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Industrial laser cutter. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Christian Delbert

How Much Does a Laser Cutting Machine Cost?

Learn more about the cost for different types of laser cutting machines.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
February 24, 2023
 10 min read
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Laser cutting machines can engrave intricate patterns and designs onto parts, or cut shapes that make whole components or products. From hobbyist and small commercial applications to large-scale manufacturing operations, the use of laser cutting machines is widespread.

The price of laser cutting machines depends on several factors, including: laser type, power, work table size, and the geometry and properties of the material to be cut. It makes sense that hobby laser cutting machines don’t often come with many of the advanced features and capabilities present in industrial laser cutting machines. However, the vast number of options available on laser cutting machines means that a fabricator can find a suitable laser cutter for almost any application. This article will review the factors that impact the prices of laser cutting machines and identify the best machines for certain applications.

What Is a Laser Cutting Machine?

A laser cutting machine uses a laser beam to create intricate patterns and designs by heating a material to extreme temperatures. This is accomplished by burning, melting, or vaporizing the workpiece material. The cost of a laser cutter is related to its capabilities, and the number and kinds of features it offers.

How Much Will a Laser Cutting Machine Cost You?

The price of laser cutting machines depends on four factors: the type of laser, the features available on the machine, the size of the machine, and the properties of the workpiece material. The type of laser is often what impacts the price of a laser cutting machine the most, due to the cost of laser optics equipment. 

The three main types of lasers used for cutting are: CO2 lasers, diode lasers, and fiber lasers. CO2 lasers are the most common choice because they are versatile enough to both cut and engrave, and they can be used successfully on a variety of material types. The price ranges for the different types of laser cutters are listed in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Price Range of Different Types of Laser Cutting Machines
Type of Laser Cutting MachinePrice Range ($)
Type of Laser Cutting Machine
CO2 / Gas
Price Range ($)
$2,000 to $1,000,000
Type of Laser Cutting Machine
Diode
Price Range ($)
$350 to $2,000
Type of Laser Cutting Machine
Fiber
Price Range ($)
$30,000 to $600,000

Do Different Types of Laser Cutting Machines Cost the Same?

No, different types of laser cutting machines do not cost the same amount. The prices of different types of laser cutting machines vary primarily based on the technology behind their optical systems.

What Are the Factors That Affect the Prices of Laser Cutting Machines?

The list below describes some of the factors that affect the prices of laser cutting machines:

  1. Type of Laser: The equipment used to generate the laser light beam in the three main types of laser cutting systems differs significantly in complexity and, consequently, price.
  2. Laser Power: As the rated power of the laser beam increases, the cost of the components to handle the higher energy levels increases.
  3. Workpiece Thickness: Cutting thicker material requires higher-power lasers. High-power lasers require heavier-duty components and are more expensive than low-power machines.
  4. Cutting Speed: Cutting speed impacts price because the motors that drive the position of the laser cutter head become more expensive as speed requirements increase.
  5. Workpiece Material: Harder materials such as metals and highly reflective materials like stainless steel require specialized equipment for laser cutting to be successful.
  6. Work Table Size: Larger work table size leads to higher prices due to the need for more raw materials and higher power equipment to build and operate larger machines.

What Are the Types of Laser Cutting Machines?

There are three main types of laser cutting machines. Each of these machines has its own set of advantages and disadvantages for cutting different kinds of materials. The list below describes which type of machine works best for which material:

1. Laser Cutting Machines for Steel

High-power (0.5-12 kW) fiber lasers are the most suitable machines for cutting steel. This is because the wavelength of the light produced by fiber lasers (~1060 nm) is efficiently absorbed by steel, while the wavelength of a CO2 laser, for example, at 10,600 nm, is mostly reflected.  Fiber lasers, followed by CO2 lasers, are the best laser cutting machines for steel. The price of a fiber laser that can cut steel ranges from $30,000 to $600,000, while the price of a CO2 laser with steel-cutting capabilities ranges from $10,000 to $200,000.

2. Laser Cutting Machines for Metals

The best laser cutting machines for metals are fiber lasers, followed by CO2 lasers. The type of laser cutter most suitable for a metal application depends on factors such as: the specific metal and its reflectivity, the metal's melting and vaporization temperatures, and the workpiece's thickness. The type of metal and its reflectivity determines whether a fiber or CO2 laser is better for cutting. This is because metals readily reflect long red and infrared wavelengths that are commonly emitted by CO2 lasers. Metals absorb shorter blue, violet, and ultraviolet wavelengths from fiber lasers. The melting and vaporization temperatures and the thickness of the workpiece determine the minimum power required for cutting as more power and energy density is required to cut through thicker materials. The price of a fiber laser cutter ranges from $30,000 to $600,000 while the price of a CO2 laser system can vary from $10,000 to $200,000.

3. Laser Cutting Machines for Fabrics

CO2 laser cutters and diode laser cutters are the best machines for processing fabrics since they are both efficient and cost-effective compared to fiber lasers. High-power lasers aren’t needed to cut fabrics, unlike metals, since fabrics are extraordinarily thin and don’t require must power to vaporize. A 40W CO2 or diode laser can cut and engrave fabrics such as: polyester, cotton, wool, and leather with ease. A CO2 laser cutting machine for fabric costs between $500 and $4,000, while diode lasers for fabric-cutting cost $300 to $1,000.

4. Laser Cutting Machines for Paper

CO2 laser cutters and diode laser cutters are the best options for laser cutting paper. As with laser cutting of fabrics, a powerful laser isn’t required to achieve cuts and engravings on paper products such as cards and invitations. The power needed to cut paper is smaller than the power needed to cut fabrics. It is minuscule compared to the power needed to cut metals. CO2 lasers for paper cutting cost between $500 and $4,000, while the price of diode laser cutting machines is between $300 and $1,000.

5. Laser Cutting Machines for Wood

CO2 and diode laser cutters are the two best types of laser cutters for wood. This is because wood, like fabric and paper, doesn’t require high power to be vaporized for a laser to cut through. The price of laser cutting machines for wood ranges from $500 to $4,000 for CO2 lasers and is generally between $300 and $1,000 for diode lasers. 

6. Laser Cutting Machines for Acrylic

CO2 lasers are the best laser cutters for acrylic. These lasers offer greater efficiency and cut quality because acrylics readily absorb the red and infrared wavelengths produced by CO2 lasers. With higher laser powers like CO2 lasers, cut efficiency is increased and quality is improved. Diode lasers can also cut acrylic. It is a good alternative but may require multiple passes depending on the thickness of acrylic. Laser cutting machines for acrylic cost between $500 and $4,000 for CO2 lasers, and between $300 and $1,000 for diode lasers.

7. Laser Cutting Machines for Invitations

The best laser cutting machines for invitations are diode lasers. Invitations for various ceremonies and events are commonly made from paper and similar materials. High-power lasers are not required to create elaborate and intricate designs for invitations. Diode lasers can create beautiful invitations with ease. The price of diode laser cutting machines ranges between $300 and $1,000.

8. Laser Cutting Machines for Plastic

The best laser cutting machine for plastics is the CO2 laser. The wavelengths from CO2 lasers are readily absorbed by most plastics, which makes laser cutting a highly efficient process. The price of CO2 laser cutting machines for plastic can range between $500 and $4,000 for hobbyist and small business use. Costs can rise to as much as $200,000 for a laser cutter designed for industrial use.

What Are the Cheapest Laser Cutting Machines That Can Cut All Materials? 

CO2 lasers have the most versatility out of all types of laser cutters. These machines cut all materials from paper and wood to metals and plastics. The cheapest CO2 laser-cutting machines are listed below:

  1. Monport LightBurn: The Monport LightBurn is a 40W CO2 laser that is highly affordable at $550. It has the capability to cut and engrave all metals from fabrics and wood to plastics and metals. 
  2. OMTech MF1220-50: With a 50W CO2 laser, this machine is great for hobbyist and small business applications. It has the versatility to cut many materials including metals, fabrics, paper, wood, and plastics. Its large work table allows bigger objects to be cut and engraved. The price of this laser cutter is $2,150.
  3. FLUX beamo - The FLUX beamo is a 30W desktop CO2 laser that has the versatility to cut and engrave all materials including leather, paper, wood, plastics, and metals. This laser costs $2,195.

What Are the Best Laser Cutting Machines That Are Worth Buying?

The best laser cutting machines that are worth buying despite their price are listed below:

  1. Glowforge Pro: The Glowforge Pro is an 800W CO2 laser that costs $7,000. It is used to efficiently cut and engrave many materials from fabrics and wood to metals and plastics.
  2. Glowforge Basic: The Glowforge Basic is a 40W CO2 laser that costs $4,000, perfect for beginners, hobbyists, and small businesses. It can cut and engrave various materials from fabrics and papers to plastics and metals. 
  3. FLUX BeamBox Pro: At $5,000, this 50W CO2 laser has the ability to cut fabrics, paper, wood, plastics, and metals. Its intuitive software and interface, as well as its large work area, make it great for hobbyist and small business applications.

Is It Worth Buying an Expensive Laser Cutting Machine?

Whether it is worth buying an expensive laser cutting machine depends on a lot of factors. Unless you have large volumes of parts that must be laser cut or are consistently cutting metal to fabricate parts, there is no need to buy an expensive laser cutting machine. Cheaper laser cutting machines have the capability to do many of the same things more expensive machines can do but at a slower pace. Cheaper machines are often lower-power compared to more expensive machines and also usually have smaller workspaces. However, expensive laser machines may be more reliable and have better builds. Consider the product volumes and the materials used in your laser cutting operation to help you pick a suitable machine.

Summary

This article presented laser cutting machine costs, explained what they are, and discussed the cost for different types of machines. To learn more about laser cutter costs, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities, including sheet cutting and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

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Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.