Relatively inexpensive laser / router / other for cutting thin materials?

Looking for something under $1K if possible… I realize at that price the work areas might be relatively small.

Just wondering if anyone has recommendations for a laser cutter / router for thin materials, e.g. 1/8" plywood, corrugated cardboard, basswood, balsa, heavy card stock, etc.

I don’t have any CNC programming knowledge so would prefer something that doesn’t require too much homework :slight_smile:

I don’t have any CNC programming knowledge so would prefer something that doesn’t require too much homework

You only get 2 eyes and 10 fingers… unless you really dislike them, I would reconsider this stance.

At the price range you’re talking about seems to me you need to be looking at building one(workbee, Maslow, shapeoko, lowrider), but that’s of course even more homework, but the benefits are many. See if you have a fablab nearby where someone might be experienced in that already.


I mean, I can learn a bit, of course. I just don’t want to have to take 10 weeks of night courses to cut some lines…

(Really, it’s more that I want a visual interface… a place I used to work had industrial CNC that required lots of lines of code. Sometimes the manufacturing engineers didn’t see the results of updates until it was processed, or whatever.)

I’d actually get a Maslow if I had enough room, but need to start small for now.

Just recently saw the Laserpecker, which seems to be easy to use but also requires it own app. Made me think I want to avoid somehting requiring proprietary software, so learning may be required…

As far as building one goes, that’s no problem.

you may want to look at this comparison:

But also consider of checking out local fablabs, common / shared workshops, repair café, etc…

A cheap machine might have not very nice dust/smoke handling, bad cutting results - and by using a shared workshop you save space, money and can use professional machinery.

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If you’re really keen on having it at home I would think about any aluminium extrusion based CNCs, you can extend it easily in the future and would know how to fix it and diagnose it if anything goes wrong without relying on call-outs or warranty, depending on where you’re based will determine what’s available. The nice part is that you can use a normal router which can also be used for other tasks too instead of having a dedicated spindle for it - and the opportunity to upgrade, build, augment will always be there as your needs inevitably change.

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