What is the difference between Laser Engraving Machine and CNC Router


Anyone interested in becoming a Maker has gone through the process of deciding on what machine they should get. There are a lot of possibilities depending on what you would like to accomplish. So, that’s where it comes down to a Laser Engraving Machine vs CNC Router. While they’re not exactly the same, each one offers a tremendous cutting ability depending on the machine you purchase.


Since each of them has its own benefits, it is not a simple answer as to which is better. So, we will now take a look at the main differences in a Laser Engraving Machine vs CNC Router.


Lasers can cut through almost every material that a CNC router is capable of engraving. But, some materials like PVC, ABS, polypropylene foam, etc. can’t be engraved through a laser machine.


A computer numerical control (CNC) router is a computer-controlled cutting machine that typically mounts a hand-held router as a spindle that is used for cutting various materials, such as wood, composites, aluminum, steel, plastics, glass, and foams. CNC routers can perform the tasks of many carpentry shop machines such as the panel saw, the spindle molder, and the boring machine. They can also cut joineries such as mortises and tenons.

laser engraving machine

laser engraving machine


When it is about the speed of these two engraving machines, there isn’t much difference. The speed at which these machines perform depends on many factors like the material used, the design, and so on. Laser machines can have better precision due to the fact that it isn’t directly coming in contact with the material, unlike a CNC Router. However, CNC routers can be considered quicker because they are able to take bigger passes while cutting material like wood.


Laser cutters move at a rapid pace but require many more passes in its tool path compared to a CNC machine. Because a CNC can use various tool diameters, it can sometimes do an engraving much quicker than a laser engraver.


A CNC router can be used to produce items such as door carvings, interior and exterior decorations, wood panels, signboards, wooden frames, moldings, musical instruments, furniture. In addition, they see use in industry in the thermoforming of plastics by automating the trimming process. CNC routers can help ensure part repeatability and sufficiently efficient output for production, or allow one-off designs to be made.


A laser engraving machine can be used to produce items such as direct laser engraving of flexographic plates and cylinders, direct photopolymer laser imaging, laser engraving of anilox rolls and sub-surface laser engraving (SSLE). Since 2009, the use of SSLE has become more cost-effective to produce 3D images in souvenir ‘crystal’ or promotional items. A number of companies offer custom-made souvenirs by taking 3D pictures or photos and engraving them into the crystal.



There is no question that both these types of machinery are fantastic for your manufacturing unit. It seems like lasers are favorites but it comes down to your specific needs. Laser engravers cost higher but have extra whistles and bells. A CNC router may not engrave creative and precise designs like the laser but gives you simpler designs for a cheap price. Sometimes, this is what you may want from this kind of machine.