Glowforge has been being the most premium laser engraver brand for the last few years. Xtool is another growing laser engraver company that has started to fight Glowforge’s marketing strategy with a variety of laser engravers. The Xtool M1 and the Laserbox is the direct competitor of Glowforge that are now in customers’ preference.
On the other side, Snapmaker V2 is a three-in-one combination of a 3d printer, laser cutter, and laser engraver which is basically a Kickstarter product. Snapmaker could primarily steal the hype but did not make success as predicted.
This article compares Glowforge laser engravers with Xtool M1 and Snapmaker so that the customers can get the insights and make decision easily.
Main Differences in Glowforge Plus vs Xtool M1 & Snapmaker
These are the key differences between Snapmaker 2, Glowforge plus, and Xtool M1:
- Glowforge’s material and air filter are more expensive than the Xtool M1
- Glowforge’s power consumption is higher than the others
- Xtool M1 contains blade cutting along with laser cutting & engraving that Glowforge is not offering
- Xtool M1 is budget-friendly compared to Glowforge Plus
- Xtool offers batch processing along with a rotary facility
- Glowforge is heavier than both Snapmaker & Xtool M1 with a larger CO2 laser capacity
- Snapmaker combines a combination of both a 3d printer and a laser engraver whereas the Glowforge pro and the Xtool M1 are purely laser engravers.
- Snapmaker’s price is lower than Glowforge but slightly higher than the Xtool M1
- Snapmaker 2 does not have any enclosure attached and if you care about safety, you need to buy one that might cost another $300
- We recommend Glowforge Plus to craft business owners who have regular orders and are aware of better customer feedback. Snapmaker and Xtool M1 are good for the enthusiast with a comparably low volume of tasks. Snapmaker cannot offer you a lot of flexibility when you are in regular crafting or, engraving business.
Glowforge Plus Vs Xtool M1
Xtool M1 is a lighter compact version that does not offer a CO2 laser which indicates that its laser cutting and engraving would be lower than the Glowforge. Also, the material compatibility will be lower than the Glowforge. However, The Xtool M1 is a powerful diode laser that is very good for lighter laser engravings. When compared from the Price point, The Xtool M1 costs one-fourth of Glowforge Plus’s price and the engraving quality is almost the same for both laser engraving machines.
Moreover, Xtool M1’s security feature is stronger than the Glowforge as you cannot open the lid unless the batch processing is done. Xtool also features almost equal software flexibility compared to Glowforge but with a smaller work area.
If compared on engraving capacity, Glowforge would surely be on the stronger side since its a 40W CO2 laser engraver and the Xtool M1 is a 10W diode laser. However, some engraving jobs are still the same in both machines, such as making any patterns on acrylic, leather and wood.
Even, the Xtool M1 can do better engravings on small pieces such as Jewelley and stone pieces and the job becomes easy for its automatic batch processing feature. In contrast, Glowforge is good in cutting & handling heavier materials such as thick wood.
If you are about to engrave a tumbler or a stainless steel Yeti cup, The Xtool & Glowforge would do the same work since both laser engraving machine will work at the same pattern with the help of temporary paint coatings.
Overall, Xtool M1 can be an excellent deal if someone needs a laser cutter and a blade cutter in one machine. However, Glowforge does not have a blade-cutting facility.
In conclusion, If you can pay higher prices and wish to experiment with both laser cutting & engravings on greater amounts of material then the Glowforge plus is a good option. Otherwise, the Xtool M1 is the best fit if you want small acrylic cutting & engraving in various material types.
What’s unique in Xtool M1?
Xtool M1 is a compact machine with both laser engraving and cutting facilities. On top of those, this machine can also cut paper, acrylic, and vinyl material. The 10W laser engraving, laser cutting, and blade cutting under $2000 can be a good option for those who work with gifts and crafts manufacturing.
These are the main factors that can motivate someone to choose the Xtool M1 and differentiates it from the other laser cutters.
So far the Xtool M1 is the first compact machine that offers both laser engraving and blade cutting at the same time. This is beneficial for those who cannot afford a different machine or, who have a very limited blade cutting besides the regular laser engraving works.
The M1 offers a dual laser technology which significantly contributes to faster and quality work. It becomes special when you will be having the freedom to engrave even a tiny spot of a minimum of 0.08 x 0.08mm.
Here’s the last available price of Xtool M1.
So far, the laser engraves and laser cutting on Xtool M1 has been so attractive and sharp.
Here’s a laser work done by Xtool M1 in a 3 inches double-sided ceramic.
Furthermore, the smart camera has been very efficient in spotting the edge and monitoring activities. In addition, the AI focus helps the camera to spot the edges and set itself at a perfect angle to produce a quality engraving.
Unlike the Snapmaker, Xtool M1 features an enclosure that is purely transparent and you can see the entire process from the outside. However, in Glpwforge, you cannot see the entire live picture with the naked eye.
The smoke purifier is great in filtering the toxic fumes but the cartridge replacement is costly.
Like the Glowforge, Xtool M1 also allows image extraction which means that the engraver camera can capture the image (no matter from what object) and extract the image to engrave accordingly.
One thing we liked a lot is that the blade cutting protects thinner objects from having a burnt edge. (This is not available in Glowforge)
We have tried Xtool M1’s batch processing of coins, it worked so nicely having quality benchmarks at 100%. Neither the Snapmaker nor the Glowforge offers batch processing speed and accuracy like the Xtool M1 at such an affordable price.
The 10W diode laser is good enough to engrave/cut 8mm of the thickness of the wood and other such materials.
Another positive side of M1 has a high-security mechanism. You cannot open the lid unless it is done with its laser-cutting jobs.
Overall, it is a quiet device having a noise level of less than 50 DB.
Creative Space software overview
Creative Space is the software platform by which you need to operate the Xtool laser engraver. Here are some highlighting points of Creative Space
- Works offline which means that unavailability of the internet won’t interrupt the laser process
- There are built-in settings that work along with the presets so nothing more to customize if you are an intermediate user
- You need to spend 2-3 minutes max for each design in the Creative Space and rests are the machine job
A few negatives about Xtool M1
- Xtool M1 does not feature a CO2 laser. It comes with a diode laser which is less efficient in terms of quality and speed compared to the CO2 lasers. However, diode lasers are good for small laser engraving works.
- The work area is smaller than Snapmaker & Glowforge which means you cannot work on larger boards. This is a possible threat if you are targeting the vast majority of customers.
- Overall laser scoring & engraving speed is slower compared to the other engravers in the same price range
- There is only one style of the blade which limits crafting & designing a portfolio
More from Xtool
Xtool has another great piece of DIY laser engraver which is called Xtool D1 Pro.
Both the D1 pro and the Xtool M1 will cost almost the same but the Xtool D1 would offer you a premium cutting and engraving experience.
The Xtool D1 pro is more open and exposed. However, it features a stronger 20W diode laser that can cut even 18mm of wood at finer speed than other similar laser cutters. The Xtool M1 is enclosed and focused to the customers who want to keep the laser engraver unattended. On the other side, The D1 pro would offer you the ultimate freedom of working with more than 400 material types like Glowforge.
When compared, The Xtool D1 pro ill has no cutting blade like the Xtool M1. Also, The D1 pro does not have any batch engraving facility Xtool M1. However, we have seen that the Xtool D1 pro is sold more than the M1.
What’s impressive Glowforge Plus?
Glowforge Plus is a premium laser engraver with a lot more amazing feedback. The laser cutting & laser engraving of Glowforge Plus has been top-notch except for a few negative sides that we will be covering in a later section. Overall, Glowforge plus a premium laser engraving machine suitable for small and medium-sized businesses.
These are the positive points that separate Glowforge from other laser engraving machines.
Glowforge Plus is a wide machine with good quality transparent scratch-resistant lids. Its laser engraver can carve up to a half inch and works over 1300 lines per inch.
It features a 45 W laser that allows ultimate freedom to work with any sort of crafting. The big advantage is that Glowforge supports more than 1 hundred types of material which is 10 times higher than Snapmaker. The big advantage is that Glowforge can easily recognize the type of material by reading the QR code and adjusting its settings accordingly.
Here’s a laser engraving work by Glowforge Plus:
We liked the versatility of what the Glowforge web-based app offers. It contains user-friendly drag-and-drop options and makes the job easier even for someone who does not know how to do laser engraving.
Another good thing is Glowforge’s artificial intelligence. If you draw something by hand on a piece of paper, Glowforge automatically scans the image, identifies the dimension, and starts engraving the material that has been placed.
Another positive side of Glowforgse is – Larger community. The community and forum are so active that you can troubleshoot any problems without seeking the help of the support team. Furthermore, you can also learn different techniques and crafting hacks from the community that is not available in other similar products.
These are 5 best Glowforge alternatives you may explore.
Due to premium price, limitations to upgrade and high dependency on cloud-based control software, people are searching for suitable alternatives for Glowforge laser engravers. So, we decided to make a list which contain the most appropriate alternatives so that you can make the decision easily.
What we did not like about Glowforge Plus
Glowforge Plus cannot work on any 24 inches board. You must have to work on any boards that blow 23 inches.
For the exhaust, you need a window nearby to blow the air outside. However, the exhaust pipe is around 3.5 inches wide that causing the same size of window always open. it can cause problems in heavy winter if the modification is not done properly.
You will also be able to use the air filter but, the filter cartridges are too expensive to replace.
The 45W CO2 laser is very efficient for average day-to-day crafting but for the heavier engraving and cutting, you may need a 60W or 80W laser cutter.
If you do not use the Glowforge materials, there will be no official QR code and the machine will not be able to detect the material automatically. In addition, buying material from other sources would be cheaper but the quality is questionable.
Below print is made on Glowforge’s official material:
Glowforge is also a noisy laser engraver which is very normal considering the mechanism they use. However, the enclosure helps to reduce the noise greatly.
Glowforge plus still cannot do the aligning automatically and also fails to separate layers while a laser cutting job is in process.
It also gets dirty very often which requires your regular effort. However, no automatic cleaning facility is noticed.
The final point we would like to focus on is the customer support which is controversial. You might face some delay from having official support however most problems are often solved by the community itself.
Snapmaker 2 Vs Glowforge Pro
This section compares Snapmaker A250t (a three-in-one laser engraver) with the Glowforge Pro!
Glowforge Pro has a cutting area of 18 inches wide while the Snapmaker’s cutting area is 9 inches which represent almost half of what Glowforge pro offers. Surely, the larger one would give you better flexibility in working with the vast majority of engraving works.
From the point of material compatibility, Glowforge supports more than 100 types of different materials, whereas the Snapmaker is limited to 20 types at max. Also, Glowforge can quickly read the material by scanning the QR code and adjusting settings automatically. In contrast, Snapmaker does not offer such flexibility.
Laser is more powerful in Glowforge which cannot even be beaten by Snapmaker at any chance.
Snapmaker’s work speed is also half of what Glowforge offers. The Glowforge easily does an 11 minutes job of Snapmaker in roughly 6-7 minutes.
Glowforge can cut much thicker (4 times higher than Snapmaker).
Snapmaker is a new machine and for this reason, its customer community is smaller than Glowforge. In contrast, Glowforge’s both customer community and software compatibility is more powerful than Snapmaker and that is why people feel happy to use Glowforge.
However, Snapmaker has been having attention just to the 3d printing module which is not available in Glowforge as they are purely laser cutters and engravers.
In terms of upgradeability, Snapmaker offers more options than Glowforge. For example, you can easily add a rotary for an additional $500.
Finally, Glowforge comes with a superior enclosure and for the Snapmaker you need to buy it separately for an additional $600.
Actually, Snapmaker pitched the market differently. It allows everyone to buy what comes under their budget. You can always upgrade it with a lot of options.
What is best in Snapmaker A250T?
As said earlier that Snapmaker is a combination of a 3d printer, laser engraver, and CNC mill which comes under $2000. Snapmaker is a very good device for those who cannot afford different machines for different functionality. The only big challenge is that you need to change the module parts before switching to other works. Overall Snapmaker A250T is a compact machine with a lot more advantages.
These key highlighting points make Snapmaker A250 an awesome device and differentiate the machine from others.
Snapmaker A250T comes well in well-packaged condition with separate modular-based boxes. All you need to do is read the user manual carefully and unbox them one by one as per the direction. However, you might get it challenging to switch modules in need of changing work patterns. To me – I can’t afford the patience of converting a 3d printer to a laser engraver and repeating the process around the year. But, if your budget is below $2000 then buying Snapmaker would not be a bad decision at all.
The next thing I liked most is that the Snapmaker 3-in-1 supports regular G-code which is a very good signal. We have found that Cura works just great while making 3d prints at our lab.
There will also be a wireless display with great resolution. Normally, a 3d printer does not have a wireless display, so this is an added advantage.
The print bed is large as the Makerbot with a 320 mm print bed dimension. Such a large 3d print bed is very useful in making larger 3d models and as well as working with bigger materials for laser engraving. Also, there is the direct drive extruder that contributes to speedier 3d printing. The extrusion nozzle would be 0.6 mm which ensures that there would be less possibility to experience any clogged filament which further creates annoying noise.
The biggest thing is the availability of a magnetic 3d print bed which ensures better adhesion and faster heating. Also, a magnetic bed ensures that there will be less in the first few layers of FDM 3d printing.
Snapmaker also supports ABS along with other FDM filaments. This is really a very good sign since ABS is the strongest 3d printing filament which offers maximum durability to your 3d prints.
This modular convertible machine works just fine in windows, Mac, and Linux with no complexities.
A few notes on laser engraving
Snapmaker’s laser engraving is average. There is a built-in camera to monitor both 3d printing and laser engraving works but it cannot detect the error.
This is not a superior laser engraving machine like the Glowforge. Snapmaker features a 1.6 W laser module that merely works in 12 types of material. Basically, the laser engraving module can cut 3-4 mm at max which mainly targets entry-level users. Also, the laser engraving speed is very slower than the 3d printing speed and also not even close to what Xtool M1 offers.
The laser engraving work area we have seen is approximately 4.9 inches long and 4.9 inches wide. The laser engraving power is 200 mW and the Engraving Wavelength is 405 nm. We gave a try to its laser engraver and found good quality outputs except for a few issues as listed below.
What we did not like in Snapmaker?
These are issues that we did not like about the Snapmaker and you should definitely get yourself aware of these.
- The machine cannot automatically level itself before each print. You may need to interrupt before making each use.
- Bed temperature rise is very slow. We have experienced that it took 6.5 minutes to heat up to 70 degrees Celcius. The ideal time could have been 3-4 minutes based on our experiences with Anycubic Vyper.
- Snapmaker offers both 3d printing and laser engraving but does not come even with an enclosure. This is a critically highlighted point if someone is aware of the dangers arising from laser engraving machines. However, we have seen something positive in the enclosures sold separately. Snapmaker can automatically detect the enclosure through the barcode and adjust its settings accordingly.
- Snapmaker produces a lot of noise. We have experienced 59 Decibels of noise while testing. This is significantly higher than what we have experienced during testing of the Quiet 3d printers. Also, the stepper motor is too noisy compared to other machines.
- It’s true that the Snapmaker does come with a CNC mill but, it cannot work with heavy materials like what Xtool does.
- The CNC resolution is not even so excellent so, better to consider that as only a 3d printer along with a laser engraving facility.
Laser engraving is for the hobbyists. Not everyone can convert this into profession, If you are a professional crafters with regular orders then you can easily invest in Glowforge as it will reduce your customer response time significantly. On the other side, Xtool Works great for hobbyists and makers who work with smaller pieces of engravings. Undoubtedly tow of them are the grat laser engravers with amazing capacity.