Slate is a popular material for laser engraving items such as coasters, and even portraits of photos and other images.
Before getting started however, you should ensure you have a suitable laser engraver that can mark slate with the precision and speed you need.
300 x 500 mm
110x110mm, 150x150mm, 175x175mm
Diode (infrared add-on available)
In this article I’ll review the best laser engravers for slate, covering different types of lasers in a range of budgets. I’ll also explain how to laser engrave slate, and what to look for when picking a machine that’s best for you.
- OMTech 50W: Best CO2 Pick
- xTool D1 Pro: Best Diode Pick
- JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine: Best Fiber Pick
- Atomstack S20 Pro
- Glowforge Pro
- Flux Beamo 30W
Overview of Laser Engraving Slate
Can you Laser Engrave on Slate?
Yes. Slate is commonly laser engraved to produce products like coasters and laser-etched portraits.
Is Slate Easy to Laser Engrave?
Engraving slate is relatively simple, and most lasers can make at least shallow etchings. However, CO2 lasers produce better results on slate than diodes, and fiber lasers are even better than CO2 ones.
Best Laser Engravers for Slate
OMTech 50W – Overall Best Laser Engraver for Slate
- Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
- Working area: 300 x 500 mm
- Laser type: CO2
- Power: 50W
4500 dpi engraving with 0.01mm accuracy
Engrave up to 600mm/s with a powerful CO2 laser
Intuitive controller for offline engraving
Comes with an enclosure with a viewing window
Intuitive features like red dot guidance
No software included
The OMTech 50W is our pick for the overall best slate laser engraving machine, being an intuitive engraver that packs a real punch for what is a pretty low price.
With a 50W CO2 laser, this machine can produce seriously impressive engraving speeds of 600mm/s, making it one of the quickest hobbyist engravers. For cutting, it can reach 400mm/s, which is also very competitive.
It’s super precise, with a positioning accuracy of 0.01mm. Its max engraving resolution is 4500 dpi, which is also fantastic.
For reference, some even more expensive machines have a max dpi of 1000, making the OMTech 50W more suitable for detailed laser etching portraits – one of the most common uses for slate.
Aside from its power and speed, this machine also offers several intuitive features that make for a pleasant user experience. For example, it comes with a Ruida digital controller that you to control the laser head and settings manually. There’s also red dot guidance, which indicates engraving points and marks the laser’s path to help you set up jobs easily and efficiently.
Unlike most diode lasers for slate, the OMTech 50W comes within a safe enclosure with a viewing window for monitoring your work. It also has a built-in air assist that rapidly clears debris and heat from the surface of your workpiece for cleaner and more precise engraving.
Whereas some laser brands provide their own software, OMTech doesn’t, so you’ll need to use a third-party program like Lightburn or LaserGRBL.
One of their mid-range acrylic laser engraving machines, the OMTech 50 W, uses a 50w CO2 laser tube to cut up to 6mm thick acrylic and plexiglass and provides a 4-pin port connection for rotary axes.
xTool D1 Pro – Best Diode Laser Engraver for Slate
- Price: Check latest price at xTool here
- Working area: 430x400mm
- Laser type: Diode (infrared add-on available)
- Power: 5W/10W/20W
Engrave up to 400mm/s
Precise down to 0.01mm
High efficiency and output diode laser
Infrared module available
Lacks the power of CO2 lasers
Whereas the OMTech 50W uses a CO2 laser, the xTool D1 Pro is a diode laser engraver. While diodes can be effective at engraving slate, they are weaker than CO2 lasers, so keep this in mind if you also want to cut thicker wood that CO2 lasers are better suited for.
But for other projects, the D1 Pro is ideal. Often touted as one of the best laser engravers for leather and other materials, its high-quality diode lasers are also great for engraving slate.
It’s available in 5W, 10W, and 20W, and compresses dual laser beams through a lens for a highly efficient output. For example, the 10W D1 Pro laser has around the same effective output as a regular 15W diode laser. I personally decided to buy the highest power 20W version, and you can read my xTool 20W D1 Pro review here, and I was very impressed by it.
On top of that, it has an ultra-fine compressed spot of 0.08 x 0.06 mm, whereas other lower-quality lasers typically have around 0.15 x 0.15 mm.
This allows the D1 Pro to be precise down to 0.01mm (like the more expensive OMTech 50W). And, with the capability to engrave at up to 400mm/s, it’s one of the fastest laser engravers in this price range.
One of the best things about the D1 Pro is that, unlike virtually all other hobbyist laser engravers, it offers an infrared laser module that you can buy separately.
Infrared lasers are much more powerful and precise than diodes, and the D1 Pro infrared module has a finer compressed spot of 0.03 x 0.03mm, allowing you to achieve even cleaner engravings on slate.
Unlike diodes, infrared lasers can also be used to engrave reflective metals like gold, meaning this machine gives you a much wider project scope than most other hobbyist models.
In terms of software, xTool offers its own XCS program, which is intuitive and specifically designed for beginners. The D1 Pro is also compatible with Lightburn, which I use it with.
And if you need even more power, go for the 20W version (we did!)
JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine – Best Fiber Laser Engraver for Slate
- Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
- Working area: 110x110mm, 150x150mm, 175x175mm
- Laser type: Fiber
- Power: 50W
Extremely fast with up to 7m/s marking speed
Precise down to 0.002mm
Designed for professionals and business owners
Two year warranty
250mm cutting thickness
EZCAD license included
Not very beginner-friendly
Fiber lasers are the most powerful of all laser types and considerably faster, more efficient, and more precise than diodes and CO2 lasers.
Most have a wavelength of 1064nm, which is absorbed by reflective metals and makes them the best jewelry laser machines, as well as ideal for slate. However, they’re also very expensive – and typically only used in professional and industrial settings.
However, if you’re engraving lots of slate as part of a business and need to keep up with high production rates, a fiber laser may be worth the investment. For a high-quality yet relatively affordable option, we recommend the JPT 50W Fiber Laser Engraver.
This machine can achieve a genuinely stunning precision engraving of 0.002mm. For reference, the D1 Pro and OMTech 50W – two of the most accurate hobbyist engravers – are only precise down to 0.01mm.
It’s also incredibly fast and capable of engraving at speeds of up to 7m/s, or 7,000mm/s – over ten times the speed of the OMTech 50W.
These features allow you to achieve fantastic results while reducing the chance of errors and maintaining efficiency. It can cut material up to 250mm thick, so it can easily handle even the thickest slate tiles.
This machine is available in three sizes, so you can save some cash by going for one of the smaller versions.
JPT provides a license to the EZCAD software, which is a control program specifically designed for fiber lasers.
Atomstack S20 Pro – Powerful Diode Laser for Deep, Thick Slate Engraving
- Price: Check latest price at Amazon here
- Working area: 400x400mm
- Laser type: Diode
- Power: 20W
Strong diode laser for deep cutting
Good for creating thick engraving lines
Can be used offline or with mobile app
Built-in air assist for cleaner engraving
Not as precise as some other machines
The Atomstack S20 Pro is a machine designed to provide superior power than your standard diode laser engraver.
Manufacturers typically don’t give precise details on slate, but we can use the details they do give to provide an idea of an engraver’s power. Atomstack states that the S20 Pro is capable of cutting 15mm wood and 8mm acrylic in a single pass, making it one of the best laser cutters for acrylic.
For reference, that’s significantly more than the D1 Pro, so the S20 Pro will effectively engrave slate deeper than most other diode lasers. This is possible because the machine combines four 6W laser beams for a highly efficient effective output of 20W, making it more concentrated than a regular 20W diode laser.
While some other affordable diode laser engravers don’t come with an air assist included, the S20 Pro does, ensuring cleaner and more efficient engraving. Also, as this air assist uses dual pumps instead of one, Atomstack claims it’s up to twice as efficient as regular assists.
It has a 0.08 x 0.01 mm compressed spot size, which is less fine than the likes of the D1 Pro, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A large spot will create thicker, more contrasting engravings in a single pass, so the S20 Pro is ideal for engraving larger text onto a slate coaster, for example, but you may want a more precise machine for intricate etchings.
This machine supports offline engraving thanks to the terminal control panel, so you can operate it without a computer. There’s also the Atomstack app, which allows you to conveniently design and control the engraver from a smartphone or tablet.
Glowforge Pro – Most User-Friendly CO2 Laser Engraving Machine for Slate
- Price: Check latest price at Glowforge here / Dynamism here
- Working area: 457x508mm
- Laser type: CO2
- Power: 45W
Powerful 45W CO2 laser with fast cutting
Plug-and-play for easy assembly
Safe to use in the home
Built-in camera for live previews
Intuitive app for controlling the laser
Doesn’t provide any design software
Glowforge markets its laser engravers as ‘3D laser printers’, and they certainly look the part, with one of the sleekest, safest, and most user-friendly designs on the market.
Widely considered among the best wood laser engravers, these machines come safely enclosed with a case and are designed for home use, schools, and small businesses. They’re plug-and-play, so they’re one of the most straightforward laser machines to get set up.
There are three models – the Glowforge Basic, Plus, and Pro – which all have the same working area (11”x19.5”), but the Pro is the fastest and most powerful, so we think it’s one of the best laser engravers for slate. It also has a pass-through slot for longer length slate engraving – but since coasters are pretty small, it doesn’t really affect much here.
The Glowforge Pro uses a 45W CO2 laser and can cut 3x as fast as the Basic and twice as fast as the Plus. As one of the most popular home laser engravers, Glowforge has a wide community, and there’s an in-depth discussion on slate engraving on the Glowforge forum that can be helpful for determining the ideal settings for what you want to engrave.
It’s also a highly intuitive machine, with a built-in camera for live previews, a user-friendly app for controlling the machine, and thousands of ready-to-use designs in the Glowforge Catalog. Although, if you want to design from scratch, you need to use a separate software and then import your files into the Glowforge app.
The Glowforge Basic and Plus both use 40W CO2 lasers, so they’re still pretty powerful and decent options for slate engraving if you’re looking to save some cash.
Glowforge are the easiest to use lasers for home business owners looking to create cool projects and sell them on Etsy or other stores and make money.
Flux Beamo 30W – Best Value CO2 Laser for Slate
- Price: Check latest price at MatterHackers here
- Working area: 300x210mm
- Laser type: CO2
- Power: 30W
Very small and compact CO2 laser
Decent power within the small size
Comes within safety enclosure
1,000 DPI engraving resolution
Built-in HD camera
Custom software and mobile app
Limits you to small projects
The Beamo is marketed by Flux as the world’s smallest CO2 laser engraver. Measuring just 615 x 445 x 177 mm and weighing 22kg, it’s a great option for anyone looking for a compact CO2 laser that can easily fit in a home workshop.
This is particularly useful if you’re primarily engraving small products like slate coasters, as the Beamo is a lot more space-efficient than larger desktop machines like the D1 Pro. The Beamo provides a working area of 300 x 210 x 45 mm, which is still plenty of room for most slate projects.
Within the Beamo is a 30W CO2 laser that’s capable of cutting 300mm/s and up to 5mm in a single pass.
So, while it doesn’t quite offer the same power as some of the other slate laser engraving machines on this list, it’s still decent given its small size and relatively low price. It can also achieve a resolution of 1,000 dpi, making it great for intricate laser-etched portraits on slate.
This laser engraver also boasts some impressively intuitive features, such as the built-in HD camera that allows you to accurately preview your work before engraving. It’s also super easy for beginners to use and you can easily engrave hand-drawn designs by taking a picture and then uploading it to the Beam Studio software.
On top of the desktop software, Flux also offers Beamo Go, a mobile app available for iOS and Android that allows for easy engraving from the palm of your hand.
Cheaper than the FSL Muse, but you lose 10W laser power. A great mid-range and versatile pick.
Buying Guide – Things to consider when choosing a laser engraver for slate
A slate engraving machine can cost under $1,000, or well over $5,000, depending on the type of laser, its power, speed, precision, software, and usability.
The real key to finding the laser that provides the best value for your budget is to understand what slate projects you want to make and how quickly, and then find a machine that provides the required specs.
|xTool D1 Pro||$699|
|JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine||$6,199|
|Atomstack S20 Pro||$1,099|
|Flux Beamo 30W||$2,195|
Power and speed
As a stone, slate is tougher than many other commonly engraved materials like wood and plastic. You can still engrave slate with low power diode lasers, but what makes a great glass laser engraver may not be as effective with slate, for example. This is why most online shops who sell engraved slate coasters use CO2 lasers, which are more powerful than diodes.
A laser’s power impacts how deep and fast you can cut. For example, a 50W CO2 laser like the OMTech 50W can cut deeper in a single pass than a 30W one like the Beamo.
As most laser brands usually don’t provide the optimal settings for cutting different materials with their machines, you need to do some test runs to work it out for yourself. However, you can also check community forums and other sites to see what other users say.
For example, one Reddit user found the xTool recommended settings for stone coasters weren’t optimal for slate engraving, so they used maximum speed and power and got some stunning results in the process. Just bear in mind that using the max settings will cause the laser tube to decay quicker.
|xTool D1 Pro||5W, 10W, 20W, 40W available|
|JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine||5W, 10W, 20W available|
|Atomstack S20 Pro||20W|
|Flux Beamo 30W||30W|
Precision is always important when laser engraving, but because slate is often used for detailed laser portraits, it becomes even more essential.
For example, while the D1 Pro and OMTech can achieve 0.01mm precision, the JPT fiber laser is accurate down to 0.002mm.
It’s also important to consider a laser engraver’s resolution, which is measured in dots per inch (dpi), particularly for laser portraits on slate. If you’re laser etching a photo onto slate, the OMTech 50W’s 4,500 dpi will typically provide a better result than the Beamo’s 1,000 dpi laser.
There are four types of lasers used in engraving machines – diode, CO2, infrared, and fiber. Diodes are the weakest, CO2 lasers are a step up, while infrared and fiber lasers are the most powerful and expensive.
As both diodes and CO2 lasers can make effective slate engravers, most people don’t need to splash out on an infrared or fiber laser. The most likely exception is if you have a business that produces a lot of products, in which case you may want to consider one. For example, the speed and precision of the JPT 50W fiber laser simply blow diode and CO2 machines out of the water.
An alternative is to go for a machine like the xTool D1 Pro, which uses a diode laser as standard, but offers an infrared module you can upgrade to. This gives you more flexibility while keeping the price low, and also widens the scope of materials you can work with in general, as infrareds are perfect for engraving ferrous metals as well as slate.
|xTool D1 Pro||Diode|
|JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine||Fiber|
|Atomstack S20 Pro||Diode|
|Flux Beamo 30W||CO2|
Size & Working Area
The working area has a big impact on a laser engraver’s price, and typically people look for engravers that provide more room. However, as most laser engraved slate projects are typically pretty small, you may want to consider saving some money and space on a more compact machine.
On the flip side, having a small working area does mean you’re more limited should you ever want to switch to working on different materials for laser projects later down the line, so bear this in mind.
|OMTech 50W||300 x 500 mm|
|xTool D1 Pro||430x400mm|
|JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine||110x110mm, 150x150mm, 175x175mm|
|Atomstack S20 Pro||400x400mm|
|Flux Beamo 30W||300x210mm|
Ease of use
It’s always nice to have an easy-to-use laser engraver, but it’s particularly important to consider if you’re a newbie engraving slate for the first time. Some machines excel over others in this regard.
Take the Glowforge, for example. This has gained popularity among novices for its simple plug-and-play assembly that takes minutes, its intuitive live camera previews, and the fact that you can easily control the machine from a mobile app.
Other slate engravers, like the OMTech 50W and JPT Fiber Laser Engraver, are typically aimed at more experienced users and, as such, do away with some of the more beginner-friendly features.
|OMTech 50W||About an hour|
|xTool D1 Pro||Over 30 minutes|
|JPT Fiber Laser Engraver Machine||Comes pre-assembled|
|Atomstack S20 Pro||30 minutes|
|Glowforge Pro||About an hour|
|Flux Beamo 30W||Pre-assembled|
How do you Laser Engrave Slate?
To get the best results when laser engraving slate, start by converting your image to a negative and ensuring it’s set up only to black and white, as slate only engraves one color.
You should then add a finish to your slate before engraving, to avoid it soaking into the raw stone if you do it after. After that, you can engrave the slate and clean it with soapy water when you’re done.
What Settings Should I use to Laser Engrave Slate?
This depends on your laser engraver and what kind of design you want to produce. The following are Youtuber The Edge of Tech’s ideal settings for engraving slate with a 10W diode laser (the Ortur Laser Master 2):
- Power: 80%
- Speed: 50mm/s
If you’re using a more powerful 50W CO2 laser, for example, you could use less power (say 20%) and higher speed settings like 400-600mm/s, depending on your machine’s capabilities. Using low power will help your laser tube last longer.
What do you spray on slate before engraving?
You spray a finish onto slate before engraving, which boosts its aesthetic appearance and makes it more durable.
How do you clean slate after laser engraving?
You can simply clean slate with soap and water after laser engraving.
What is the difference between etched and engraved slate?
When using a laser to work on slate, etching is making very shallow lines into a material’s surface, while engraving refers to deeper indents into the material. Laser etching and engraving are both used to create contrast when using slate for vector images and portraits, although engraving alone is typically used for simpler raster designs like text.