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Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

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What you can engrave and cut with 2.1W and 3.5W, 5.6W, 8W Endurance lasers

Here I will tell about some peculiarities of laser cutting with semiconductor (diode) lasers.
Some people think that only powerful СО2 and fiber optic lasers are capable of doing it. Actually, this is no so. 2 W semiconductor (diode) lasers can also cut many materials.
So, let’s start from the very beginning.

What Can the 2.1W Laser Do?

2.1W diode laser

2.1 W is not much for a laser. But it is enough to effectively cut paper, cardboard, plywood, dark acrylic up to 1.5 mm thick.
Still, it’s better to use it for engraving than for cutting.
However, cutting is also possible at a good speed. Cardbord, paper, and acrylic do not become charred at the cutting speed of 200-300 if working in CNCC LaserAxe.
The color and structure of the material are also relevant.
When talking about the effective cutting we mean a clean (not blackened) cutting edge.
Once again we need to mention that many Chinese lasers do not have the parameters they claim to have.

Comparison of 2.1W laser made by Endurance and standard Chinese laser

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

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This is what you can cut with a 2.1 W laser.

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

The 3.5 W Laser for Cutting

The 3.5 W laser is better for cutting acrylic, plywood, and wood up to 2-3 mm thick, than its 2.1 W counterpart.
Though, multilayer plywood has some nuances and requires more passes for cutting through.
To cut through 2-3 mm plywood with a 3.5 W laser one needs 20-30 passes, and the speed about 50-200 in the CNCC LaserAxe software.

Demo experiment with 3.5W laser

You can make such a nice box with a 3.5 W laser.

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasersLaser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

Laser cut demo with 3.5W installed on a MakeBlock

The 5.6 W laser with a Short-Focus Lens (G2)

The 5.6 W laser is much better for cutting, but we recommend to install on it a short-focus lens G-2.

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

From the school course we remember that the laser power decreases in proportion to the distance square.
What is good about the short-focus lens G-2 is that it can substitute a regular one, and you will not have to make any changes. The short focus lens G-2 has a focal length of approximately 4 mm; in fact it is right up to the subject.

The 5.6 W cuts well plywood 2, 3, 4, 5 mm thick.

Parameters of the 5.6 W Endurance laser for cutting

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

Recommend using only a short-focus lens (G2).
However, you can cut materials if you install a laser on a 3D printer.

Demo video of a laser cutting using 5.6W laser

To be all the time in focus it is necessary to move the laser down the Z axis after each pass according to the depth of the cut.

The 8W (8000 mW) Ultra Powerful Laser for Cutting

The 8W (8000 mW) diode laser with a short-focus lens G-2 is good for cutting 4-5 mm plywood. It is also able to cut 8 mm acrylic with a regular long-focus lens.
8W power is enough to cut plywood 4 mm thick with just one pass:

and black acrylic 8 mm thick with 3 passes:

Demo video of an acrylic laser cutting

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So, diode lasers can cut plywood, acrylic, and wood up to 5 mm thick.
You can also cut materials thicker than that. For example, we cut plywood 10 mm thick with an 8 W laser. But in that case the speed and quality substantially decreased. The edges were not quite ideal and were blackened here and there.

You can adjust 3 laser parameters:

  • power,
  • speed,
  • number of passes.

The greater the speed – the higher the quality of the edges, and more accurate the cutting. Sometimes many passes at high speed do not result in cutting if the material is too thick.
Then you have to choose between the quality and the speed.
In most cases, it is necessary to select the optimal parameters experimentally.


The most important thing is to adjust the laser focus.
You can adjust the focal length using the lens when setting a faint glow in the program and looking at the dot through the safety goggles. We recommend focusing on a black metal surface. In this case, it is easy to note when the dot turns out to be the smallest. But please mind that you MUST wear safety goggles when looking at the working laser.

Laser Engraving and laser cutting with diode lasers

At the end we can assert with confidence that:

  • 3.5 W lasers are suitable for cutting 1-2 mm plywood and acrylic;
  • 5.6 W lasers are suitable for cutting plywood and acrylic 2-3 mm thick;
  • 8 W lasers are suitable for cutting plywood and acrylic 3-5 mm thick.

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