Difference between a laser engraver and laser cutter

We often get asked what is the difference between a laser engraver and a laser cutter. Well simply there isn't much. Trotec laser machines, like most laser machines, can engrave as well as cut. The main application for what the laser will be used for primarily determines whether it is called a laser cutter or a laser engraver. If the laser is primarily used for cutting, then it is generally referred to as a laser cutter. Whereas if engraving is the main application, then it is referred to as a laser engraver.

In the below sections we provide a detailed explanation of the laser cutting and laser engraving processes.

How does laser engraving work?

During laser engraving, the workpiece surface us removed by melting and evaporation with a laser beam. Consequently, the laser beam removes the material which leaves a depression on the surface. The laser beam moves horizontally along the individual lines of the engraving, and the material is being removed point by point, line by line. This processing method is called grid engraving.

You can engrave surfaces or shapes with many designs including photos, pictures, logos, inlays, fine to thick lettering, and stamps, to name a few.

More about the precise process of raster engraving

How does laser cutting work?

During laser cutting, the focused laser beam is directed onto the material surface. The beam then removes the material by melting, burning and vapourising the material resulting in an edge with a high-quality surface finish. A vector-based file (lines and curves of a geometry) is the basis for the cutting process.

Laser cutting is a "thermal separation" process. This means that the heat from the laser beam cuts through the material (as opposed to removing material like engraving does). Like laser engraving, a wide variety of materials is suitable for laser cutting.


More about the precise process of laser cutting

Can Trotec laser machines do both laser engraving and laser cutting?

Yes. Trotec laser machines perform both processes.

Our wide range of laser machines are suitable for laser cutting and laser engraving many different materials. Our SP Series of laser machines are geared towards large format laser cutting while our Speedy Series of lasers are ideal for engraving. The machines are well equipped with features (e.g. cutting tables, lenses) for the respective tasks.

Laser cutting is my main application

Trotec's laser cutting and laser engraving machines are designed to meet the needs of our customers. As laser cutting jobs generally involve large materials, our laser cutting lasers are designed with large working areas and pass-through options. A wide range of materials can be processed including acrylics, wood, MDF, cardboard, and textiles, to name a few. They are also available with higher laser power wattage so thay can cut quickly and precisely with a clean edge.


Laser Cutter - SP series

Laser engraving is my main application

Our Speedy series laser engravers are ideal for those mainly interested in laser engraving. Operators who use their lasers mainly for engraving often require smaller work areas and high-speed processing.  With processing speeds as fast as 4.2 m/sec and bed sizes from 610 x 305mm to 1000 x 610mm, these laser engravers can process a wide range of materials including glass, wood, plastic, leather, paper, stone, textiles, and more.


Laser Engraver - Speedy series

laser engraving wood for sign

Contact us

You want to learn more about how Trotec laser machines work?

Our laser experts are happy to answer your questions about our products and laser processing. They will help you discover all the possibilities of laser engraving and cutting. Additionally we invite you to see our lasers and applications at one of our demonstration facilities.

Contact us

See our lasers in action! Request a demo now
Request a demo now