When it comes to buying a laser cutter, there are loads of different types to choose from. However, the different numbers and terms involved can often make it confusing for beginners. These numbers and terms reference different things – for example, a 3018 engraver is one with 300mm x 180mm dimensions. There are also K40 laser cutter machines, where the 40 is a nod to the machine’s 40W power.
In this guide, we reveal everything you need to know about K40 laser cutters. We’ll explain what they are, what they’re used for, and how they differ from other laser engravers. We’ll then rank the top models on the market right now to help you find the best K40 laser cutter for you.
What is a K40 Laser Cutter?
A K40 laser cutter is essentially a term used for affordable engraving machines with 40W power. They’re not restricted to one manufacturer or even design, although most do look very similar, with a simple rectangle box design and a blue-colored base.
K40 laser engraver machines rose in popularity as a much more affordable alternative to the more expensive laser machines that cost thousands of dollars. They were originally Chinese imports which allowed people to pick up a high-quality laser engraver for around $300. As we’ve already touched on, the “40” in K40 comes from the fact that these machines use 40W power.
While most machines still come from China, they’re now also manufactured and shipped from other locations, including the US. K40 laser cutters are slightly more expensive these days, usually starting from $500, but overall they’re still a much cheaper alternative than other laser engraving machines.
K40 laser cutters are intentionally very basic, which is why they’re particularly popular with people looking to customize, modify and upgrade a laser engraver. These aren’t ideal for just plugging in and starting engraving right away.
For general purposes, we have a ranking of the best laser cutters and engravers
For example, your K40 laser engraver will at least require some tuning before you use it. This will firstly involve leveling the laser tube to allow water to flow normally. Leveling the tube will also make it easier to clean and align the mirrors for more accurate cutting.
You’ll also need to level the K40 laser bed so that the focal point remains consistent during engraving.
This means that Chinese K40 laser engraver machines are more popular among hobbyists who like to tinker, rather than professionals.
K40 Laser Cutter Bed Size
K40 laser cutters have an engraving area, also known as bed size, of 300m x 200mm. This provides enough room to work on most medium size projects, such as drinking glasses, leather wallets, and so on.
K40 Laser Cutter Uses & Applications
A K40 laser cutter essentially has the same uses as any other type of cheap laser engraver. They can be used on a wide variety of different materials, such as glass, bamboo, wood, acrylic, plastic, stone, and leather, though they can’t be used on metals. If you’re looking to engrave metal, you’ll need to use a specialist metal laser engraver, or a more powerful fiber laser engraver.
This means you can work on a whole variety of different projects for a laser engraver. For example, many hobbyists use them to engrave personal items like jewelry or to create home decorations, but the possibilities are endless.
However, unlike with a standard ready-made laser engraver machine, the quality of work you can do with a 40-watt Chinese laser cutter depends a lot on the amount of tinkering you do. So, let’s now take a look at what exactly upgrading a K40 CO2 laser engraver looks like.
K40 Laser Cutter Upgrade & Modification
All K40 laser engravers come with the same fundamental parts – a CO2 laser tube, a focus lens, stepper motors, a coolant pump, an exhaust fan, and a control board with a power supply – and all of these can be upgraded.
The first upgrade that most K40 laser engraver owners make is by putting in a better focus lens, as this will allow you to make deeper or more accurate cuts, depending on the lens you buy.
You could also get rid of the standard coolant pump and replace it with a water chiller, which will lengthen the working time and lifespan of your engraver. This is a simple but fairly expensive upgrade.
The most challenging and expensive upgrade you can to a K40 laser is changing the CO2 laser tube. The machines come with a 40W tube, which is in fact a 30W tube with a max output of 40W. You don’t actually want to reach the max output, as this could damage the tube. If you upgrade to a true 40W tube with a max potential of 50W, you’ll see much higher performance from your laser engraver.
You can also upgrade the control board. This is another difficult modification, but the control board determines how easy a laser is to use and how reliable it is, so there’s definitely room for improvement on what you’ll initially receive.
K40 Laser Specs
Here’s a full list of the specs you’d expect on a standard K40 laser machine.
However, bear in mind that these are the specs of the basic kit you receive when you get a 40-watt laser cutting machine, and some can change depending on if you make a K40 laser cutter upgrade.
|Dimensions||27.95″ x 19.7″ x 9.84″|
|Cutting depth||1 – 3mm|
|Cutting area||300 x 200 mm|
|Laser type||CO2 Laser 40-Watt (rated 30-Watt)|
|Average lifespan||1,000 hours|
|Case||Folded sheet metal|
|Linear system||Aluminum linear rails with a belt-driven v-wheel carrier|
|Cooling system||Water pump|
|Recommended operating temperature||15-25 ℃|
|Engravable materials||Wood, glass, stone, ceramic, leather, paper, cardboard, plastic, acrylic, fabric, marble, cork, rubber, adonized aluminum|
|Cuttable materials||Wood, leather, paper, fabric, leather, cardboard, acrylic, cork, rubber|
|Software||40 Whisperer, LaserDraw, CorelDraw|
|Operating systems||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|File compatibility||JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF|
The Best K40 Laser Engraver Machines
Vevor K40 Laser Cutter
- Price: $555 — Available on Amazon here
The Vevor K40 Laser Cutter is an example of a big CNC brand getting in on the K40 laser act. This is one of the cheapest yet most impressive K40 lasers on the market.
The 40W CO2 laser tube has a high-precision stepper motor and a wavelength of 10.6um, so it provides powerful and accurate engraving. The positioning accuracy is 0.01mm, while the integrated power supply increases the response speed, cutting power, and overall performance. It also helps to extend the laser tube’s work-life for increased durability.
We like that it comes with a stable clamp to work with irregular-shaped objects, while you can use the level board for flat surface workpieces. Thanks to the 300mm x 200mm K40 laser cutter bed size, so you have room to engrave most medium-sized products. The machine engraves at a speed of 1-300mm/s and cuts at a speed of 1-10mm/s.
This engraver is very easy to use, as you can quickly start and stop with the TTL level controls. It has a USB port for connecting to your laptop or desktop, while the upgraded control panel has a clear and intuitive LCD screen. This engraver is compatible with the CorelDraw laser software and supports Windows operating systems.
You can use this Vevor machine for a wide range of different K40 laser cutter projects, such as creating art gifts, garments, advertisements, and seal engraving, to name just a few.
Orion Motor Tech K40 Laser Engraver
- Price: $479 — Available on Amazon here
The Orion Motor Tech K40 Mini Laser Engraver is one of the most popular K40 laser cutters on the market.
Like the Vevor K40 machine, this laser cutter has a versatile 300 x 200m engraving service equipped with a stability clamp and level board, so you can work with products of various shapes and dimensions.
This means you can create a wide variety of different projects using this K40 laser engraving machine. Whether you’re working with stone, wood, leather, plastic, glass, or any other compatible material, the Orion Motor Tech K40 offers high-quality engraving.
One of our favorite things about this machine is the new red hot guidance feature. This is a pointer that clearly indicates engraving points and marks the machine’s path to identify positioning sizes, making it super easy to understand where to best place your product is.
This K40 laser engraving machine also has a new control panel with updated digital controls and an LCD display, so you can easily view and adjust the power volume with touch controls. Another nice feature is the integrated cooling fan, which provides lower noise and better ventilation to help your laser cutter last longer and perform better.
A nice bonus feature is that the Orion Tech K40 laser engraver comes equipped with 4 detachable wheels at the bottom, so you can easily move it and then remove the wheels when you start working.
Z Zelus K40 Laser Engraver
- Price: $620 — Available on Amazon here
This is one of the more expensive K40 laser engravers produced by a popular CNC manufacturing brand. However, it has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, which indicates that it’s well worth the price.
Users have praised the quality of the included parts and the laser engraving quality, as well as the secure packaging in which the machine arrives. Several reviewers have also commented on how easy this cutter is to set up and start using, so it’s a good choice for beginner engravers.
This machine has an up to 3mm cutting thickness and like the Orion model has red dot guidance to help you easily identify positioning sizes.
The Z Zelus K40 laser engraver is equipped with a dual 300m x 200mm platform for engraving both regular and irregular-shaped products, so you’re not restricted by the shape of materials.
Thanks to the upgraded LCDndisplay control board, this machine is easy to use and monitor. It displays the water temperature and laser temperature in real-time, and it also has a new emergency stop switch for improved safety.
You can work on a whole variety of different tasks and projects with this Z Zelus 40-watt laser cutter engraver. From woodworking, textile cutting, and sign making, to industrial prototyping, trophy engraving, and jewelry marking, the possibilities really are endless when you use this high-quality model.