The Aeon Mira also has a built-in memory of 256MB. You can import images directly from AutoCAD, CorelDraw, and Illustrator via plugins.
Thunder Laser Nova 24’s machine also supports DXF, BMP, DST, JPG, and other files like JPC, RAS, PNM, SKA, PLT, PNG, which you can transfer via Ethernet or USB connection. It is also compatible with Windows 7,8, 10, XP, 2000, and Vista.
Lastly, the beginner-friendly Glowforge Pro allows you to use the engraver from your smartphone and tablet using a free web interface. All you need to do is use an updated browser. Then, save the image as PDF, PNG, JPG, SVG, or any other file format on graphic builders like GIMP, SketchUp, Inkscape, and Autodesk 360. However, if you want to print a DXF file, you’ll need to subscribe to Glowforge Premium, which allows you to drag and drop images directly on the app.
Laser Engraver Warranty
When considering how to determine which of these options is the best laser engraver, don’t forget to take machine warranties and product support into account. All five engraver machines come with a reasonable warranty and good customer service. Except for Glowforge Pro, these laser engravers come with a two-year machine parts warranty. Glowforge only offers a single-year warranty.
OMTech Laser AF2028-60 offers customers a two-year warranty on machine parts and a six-month warranty on laser power supplies and its laser tube, which is estimated to operate for 2,000 hours. All customers can take advantage of a complimentary virtual machine setup appointment with California-based OMTech specialists, and you’ll get free tech support for life. OMTech also provides various resources to help you learn how to laser engrave — how-to articles, instructional Youtube videos, and a detailed user manual. OMTech’s engraver is FDA compliant, CE certified, and comes with ISO9001 quality certification.
Thunder Laser Nova 24 also provides a warranty of two years and a 1-hour remote setup training. They are also known for good customer support if you need help using the engraving machine.
Boss' LS-1416 laser engraving machine will give you two years warranty on machine parts and a single year’s warranty on the laser tube. You’ll have access to tech support and access to videos and manuals compiled by Boss's tech team. The affordable laser engraver also has a warehouse for storing spare parts of your machine so that you can get quick replacements when necessary. You also have 30 days to test drive the engraving machine.
On the other hand, opting for an Aeon Mira means that you’ll enjoy the two-year warranty and Aeon’s Lifeline Plus care that enables unlimited phone support for U.S. residents. You’ll also receive assistance when setting up your engraver.
Glowforge Pro comes with a 12 months warranty, and customers say that Glowforge is easy to set up and use. Glowforge Pro provides users with manual tutorial videos, a user community, and periodic information shared with you via email. And if you need to speak with a representative, you can schedule a meeting.
Extra Laser Engraver Features
OMTech Laser AF2028-60 has features that make it a perfect candidate for your at-home engraving needs. Its Ruida digital controller is an intuitive control panel that displays information about speed, power, file type, and more. This feature allows you to adjust or control the laser with absolute precision. The viewing window shows you the engraving process through transparent acrylic glass, and the red dot guides you to the machine’s path and position to set up the machine to fit each engraving task.
You can also adjust the laser nozzle downwards to 1.75 inches to control the different focal distance setups. The built-in ventilation, water cooling system, water flow sensor, and automatic shutdown all make sure the machine is in good condition by expelling smoke and regulating temperature.
The Thunder Laser Nova 24 engraver comes with a red dot system to guide the engraving process. Also, its air assist and water chiller ensure that the machine does not function beyond its capacity or accumulate damaging residue. This laser engraver is worthy of its higher price tag as it comes with LightBurn software, a tool kit, exhaust assistance, a cleaning kit, and an alarm lamp. Also, its camera system and auto-focused infrared will help you engrave your items with deliberate movements.
For the convenient use of material that’s larger than the workbed size, Boss' LS-1416 engraver is a great option. With its four-way material pass-through, you can engrave oversized materials with ease. The laser engraver also offers both a honeycomb and knife blade platform for engraving material. These machine parts are made with high-quality materials, so you can be sure that you’ll keep the machine around for several seasons to come.
Aeon Mira’s laser engraver has a standard honeycomb table where you can engrave both standard and oversized items. It has a built-in water pump, water cooling system, air assist pump, and exhaust fan — making the entire engraving process easy for anyone, whether expert or newbie. Other valuable features include the smart roller rotary, a rotary chuck, and a remote control device.
For more direct imaging, the Glowforge Pro laser engraver allows you to sketch a drawing or use a digital image to create an item you love. Also, the Glowforge Pro engraver accepts an array of materials, including acrylic, mylar, rubber, glass, metal, titanium, hardwood, leather, fabric, and even chocolate. This engraver also offers users a built-in camera and software that makes file transfers quick and straightforward.
Pricing: How Much Is a Laser Engraving Machine?
If you’re searching for a high-quality laser engraver at an affordable rate, these five models are the best budget laser engravers on the market.
OMTech Laser AF2028-60 has an unbeatable price. Everything you need comes in one package and costs only $3,099. It is designed with the largest workbed size and enough power to engrave all your materials. It also includes everything you need to start laser engraving. Plus, they have special laser engraver financing options available, so you can start laser engraving now and make smaller monthly payments.
Next is the Boss LS-1416 laser engraving machine, which at $4,997 is over 60% more expensive than the OMTech AF2028-60. The 50W CO2 laser engraver is well illuminated and has a red dot that provides accuracy and alignment while working. Such features as the push-button Z-axis, all-in-one laser head with autofocus and air assist, software compatibility with offline and online connectors, two-year warranty, and 30-day guarantee return policy point to money well spent. Also, this particular laser engraver has a four-way pass-through, allowing you to extend material outside the work area either side to side or front to back.
The Aeon Mira laser engraver and Glowforge Pro cost $5,995 each. Aeon Mira is fast and has multiple interfaces for connectivity, high-speed digital step motors, a built-in exhaust fan, an air assist pump, and a water cooling system. The clean pack technology includes a remote control, camera, rotary chuck, roller rotary device, fume extractor, red dot pointer, and a stand.
Glowforge Pro is also packed with features and offers Glowforge cloud service with unlimited prints every month. Unfortunately, Glowforge materials and service subscriptions can be expensive. While Glowforge premium subscription gives users access to many templates and designs, the cost is high for DIY users.
Thunder Laser Nova 24 is the most expensive of the five laser engraving machines. It costs $7,400 — more than twice the cost of the OMTech Laser AF2028-60. However, these machines give DIYers all you need for cutting and engraving. The package includes the exhaust, air assist, 2” head, water chiller, alarm lamp, smart board, red dot pointer, pass-through doors, honeycomb/knife bed, a cleaning kit, and a tool kit.
Best Bang For Your Buck: OMTech Laser AF2028-60
When you compare the laser power, speed, size, compatibility, warranty, added features, and price of these five models, there’s a clear winner.
While all five laser engravers are high-quality, affordable machines, OMTech AF2028-60 is the best budget laser engraver. It costs the least of these five machines; you can buy two machines for the price of one Thunder Laser Nova 24. But that’s not all — OMTech comes with a host of features like the integrated power supply that increases its speed and performance, pass-through doors for oversized objects, and a 60W CO2 laser tube at only $3,099.