3D Printer VS Laser Engraver: Which One Should You Choose?

3D printers and laser engravers are two innovative technologies allowing you to create interesting results. However, many people are still unsure how to use them to the best of their abilities. 

In the debate between a 3D printer vs laser engraver, which is the right choice for you? We will explore the benefits and disadvantages of each kind of technology in this article, so keep reading to learn more about both!

What is a 3D Printer?

3D Printer VS Laser Engraver

A 3D printer is a machine that can create 3D models using materials like plastic and resin. You can use this technology to create intricate designs, using a layering technique. 

A 3D printer uses a scientific sequence and places the materials you choose layer by layer using the presets you have decided on. This layer-by-layer process creates complex 3D shapes from a sequence of digital commands.

This method is most commonly used for three-dimensional objects that are a little more complicated to make than with traditional techniques. Plastic is the most common material you can use with these types of machines, however, you can also use resin as well. 

There is a lot of interest in expanding the work that a 3D printer can do. For example, there is research being done into using soft metals, glass, and even using concrete to get ahead with even more creative designs and materials. 

While the most common use of a 3D printer is for industrial purposes, they are also used in certain manufacturing processes to create unique products with cool designs, especially with artists looking to expand their design skills. 

The future of 3D printing is very bright – we are sure to see rapid advancements within this manufacturing process. 

What is a Laser Engraver?

3D Printer VS Laser Engraver

A laser engraver is a method of creating interesting designs on a wide range of materials using laser beams that indent the surface of the particular material. The process of laser engraving uses the same core concepts as laser cutting

A laser printer uses the high heat and energy from the laser beam to divert energy in a specific way to create certain lines and patterns.

You will most commonly see this happen through the use of CO2 laser machines. They are capable of handling materials such as wood, glass, acrylic and other plastic, and much more. 

Other types of laser cutters can be used, such as diode lasers, UV laser machines, and fiber laser cutters that are best for engraving metals.

When it comes to laser engraving, you can create designs with a much greater range of items. The laser technology shines a beam of light onto your material. The light is amplified so it becomes more potent, creating a design. 

When using a laser engraver, you will need a laser cutting beam, a controller, and a flat surface that is suitable for the laser module. 

The flat surface can then move using an X and Y axis as defined by the laser engraving module to create the design you are looking for. 

3D Printer vs. Laser Engraver: A Comparison

While they may often be presented as technologies that compete with each other, the fact of the matter is that 3D printing and laser engraving are two separate processes that complement each other.

For example, many people choose to print out 3D objects using their 3D printer and then use a laser engraver to create dynamic and interesting designs on the surface of that object.

However, if you want to compare the way 3D printers and laser engravers work, let’s take a closer look at how they differ from each other, and how important these differences are for the work you intend to do using these two kinds of technologies. 

Ultimately, what matters is how the finished product looks, and how these two technologies can have an impact on the print quality, the cost, and more. 

The Manufacturing Process

One of the biggest differences between 3D printing and using a laser engraver is understanding that 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process, which means that this process is adding something new to an object and creating a product that is growing rather than being reduced or merely altered.

Laser engraving, on the other hand, is subtractive. That means you are removing parts of the block of material to create a new product you need at the end of the process. 

3D printing is going to enable you to layer the materials bit by bit, however, the laser printing process uses a combination of different services to get the desired product. 

Ultimately, the method they use to manufacture is completely different. 

Use in the Printing Industry and More

There is a reason why 3D printing is more common in the printing industry –  you are much less likely to find laser engraving systems as easily. The fact is that most of these systems, such as CNC & laser cutters, are typically used for creating art or jewelry. 

However, outside of this, 3D printing systems are highly useful in various industries and have an important role to play in many other systems and processes. 

Ability to Use Materials

You can use laser cutting in various scenarios, so it can be quite useful for many reasons. One factor that influences people to use a laser-cutting service is that you can use it on so many readily available materials. 

For example, you can use a laser cutter with wood, which can be a highly economical system since wood is cheap, accessible, and easy to replace.

If there are any issues or problems with the system, or if you make a mistake while cutting the raw material, that factors into your total costs by a lot. 

On the other hand, a 3D machine uses expensive materials, and if you make mistakes, it can take a lot of time and energy to replace the item you have damaged. 

Creating Replicas

One of the benefits of using a 3D printer is that you can use the 3D scanner to look at the material, and then create as many replicas as you like of something that already exists. 

While you can save the laser cutting module, you cannot make replicas with a laser engraver. This is because there can be so many differences between two products, as the source material can change.

For example, if you are using wood, the wood’s grain and design may be slightly different with each piece. This is not something to worry about with a 3D printer as it can be copied exactly and precisely with each new item – especially if you use the 3D scanner to get accurate information about the original item that you want to replicate. 

Speed of Use

There is no doubt that with either of these machines, you will need to put some work into planning your design and using language the software can understand. In some cases, this is done on the machine itself, while in other cases this happens on third-party software. In either case, once you have the design ready, you need to know the total time that each machine will take to get the work done. 

A laser cutter will be most likely to finish your design faster and in a more precise way. That is because the laser beam gives you far more control, and allows you to carry out the project faster.

This also gives you the ability to create many items in a shorter time, often in one batch, which can make the process of restocking, for example, much easier. 

A 3D printer may struggle a little bit when it comes to the translation of your model onto the 3D object you want to produce. The machine may encounter some issues during the process of printing, which can create unwanted results for the product. 

Sometimes, this may be that there are holes, or the shape isn’t exactly how you would like it. This process also tends to take a lot more time. 

Safety

There are generally very few safety concerns when it comes to using either a laser cutting service or a 3D printer. These are both machines you can use in your workshop – but do keep in mind that you will have to factor in the availability of ventilation to maintain proper air quality.

The CNC and laser cutter may create fumes and smoke as a result of the process, but you can counter that with an exhaust fan or fume extractor. These are typically quiet machines, so you do not need to worry about them creating so much noise that they damage your ears. 

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Cost and Pricing

There are a lot of options out there for both laser cutters and 3D printers, and the price and cost can change depending on the features that you are looking for. 

The cost of operation can, however, be much higher for 3D printers because some of the components can be more expensive than others. For example, the filament in the printer can often add up to high costs.

You will also need to use different colors and types of filaments to get the results you need. Finally, there is also the issue of repair and maintenance. Maintaining a 3D printer can be more expensive as some parts need to be replaced over time. 

That is why most people use these printers to create prototypes instead of manufacturing products on a large scale. So, 3D printers can definitely be more expensive than the typical laser cutter.

The most cost effective option would be to purchase a Multipurpose 3D Printer Laser Engraver which comes complete with a laser engraving head.

Want the best of both worlds then the most cost effective option would be a Multipurpose 3D Printer Laser Engraver. Detailed information can be found here.

Power Use

Your laser printer will typically use less power because it works faster and uses less complicated systems than the average 3D printer. 

Laser printers are generally easy and quick to use because they are cutting over a flat surface, instead of creating a three-dimensional object. This also ties into the use of power for both technologies. 

What is a Multipurpose 3D Printer?

A lot of dull materials, such as filament or resin, may be transformed into amazing artistic masterpieces using 3D printers, which are fantastic tools. The majority of individuals use them to create devices, toys, artwork, figures, or spare components for other machinery (even 3D printers).

The versatile 3D printers are even better than the standard ones, especially for making crafts or gift ideas.
They can perform excellent 3D printing, laser engraving or cutting, and CNC cutting thanks to their replaceable tool heads.

By engraving or carving details into your things after making 3D models of them, you may enhance and transform them into finished works of art.

All you need to do to get started is swap out the printing head for the necessary accessory, such as a laser or CNC head or purchase a multipurpose 3D printer complete with laser engraving module.

If you are looking for the best Multipurpose 3D Printer Laser Engraver then look no further. 
We have compiled all the information you will need here: The Best 3D Printer Laser Engraver

When Should I Use a 3D Printer vs. a Laser Engraver?

Deciding on when to use a 3D printer versus a laser engraver depends on what kind of a finished product you are looking for. A laser engraver can help you create objects that are flat and have clear angles. They can also create more complicated designs and intricate details on the surface. A 3D printer, on the other hand, can help you create complex objects that are solid, small, and have interesting and dynamic shapes. 

You are unlikely to create products through the 3D printer that you can sell because the printing process can be rather slow. This is another reason why you may not use it as a primary system for sales.

Sellers are more likely to use a 3D printer in order to prototype and test out designs, or to create small designs and compartments for items that are used once or twice. 

Laser cutter systems on the other hand play a larger role in creating products for sale. That being said, many artists and manufacturers will use both of these technologies – they can be used together to create interesting objects and shapes with unique and intricate designs. 

In the below YouTube Video you will see there are other ways to bring your ideas to life besides 3D printing.
And is it time to think about what you could achieve with a laser cutter.

Conclusion

Laser engravers and 3D printers are both fascinating machines that can help you take your work to the next level. We hope this article has helped clarify how the two systems can compare and what kind of products they create.