Which Diode Laser Engraver is THE MOST POWERFUL? Let’s Find Out by Measuring Optical Power!

In the past year, we have acquired a lot of different laser engravers. On this website, through many posts, we have tested all of them, and we saw that between the machines, the cutting and engraving performance differs a lot. But on the other hand, they all fall in only two categories. Their optical output power is either 5 or 10 watt. How can this be? I wanted to know if the manufacturers really claim the true optical output power, so we got an optical power meter to test all of them. read this post if you want to see what we have learned!

What Is Laser Optical Power?

When buying a diode laser engraver you will often see that manufacturers often state the power of the laser engraver with big numbers, like 20W, 40W or even 80W. Some manufacturers claim that this is the machines cutting effect equivalent to the comparable CO2 laser power. Which it is not!

Other manufacturers claim that that number represents the machines electrical power consumption.

But definitely that is never the true power of the laser engraver machine! The thing you need to look for is the term called optical power. This is the true energy that laser module emits in a tiny spot which causes the material to burn away under the intense energy of this light.

In terms of optical laser power, the vast majority of the currently popular laser engravers fall in only two major categories – the 5W and 10W optical power. The first category features one single laser diode inside the module, while the 10W modules have clever optics inside that merge laser light from two laser diode sources, resulting in double the output power.

What We Wanted To Find Out?

If you read through all our laser engraver reviews on this website, you probably saw saw that between the machines, the cutting and engraving performance differs a lot despite the fact that their claimed optical output power is very similar (5W or 10W plus or minus 1W).

In this test we wanted to see, if the cutting  performance differences are due to the manufacturers claiming wrong optical power values of their machines, or the difference in cutting performance might be due to some other factors.

Which Laser Engravers Did We Measure in This Test?

We have tested the following popular laser engravers:

We have also tested if a moderate use of the laser will degrade the modules output power, as we will compare a brand new Sculpfun S9 module to the one we have used extensively for approximately 50 working hours, with more than half of them being at full power.

How Did We Measure The Laser Optical Power?

We measured the optical power with a Fieldbest optical power meter, that measures by the principle of the heat produced by the laser light. The beam has to be unfocused in order not to damage the measuring probe. So we “focused” all the modules 20mm above the optimal focus for consistency, although the height does not affect the measurement all that much. It is more to ensure that the beam is unfocused.

Check the video below that shows the entire testing process:

The Results

Opticla pwoer measuring results of the popular diode laser engravers

What Did We Find Out?

As we can see, some of the laser modules are above specification, but some are below the specified output.

So, what can we conclude from this experiment? If you have read some review articles of different laser engravers on our website, probably saw that their cutting performance differs much more than the difference in output power that we have measured here could suggest.

So, what makes a good laser cutter if it is not the output power? The answer is inside the laser optical system. If a laser can focus the beam in a very small square shaped spot, it will perform much better at cutting compared to a laser with the same optical power but with a bigger focus spot size. A great example for this is the Sculpfun S9, which produces very clean cuts compare to similar machines with bigger focus spot size.

diode laser beam shaping

So, when buying a new laser engraver, you should not only look at the power output, but also at focus spot size. But the problem is that the advertised focus spot size is often nowhere near the real one. This is why this website was born, so you can have all the necessary objective information needed to purchase the best laser engraver for your needs!

a big pile of popular laser engravers
8 Comments
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  1. Thank you.
    Like most users, we can’t afford to test these machines before we buy. I spent many hours trying to make sense of user reviews on websites and UTube videos only to be more confused than ever. I finally made my decision on information that has since been questioned by more reviews of newer equipment and buyers remorse became an issue. My laser engraver/cutter had proven to do the job to my expectations but I always wondered if there was something better that I could have spent my money on. Thanks to your article I’m happier about my purchase.

    • Reply
      Hobby Laser Cutters May 11, 2022 at 19:47

      There will always be a better machine as this field is developing very quickly as every few months a new and better machine is introduced which features new tech.
      We will try to keep up with our reviews as fast as we can 🙂

  2. Reply
    Daniel Fernandes May 11, 2022 at 18:43

    Thank you very much for sharing this page and the tests done.
    10 months ago, I bought my first Sculpfun S6 Pro laser machine and, despite its tests, it shows some lower numbers than promised, but the difference is very small.
    I’m thinking of upgrading and buying a better and more powerful laser, but I’ll wait a little longer because there are already rumors that the manufacturer of Sculpfun will be releasing a more powerful 10W laser, although I don’t know if Sculpfun would be the best decision. Thanks again.

  3. I would like to thank you for the testing and reviews you publish on your website. I purchased a sculpfun S9 several months ago based on your review and the data you posted showing test results and have been very happy with the purchase. This comparison between the rated power and the actual power, and power after 50 hours of use for the S9, gives me more confidence that this engraver should last for my usage.

  4. Thank you for your concise but very informative review(s).
    I very much look forward to future articles.
    I look at laser engraving as 3D printing was in it’s infancy some years ago – fast moving technology that needs people like yourself to cut through the marketing hype and publish meaningful, unbiased data.

    Keep up the good work!

    Charles

    • Reply
      Hobby Laser Cutters May 12, 2022 at 19:37

      Thanks! Yeah I remember the early days of 3D printing. I made my first 3D printer 10+ years ago and spent 1k$ for assembly materials and motors and heads… And everybody was looking at my printer as a 8th wonder of the world. Nobody was familiar with 3D printing. I still have it but it prints way worse compared to a 150$ 3D printer now 🙂

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