Glowforge laser cutters are great if you want an easy, accessible machine that offers reasonable power. But, they’re expensive for the price. Here’s my recommendations for the best Glowforge laser alternatives that offer more power, at a cheaper price.

The best alternative to the Glowforge Pro is the xTool P2. It’s more powerful, faster, and has more premium features such as curved surface engraving, and batch processing features. And it’s cheaper!

In fact, you can buy the xTool P2, along with the RA2 rotary accessory, riser base accessory for 8.5″ max material height, and the conveyor feeder for automatically feeding up to 118-inch sheets, and it’ll STILL cost less than the base Glowforge Pro.

Best Diode Laser
Best Desktop CO2 Laser
Same 40W power, half the price
CNCSourced Rating:
CNCSourced Rating:
CNCSourced Rating:
$629.99
$4399
$3499
Laser Power:
10W/20W/40W
Laser Power:
55W
Laser Power:
40W
Working Area:
432 x 406 mm
Working Area:
600 x 308 mm
Working Area:
508 x 305 mm
Best Diode Laser
CNCSourced Rating:
$629.99
Laser Power:
10W/20W/40W
Working Area:
432 x 406 mm
Best Desktop CO2 Laser
CNCSourced Rating:
$4399
Laser Power:
55W
Working Area:
600 x 308 mm
Same 40W power, half the price
CNCSourced Rating:
$3499
Laser Power:
40W
Working Area:
508 x 305 mm

I’ve tested more than half a dozen laser cutters and engravers over the last few years and identified the handful that truly stack up to Glowforge – ranging from the unbeatable value-for-money xTool D1 Pro, to the superior overall xTool P2.

Top Picks

Quick Overview

  1. Best overall: xTool P2
  2. Best budget diode laser alternative: xTool D1 Pro
  3. Best offline software alternative: FSL Muse
  4. Even more power but cheaper: OMTech 55W
  5. Best industrial Glowforge alternative: Thunder Laser Nova 24

In this guide, I’ll compare my hands-on experience with each of the best Glowforge alternatives, and how they compare across all the important factors so you can make the right choice for your needs and budget.

1. xTool P2 – Best Glowforge alternative overall

  • Price: Check at xTool here
  • Working area: 600 x 308 mm
  • Rotary attachment: Yes
  • Laser type: CO2
  • Power: 55W
  • Max engraving speed: 600mm/s
  • Compatible software: XCS, Lightburn
xTool P2

Pros

More powerful than all Glowforge lasers, at a lower price.

Rotary attachment for $279.

Curved surface engraving, and batch processing features.

Cons

Lower dpi than Glowforge Pro.

xTool P2Glowforge Pro
Power55W45W
Rotary?YesNo
Max Speed600mm/sApprox 200-300mm/s
Pass-through Slot?YesYes
AccessoriesRotary, riser base, air purifier, fire safety accessoriesAir filter
SoftwareXCS and Lightburn, available offlineGlowforge cloud software, only available online

Based on my hands-on experience with the xTool P2, I think it is the best desktop CO2 laser cutter, and is better than the Glowforge Pro.

First, power. The xTool P2 has 55W power, and can cut 20mm acrylic in a single pass, whereas the Glowforge Pro maxes out at 45W power.

Then, speed. The P2 can engrave wood, acrylic and slate at up to 600mm/s, whereas the Glowforge Pro’s speed isn’t specifically named, but is around 200-300mm/s.

Both have pass-through slots, with the xTool P2 having an optional conveyor feeder accessory which lets you put 118-inch long workpieces through for cutting huge pieces.

The xTool P2 also has a rotary, and a riser base attachment which gives you up to 8.5″ max height. The Glowforge Pro has no rotary. For me, I like to laser engrave tumblers, flasks, and other rounded objects, and they sell really well online. The lack of a rotary is a big issue for me.

Accessories for the xTool P2. The RA2 rotary and riser base.
Some of my accessories for the xTool P2 – the rotary, and the riser base. (Source: CNCSourced)

The xTool P2 also has curved surface features, letting you engrave perfect designs without distortion on spoons, bowls, and other uneven objects. This is a game-changing new laser cutting feature.

You can see how it works in my video here:

There’s also the Smart Fill batch processing feaure that auto-aligns your design perfectly on all the items you’re cutting or engraving.

XCS software is intuitive and easy to use, and it’s also available offline, unlike Glowforge which is all in the cloud. This protects you from an internet outage, and means the software can’t be taken offline, leaving you with an unusable brick.

However, the Glowforge wins out in dpi, operating at 1355dpi versus the xTool P2’s 1000dpi.

Overall, I think the xTool P2 is the best CO2 laser in it’s price range right now.

Even with the riser base accessory, RA2 Pro rotary, and the conveyor feeder, it’s STILL cheaper than the base Glowforge Pro. To me, it’s a no-brainer to go with the xTool P2.

Best Desktop CO2 Laser
xTool P2 CO2 Laser Cutter and Cutting Machine
4.7

Simple the best CO2 desktop laser right now. You can buy this, the rotary, riser base, and the automatic conveyor feeder, and it's still cheaper than a Glowforge Pro.

It's more powerful than competing lasers at 55W, can cut 20mm thick wood in a single pass, and the batch processing and curved surface engraving open up new possibilities for your business.

Pros:
  • Large processing area
  • Powerful 55W laser cuts 20mm thick material in a single pass
  • 16MP dual cameras autofocus for easy project preparation
  • Curved surface engraving in XCS
  • Batch processing features
Cons:
  • Can't use all features in Lightburn (but XCS software is really good now)
  • Mirrors/lenses may be out of focus from transport and require fixing
xTool Store here Our Review
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

2. xTool D1 Pro 10W – Best Diode Laser Alternative

  • Price: $699 — Available at xTool here
  • Work area: 432 x 406 mm
  • Rotary Attachment? Yes Available at xTool here
  • Laser power: 10W (5W, 20W, and 40W also available)
  • Compatible Software: xTool Creative Space, Lightburn
  • Max Engraving Speed: 400mm/s
xTool D1 Pro
My xTool D1 Pro when I had just assembled it. (Source: CNCSourced)

Pros

The best diode laser cutter around.

Rotary is high quality and costs under $300.

Large work area, with $160 extension kit to become even larger.

Can engrave metal more effectively with the infrared laser add-on.

Cons

Less power than Glowforge: though xTool sell a 40W laser head accessory for $1100, I would still prefer a 40W CO2 laser.

The best diode laser cutter around, the xTool is made by Makeblock, who also produce CO2 lasers like the P2 and Laserbox, and have built the D1 Pro with the same know-how as they build their more powerful CO2 lasers with.

Unlike the Glowforge models, the xTool D1 has an easily accessible rotary add-on, called the RA2 rotary for under $300, so all in for both the rotary and laser, you’re paying just $1,000 – thousands less than even the lowest-cost Glowforge laser.

RA2 Rotary Pro accessory for xTool lasers, compatible with both the xTool D1 Pro and the xTool P2.
My RA2 Pro Rotary that I use with my D1 Pro 20W, and my xTool P2. (Source: CNCSourced)

You obviously lose out on power however, but if your goals are as a small business to cut acrylic into sellable projects, to cut 0.6mm basswood, or do standard engravings, the xTool has everything you need to get started and prove your business model works before scaling up. With the rotary, and the infrared laser add-on, you can engrave metal flasks which are best-sellers online from my experience.

The 20W version is also available:

I personally have bought a 20W version of the xTool D1 Pro, and while it isn’t 40W or CO2 powered, it can still cut through thick wood. For example, here is a 0.5-inch thick piece of wood it easily cut for a project I designed:

Laser cutting a thick wood part with my D1 Pro 20W. (Source: CNCSourced)

You can also read my full xTool D1 Pro review.

The work area is large, too, at 17″ x 16″, and you can even purchase the extension kit to 936 x 432 mm. And if you’re anxious about the open-air engraving, you can also purchase an enclosure to keep everything locked in.

It’s accurate (0.01mm precision, 0.08 x 0.06 mm spot size), has good built-in safety features, and the software is fully downloadable and offline – unlike Glowforge’s. You can also use it with third-party software like LightBurn.

Overall, if you’re not fussed about power and are newer and have less intense demands of your laser, the xTool is your best option for under $1000 for a diode laser. I also liked the Ortur Laser Master 3 and I also own this, but I recommend the xTool over it overall for a diode laser.

Best diode pick
xTool D1 Pro 10W: Higher Accuracy Diode DIY Laser Engraving & Cutting
4.7
$629.99

And if you need even more power, go for the 20W version (we did!)

xTool Store here
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

3. FSL Muse 3D – Doesn’t Rely on WiFi

  • Price: $3,499 — Available at Matterhackers here
  • Working area: 20″ x 12″ / 508 x 305 mm
  • Rotary Attachment? Yes
  • Power: 40W
  • Best Compatible Software: Retina Engrave v3.0
FSL Muse

Pros

A fierce competitor to Glowforge.

The RetinaEngrave software can be used offline.

Similar power to Glowforge.

Has rotary attachment upgradability.

Cons

Has external water cooling, unlike Glowforge’s easier built-in cooling.

Full Spectrum Laser’s Muse is a popular Glowforge alternative and a fierce competitor in the laser cutting scene. They both offer 45W power (well, the Muse is 40W by default but you can buy it with a 45W upgrade for $250 extra), but the Muse sells at half the price of the Glowforge Pro.

A main difference between Muse vs Glowforge is their philosophy in software. We prefer Muse’s offline strategy: their RetinaEngrave software can be used offline, making it much more versatile than Glowforge’s solely browser-based software, though it’s also browser-based and works with all major browsers like Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge.

FSL Muse 3D Laser Cutter
Source: YouTube

It’s not a download though, which adds a small amount of complexity. Instead, your Muse laser runs its own web server which hosts the Retina Engrave software, which you then point your browser to the Muse’s IP address to open RE3 on a LAN connection. For a fuller explanation, check out this forum thread here.

Muse also has an easy-to-use LCD screen (Glowforge doesn’t) for moving between projects, a usable camera akin to Glowforge’s (arguably easier to use, too), and has a rotary attachment option for those looking to engrave rounded or curved materials (Glowforge doesn’t). Like Glowforge the Muse laser cutter is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux users.

FSL Muse 3D Laser Cutter
Sample cuts using FSL Muse 3D. Source: YouTube

A main difference is Muse opts for external water cooling, whereas Glowforge’s cooling is built-in. This makes the Glowforge easier to position and store than the FSL Muse.

So if you’re looking for a laser cutter with similar power to Glowforge (1000dpi, 45W), but has rotary attachment upgradability, is half the price, and intuitive, offline software, the Muse is a great Glowforge alternative.

3D Wood Laser Cutter
FSL Muse Core 40W Laser Cutter and Engraver
$3499

Powerful 40W laser matches the Glowforge - but at a more affordable price point and with more upgradeability.

Matterhackers here
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

4. OMTech 55W – More Power, Lower Price

OMTech 55W, a more powerful 55W alternative to the Glowforge Pro

Pros

Larger work area than most in its price range.

Can cut deeper than Glowforge.

Has a rotary device add-on, unlike Glowforge.

Faster than Glowforge.

Cons

Doesn’t feature unlimited lengths like Glowforge.

OMTech’s low-cost K40 40W laser made our list as the cheapest Glowforge alternative, but for a more like-for-like alternative specs-wise, we have the OMTech 55W.

It doesn’t feature unlimited lengths like the Glowforge Pro, but the 24” x 16” working area is larger than most in its price range, and is more than enough for cutting large signs or topographical maps. 

OMTech 55W Laser Cutter
Source: YouTube

It can also cut deeper, with an estimated 0.63” max cutting thickness according to OMTech, versus Glowforge’s 0.25” maximum cut depth. Beyond actual cut depth, you get far more z-depth with the OMTech 55W, at 10” vs the Glowforge Pro’s 2”. 

If you want to rotary engrave, the Glowforge can’t satisfy you, leaving the OMTech the only game in town (though most of our other Glowforge Pro alternatives on this list have these add-ons). The rotary device add-on costs just under $300, and there’s a few other handy add-ons also available like the 5200 water chiller for $500.

OMTech 55W
Sample cut using OMTech 55W. Source: YouTube

OMTech stress both the speed differences between their 55W laser cutter and the 45W Glowforge Pro, and the image resolution differences. For speed, OMTech claim a 600mm/s max engraving speed vs Glowforge’s estimated 200-250mm/s, and a far significant 400mm/s cutting speed. The 2540 dpi image resolution vs around 1000 dpi for the Glowforge is significant, though both are still considered high quality.

High Power 55W CO2 Laser
OMTech 55W CO2 Laser Engraver Cutter 16 x 24 Inch
Amazon here
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5. Thunder Laser Nova 24 – The Industrial Choice

  • Price: $7,400
  • Work area: 600 x 400 mm
  • Rotary Attachment? Yes
  • Laser Power: 40W or 60W
  • Compatible Software: Lightburn, RDWorks, and LaserMaker
  • Max Engraving Speed: 2000mm/s
thunder laser nova 24

Pros

A great durable, industrial laser for your business.

Thunder Laser machines are compatible with Lightburn, unlike Glowforge.

Can be adjusted downwards for these taller parts without issue.

Can work at 1000mm/s, making it an effective business machine.

Cons

More expensive than Glowforge.

For a large, premium option instead of the Glowforge Pro, Thunder Laser manufactures a number of professional laser cutters, ranging from the lowest-cost Nova 24 Lite and Nova 24 machines, up to higher-priced premium industrial lasers.

It’s more expensive than the Glowforge Pro, but if you’re looking for a durable, industrial laser for your business, the Nova 24 is ideal. The 60W power and large 600 x 400 mm working area with infinite length if you keep the pass-through door open mean you’ll be able to cut and engrave almost any material you desire, no matter the size or toughness.

Unlike Glowforge’s online laser software, Thunder Laser machines are compatible with Lightburn, and each machine comes with a license. Using Lightburn ensures you own the IP for any designs you use (a concern with the Glowforge workflow), and you can use it offline.

Thunder Laser Nova 24
Sample project using the Thunder Laser Nova 24. Source: YouTube

A major limitation of Glowforge laser cutters is the little z-depth movement, so you can’t engrave tall objects, such as bowls, figurines, pots, and other ornaments or tall furniture. The Nova 24’s tray can be adjusted downwards for these taller parts without issue. It also comes with a CW5200 water cooler, air assist compressor, flexible ducting, and more.

For business use, speed is key – it’s directly related to how much money you can make. The Thunder Laser Nova 24 can work at 1000mm/s, making it an effective business machine. It’s safely enclosed and has a well-designed exhaust tube system to prevent any of the CO2 laser gases from reaching you.

It’s expensive and complex, but if you’re looking to scale up your business, Thunder Laser laser machines are ideal. If you run into any trouble there are a variety of helpful Facebook groups such as this and this group, and Thunder Laser offer 6 different models — the Nova 24 the cheapest — that you can compare and determine which is best for you.

The video below explains one customer’s view on Thunder Laser and how they better match up against Glowforge lasers:


Other Alternatives We Considered

These were considered, but didn’t make our top recommendations:

  • Flux Beamo
  • Epilog Zing
  • Various Boss Laser lasers
  • Dremel LC40 (was once recommended but is now discontinued)
  • Various Cricut cutters
  • CNCs such as the X-Carve
  • Snapmaker 2.0 and Snapmaker Artisan

What is Glowforge Not Good For?

Glowforge’s Apple-like design, sleek surfaces, and slick marketing campaigns have turned creatives and makers all over the world into Glowforge devotees. 

And there’s many reasons why: they’re accessible and intuitive, work well generally, and turn your home or workshop into a one-stop shop for an Etsy store or similar – most people pay their machine cost off within a few months if they’ve got enough creative ideas for their wares.

With lasers becoming affordable enough for most businesses to be able to afford one, these accessible, Plug’n’Play lasers are great. If you’re after a simple laser that’s a joy to use, and you can accept the sacrifice in specs you might gain by switching to an alternative, go for a Glowforge Pro, Plus, or Basic.

However, there are some key reasons why you should ask wether the Glowforge is worth it for you:

Price

The Glowforge Pro is $5,995, a very large expense — and simply too much money for most people to sensibly set aside for a speculative business investment, or for a hobby. 

The lowest-cost Glowforge model, the Glowforge Basic, starts at $2,499 but doesn’t offer the same size, infinite-length cutting, or power of the Pro. Our Glowforge alternatives offer better power at lower prices, such as the OMTech 40W or 55W.

You also need to consider your ongoing costs such as for materials and replacement parts. While high quality and convenient, Glowforge’s Proofgrade materials are priced as such.

Laser EngraverPrice
Glowforge Pro$6,995
OMTech K40$549
xTool D1 Pro$699
FSL Muse 3D$3,499
OMTech 55W$699
FLUX Beamo$2,195
Inventables X-Carve$2,299
Thunder Laser Nova 24$7,400
Snapmaker 2.0 A350T$1,799

Cutting depth

For engraving and thin cutting, the Glowforge Pro and other models offer fantastic accuracy and repeatability. However, those who want to cut 0.5-inch or thicker plywood and similar materials will be frustrated with the 0.25-inch cutting depth.

We’ve picked Glowforge laser cutter alternatives with deeper cutting power, as well as a CNC router – the Inventables X-Carve – for those eager to cut thicker wood and acrylic, as well as light aluminum.

Some better choices for deeper cuts are the

Laser EngraverCutting Depth
Glowforge Pro0.25 inches
Inventables X-Carve2 inches
OMTech 55W0.63 inches
xTool D1 Pro 10W0.59 inches

Power Overkill

For more casual makers looking to go deeper than tip their toes into laser engraving, the Glowforge doesn’t make sense.

Beginners simply don’t need the 40-45W CO2 laser power Glowforge’s models offer, and should go for a lower-power budget choice like the Ortur LM2 Pro.

Even if you still want a professional-grade laser, the Flux Beamo is plenty powerful for the vast majority of engraving projects and will save you a few thousand dollars.

(Anyway – if power is what you’re after, you can get the OMTech 55W for cheaper than a Glowforge) 

Laser EngraverPower
Glowforge Pro40 – 45W
Ortur LM2 Pro10W
Flux Beamo30W

Reliance on Wifi and Cloud-based Software

Glowforge Print uses the cloud, so if you don’t have an internet connection that reaches wherever your machine sits, you’re stuffed. You can’t download the app and use it offline, so you’re really a prisoner to your WiFi connection. 

What’s more, many Glowforge users complain about the slow server times from sending your job, to the job executing. Understanding users’ frustrations, Glowforge brought out a fix – but it wasn’t the fix the customers wanted.

In fact, their solution was to offer a $50/month Glowforge Premium software, which gave users priority in the cloud queue to submit their projects. While this also comes with a wide commercially-licensed vector graphics library and some other really cool features like font tools, shape and outline tools, and unlimited storage, charging people to gain the same level of productivity you could get from an offline, downloadable software feels steep.

On top of that, there’s the fact that if Glowforge were to go out of business, and the software was to cease being updated, you could in theory be left with a $6,000 useless brick of a machine that can’t be accessed or controlled. While Glowforge appears in healthy straits, many well-to-do companies have suddenly disappeared over the years, and the lack of downloadable, offline support adds risk to your choice.

We picked Glowforge alternatives that use laser software like Lightburn that you can download and run, and that offer lifetime access once you’ve paid your one-off fee.

No Rotary Module Add-on

While not everyone wants to do 4-axis engraving of curved materials, it’s a useful option to have in your laser engraving arsenal.

Unfortunately, none of Glowforge’s three models have rotary axis compatibility.

If you want to engrave curved surfaces, then don’t buy the Glowforge, and consider one of the laser cutters to buy instead of the Glowforge Pro, such as the FSL Muse, OMTech options, Snapmaker 2.0 with the rotary add-on, or the Flux Beamo.

Laser EngraverRotary Attachment
Glowforge Pro No
OMTech K40Yes
xTool D1 ProYes
FSL Muse 3DYes
OMTech 55WYes
FLUX BeamoYes
Inventables X-CarveNo
Thunder Laser Nova 24Yes
Snapmaker 2.0 A350TYes

Short, Difficult-to-fit Exhaust Hose

Many Glowforge owners complain about the short exhaust hose that’s difficult to fit, and can often slip off during a project, which nobody wants to happen when there’s fumes about. 

There are solutions, such as this exhaust port extension which can be 3D printed or bought cheaply. However, the ideal Glowforge replacement wouldn’t have this issue to begin with.

Very Loud

This isn’t a huge deal for most, as you need to kind of expect a certain level of noise if you’re planning on lasering materials. Plus, if you’ve ever owned a CNC router, and to a lesser extent, a 3D printer, you’ll know how loud that carving woods in particular on a router can be. 

Nevertheless, the Glowforge Pro is noisy. So opt for a quieter Glowforge alternative if you plan to run it near your living space.

Not Particularly Fast

While sleek, relatively powerful, and easy to use if you’re newer to laser cutting and engraving, Glowforge machines aren’t exactly speed demons. 

Glowforge don’t reveal the exact speeds each of their machines offer, choosing instead to list the Glowforge Pro’s speed relative to the Glowforge Basic.

However, curious Glowforge users have taken to the forums to experiment and post their results, and generally it’s considered one of the slowest CO2 lasers available. This is in contrast with lasers such as Thunder Laser’s Nova 35, which can run 5x as fast.

If you’re running a business on Etsy or your own store, the slower cutting speed of a Glowforge can really be a bottleneck on how quickly you can produce products, and how much money you can make.

Laser EngraverMax Engraving Speed
Glowforge ProNot listed
OMTech K40255 mm/s
xTool D1 Pro400 mm/s
FSL Muse 3DNot listed
OMTech 55W600 mm/s
FLUX Beamo300 mm/s
Inventables X-CarveNot listed
Thunder Laser Nova 242000 mm/s
Snapmaker 2.0 A350TNot listed

Reasons To Buy a Glowforge Laser Cutter

Large Cutting Area

Glowforge machines, especially the Glowforge Pro with its infinite-length 3D laser printing, offer large working areas on the X and Y axes – despite fitting snugly on most workshop desktops. All you need is a nearby window to vent out of.

This will be more than enough, unless you plan on doing enormous 24” cutting and engraving, in which case you’ll need an industrial laser cutter-sized machine.

High-quality and Workflow-optimized Proofgrade Materials

While they’re priced to reflect this, Glowforge’s material range offers high-quality acrylics, woods, and more to get started with. They each come with a unique QR code that automatically optimizes your Glowforge for working with the material, and the material sheets are evenly cut for a high-quality job.

Some will argue that this is Glowforge’s attempt to trap you in the 2D printer style of business model of getting you hooked on ink cartridges and trapping you within their ecosystem, but frankly Glowforges themselves aren’t cheap like an inkjet printer loss-leader, and you can use your own third-party or custom-cut materials with your 3D laser printer if you don’t want to use theirs.

However, the materials are often sold out, and businesses looking to maximize profit margins will be better off sourcing cheaper materials elsewhere.

Built-in Camera, and Thousands of Free Designs (Including Major IP)

It’s easy to laser your own custom hand-draw your designs using your Glowforge’s built-in camera. But you can even go one further, with Glowforge Premium’s design library with almost unlimited free designs.

What’s more, Glowforge have teamed up to offer designs such as Star Wars designs within the app, that you can use commercially.

You can buy the Glowforge Pro here.

Large Community

Glowforge’s marketing strategy is definitely the best in the game, and despite the price, thousands of makers all over the world have pulled the trigger on one of their laser machines.

As a result, there are thriving communities on Glowforge’s forums, on YouTube, and various subreddits including Glowforge’s own subreddit with over 7,000 members. Such communities are rarely available across the best Glowforgae alternatives, which is worth keeping in mind.

What’s Changed?

December 2023 update:

  • We removed several lasers we felt were not good alternatives anymore at the end of 2023. These included the OMTech K40 40W, Snapmaker A350, and Flux Beamo.

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CNCSourced

CNCSourced is a publisher covering CNC machines and laser cutters for more than 3 years. We're a team of huge fans of desktop CNC routers, lasers, and home DIY projects, and love to write about how you can get the most out of your CNC. We've tested more than a dozen of the most popular CNC and other machines to help you pick the best router for you, and our goal is to be the most informative CNC site on the web.

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