It’s now easier and more affordable than ever before to get laser engraving from your home or office. Once strictly the preserve of industrial manufacturers, laser engraving is now a common and increasingly adopted tool for small businesses, product designers, makers, and hobbyists.
In some cases, there’s a good chance that a laser engraver might prove to be the most advantageous technology for your needs. So, before pulling out your wallet, you might want to take a little stroll around this garden of top laser engravers to see which unit is going to suit you the best.
If you’re on a budget and setting off on a laser engraving adventure for the first time, then you might want to consider the Atomstack A5 Pro. It’s a simple, effective diode laser machine.
This could be the perfect place to start if you’re new to laser engraving, as the affordable and simple A5 Pro gives you what you need to get cracking on with engraving some materials and absolutely nothing else. Since our last update, its price has increased quite significantly, but it still remains a good place to begin your laser engraving journey – depending on your material choices, of course.
Atomstack’s A5 Pro is a handsome-looking laser engraver available for under $400 (a little less than it used to be) from a company that’s attempted some pretty interesting things recently, most notably a 3D printer that specializes in flexible filaments.
Atomstack’s products tend to have a bit of a look to them, and that’s certainly the case with the A5 Pro and its Titanium-looking frame. But, away from the looks there’s some other good features here too – a large 410 x 400 mm work area and low weight of around 4 kg, in particular. This makes it pretty easy to store and transport, and it is compatible with LaserGRBL and LightBurn, two useful pieces of software for engraving.
One thing to note is, while the input strength of this laser is shown as 40 W, in reality, it is likely to only be outputting a laser of around 5 W in strength. Diode lasers aren’t very powerful, but the laser used here is probably still enough to get some really good engraving on wood, leather and even remove some paint coatings on metals like aluminum. With a 0.1 mm accuracy too, the work should look really rather sharp.
In many ways, laser diodes are very similar to LED lights. Quite simply, laser diodes work by using electricity to excite electrons in a positive/negative junction and eject photons. The photons are then focused in a beam of light by a lens before hitting the material.
While LEDs emit spontaneously omnidirectional light, laser diodes emit excited, directional light—guided and stronger, allowing you to direct and ultimately burn the material that the beam encounters.
We see diode lasers everywhere in our daily life. Scanning barcodes in supermarkets, we rely on them to play DVDs and CDs, and now we use them for autonomous or semi-autonomous driving technology.
Diode lasers are classified differently, but diode lasers used for engraving materials are powerful in their categories, up to 4. Even if they are related to your friendly barcode scanner, they are not the same animal and must be treated with great care. Diode lasers are very affordable, with a lot of good diode lasers priced around $3-400, making them a good starting point for users.