Focusing Laser Engravers: Manual or Auto Focus?

The most important part of a laser engraver is, unsurprisingly, the laser. For the laser to achieve the ultimate precision and accuracy, the laser mirrors must be properly aligned, and the focal length must be adjusted to the thickness of the material you are engraving. When focusing laser-engraver machines, which is better: auto or manual focus? 

Understanding Laser Beams 

A CO₂ laser machine operates by using a glass tube full of inert gasses. This tube is connected to a high-energy power supply, which then generates light and laser radiation. The byproduct exits the tube and rebounds off a collection of mirrors until it reaches the laser nozzle. Here, the light hits the lens and tapers into a focal point—the engraving and cutting laser! 

Laser engraving machine laser head

Obviously, you want the laser to hit the material you are engraving or cutting. Focusing laser-engraver systems allow you to cut and engrave your materials efficiently, typically achieving cleaner and deeper etching. Therefore, ensuring your laser machine is focused (regardless of the method) is imperative for working with a laser engraver! 

Exploring Laser Focusing: Manual Focus 

A manual focus laser engraver requires the user to adjust the focal length of the laser by hand. Manual laser engraving machines like the OMTech MF2028-80 80W feature a knob to adjust the bed height, bringing the material closer or further away from the focal point. If you are wondering how to focus a laser engraver manually, many machines come with a gauge that determines the set height of the nozzle. 

Place the gauge directly under the nozzle and raise or lower the bed until the head touches the top of the gauge. If you find that the gauge’s preset height is not the most optimal setting for your laser engraver, perform a ramp test to determine the best focus for your machine. 

Exploring Laser Focusing: Auto Focus 

With an auto-focus laser machine, you do not have to spend time cranking your system to adjust the bed. The AF2028-60 60W Laser Engraver has an auto-focus feature that automatically moves the machine bed up and down at the touch of a button. But how do you determine the correct focal length for your engraver? 

Autofocus laser engraving machine auto focus laser head

When you activate the autofocus, the laser head attachment lowers until it comes into contact with the material. The nozzle then adjusts itself to the correct focal length without you having to turn any knobs, streamlining the process for its users! 

Which Is Better: Auto Focus or Manual Focus? 

An auto-focus laser engraver offers faster adjustment over a manual machine if you are working with multiple types of materials with varying thicknesses. A manual-focus laser engraver—on the other hand—is less expensive and otherwise offers the same features as an auto-focus machine. Therefore, the best CO₂ laser machine will depend on the type of job you are performing. 

Advantages of Auto-Focus Laser Machines 

Auto-focus laser engravers allow you to easily adjust the focal length of your laser head. This is especially helpful when conducting projects with multiple types of materials with different thicknesses. Instead of having to manually turn the knob to raise and lower the bed for each new material, you can simply press a button to adjust the height for you! 

AF2028-80 80W laser engraving machine

Therefore, we recommend auto-focus laser engravers like our AF2028-80 80W Laser Engraver for laser enthusiasts who love working with all different types of material. The AF2028 engraver even includes a four-way passthrough, meaning that you can open the machine to accommodate materials larger than its 20” x 28” build. This model is perfect for engraving materials of all compositions and sizes! 

Advantages of Manual-Focus Laser Machines 

Manual-focus laser engravers typically come at a lower price point than their auto-focus counterparts. For example, the AF2028-80 Laser Engraver is priced at $3,399.99, $200 more than the MF2028-80 Laser Engraver at $3,199.99. While this is only a $200 difference between the two models, those working with a budget might opt for a manual-focus machine. 

At the end of the day, both laser engravers perform the same function—providing accurate and precise cutting and engraving!

Focus in on Our Top-Of-The-Line Laser Machines!

Remember, no matter what type of machine you acquire, what’s truly important is that you’re properly focusing your laser engraver. Whether you decide to go with our AF2028-80 engraver or the MF2028-80 model, know that you have an ultra-precise, excellent-quality laser machine in your hands! 

Here at OMTech, we’re devoted to supplying you with the resources and tools you need to do more than just get the job done. If you’re looking for top-of-the-line laser machines and accessories, you’ve come to the right place! OMTech is not just a company; it’s a laser community for like-minded individuals. 

Check out our wide collection of amazing laser machines, as well as our Facebook community to learn more about what we’re about!