Category Archives: laser

Laser Related Content Moving

For some reason my laser related blog entries have gained some favorable traction.

In an attempt to appear a tad more professional to the laser community I have taken some of my better entries and created a new website.  I’ll leave my existing laser content here, but all future laser only content will only be posted to:

and it can be parsed by an RSS reader at:

I did not in my wildest dreams think that anyone followed my blog in an RSS feed until a plugin I had installed broke my RSS feed and several people told me.

Anyway, thanks for reading and bookmark my new laser page if you come here for the laser content.


Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review

Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review

Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review

Ortur LM3 LE

I’ve been doing desktop diode lasers since they became mainstream in about 2019.  Prior to that they were mostly DIY.  Ortur was pretty much first to the game with the Laser Master 1 and subsequently the Laser Master 2.  I owned 2 of those.   I’ve since picked up a Laser Master 3, an Aufero 2 and now it is time to do an Ortur Laser Master 3 LE Review.

I wasn’t really a fan of the Ortur Laser Master 3 and I wrote at length about that here.  My LM3 works fine but I generally think the design has some issues. It sits so low as to be almost unusable for anything over 400mm in width unless you raise the machine. Also  there are support issues regarding the lens protective glass that just aren’t right.
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Best Budget Laser Engraver

Best Budget Laser Engraver

I own two of the very best laser engravers that money can buy.  The xTool D1 Pro (20 watt and 10 watt).  But they cost a buck or two. In fact, an entry level laser from just about anywhere is in the $500 and up range. What if you just want to get your feet wet in the laser world as cheaply as possible?  Or maybe you want an inexpensive back up machine.  Let’s find the best budget laser engraver to get you started.

And right away I need to make it clear that I’m not saying that this is the best laser engraver by a long shot.  It is my choice for the best BUDGET laser engraver.  

To get the optimum bang for your buck you need to leave the country and head to AliExpress to find the best budget laser engraver.  You simply are not going go get a similar deal from the US based sales or places such as Amazon.  Of course you can always check the classifieds for a used laser but you don’t really know what you are getting there.

If you search for “laser engraver”, you’ll find some good ones that hover around the $200 price point.  However, beware potential shipping costs and make sure you are getting a laser with about a 5 watt optical output.  Most anything else is a toy.  Also check for coupon availability.

There are several no name lasers on there that price out at some ridiculous prices around $120 but once you click on them you’ll find that price is actually an extension kit or just the laser head.  Clicking on the box for the full laser that is 5 watts or so pushes you up around $200 again.

Read on to see what I determined the best deal was.

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Laser Engraving Fundamental Skills



It seems like everyone is doing a side hustle from home.  With the advent of reasonably priced craft machines such as Cricut, CNC routers, and laser engravers, everyone is jumping into the game. This is a reasonably new phenomenon as well as desktop laser engraving machines have only been around a couple of years.  There is one notable exception.  The Chinese K40, CO2 laser.

K40 Laser Engraving Machine

OMTech K40

I personally think every laser side hustle wannabe should be forced to own one of these first.

Modern, refined laser engravers do much of the heavy lifting for you these days.  The K40 made you learn every single skill the hard way. It required a lot of tedious setup, and utilized a rag tag method of water cooling.

Early users had to draw their designs in Inkscape and the color of the line determined whether the software (K40 Whisperer) either engraved it, or cut it out.   Additionally, just getting that machine set up, and aligned taught the user vital skills.  The K40 forced you to learn the difference between vector and raster drawings.   Having dirty lenses and mirrors were anathema to engraving success.  DIY upgrades were often vital to keeping the machine operating within recommended parameters.  Jumpers were installed on the main board which defeated safety measures such as detection of water flow.  Wow!  I’ve blogged about much of this in the past.

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Best Laser Engraver


The answer to that question can only be determined by examining how you intend to use your laser engraver.   I’ll try to cover a few things in this blog that most people don’t think about before buying a laser.  Here are some ways that a laser engraver can be used:

  • For a Stay At Home business
  • For a mobile business as a vendor at local festivals or flea markets
  • As strictly a hobby device
  • As a tool at your workplace
  • As a way to supplement another machine such as a CNC (i.e. applying Makers Marks, logos, etc.)

If you decide that you are a Stay At Home user you can likely buy a larger, sturdier machine where speed may not be the most important requirement.  Conversely, if you use your laser engraver as a mobile device you may desire a smaller, lighter, and more portable machine.  The ability to make items quickly while customers wait could also be an important consideration.
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Multiple xTool Lightburn Lasers On 1 Computer


I have two xTool D1 Pro lasers and I thought it would be easy to hook the xtool’s to Lightburn on one computer. It wasn’t.  While the solution is easy, the steps must be done in a specific order to make this work.

Using the xTool software, xTool Creative Space works perfectly.  This is a Lightburn / Mac / USB issue.

Fortunately there is a way to make this work.

When I first started this I had the red D1 Pro 20 watt with the extended bed hooked up.  It worked perfectly.  Then I bought an xTool D1 Pro 10 watt and hooked it to the same computer.

This is when the trouble began.

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Ortur vs xTool

Ortur vs xTool


Side hustle is a thing!  One of the best side hustles going is laser engraving.  In the world of desktop laser machines there are several purchase options out there but most users ultimately pare their selection down to Ortur vs xTool.

I own both an Ortur Laser Master 3 and an xTool D1 Pro.  In the interest of full disclosure, xTool provided me a D1 Pro 20 watt kit to review, however in this article I’ll be mostly comparing the Ortur offering vs an xTool D1 Pro 10 watt, which I purchased with my own funds.  Also in the interest of full disclosure I previously owned two Ortur Laser Master 2 machines.

Let the games begin!
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Ortur Laser Master 3 Review

Ortur Laser Master 3 Review 

First Impressions

I’m a little late to the show on this one and the Ortur Laser Master 3 has been reviewed to death on the internet.  It was released around mid-July 2022 so it took me around 5 months before I got my hands on one.

I previously owned two Ortur Laser Master 2’s and I considered the LM2 to be the first real viable, non-DIY desktop laser out there.  I sold one of them about a month ago, and the other just a few days ago and took the proceeds from those sales and picked me up a Black Friday priced special.

Now I currently own an OMTech 50 watt CO2 laser and an xTool D1 Pro so the Ortur Laser Master 3 has some stiff competition.  This blog will be strictly my first impressions and not an overall review of the machine.

First of all, while it was in the mail I watched all the assembly videos and read all the blogs and tried to get up to speed as much as possible.  The Ortur Laser Master 3 has perhaps the easiest build of any desktop laser I’ve ever owned.   However, there was one catch and that catch left me FUMING.

Read on.

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Tools Of The Laser Trade

So you went out and bought yourself a laser engraver.  Most people think they will just build the machine and start making money.  But there are some tools and accessories out there that will make your experience a far better one.


NEIKO Digital Caliper

First of all, welcome to the world of precision.  Your customers want their engravings centered.  And in a certain spot.

And if you intend to do rotary operations, a set of calipers is a must have tool.

The only way to achieve precision is to own precision.  You also need to measure material thickness frequently, and measure the size of your working area.  You need a set of NEIKO Digital calipers.

These are great because they do both metric and imperial measurements and these calipers get really solid reviews on Amazon.   The only thing that I will say about them is they take weirdo batteries, LR44, so pick up some spare batteries.  And I recommend taking the battery out of it if you aren’t going to use it constantly.

I use calipers on a nearly daily basis while I use my laser engraver.  Sometimes a tape measure will do, but calipers are king.  And I’m a metric guy.  Yeah, I was born and raised in Indiana but lived in Japan for about 16 years.  I came to respect and admire the metric system.  Say anything you want about the metric system but a precise millimeter measurement beats converting fractions to decimals ALL DAY LONG.

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Updated xTool D1 Pro Review And Some Updates

Updated xTool D1 Pro Review

NOTE:  xTool provided me a D1 Pro + RA2 Rotary kit for review.  All other accessories mentioned were purchased by me.  xTool has never attempted to influence my review. 

First of all let me expand on my note above.  Had I not been impressed with the xTool experience I would not have purchased any accessories.   So far I have bought an IR module, a Honeycomb kit , an Extension Kit with 1 additional Honeycomb panel, 8 risers, and a Laser Parts Kit.  And now I’m eyeing the Air Assist kit because a friend of mine has one and it is SUPER quiet.

Also it pulls about 17 watts and the current LOUD air assist pump i use now pulls about 40 watts.   If I run a job and I have any concern that a power loss would ruin the working piece……..I use a portable power supply such as a Jackery.

Anyway, I’ve had my machine about a month now and I have a few more things to say about it.  Some may be things that I have mentioned before but have become more and more impressed with.  But first here’s my setup:

Extension kit, anyone?

I added the Extension kit which makes this thing a beast with a working area of 430mm x 930mm (16.9″ x 36.6″).  That’s over 3.5′ long!

I do some work with Live Edge planks of wood which are large.  Typically, I make them for campers and they might have an engraving of a Compass, then the State they are from, and then the family name.

In the past I have had to treat this as 3 separate operations, moving the wooden plank and painstakingly set up each position.  NO MORE!  One and done, baby.  So right off the bat let’s just say I love the size of the extension kit.  Only one thing to note about the honeycomb panel is that it is possible when cutting to mark up your table where the two pieces butt up against one another.  I may have to get some aluminum tape or something to deal with that seam.  Or make a large plywood spoil board.  Probably that’s the smart move.
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