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Laser engraver vs CNC router, what is the best for your engraving plans or projects? Review the guide to a comparison of CNC engraving machine and laser engraving machine.

 May 29, 2021    3233 (4 Min Read)

Both CNC engraving machine and laser engraving machine are computer engraving machines, the CNC engraving machine refers to CNC router, CNC routing machine, CNC engraver, or CNC carving machine, and the laser engraving machine refers to laser engraver, both need a computer to control engraving. Import the prepared picture file or path diagram into the machine after typesetting by computer in advance. From this point of view, both belong to the machine. Although both use numerical control systems, they work differently and their mechanical structures are also different. In contrast, the structure of the CNC carving machine is relatively simple. Through the control of the computer numerical control system, the machine automatically selects the appropriate bit & tool and engraves it along the X, Y, and Z axes of the machine tool.

Many people always misunderstand the CNC engraving machine and laser engraving machine as one kind of thing. In fact, there are many differences between the two types of machines.


Laser engraving is based on numerical control technology, and laser is the machining medium. The laser source emits the laser, and the numerical control system controls the laser head and the motor to move the laser head, mirror, lens, etc. on the optical elements, so that the focus is moved on the X, Y, and Z axes of the machine tool. The processed material is instantly illuminated by the laser. The physical modification of melting and gasification achieves the purpose of machining.

Fiber Laser Engraver

Fiber Laser Engraver

There is no contact with the surface of the material during laser engraving, it is not affected by mechanical movement, the surface will not deform, and generally does not need to be fixed. Not affected by the elasticity and flexibility of the material, it is convenient for soft materials. The processing precision is high, the speed is fast, and the application field is wide.

CNC is the abbreviation of Computer Numberical Control, which is an automated machine tool equipped with a program control system. The control system can logically process the program with control codes or other symbolic instructions, and decode it, so that the machine tool can move and process parts. CNC engraving machine is a power tool that completes engraving through CNC controlled machine tools.

CNC Engraver


A laser engraver uses a laser, which changes the material through high temperature. Therefore, similar to combustion, different materials of different materials will produce different combustion chemical reactions during the work process, which will vary depending on the melting point of the material. The cutting effect is different, and it will also produce oily smoke and smell in the industrial process.

A CNC router relies on the spindle and bit to work, similar to the drill bit, it will only produce a lot of dust during the work process, but will not produce smoke and smell.

Laser engraving is non-contact etching, which can protect the surface of the engraved material from being scratched. In addition, the laser beam is very thin, so the slit is small and suitable for precision cutting. The cutting seam of the CNC engraving machine depends on the diameter of the router bit. There are many types of router bits. Different router bits are used for different materials.


A laser engraving machine emits laser light from a laser and focuses it into a high-power density laser beam through the optical path system. The laser beam irradiates the surface of the workpiece to make the workpiece reach the melting point or boiling point. At the same time, the high-pressure gas coaxial with the beam blows away the molten or vaporized metal. As the relative position of the beam and the workpiece moves, the material will eventually form a cut mark, so as to achieve the purpose of engraving.

A CNC engraving machine relies on the high-speed rotating engraving head driven by the motor spindle. Through the cutting tool configured according to the processing material, the processing material fixed on the worktable can be cut, and various 2D or 3D designs in the computer with the embossed graphics or text can be realized through the automatic engraving operation.

The biggest difference between laser engraver and CNC engraver is that the tools of laser engraver machine are a complete set of optical components, while the tools of CNC router machine are bits of various entities. The laser etching machine uses the high energy of the laser to complete the cutting or engraving of the material, and the CNC carving machine uses the high-speed rotating cutter head to cut and engrave the material, so the two forms of action on the engraved object are different.


The laser engraving machine can only perform cutting and shallow carving on the surface of the object, and can do shadow carving, such as marble tombstone portrait carving. The CNC engraving machine can cut or make reliefs, such as the relief carving of some wooden furniture.

Laser engravers can be roughly divided into non-metal laser engraving machine (CO2 laser engraving machine) and metal laser engraving machine (fiber laser engraving machine). Non-metallic engraving machine can be divided into: ordinary engraving machine and non-metallic laser marking machine. Metal engraving machines can be divided into metal laser marking machines and metal engraving and cutting all-in-one machines.

Metal laser engraver applicable materials: metal sheet, acrylic, plexiglass, glass, cloth, leather, paper, bamboo and wood products, film, canvas, etc.

Non-metallic laser engraver is suitable for materials such as wood products, paper, leather, cloth, plexiglass, epoxy resin, acrylic, wool, plastic, rubber, ceramic tiles, marble, crystal, jade, bamboo products and other non-metallic materials.

The CNC engraving machine has a very wide range of applications and can be applied to various fields and industries, and is suitable for engraving and cutting of various materials (except for materials with low melting points).

CNC engraver can be applied to furniture, decoration, musical instruments, handicrafts, molds, signs, souvenirs, and processable materials including wood, foam, acrylic, plastic, PVC, ABS, stone, imitation stone, marble, aluminum-plastic panel, copper, Aluminum, and other soft metal materials.


In short, the laser engraver uses laser melting or burning method to engrave, and the CNC router uses digital technology to control the cutter or the laser head and the ultrasonic head for engraving. The laser engraving machine can be a CNC carving machine. The CNC engraving machine can also be equipped with a laser head for engraving. The two are intersecting, and they are in an intersecting relationship.

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