Choosing Between A CNC Router And CNC Laser Cutter For Your DIY Crafting Projects.

A Breakdown between CNC Router and CNC Laser Cutter Machines

When it comes to woodworking and other crafting projects, there are various methods and machinery that you can use to slice through lumber and other materials, but the two most popular methods are CNC router and laser cutting. Both methods are effective in getting you the finished result that you desire, and each of them comes with distinct benefits and features that enhance your DIY projects.

Both CNC routers and CO2 laser cutters are highly useful and beneficial devices for cutting, engraving, and other applications. Both of them use Computer Numerical Control to move the armature across the gantry and create your specified designs are also controlled with the help of a control board, but there are quite a lot of differences between the two.

If your mind is racing between ‘router , laser cutter, router, laser cutter’, let’s reduce the confusion for you. In this article, we will compare CNC router/laser cutters and see which one is more suitable for you.

What’s the Difference Between a CNC Router and CNC Laser Cutter? Router-Laser Cutter Comparison Guide?

Both CNC routers and laser cutters actually use Computer Numerical Control to move their cutting heads through a preset automated pathway. CNC router/laser cutters are similar—the main difference between router & laser cutter machines is the instrument that physically does the cutting. Routers use a spindle that rotates at well over 1,000 RPM to cut, shave, and trim away at the target material. Alternatively, laser cutters use an extremely narrow laser beam to incinerate, vaporize, or melt through a specified pattern in the target material. Before we choose which one of the two is more suitable for your crafting needs, let’s have a look at routers and laser cutters one by one.

CNC Routers

CNC routers have a handheld router with a spindle that is controlled with the help of the router system, and it can be used for cutting various materials, including wood, plastic, glass, aluminum, and many others. They have a contact-based cutting method, which enables them to perform cutting and engraving tasks with speed and precision. They can move both back-and-forth and side-to-side, thus making them versatile for many projects. Not only do they provide precision but CNC routers waste less material while you are using them for cutting.

CO2 Laser Cutters

CO2 laser cutters from OMTech are controlled by the Ruida Control Panel, which also uses CNC technology to control the laser head. They have a fast cutting and engraving rate, and also allows you to re-run previous jobs without the use of a computer. CO2 laser cutters can be used for cutting numerous shapes and styles, as well as complex designs. Laser cutters don’t come in contact with the material unlike CNC routers, and they make use of thermal energy from a laser to achieve cutting precision and speed. They can be used to cut and engrave through wood, paper, leather, glass, and many other materials.

CNC Router-CNC Laser Cutters: Top factors to consider

Now that we’ve covered the basic rundowns of both CNC routers - laser cutters, there are some key factors that we can use to compare the two. CNC routers machines offer an automated control framework for your machinery, which allows you to program instructions into the module and get work done without any manual effort. On the other hand, laser cutters use their vaporization qualities to cut through materials and also make different engraved designs.

Here are some other factors to help you choose between CNC routers-laser cutters:

Cutting Materials

As mentioned above, both CNC routers and CO2 laser cutters can cut through a wide variety of materials to tailor to your needs. You can use a CNC router to cut through wood and metal, whereas a laser cutter would be more suitable for wood, acrylic, leather, and glass.

So, if you don’t have to work with harder materials like metals and composites, the CO2 laser cutter is the best choice for you, and its high-precision cutting performance would allow you to finish your projects faster.

Overall Budget

The budget also plays a major role in your choice between a CNC router and a CNC laser cutter, and it determines what type and quality of machine you will be able to afford. When it comes to CNC routers, an entry-level model can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000, whereas mid-level routers can go up to $50,000 as well.

On the other hand, a CO2 laser cutter would cost from $1,000 to $8,000. You can easily find a laser cutter that has all the features you want, and getting one with more features might cost you more per add-on, but this also varies according to what is present in the laser cutter.

Machine Size & Workspace

If you have a limited space in your garage and workshop, size might be the biggest concern for you when you are choosing between CNC routers and CNC laser cutters. Commonly used CNC routers aren’t as big as can be found in large industries, and their sizes include 4 ft. by 8 ft. and 5 ft. by 10 ft.  These can be installed in workshops or garages, wherever you do your DIY projects.

When it comes to CO2 laser cutters, you can find them in various sizes, ranging from a working area of 8”x12” to much larger ones that you can easily accommodate in your workspace. In this regard, you can also find desktop laser cutters that are more portable and don’t require any clearance space.

Performance and Accuracy

When it comes to performance, CNC routers provide a clean and refined finish without wasting a lot of material. On the other hand, CO2 laser cutters utilize thermal energy to cut and engrave different materials, which allows for faster and accurate performance as well. However, laser cutters may leave burn marks on the materials’ edges, but that can be avoided if you are careful.

Although both CNC routers and CO2 laser cutters work with accuracy and precision, CO2 laser cutters make use of the Ruida control panel, which can be used to save jobs and execute them later without connecting to a computer. Moreover, the control panel also gives the CO2 laser cutter quick cutting and engraving rates.

Get the Best CO2 Laser Cutters from OMTech Laser


There are many woodworkers, metalworkers, and other craftsmen who use both routers/laser cutters. Taking advantage of both technologies is a great way to complete complex crafts from start to finish. In a nutshell, both CNC routers - laser cutters are highly useful machines for cutting and engraving, but the CO2 laser cutter is a great choice for many hobbyists and businesses. Not only does it have quick and precise performance, but it also allows for easy operation and requires less space for installation. By now, you would be able to clear the voice in your head that went CNC ‘router, laser cutter, router, laser cutter’ repeatedly.

Whenever you need to buy a reliable and efficient CO2 laser cutter, get in touch with OMTech Laser. They have a wonderful collection of high-quality and reliable laser cutters that you can use for your crafting and woodworking projects.

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1 comment

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