We all know the saying – cheap is expensive. But is this always true? The answer is it depends. While this saying might be true in most cases, there is always the exception. Price should be a determinant when buying anything but it should never be the only determinant. Sometimes, there are some cheaper alternatives that are not only just as good or even better than the expensive alternatives.
With this in mind, are cheap laser engravers any good? Well, it depends on your objectives. A laser engraver can go for as much as $5,000+ (and here are some good ones in this range) but you could also get one for as little as $300. The expensive engravers are usually extremely sophisticated and ideal for pro users. But if you are just a DIY enthusiast or an entrepreneur looking to start a home-based laser engraving business, a cheap laser engraver might actually be all you need.
There is no denying that expensive laser engravers are built better and can, therefore, take on any laser engraving and laser cutting project. But not everyone can afford to cough tens of thousands of dollars for a laser engraver. And that explains why there is a growing demand for cheap laser engravers. Here are a couple of reasons why I believe that a laser engraver doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive for it to be good.
Specialized laser engravers
Laser engravers are typically designed to engrave certain materials. There are engravers that are best suited for metals, others for wood, others for glass, etc. Even though most engravers can be used on a variety of materials, there isn’t a single engraver that is perfect for all materials. So, let’s say you started a laser engraving business specializing in engraving acrylic and leather items and then one of your clients requested that you help them in making branded items for their restaurant. You would need to engrave their signs, their logos, their wooden menus, their chinaware, and their wine glasses. You take the gig only to discover that the laser machine you have cannot handle engraving the wine glasses or the china as well as it handles the wooden menus. What to do?
So, you decide to purchase another laser engraver that is specially built for engraving glass and porcelain. And this is where cheap laser engravers come in handy. It wouldn’t make sense to buy a very expensive laser engraver for doing a single job, without any assurance that you will get similar gigs in the near future. Besides, it wouldn’t make any business sense to buy a second laser engraver if the one you have had already cost you an arm and a leg. If you are looking for a laser engraver for a home-based business, you are better off with the cheap laser engravers.
The intended purpose
Before you make a purchase decision, it is a good idea to, first of all, establish the intended purpose of your laser engraver. Whether you are a craftsman, a DIYer, or an entrepreneur, the best laser engraver for you should not be based on price but based on function. Which materials will you be working on? Who are your target clients? How much do you intend to charge for your services? Will you be making custom items for clients?
Understanding your business model beforehand will go along way into helping you determine if a cheap laser engraver is any good. Here is the question you should answer – can a cheap laser engraver enable me to meet my business objectives? If the answer to this is a definite yes, then it makes no sense to go for the pricey options on the market.
Price is not always indicative of product quality. Sometimes, pricing is more of a branding technique. Some companies actually overprice their products because they want to appeal to the masses who always assume that expensive is synonymous with quality. There are actually some pretty neat laser engravers that cost less than 500 dollars. So how do you know if cheap laser engravers any good? Here are two things you can look out for.
- Customer support
Some of the cheap laser engravers, like most other cheap products, have crappy customer support. The last thing you want is to get stuck in the installation of a laser engraver while customer support doesn’t respond to your SOS. The easiest way to tell if a company has good customer support is to shoot them a couple of questions before you even make your purchase. Find out how quickly they respond and if they do, find out if they really answer your question satisfactorily. You might pleasantly be surprised to find cheaper laser engravers that have even more reliable customer support than the expensive models.
- Customer reviews
The best place to check for customer reviews is Amazon. Amazon doesn’t allow any Tom Dick and Harry to review products on their website. You can only review a product that you have actually bought. So when you read reviews from Amazon, there is a very good chance that you are actually reading honest unbiased reviews of other users. If you check out our list of the top 11 laser engravers under $500, you will notice that all of them have lots of positive reviews from other satisfied customers.
Like most other technological devices, the configuration options of laser engravers have drastically increased in the last decade while the size and price have continued to go down. A couple of years ago, all laser engravers were so expansive that they were only used by industries for engraving serial numbers. Logos and other branding on manufactured products. But cheaper technology has made it possible to manufacture cheaper laser engravers which actually have even more sophisticated controls than the old expensive laser engravers. For instance, some of the cheap laser engravers now come with Bluetooth capabilities which makes it easy to control them from a mobile device. Because of the changing technology, laser engravers have gotten cheaper over the years but this shouldn’t necessarily be taken as proof of their bad quality.
So, in summary, cheap laser engravers can actually be good – as long as you do your homework and buy a good one. We have compiled the most popular laser engravers that are retailing on Amazon for less than $500. Here is a link to the article. Some of the laser engravers on this list go for as little as $200 and they are still good enough to handle laser engraving projects.