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Everything to Know About Laser Engraving with XTool Lasers

If you're just getting started with laser engraving and cutting or are curious what a laser engraver can do that a vinyl cutter can't you're in the right spot.  Maybe you're even considering investing in a desktop laser printer for crafting or business but are still trying to find the best one for you! 

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I have three laser engravers: the 12x15" XTool M1 10W Craft Laser,  the 24 x14" XTool P2 55W CO2 laser and the newest xTool S1 40W diode laser.  All of them are Glowforge alternatives....and the great news is XTool has something for everyone whether you're cramped for space, on a limited budget or need a laser powerful and fast enough to run a small customization business.  They even have a high speed portable laser called the XTool F1. And I'm here to help you decide and cut the learning curve!

I have put all of our resources and information on laser cutting and engraving in one spot so you can easily find what you're looking for whether that's comparing xTool lasers, shopping for the best laser bundle,  looking for troubleshooting help or even inspiration and ideas.  

Even if you're still trying to figure out "What is Laser Engraving" or you're looking for an honest take on what you REALLY need to get started, you will find it all here.  

What is Laser Engraving and the Different Types of Lasers?

A laser engraver and cutter uses a highly concentrated laser light beam, controlled by computer software, to mark (score), engrave, and cut through various materials. A design file, like an SVG, controls the path the laser and various settings (score, engrave, or cut) controls the process and determines whether the material is cut through (fully vaporized by the laser), scored in a line, or engraved. 

The three most common types of lasers are diode, CO2, and fiber.  Diode lasers are the least expensive but also not as a powerful. The XTool M1 has a 10W diode laser.  The S1 has five diode lasers to combine for one higher power laser.  A CO2 laser is a high powered, more expensive laser that can cut through more and thicker materials faster.  The XTool P2 has a CO2 laser. 

Here's an indepth look the differences between the XTool M1 and the P2 if you're scratching your head wondering "what's the best laser machine for my needs?". (I will soon have more on the xTool S1 which was released in late October the meantime here are a some xTool S1 videos).

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And if you're looking for an at-a-glance laser engraving machine capabilities between the XTool M1 vs P2 this material chart is a good start!  It lists some, but not all, materials both lasers can cut and/or engrave. 

You'll notice the M1 can not engrave clear glass and is limited to a very few dark opaque colors of acrylic - while the P2 does both with ease. That's due to the power of the different lasers.

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What is the Laser Engraving Process? 

The laser engraving process is pretty simple and straight forward.  Open your design file (SVG is preferred) in the XTool Creative Space, set each line to either cut, score or engrave. Adjust the settings based on the built in settings or find custom settings using the test array process. Place the item to be lasered into the laser engraving and press start to begin. 

This video is a quick look at the laser cutting process using the XTool M1 so you can get a full understanding of how the process works. 

Laser Cutting and Engraving Applications 

Whether you're in business or a hobby crafter you're probably wondering what can a laser cutting and engraving machine do that a vinyl cutter or printer can't? The answer is...a lot.  

I've already shared a list of materials for laser engraving, but nothing shows off the power of a laser engraver like real examples and project ideas so take a look at a few here and then check out this blog post for 10 things to make with a laser (that you can't with a vinyl cutter).

Glowforge project ideas, XTool engraving projects

What's the Best Laser Machine for My Needs?

Now that you know how a laser works and have scratched the surface of what it can do, let's talk about the best laser machine for you. 

The XTool P2, S1 and M1 have a lot of similarities but they also have quite a few differences. Here's a side by side comparison of the XTool M1, S1 vs P2 laser features.

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XTool M1 10W Craft Laser Engraver

If you're a hobby crafter and are looking for an entry level laser engraver for beginners, I think the XTool M1 is an excellent option. It's an enclosed, desktop laser with a 12" x 15" bed that can easily fit on a desktop.  The 10W diode laser helps keep the price down (as far as lasers go) to a relatively low $1k and the fully enclosed design has a focus on safety.  

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The diode laser is powerful enough to work with more than 500 materials, although you will have some limitations with popular engravable materials things like glass and acrylic. The frame mounted camera can cause some issues with distortion and therefore accurate design placement and the air assist should ideally be manufacture installed, but if you're looking for an affordable laser machine for crafts it's a great option. 

If you're looking for something a little larger, faster and more powerful than the xTool M1, the 40W S1 checks a lot of those boxes. does not have a camera to help in positioning of your material which I think is a pretty big deal.  But if you're somewhere between a serious crafter who's dabbling in selling custom engraved items, the S1 is one to consider. It's more affordable than the P2, larger and more powerful than the M1, and enclosed for safety unlike the 20W D1.

When it comes to speed, the XTool P2 is about twice as fast as the XTool M1, but the end results on wood are nearly identical. One of these wooden spoons was engraved with the XTool M1 10W and the other with the XTool P2. 

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XTool P2 55W CO2 Laser Engraver

The XTool P2 is a workhorse and I would highly recommend if you're looking for small business laser engraving options!

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The 55W CO2 laser is not only powerful and fast, the P2 is packed with features. Built in air assist helps reduce wood scorching, multiple cameras provide a top down view for accurate placement and precision, and a large 24" x 14" bed means you can do larger projects or higher volume.  Add on accessories like the 4-in-1 rotary expand the options to cylindrical items and the conveyer rails expand the cutting and engraving surface to 96". 

The XTool P2 price tag is about $4600 for the base machine and is definitely an investment for a small business, but the earning potential with laser engraving is great. While larger than the M1, the desktop size of the P2 offers the opportunity to start a laser engraving business from home or add it to your existing customization shop.

What's Needed to Get Started with Laser Engraving and Cutting?

I know the buying options when getting started with laser engraving and cutting can be overwhelming. There are a lot of different bundles and add on accessories so what's REALLY needed to get started? 

This video will help explain what I'd recommend you get and what I think you can skip and below I'm sharing a link to my recommended XTool M1 and P2 bundles.

Now that you know everything that's needed to get into laser engraving, it's time to decide which XTool laser bundle is best for your needs.  

What's the Best XTool M1 Bundle?

Here's a quick look at the available XTool M1 laser engraver bundles.  The sheet is clickable so you can shop directly from it. 

I've marked with the Silhouette School logo the two bundles I'd recommend. One of each has a filter so if you DO NOT HAVE OUTDOOR VENTING you will want to make sure to get the bundle with the filter.

Best XTool P2 Bundles for Small Businesses

Where Can I Get Laser Engraving Blanks?

I have created an Amazon list with laser blanks that I've been using to test and create with on my XTool. These laser engraving blanks can also be used with the Glowforge laser engravers.  Feel free to shop the list and I'll keep adding to it. 

XTool laser engraving blanks on amazon, glowforge engraving blanks

Getting Started with Laser Engraving

It's relatively easy to get started with laser engraving and printing although the set up of each of the two XTool lasers is slightly different.

I have created lots of resources to help you get started with laser engraving and cutting on the Xtool M1 and P2 including print-friendly settings charts.  You can download each of the Xtool settings charts by clicking the images below. 

The XTool M1 is very quick and easy to set up, but if you get the Air Assist as I recommend it will take you a little longer. Don't worry though I have a step by step XTool M1 set up guide as well as a complete set of getting started videos to help you get set up and through your first engraving. 

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The XTool P2 setup is slightly different and of course I have a full set up video on that as well.

You can find all of my xTool S1 laser videos here

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