Buying a laser-cutting machine is a BIG decision for hobbyists and small businesses alike. Whether you want a laser machine to engrave leather for your sewing business or make cute Christmas ornaments on the side for your friends, it’s important to do research before buying your new (soon to be beloved) machine. There’s no doubt that I love my Glowforge Pro, but I do know it’s a huge investment and there are some cons.
So here are 3 things to know before buying a laser-cutting machine…
#1 Not All Machines Cut All Materials
We’ve seen the ads, the cool projects on Pinterest, and all the laser cutting machine reels that inspire us to *finally* get a laser. And we all know that the devil works hard, but the Glowforge marketing team works harder.
But the truth is, not all laser cutting machines are created equal. In fact, there’s a lot of false advertising by influencers and others that make it seem that all lasers can cut metal or engrave tumblers, which unfortunately isn’t true.
So, my number one tip is to check all the stats on your machine and make sure it can actually engrave and cut what you need at the speed you want before purchasing.
For example, I love my Glowforge Pro. It does mostly everything I want–EXCEPT it doesn’t engrave tumblers. Since the Glowforge is limited in this area, I ended up using “girl math” and buying myself an Xtool and a rotary blade.
And while I feel lucky to be able to buy another machine, I know that’s not a possibility for a lot of people. So before you hit ‘Add to Cart,’ make sure you’ve decided exactly what you want to make and double-check that your preferred machine can do that.
Don’t forget that you also need to sit with your machine the entire time it’s running (no fires here, please), so if your time is tight, make sure you also check the run times for cutting and engraving on your machine!
#2 You don’t have to be a designer to use a laser machine–but the software does have a learning curve
Long gone are the simple days of cartridges in Cricut machines, please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers the cartridges–haha. Of course, all of us crafters now utilize digital files instead. Digital files are AMAZING and the creativity is endless, but that software can have a steep learning curve. There are several different options for design software, which I go into detail about in my “Laser Machine Buying Guide,” but all of the software options have a learning curve.
There’s no doubt that it can be hard to design a file that is cut-friendly especially if it’s more advanced. And if you’re wanting to open a small business, then you might not have the time to dedicate to learning how to design your own files.
That’s why there are designers like me, who sell their files for business and personal use. I also am an official Glowforge designer, and I offer a variety of designs on Glowforge premium for subscription members.
So while you can learn the basics of design software and TOTALLY create on a laser without being a ‘designer’, for the more complicated designs, you’ll either need to dedicate a large chunk of time learning the software or buy your files from laser file designers (and there are a lot of great ones!).
For more tips like these, make sure to join my email list for free files, laser advice, and more!
#3 Bed Size Does Not Equal Cutting Space
Okay this might seem random, but cutting space is a big deal when it comes to making your projects. If you want to run a jewelry business or do small projects for fun, then the cutting space and bed size isn’t as crucial.
For other projects like engraving, it can make all the difference. For example, yesterday I was at Costco, and I saw these BEAUTIFUL charcuterie boards that were less than 20 dollars! I quickly put two in my cart and went about my shopping. I was imagining the beautiful designs I could engrave on these gorgeous boards, but my happiness didn’t last.
After a few samples and strolls through the aisles, I realized that these charcuterie boards were TOO big for my laser. I was so disappointed when I had to tell the cashier I didn’t want them anymore. *sniffle*
And the hardest part about knowing your cutting space is that GlowForge and other companies will tell you the bed size, but the actual cutting area is about an inch smaller. Not to mention, the passthrough slot can make bigger materials hard to cut! So make sure you look at the cutting space, not just the bed size when buying your next laser machine.
3 Things to Know Before Buying a Laser-Cutting Machine
While these things aren’t revolutionary, they are things I learned only after buying my GlowForge. I wish I would’ve known them before. I don’t regret buying my GlowForge, but I think I could’ve made a more informed opinion.
If you know these 3 things before buying a laser-cutting machine, I hope that it will save you thousands of dollars. I see so many people in laser groups regretting their purchase because they didn’t realize their machine didn’t cut a certain material or that it engraves slower than they’d like.
To avoid any regrets, I recommend joining laser groups like Friendliest GlowForge Group of Facebook, Crafting with Lasers, and the Official Acrylic Obsessed Laser Community AND getting my Comprehensive Guide for Buying a Laser Machine. You can get my book here.
With these two tools, you’ll be able to make the best choice for you and your business or lifestyle! Happy crafting!
And if you’re considering buying a Glowforge, you can use my affiliate link here!
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