The best Glowforge alternative competitors that are cheaper
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9 Glowforge Alternatives for Cheaper Laser Cutting

Last update: December 2022
Best overall
  • Host of compatible accessories
  • Feature-rich control software
  • Excellent construction
Best high-end
  • BeamStudio software is easy to use
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Arrives fully assembled and calibrated out of the box
Best on a budget
  • Compact size and strong build quality
  • Affordable pricing
  • Works with rotary attachment

Glowforge has quickly gained popularity amongst hobbyists and Etsy creators looking for a high-quality laser engraver. Its sleek design, premium features, and ease of use make it an ideal fit for beginners and occasional home use.

Despite that, its high price and lack of software compatibility put it out of reach for many users. Luckily, there are several great alternatives to the Glowforge Pro and Glowforge plus. These not only have a lower cost but still offer excellent quality and features compared to the Glowforge models.

In this article, we’ll go over the most popular Glowforge alternatives available right now. No matter your budget, workflow, or preference, we’ve included a laser engraver/cutter that matches your needs.

If you’re looking for a high-quality laser engraver that’s more affordable than a Glowforge, keep reading!

SUMMARY
Glowforge AlternativeWork AreaLaser TypePowerPrice (~)Best Offer
FSL Muse Core 40W/45W20" x 12"
(508 x 305 mm)
CO240W / 45W$3499
FLUX BeamBox Pro 50W23.6" x 14.7"
(600 x 375 mm)
CO250W$5799
OMTech 40W8" x 12"
(200 x 300 mm)
CO240W$449
Gweike Cloud 50W20.08" x 11.8"
(510 x 300 mm)
CO250W$2850
TEN-HIGH 3020 40W12" x 8"
(300 x 200 mm)
CO240W$1945
Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro 15.7" x 15.7"
(400 x 400 mm)
Semiconductor10W$449
Cricut Maker 311.8" x 141.8"
(300 x 3600 mm)
N/AN/A$429
Snapmaker 2.0 A350T12.6" x 13.8" x 13.8"
(320 × 350 × 330 mm)
Semiconductor1.6W / 10W$1799
Inventables X-Carve29.5” x 29.5” x 4.5”
(750 x 750 x 114 mm)
N/AN/A$2599

Why Not Buy a Glowforge?

Before we look at the alternatives to Glowforge laser cutters, it’s crucial to understand their downside. This evaluation will help you to decide if Glowforge’s drawbacks are important enough for you to consider a different laser cutting machine.

High Price 

The sleek and sophisticated design and quality features of a Glowforge machine come with a hefty price tag, with its “Pro” model costing almost $7000. Even the Glowforge Basic has a price tag of $3995 and does not come with an air filter by default.

Despite the high price, Glowforge laser cutters don’t come with basic features, like an air filter, by default. On top of that, if you want to use Glowforge’s premium software, you are expected to pay a monthly $50 subscription fee.

Comparing this to other laser machines, such as the FSL Muse laser cutter and the FLUX BeamBox Pro, a Glowforge might not provide good value for average users. Its high initial investment with monthly recurring costs is just not affordable for users looking from solely a hobby perspective.

Limited Cutting Depth 

All Glowforge laser machines have a cutting depth of merely 2″ (50 mm). If you include a material tray, this is further reduced to 0.5″ (13 mm). This short working height limits you to working with materials that are relatively thin.

Cloud-based software 

Glowforge machines come with free web-based software that runs on your web browser, and it needs a continuous internet connection to function. Therefore, you cannot use the software (and thus the machine) without a Wi-Fi or internet connection in your workplace.

For users who want to use their machine in a remote shed or basement without an internet connection, a Glowforge alternative might be a better solution.

Noisy Fan 

The internal fan within the Glowforge is noisy, and during operation, the noise levels hover around 70dB. It can be uncomfortable for some to monitor and work in the same room as your machine with such high noise levels.

Technically, you can replace the inbuilt fan with a quieter fan and minimize this issue. But it is an added cost over an already expensive laser machine. Plus it is likely to void your warranty, which you don’t really want when paying this much.

When is a Glowforge Still a Good Option?

The drawbacks of a Glowforge laser aren’t everything, and for many users, the benefits may outweigh them. Let’s understand some of the advantages of the Glowforge models and understand when it still makes sense for many to get one.

Ease of use

Glowforge machines are user-friendly for kids, beginners, and professionals alike. Their entire workflow is easy for anyone to use, and the cloud software ties everything together nicely.

The premium build quality also makes the laser cutter appealing to users without making it seem like an industrial laser cutting machine. If you are looking for a “lifestyle” laser cutter that looks good in your home and is easy to use, the Glowforge is a great solution.

Laser Autofocus 

The Glowforge has internal built-in cameras that help you with automatic focusing of the laser beam on the material’s surface. It precisely measures and calibrates the height of the material and adjusts the lens’ height accordingly.

This is an amazing feature that removes the need to micromanage the focus of the laser module and lets you get on with other important things, like making cool laser cutting projects!

CO2 Laser 

CO2 laser cutting machines are powerful enough to engrave and cut various materials while being compact and relatively affordable. The Glowforge Pro has a 45W CO2 laser tube that’s more than sufficient for hobby, crafting, and light manufacturing purposes.

The Glowforge Basic and the Plus models come with a 40W laser that’s still adequate for many applications and provides nearly the same material compatibility.

Infinite Working Length

The Glowforge Pro model features a passthrough function that gives you an infinite working length for your materials. You can cut and engrave on lengthy materials in a single pass without breaking your workpiece or worrying about your parts’ alignment.

This feature comes in particularly handy for long work objects and gives you added flexibility in your projects. It also removes the need to pre-cut long sections of feedstock to more manageable dimensions.

Glowforge Model Basic Plus Pro
Power 40W 40W 45W
Top Speed Standard
2x 3x
Warranty (months) 6 12 12
Passthrough No No Yes
Price Check Check Check

Best Glowforge Alternatives for Laser Cutting and Laser Engraving

Best overall
The FSL Muse Core Glowforge alternative
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The Muse Core from Full Spectrum Laser (FSL) is a complete, well-rounded laser cutter machine built for makers. It is the company’s most affordable CO2 laser machine, yet comes loaded with features and accessories that rival its more pricey competitors. As such, it is an excellent Glowforge alternative.

FSL has integrated a linear rail motion system in the Muse Core, which results in precise motion and helps with the rigidity of the Core’s frame. There’s a total working area of 20″ x 12″ (300 x 200 mm) and you get a depth of about 2.5″ (63.5 mm) with the Muse laser cutter.

Even though this is already more than what you get on Glowforge lasers, you can extend its working depth with its ‘Riser accessory’ and execute even deeper laser beam cuts. This is a feature that’s lacking on Glowforge machines.

Its RetinaEngrave software comes bundled with the Core and works on an internal server. You don’t need to install any files, nor do you need an internet connection, as the software works right in your browser. The software comes loaded with features and delivers a smooth workflow with an easy-to-use experience.

Its removable working floor is another benefit over the Glowforge models. By removing it, you can laser engrave/cut under the machine and work on giant workpieces. Because this works in two dimensions, this is superior to Glowforge’s pass-through slot.

The Muse Core is compatible with a rotary module that comes as a separate accessory. The team at FSL has designed the Core to be compatible with several additional accessories, further extending the laser cutter’s capabilities.

Designed for beginners and hobbyists, the FSL Muse Core is, in our opinion, the best Glowforge alternative on the list. For under $4000, the machine is a plug-n-play device that is ideal for homes, MakerSpaces, and for small prototyping purposes.

Standout Features

  • Removable working floor
  • Offline browser-based software
  • Integrated guiding laser

Technical Details

Working area 20" x 12" (508 x 305 mm)
Laser type CO2 Laser tube
Laser power 40W or 45W
Material compatibility Wood, Acrylic, Fabric, Cardboard, Paper, Natural leather, Stone, Glass, Rubber.
Connectivity Wi-Fi and Ethernet
Operating system Windows, Mac, Linux

What We Like

  • Host of compatible accessories
  • Feature-rich control software
  • Excellent construction
  • Executes precise cuts with clean edges

Could Be Better

  • No auto-focus or camera
  • Required accessories need to be purchased separately
Find FSL Muse Core 40W/45W at
Best high-end
The FLUX Beam Box Pro laser cutter
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As one of the best Glowforge alternatives on the list, the FLUX BeamBox Pro is feature-packed for small businesses and enthusiasts. Leading Flux’s laser cutters lineup, the BeamBox Pro gets all the premium features you expect from a high-end machine.

The entire structure of the FLUX BeamBox is made of metal, with accurate linear rails for its motion. The laser cutter also comes fully assembled out of the box, with its mirrors entirely calibrated in the factory. Within 30 minutes of opening the package, you can start laser engraving and cutting with the machine.

The 50W bundled laser has enough power to cut through 12 mm of wood in a single pass, whereas the total working depth of the BeamBox Pro is around 80 mm. This is plenty for home projects and small business use cases.

Despite its generous work area of 23.6″ x 14.7″ (600 x 375 mm), the BeamBox Pro has enough laser power to get any job done quickly. Compared to the other Glowforge alternatives on this list, the Flux BeamBox stands out with its cutting speed and working depth.

The device has a built-in camera that lets you quickly stitch and position your images on the workpiece. This is another time-saving feature that many professionals will love, as it eliminates the need for manual alignment.

However, the camera lacks auto-focus functionality. So you will still need to set the laser focus manually.

You receive a full-color touchscreen on the top, with a playful and intuitive UI. The included BeamStudio software is easy to use and has several features to fully utilize the laser cutter’s functions. But, it is slightly buggy and fails to offer a seamless and friendly user experience.

Aside from these small nitpicks, the Flux BeamBox Pro is a powerhouse of a laser cutter. It is definitely not cheap, but its features and usability justify its price. For a professional business or a serious hobbyist, the Pro version suits most and meets more than typical workflow demands.

Standout Features

  • Large working area
  • Built-in camera
  • Large full-color touchscreen

Technical Details

Working area 23.6"x 14.7" (600 x 375 mm)
Laser type CO2 Laser
Laser power 50W
Material compatibility Acrylic, Wood, Leather, Plastic, Fabrics, Glass, Rubber, Cork, Brick, Granite, Marble, Aluminum, Stainless Steel
Connectivity Wi-Fi/Ethernet

What We Like

  • BeamStudio software is easy to use
  • Wide material compatibility
  • Arrives fully assembled and calibrated out of the box
  • Great user reviews and experience

Could Be Better

  • Air filter needs to be purchased separately
  • No autofocus despite a camera
Find FLUX BeamBox Pro 50W at
Best on a budget
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Not everyone has the budget to spend thousands of dollars on a Glowforge laser engraver. Especially if you just want to use it for hobby purposes. The OMTech 40W laser cutter precisely addresses this issue. It is one of the cheapest and most popular K40 lasers and comes in at an affordable $449.

The OMTech 40W is a compact laser engraving machine with a modest working area of 8″ x 12″ (200 x 300 mm). It might not be the most generous workspace, but it is sufficient for engraving and cutting things like photo frames, Christmas ornaments, personal accessories, small gifts, and other household items.

There’s an inbuilt exhaust system that vents out the air easily. But, the machine misses out on a laser cooling system which you’ll need to purchase separately from OMTech.

The included LaserDRW software goes well with the laser cutter and is relatively easy to use for beginners. If you want to use Lightburn, however, you’ll need to upgrade the electronics with a Lightburn-compatible motherboard. Not ideal, but it keeps the price down for those who don’t need it.

Not surprisingly, the OMTech 40W does not come with an air assist system by default, which would’ve helped improve the engraving and cutting results.

The red dot guidance system, on the other hand, works well and is a handy solution to quickly position the laser beam. It’s not something we have seen in more expensive laser engravers with the same work area, like the Two Trees TS3.

This K40 laser from OMTech is well-known in the maker community, and you get a decent laser engraver for an affordable price. It is an excellent Glowforge alternative for beginners and business owners who’re on a budget and want to get started with laser machines for their projects.

Standout Features

  • Digital Control & Temperature LCD
  • Red Dot Guidance
  • Built-In Ventilation

Technical Details

Working area 8"x 12" (200 x 300mm)
Laser type CO2 Laser
Laser power 40W
Material compatibility Acrylic, Wood, Leather, Plastic, Fabrics, Glass, Rubber, Cork, Brick, Granite, Marble, Tile, River Rock, Bone, Melamine, Phenolic, Aluminum, Stainless Steel
Connectivity Ethernet, USB

What We Like

  • Compact size and strong build quality
  • Affordable pricing
  • Works with rotary attachment

Could Be Better

  • No air assist compressor
  • Incompatible with Lightburn software
  • Limited working depth
Find OMTech 40W at
Best value
The Gweike Cloud 50W laser engraver and cutter
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You’d hardly find a 50W CO2 laser cutter under $3000 that’s as well-built and as good as the Gweike Cloud laser machine. It competes directly with the other laser cutting machines in this and is among the best alternatives to Glowforge laser.

The solid metal construction is complemented well by its linear rails, and the white color adds to the premium look of the machine. There’s a 5MP camera within the working area to preview your designs on the workspace and to help you autofocus the laser.

Its built-in camera can recognize material QR codes, so the machine’s software automatically configures all the laser engraving and cutting settings you need to get the best results. Of course, this does require you to buy the manufacturer-supplied materials, or purchase separate QR code stickers for your material.

The Gweike Cloud 50W comes with a separate cooling water pump that you can conveniently place beside the machine. Also included is an air exhaust system fitted with a HEPA air filter to remove harmful fumes and toxic gasses from the laser process.

For increased ease of use, this laser cutter has both Wi-Fi connectivity and is compatible with Lightburn software. As the material is fed through a slot in the bottom, you can technically configure the laser cutter for the passthrough feature, giving you unlimited working length.

Its quality control is something that can be improved, however, with some users reporting issues with things like the exhaust port seal. These seem to be mostly minor issues, but it’s best to be aware of them before you purchase the machine.

In terms of value for money, not many other laser cutting machines can beat the Gweike Cloud 50W. Its features, solid construction, and ease of use make it a superb Glowforge alternative that is suitable for professionals, educational institutes, and beginners alike.

Standout Features

  • Bottom feeding design
  • Live camera preview
  • HEPA filtration system
  • Intelligent material recognition

Technical Details

Working area 20.08"x 11.8"(510 x 300 mm)
Laser type CO2
Laser power 50W
Material compatibility Wood, Acrylic, Delrin, Plastic, Melamine, Rubber, MDF, Paper, Fabric, Cloth, Leather, Cork, Glass.
Connectivity Wi-Fi, USB, Ethernet

What We Like

  • Wide compatibility of control software
  • Advanced camera features
  • Automatic material settings configuration
  • Supports passthrough function

Could Be Better

  • Improper exhaust port seal in some units
Find Gweike Cloud 50W at
Best K40 laser machine
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K40 Chinese lasers have a poor reputation regarding the build quality and user experience. But, the Ten-High 3020 40W laser engraver is an exception with improved construction, features, and still a relatively affordable price.

The laser engraver comes in a compact, all-inclusive metal box design that fits snugly on your desktop. There are four work area options, ranging from 300 x 200 mm to 400 x 600 mm. And while the machine appears strikingly similar to any other K40 laser cutter, the inclusion of THK linear guides and a belt drive helps the Ten-High to achieve a better quality.

Its 40W CO2 laser is powerful enough to engrave and cut on materials like wood, bamboo, acrylic, leather, and paper. The mirror assembly is also calibrated right out of the box, and included is an air assist system to help with the removal of debris and fumes

The TEN-HIGH 3020, however, misses out on a cooling system for the laser, and you’ll have to arrange for an external chiller unit. The included display also feels outdated and is limiting in terms of its features.

Despite its shortcomings, the Ten-high laser cutter falls in a sweet spot between cheap Chinese K40 laser machines and prosumer laser cutters. It makes for an excellent first laser machine to use in garages and for hobbyists looking for a decently-built device.

Standout Features

  • Fast engraving speeds
  • High-quality construction
  • Pre-calibrated mirror assembly

Technical Details

Working area 12" x 8" (300 x 200 mm)
Laser type CO2
Laser power 40W
Material compatibility Wood, Acrylic, Delrin, Plastic, Melamine, Rubber, MDF, Paper, Fabric, Cloth, Leather, Cork, Glass.
Connectivity USB, Ethernet

What We Like

  • Solid build quality in compact form
  • Easily compatible with 3rd party software
  • Easily adjustable laser focus

Could Be Better

  • No air filtration
  • Quality control issues
Find TEN-HIGH 3020 40W at
Best under $1000

Amongst diode lasers, hardly any laser cutting machines come close to delivering the same value as the Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro. It has a simple V-slot design yet a robust build quality. And its simplicity in terms of use makes it approachable for beginners and hobbyists alike.

The laser cutter has an open-frame design and is partially a DIY build. As such, you’ll have to spend some time assembling the various components out of the box. Once ready, you can use the 10W laser module to engrave within a large 15.7″ x 15.7″ in (400 x 400 mm) working area.

Ortur claims high laser engraving speeds of up to 10,000 mm/min, letting you truly execute high-speed engraving. For laser cutting, you will need to go a bit slower.

The Laser Master is built with safety in mind. You get an emergency stop button, flame detection, active position protection, and a safety cover around the laser module. On a laser engraver and cutter with such a low price, we are happy to see these features included.

Various accessories, like an extension kit are available on Ortur’s website, allowing you to extend its working capabilities. As it’s an open-frame machine, Ortur has a separate metal enclosure for the Laser Master. It comes with an integrated ventilation system and is beneficial for reducing laser fumes.

Altogether, the Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro is designed for hobbyists and semi-professionals who are on a budget and don’t need the high power of the CO2 laser cutting machines. It is a perfect machine for simple laser engraving jobs and the occasional wood and acrylic cutting work.

Standout Features

  • 10,000 mm/min engraving speeds
  • 0.06 mm fine laser focus
  • Extendable open-frame design

Technical Details

Working area 15.7"x 15.7"(400 x 400 mm)
Laser type Semiconductor laser
Laser power 10 W
Control software Laser GRBL, LightBurn
Material compatibility Wood, Acrylic, Delrin, Plastic, Melamine, Rubber, MDF, Paper, Fabric, Cloth, Leather, Cork, Glass
Connectivity USB, Ethernet
Operating system Windows, Mac, Linux

What We Like

  • Large engraving area
  • Safety first machine design
  • High quality components at low price
  • Several compatible accessories available

Could Be Better

  • Requires extensive assembly
  • Limited options for connectivity and control
Find Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro LU2-10A + Enclosure at
Best cutting machine alternative
Check Price

The Cricut Maker 3 is not a laser engraver nor a CNC cutter but falls in a sweet spot between the two. It’s intended more for paper crafting and cutting purposes and comes in a neat, compact form factor. The Maker 3 is the improved version of the original Cricut Maker and has some remarkable features that its predecessor lacked.

For the uninformed, the Cricut Maker 3 uses physical cutting blades to cut and mark materials. You get a fine-point cutting blade with the machine, and numerous other cutting blades are separately available as accessories. These blades can cut paper, fabric, vinyl, and leather.

If your focus is to create crafting projects, the Cricut Maker 3 can be a great Glowforge alternative. It provides different functionality that might be more suitable for your needs.

You’ll also need a cutting mat that serves as a cutting base for your materials. However, if you use Cricut’s smart materials, you can skip the cutting mat and directly insert your materials into the machine.

The Maker 3 is up to 2X faster than the Original Maker and has a cutting speed of up to 8 inches/sec. This makes it one of the fastest machines for cutting fabric, vinyl, and other flexible materials. And the best part is that you don’t need to worry about burn marks, like with a laser machine.

On the software side, the Cricut Maker 3 uses the Design Space app, which works on iPads, Android devices, and desktop PCs. It lets you control the machine from the app, delivering a smooth and easy user experience.

If you’re into crafting hobbies or need stickers for your Etsy projects, the Cricut Maker 3 is the perfect machine for you. For a price of $429, it’s relatively affordable for the average hobbyist, and its vibrant user community serves as an excellent place for anything Cricut related.

Standout Features

  • 300+ materials compatibility
  • Intuitive design software
  • 13 different cutting tools
  • Desktop-friendly size

Technical Details

Working area 300 mm width and 3600 mm length (optional roll holder)
Laser Type N/A
Laser Power N/A
Control software Cricut Design Space
Material compatibility Fabric, paper, leather, mat board, Vinyl, etc.
Connectivity USB, Bluetooth
Operating system Windows, iOS, Android

What We Like

  • App-based machine control
  • No fumes or toxic gasses
  • 8 inch/sec fast cutting speeds
  • No cutting mat required with Cricut smart materials

Could Be Better

  • Restricted to extremely thin materials
  • Proprietary tech leads to additional costs
Find Cricut Maker 3 at
Best 3-in-1 laser cutter alternative

Multi-purpose machines are great for saving space and costs while giving you the benefits of several machining processes. The Snapmaker 2.0 A350T is a leading 3-in-1 3D printer with a modular design and three different tool heads.

You can 3D print materials up to 275 °C in its 3D printing mode. You have an automatic bed leveling system with a flexible, removable print bed. All this makes for a decent 3D printing experience, albeit not as good as a dedicated 3D printer.

The 1.6W laser module lets you do basic laser engraving on leather, wood, plastic, and acrylics. For laser cutting, it can only deal with 3 mm and thinner materials. However, Snapmaker allows you to upgrade to a 10W laser module that gives you the ability to laser cut many things that the 1.6W module can’t.

Its CNC carving module uses an ER11 collet that takes 0.5 mm/0.02″ to 6.35 mm/0.25″ drill bits. At 50W, it is not very powerful, but it is enough for basic stuff.

Additionally, you receive a MDF waste board with threads and clamp sets that firmly secure your workpiece on the work bed.

Snapmaker’s Luban software unifies everything in a single place, and you can prepare files for different processes within a single application. The 5-inch touch screen’s UI is based on Android OS and is snappy and highly intuitive to use.

Overall, the machine is fairly slow to use, and is not as versatile as three separate machines would be. However, if you want to use all these functionalities but do not have the space for different devices, the Snapmaker A350T is a great alternative. Its smaller sibling, the A250T, is worth looking at as well.

Standout Features

  • Built-in camera for laser module
  • Durable construction
  • All-in-one Snapmaker Luban software
  • Enclosed motion drive systems

Technical Details

Working area 320 x 350 x 330 mm
Laser Type Semiconductor laser
Laser Power 1.6W
Control software Snapmaker Luban
Material compatibility PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, Wood, leather, plastic, fabric, paper, cork, acrylic, epoxy, etc.
Connectivity Wi-Fi, USB cable, USB flash drive
Operating system Windows, macOS, Linux

What We Like

  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Large 5 inch intuitive touch screen
  • 3-in-1 functionality
  • Wide software compatibility

Could Be Better

  • Enclosure with air filtration comes separately
  • Comparatively low laser power
  • Hassle to switch between manufacturing methods
Find Snapmaker 2.0 A350T 3-in-1 3D Printer at
Best CNC alternative
The Inventables X-carve CNC machine
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CNC machines offer you better flexibility when it comes to engraving and cutting your designs at a low cost. The Inventables X-Carve CNC machine is designed for hobbyists who need to turn their hobby into a viable business.

It features a large working area of 29.5″ x 29.5″ (750 x 750 x 114 mm) and has an impressive cutting depth of 4.5″. A Makita RT0701C router comes included with the machine and delivers an excellent cutting performance with 1 ¼ HP of power and speeds between 10,000 – 30,000 RPM. Inventables include a dust-collection system in the box, which helps you keep the workspace relatively clean.

The machine has an open-frame design and houses the cutting router on an ACME lead screw with linear rail guides. This design helps with easy maintenance, and the drive system ensures rigidity while not compromising the CNC cutter’s precision.

One of the main highlights is the supplied Easel Pro software with the X-Carve. The software is loaded with features for you to prepare your designs and operate the machine from a web browser. You can choose from several designs in the Inventables library or create your custom designs right in the software.

Inventables wants to make CNC machining accessible and affordable to its users and turn hobbyists into professionals. The X-Carve CNC cutter is designed with this philosophy and will be an excellent machine to keep in your garage or start your CNC machining journey.

Standout Features

  • Dust collection system
  • Powerful NEMA 23 Stepper motors
  • Makita RT0701C Router with 1-¼ HP

Technical Details

Working area 29.5" x 29.5" x 4.5" (750 x 750 x 114 mm)
CNC spindle power 1-¼HP
No load speed 10,000-30,000 RPM
Control software Easel Pro
Material compatibility Hardwoods, softwoods, MDF, Plywoods, HDPE, Delrin, Polycarbonate, Acrylic, Corian, Aluminum, Brass, Copper
Connectivity Ethernet
Operating system Windows, macOS, Linux

What We Like

  • Large working area
  • Powerful Makita router on linear guide rails
  • Included dust collection system
  • Wide compatibility with various accessories
  • 3-year Easel Pro subscription

Could Be Better

  • Enclosure not available
  • Requires extensive assembly
  • Limited connectivity options
Find Inventables X-Carve at

What to Pay Attention to When Buying a Glowforge Alternative

Laser Power

The Glowforge Pro comes with a 45W CO2 laser which is more than enough for laser engraving and cutting for hobby purposes. When selecting a laser engraver, the higher the laser wattage, the better its performance. More power means you are able to cut through thicker materials and work at higher speeds.

Another advantage of a high-wattage laser is that you won’t have to run it at full power. It will help to improve your laser life and reduce your maintenance costs.

A 10W laser, like the Ortur Laser Master 2 and the Snapmaker 2.0 with 10W module, is sufficient for basic laser engraving and lighter cuts. You’ll not get a higher working speed, however, and often you’ll be limited in terms of materials.

In contrast, the FSL Muse CoreOMtech 40W, and Gweike Cloud alternatives to Glowforge will significantly reduce your work times and let you cut up to 12mm thick wood in a single pass.

Work Area 

The work area of the laser directs the length and width of the materials you can cut on it. A more extensive work area will occupy more floor space in your workshop or garage but will let you work on large projects.

On the other hand, a smaller work area creates more compact laser engraving machines. But this limits your applications. If later on, you realize that you need a more extensive work area, you might have to purchase another machine.

Manufacturers have found a workaround for this limited work area by incorporating the passthrough features in their laser cutters. Essentially, it gives compact laser engraving machines an infinite workpiece length

This feature comes in handy for lengthy designs like surfboards, frames, and other objects that extend beyond the laser’s work volume.

With most Glowforge alternatives, this passthrough feature only works in one direction. It can also introduce issues with alignment of the cuts of multiple sections. Because of that, it is not as ideal as having a larger work area in the first place.

The GweikeCloud laser cutter has a passthrough feature with a big working area of 20.08″ (510 mm) x 11.8″ (300 mm). The BeamBox ProOrtur Laser Master 2 Pro, and the Inventables X-Carve are some of the other alternatives to Glowforge with a big working area.

Enclosure

A laser cutter enclosure restricts gasses and fumes emitted during the machining processes within a contained area. It also keeps all the dust and dirt in the work area and aids in easier cleaning of the machine. And if you’re working in the same space as the machine, the enclosure minimizes the noise levels to let you work more quietly.

The enclosure also acts as a protective shield for laser engravers and filters out laser radiation from reaching your eyes. Especially if you’re going to use the laser cutter with kids or pets around, an enclosure will act as a barrier and prevent any unnecessary mishaps.

Aside from the Inventables X-Carve and the Ortur Laser Master 2 Pro, all other Glowforge alternatives come with an enclosure. With the Snapmaker 2.0 A350T, you can get it as a separate accessory, so this is an extra cost to take into account.

Material Compatibility

Laser engraving and CNC carving cover a wide array of materials, and you’re spoilt for choices with these machines. Wider material compatibility ensures you’re well-equipped to work on various projects and cover a vast range of applications.

Wood, bamboo, acrylic, plastics, paper, and leather are some very common materials you need to ensure for your laser engravers. And almost every machine on this list can efficiently work with these materials.

With the Cricut Maker 3, you can cut vinyl, fabric, and paper materials without worrying about fumes, gasses, or burn marks. The Inventables X-Carve and the Snapmaker 2.0 A350T further enhance material compatibility with their 3D printing and CNC machining capabilities.

Note: PVC, PolyCarbonate, FiberGlass, and Carbon fiber are unsuitable materials for laser machining. These materials emit toxic gasses; you should be wary of working with these on your laser cutter.

Accessories

Accessories extend the machine’s capabilities and let you utilize them in more than one way. For example, a 4th-axis rotary attachment module lets you engrave and cut cylindrical objects.

While the Glowforge itself does not have an option for a rotary attachment, almost all of these Glowforge alternatives do.

Similarly, exhaust and cooling systems are necessary to work with these laser machines efficiently. Not only that, but it also extends the life of the machine and the laser.

While you can arrange for these accessories separately, the best laser cutter machines typically already arrive with some.

The Snapmaker 2.0 A350TCricut Maker 3, and the Inventables X-Carve have a load of accessories specifically designed for them. These accessories will ease your machining processes and help you extract the most from these devices.

Software Compatibility

Glowforge uses proprietary web-based software for preparing and controlling the machine. The software is highly dependent on an internet connection, and if you need an upgraded version, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription of $50. It adds to the recurring costs of the machine and might discourage many non-professional users from purchasing the laser engraver altogether.

It helps if your laser cutting machine is compatible with as many software options as possible. A web-based software might not be ideal, as you often will need an internet connection in your workspace.

But, if it’s something like that of the FSL Core Muse’s browser-based software, you’re at an advantage. The software is hosted locally and can control the machine using any device. Similarly, Snapmaker’s Luban and GweikeCloud’s offline software give you great features without needing an internet connection.

LightburnLaserGRBL, and Inkscape are some of the popular laser engraving software you need to look for compatibility with when buying a laser engraver.

Frequently Asked Questions

What laser is similar to a Glowforge?

The FSL Muse Core 40W is a laser engraver that’s very similar to the Glowforge. Both these machines use CO2 laser tubes, have a 40W output power, and can engrave materials up to 12 x 20 inches.

Which is better, a CNC or a Glowforge?

If you’re looking for a machine that can do more than just laser engraving, you should go for a home CNC machine. A CNC will let you work with wood, plastics, and metals. And you can also use it for 3D carving and milling.

You can adapt a CNC machine for laser engraving and cutting, but doing the reverse with a Glowforge is not possible. So, in terms of versatility, a CNC router is a better option.

However, if you’re looking for a machine that’s solely for laser cutting and engraving, the Glowforge is a better option. It’s easier to use and doesn’t make a mess like a CNC machine does.

Is a Glowforge worth the investment?

Whether a Glowforge is worth it depends on your use case. If you will use the laser cutter a lot, a Glowforge will most certainly pay for itself over time. However, there are still better value alternatives out there. Especially if you do not plan on using it excessively.

Is OMTech better than Glowforge?

OMTech laser engravers are quite good for their price and their desktop series provide excellent value. Overall, they do not offer the same functionality as the Glowforge models, and therefore can’t be considered better.

Conclusion: Which Glowforge Alternative to Get?

A Glowforge laser cutter is excellent for users who need a premium quality machine that’s easy to use and comes with a rich set of features. But, its high pricing, recurring software costs, and limited working depth mean that it is not the best laser cutter for many.

From the long list of machines, we find that the FSL Muse Core is the best Glowforge alternative currently available. It has comparable features and a competitive price and delivers an excellent laser engraving and cutting performance with its 40W CO2 laser.

Alternatively, the BeamBox Pro is the best Glowforge alternative in the high-end category if you want all the features of a Glowforge and some more. It is excellent for professionals and hobbyists alike, but you should be ready to spend on it.

Lastly, the GweikeCloud Laser cutter is the best Glowforge alternative for its price. It features an AI camera, offline software control, an air filter, and even a passthrough function, all at under $3000.

What are your thoughts on the Glowforge and its alternatives? Are you considering using these machines? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Pranav

    Pranav is an avid maker and DIY enthusiast who specializes in 3D printing. He’s built and operated 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser engravers. He is also familiar with most other machines that you’d find in a MakerSpace. In his free time, you can find him on the road cycling or reading in a corner.

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