Difference Between Laser Cutter vs. Laser Engraver

You will find many terms when you first use laser machines. Among them, laser cutting and laser engraving are pretty prominent. Both of the devices do similar things but not entirely. There is a reason why the two terms are separate. So, what is the difference between laser cutter vs. laser engraver? Let’s take a look.

Before we start, there are things you require to know. Things like the file types. So, there are two types of files in laser machines. These are vector and raster files. A 2D image is created using software and then used by the laser for cutting and engraving. So, why is this important? To know that, we would advise you to keep reading.

The Differences between Laser Cutter vs. Laser Engraver

Primarily, there are two differences between laser cutters and laser engravers. As such, the first one is in the procedure. And lenses are the second reason. As you know, laser cutting and engraving require different precisions. So, here are some further details about these dissimilarities.


Now, laser cutting entails the removal of a piece of material from the host. It’s like chopping off wood but using a laser machine. So, laser cutting gives that smooth finish that you look for generally. It is quick, efficient, and requires way less handwork. Hence, fiber cutters are perfect for types of materials.

As such, the chopping aspect doesn't occur in laser engravers. Instead, the laser uses a lower power but at a higher focus. Hence, it concentrates on the material’s pigment and not the material itself. As a result, lasers engrave many types of writings, designs, and logos of varying contrasts.

Lens of The Laser


So, here’s the second critical difference. The lenses in these two devices are very dissimilar. The lens of an engraver is shorter compared to a cutter. Why? Because a smaller lens produces better accuracy for engraving finer details. Thus, you can engrave designs and logos of various depths. As such, choosing a particular machine for engraving is essential. 

The more extended focal point in laser cutters is also essential. This point helps in cutting materials of different thicknesses and sizes. In this case, the short focal point cannot pinpoint the exact power to cut through the material. Hence, the lens has high focal variation in cutting the materials properly.  

Variation in the File Formats

Another minor difference is in the file types. Remember we talked about two kinds of files? So, for laser cutting, you use mainly vector files. It is ideal for cutting since it doesn't pixelate when you zoom it. So, you get a smooth transition during the slashing process.

In engraving, you can use both file types. But in general, raster files are better. You use raster files because of the complexity of the designs and logos. The laser correctly picks up the finer details in the raster files. Hence, the laser starts the engraving process.

So, we hope that you now have a general idea between the two machines and their differences. But you need to have an idea about one more thing. Hence, please keep on going.

Which Laser Cutter Should You Use?

So, which machine to use for what purpose is an essential aspect of laser cutting and engraving. There are many things a laser cutter can do that a laser engraver cannot. So, here are some different lasers you can consider for cutting and engraving.  

Diode Lasers

Diode lasers are usually smaller and consume less power than other laser types. So, if you're getting in the swing of laser cutting, this is an excellent place to start. Diode lasers are designed for different engraving materials like wood, plastic, and acrylic.

The materials you'll choose for engraving are usually a few inches thick. Since the focus and power are weak, it cannot slice through any material. So, don’t try to use this laser for any cutting purposes. Also, the diode lasers are simple and easy to operate.

CO2 Lasers

CO2 lasers are far more potent than diode lasers. They are designed for thicker materials. You can input 2D or 3D images for engraving purposes. There is a long tube behind the machine which outputs the laser. And, there is a cooling system installed as well. This system regulates the temperature of the laser.

As a result, the laser doesn't leave any scorch marks during the engraving process. The lasers are giant in size, which helps to cut materials of greater lengths. So, consider getting a CO2 laser for engraving.   

Crystal Lasers

These high-end lasers are capable cutters. They can cut mostly all types of material. The frequency of these lasers is shorter in length. As a result, they dish out immense power. So, you can see why they are used for cutting.

A minor downside is that the lasers are expensive and require high power consumption. Hence, you should use these lasers if you're an expert and a mass producer of materials. And if not, then there is a laser cutter that is perfect for you.

Fiber Lasers

These lasers are perfect for hobbies and mass production. So, we would advise you to get a fiber cutter to learn the basic and expert techniques. So, these cutters can cut most materials like glass and acrylic. And it is perfect for cutting metal sheets of various thicknesses.

It has a better life span than crystal lasers and consumes less power. The autofocus of varying focal lengths helps in precision cutting with no jagged edges. Hence, get a fiber laser for easy operation, excellent performance, and affordability.


Hence, now you know the apparent differences between laser cutter vs. laser engraver. In short, the difference between the devices is in the procedures, the lens, and the file formats. We also tried to add some other factors. Hopefully, these will aid you in considering a laser machine.

So, we hope you found the answers you were looking for tirelessly. Thank you for being patient and reading till the end. We wish to see you soon on our next topic. Stay safe and enjoy the wonders of laser cutting and laser engraving. 

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