The battle for the best laser cutter is still up in the air, but in the more professional laser cutter for small business category, there are undoubtedly two main heavyweights: the Dremel Digilab LC40 vs the Glowforge Plus. Our Glowforge vs Dremel comparison will help you decide which one complements your business, hobby crafts, or as a standalone purchase.
Quality laser cutters and engravers from companies like Glowforge and Dremel are accurate at high speeds and can cut through a variety of materials, such as wood and metal. This means that they can be used to engrave that wooden Groot figurine, laptop stand, or make personalized book covers, as well as more commercial projects.
These commercial engravers really set the standard, and owners of both brands promote theirs as the superior machine. Each one has advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a laser-focused look at both, and see which best fits your needs.
Note: Dremel have stopped selling the Dremel LC-40. We therefore recommend opting for a Glowforge machine if you are looking for a professional laser cutter.
Glowforge vs Dremel: The Criteria
Of course, there are similarities. They both engrave with up to 1,000 DPI resolution for a start. High resolutions bring out far greater detail when creating shading on those wooden block designs, and provide exquisite precision for all your laser cutter project ideas.
We’re going to look at the software, features, and capabilities of both to help you make an informed decision.
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- Easy to use
- 1-click settings with Proofgrade materials
- Compatible with many materials
- Excellent safety features
- Powerful 45W laser
- Does not work offline
The impressive range of materials that the Glowforge Plus can cut makes it ideal for a serious hobbyist or small business. You can take on numerous commissions thanks to its ability to cut wood, leather, acrylic, paper, fabric, mylar, rubber, and more.
You also have plenty of engraving material options such as marble, coated metal, glass, anodized aluminum, as well as enabling you to engrave your favorite character designs or someone’s name into certain phones and tablets. Glowforge even has preset settings for some materials.
When it comes to kerf size, Glowforge can remove materials at a width that ranges between 0.008” to 0.0025”. It can cut through 0.5 inches of hardwood, so it can make light work of those personalized coasters you have been dreaming up. The cutting area of 495 mm wide and 279 mm deep also makes it great for engraving large projects such as custom chopping boards.
We like software that thinks like a human, not a robot, and Glowforge is certainly better for this than Dremel. The hardware isn’t overbearing and takes a minimalist approach that will please beginners, but also seasoned engravers who just need simple settings.
The software is cloud-based, so it does require an internet connection, but you do get automatic updates that will mean it never goes out of date. It is compatible with iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows.
Glowforge Plus Features
Getting to grips with a laser cutter can be tricky, which is where the Glowforge Plus excels. Because it can connect to WiFi, it is quick to set up via online tutorials.
All Glowforge models come with a 4-inch hose system that helps to remove fumes, an essential component of this laser engraver since it engraves by burning the material. With laser engraving, it doesn’t matter what material you are working with, using it will create fumes you will want to filter away. This also protects the lens from damage, prolonging its lifespan.
Safety does seem to be key to Glowforge models, but you may wish to upgrade to the Glowforge Pro to take advantage of its closed-loop water cooling system. This means there is no need for an additional water cooler, helping to save space. Remember these are big units (965 x 527 x 210 mm), capable of working on professional-grade projects, so anything that can free up some room on the worktop will be welcome.
The Glowforge laser engravers work with a brand of formulated Proofgrade materials. This is what separates Glowforge from a lot of other laser cutters. It gives you 1-click access to settings automatically tailored to each material. By speeding up the process, you can start engraving projects on hardboard, colorful acrylic, veneers, and full-grain leathers in no time.
The Glowforge website is an excellent resource and can be used to troubleshoot most issues around setup. With live chat support, email, and responsive social media channels, you never have to wait long for help with everything from maintenance, to customized settings.
One setback of a Glowforge laser engraver is that to use the software, you must have an internet connection. This shouldn’t be an issue for most people, especially since they continue offline once started, but any connectivity issues can slow you down.
There is no touchscreen display, but being able to connect it to a laptop or tablet grants a larger view once it is up and running. This will help bring your projects to life, so if you are making important creations, like engraving the back of a phone or fun wooden crafts, they come out exactly as you expect them to.
Anyone whose home business relies upon being able to cut different metals will find Glowforge a restrictive option. Although it can engrave certain metals, Glowforge doesn’t have the power to cut through them.
Comparing the Dremel LC40 vs Glowforge Plus
Dremel Digilab LC40
- Price: $6,000
- Large engraving area
- Can cut and engrave metals
- Automatic project settings suggestions
- Built-in camera for monitoring progress
- Powerful 40W laser
- Might be a bit pricey for some
Engraving with the Dremel LC40
With over 20,000 hours of testing and 40W of beam power, you would be right to expect a lot from this laser engraver. The result is a product that can cut and engrave different materials such as metals, soft and hardwoods, plastics, acrylic, stone, glass, paper, fiberglass, and leather.
The possibilities feel near endless with its large 467mm x 304.8 mm engraving area. This is great for making those big projects come to life, such as engraving custom wooden door nameplates, or cutting tougher material models out.
Dremel’s intuitive software is a download, and not browser-based. This means it doesn’t require internet access to work. For workshops without an easy internet connection, you can still create innovative projects and models offline, something Glowforge cannot offer. It is also possible to control the device wirelessly, keeping you well away from any fumes.
The material library is where you can configure various settings starting with the material, then the density. Automation is key to a lot of what sets it apart. The machine automatically makes suggestions based on your material and project, removing a lot of the guesswork.
Any small business that uses a laser engraver will know that having to adjust these settings every time, only to make the same engraving, can be monotonous. The Dremel LC40 allows you to duplicate pieces with an Auto Array feature to save time. This also makes life easier by allowing you to make minor adjustments and also scale, rotate, and transform.
Dremel LC40 Features
The Dremel LC40 features a camera mounted above the work area. Most people use it to keep an eye on the print and make sure everything is going as planned.
The camera lines up the design onto any irregularly shaped material. Working as a preview style feature, it removes a lot of the uncertainty and prevents wasting material blocks on projects that don’t turn out right.
The color touchscreen is intuitive and allows for easy control. This saves you time getting things up and running, with the large 7-inch display more than enough for navigating the many advanced settings.
We like that Dremel stores your last 30 projects in its memory, allowing you to find them easily on the touchscreen display.
If you have any issues with your Dremel LC40 laser cutter, Dremel has a number of support articles on their site, and you can also call their customer service team directly. Their technical support is known for being friendly and responsive, which is a huge plus point when you need to get your laser cutter back in action, pronto.
The Dremel LC40 certainly is a bulky machine, you didn’t expect to get all those features in a compact device, right? It measures 812.5 x 508 x 209.55 mm, and that is without the cooling system.
Not all machines come with the fume extractor as standard. Without this, a well-ventilated area is a must. For some, the $6,000 price tag of the Dremel LC40 might seem like a disadvantage. But this is an advanced, professional laser engraver made to produce reliable prints time and again.
Dremel vs Glowforge: Conclusion
In truth, our Dremel LC40 Vs Glowforge Plus review has proved that both perform to a remarkably high level and each has unique advantages. The Dremel Digilab LC40 laser cutter can cut through more metal materials, but Glowforge can cut more overall. Glowforge is easier to use because of its intuitive software and easy setup, but Dremel has a slightly faster-cutting speed.
When it comes to price, Glowforge is slightly more attractive. It costs around $3,995 for the Plus model although upgrading to the Pro model will cost another $2,000. Many people see this as worthwhile for the safety features alone.
Since Dremel Digilab LC40 costs around $6,000, this upgrade makes them similar but does leave the option of starting with the Glowforge Plus model for those on a more restrictive budget.
Both are compatible with iOS, Android, and windows, and are easy to use without any experience. Dremel in particular has been used in schools by students who have no prior knowledge, and they manage to get on with the touchscreen display.
Having said that, the cloud-based tutorials of Glowforge and user-friendly setup make it a better option for beginners.
Although three isn’t a lot to split them, we lean towards Glowforge’s usability, range of compatible materials, and price point. If you can get past its inability to cut certain metals, then it comes highly recommended.