What is the most affordable laser cutter for a beginner?

I really would love to try out laser cutting. ..But have no idea what knowledge it requires. I want to be able to design and cut custom wooden puzzle, laser cut fabric and also to cut felt and foam. I would like to start up a small home business.
Keeping in mind that I have no clue what knowledge it requires and also know that I have 4 kids and will have to have this machine in my home. I do own a silhouette cameo but unfortunately it does not cut felt or wood. It’s a fun machine for cardstock and all…but nothing heavy duty.
So is it safe to have a laser cutter at home with kids?? I mean will the light or whatever that comes off the machine be harmful for my children?
Also how much is the cheapest desktop version?
Will it be able to cut large fabric?
Can it cut 0.5” or 0.75” hard wood?? Would that be pushing my luck??
Please let me know…so I can start saving up for it.
I really really love crafting….but availability of items and affordability is a big issue.

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jʎɐɹ-ɾ1 year ago

Use a makerspace to learn how to use the laser cutter before investing in one. You don't want to spend a lot of money on something that will end up collecting dust, and you'll have the knowledge needed to make an informed purchase.

shazni (author)  jʎɐɹ-ɾ1 year ago

Unfortunately there isn't a makerspace here....wish there was. Every thing I have learned so far...in using machinery and stuff has been by online research and hands n hands on experience. I'm sure there would be online help for that too. ..else I shall ask help from this wonderful community in instructables.com :-)

The most affordable laser cutting to meet your requirement is the chinese K40 laser cutter series. It is waaaay cheaper than what you get for most laser cutter.

But no one will ever suggest going for it because you get what you pay for. It is mostly junk requiring huge amount of effort, knowledge and money to get it working. You're better off buying the ones Kiteman suggested. I liked vanillaforge for to-the-point design and features and low price point.

shazni (author)  Antzy Carmasaic1 year ago


That of couse is a no brainer....I have no knowledge or the money to spend on something I have no clue about!

Well, the cheapest glowforge is $2,395 and Vanillabox is about $1,313. The K40 is about $300. No brainer or not, a lot of people end up buying it and getting trapped wasting money and time trying to make make it work.

shazni (author)  Antzy Carmasaic1 year ago

$1313? Where is that figure? I could not find anywhere where the price was
mentioned....neither did I find a video of the Vanillabox in process.
Would you mind posting the links to both please?

Kiteman's link gives an estimate of £1000 which google says is $1313 once they launch on Kickstarter. I couldn't find any video either. It might be a few months before they launch on kickstarter and many more before they finish and ship it out.

shazni (author)  Antzy Carmasaic1 year ago

Oh, if the price is in that range. ....I can just managed to save up for one. Can't wait to see the video! Hopefully it will be like the Glowforge. !

First off some facts:
For what you want a small diode laser won't do it unless you want to spend an arm and a leg on a high power module.
CO2 lasers are the next best thing and quite affordable.
You can cut wood but 0.5" is over what you would usually do on a hobby level laser system.
Most people work with 3-6mm arcrylic or wood.
Reason is simple: The laser beam won't be a thin line, it forms a cone.
Cheap china models can do what is asked of them but most will require a new controller to fully utilise them.
If you go a bit bigger, in the 50W range you can find machine with a working area of around 40x50cm, some even bigger.
But for those you need to invest far over 2000$ just for the basics.

As for safety:
As long as the machine is closed you won't have to worry about the laser light.
But the fumes need to be handled properly.
Only way to do this is with strong exhaust fans to the outside, if you want to do the right thing for neighbours and nature with some filters.

If have a big router or milling machine already you can "upgrade" most models with a strong diode laser, at least for fabric, foam and thin wood it would work.
Downside is the need for an enclosure with proper exhaust ventilation.

shazni (author)  Downunder35m1 year ago

Thanks for the info...I think I shall
cry...I have a rooftop room with windoors all around...so I guess
ventilation shouldn't be an issue.

The cash is the issue ... and transport...I think if I sell up some stuff I can just get $1000 ...and I can try and save up another 500. Oh well...I can try.

Thanks again.

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