If you just got your Etcher Laser and are checking out our website for the first time, you might be confused as to what the FABOOL is. Conversely, if you have a FABOOL but missed our Indiegogo, you may not know what we’re talking about when we discuss the Etcher Laser. Today’s blog is here to help you understand the difference between the FABOOL Laser Mini and the Etcher Laser, with explanations for users who already have one or the other and comparisons for customers who want to choose between the two.
What is the FABOOL?
FABOOL is our first series of lasers, beginning with the laser we’re focusing on today, the FABOOL Laser Mini. Launched as a crowdfunding campaign in Japan in 2016, the Laser Mini was created to make laser cutting and engraving more accessible to everyone. Uniquely, instead of being an already assembled laser, the Laser Mini comes as a kit for this user to assemble. This helps cut down the cost, lowering the barrier of entry to laser processing. It also allows it to come with optional accessories so that users can customize their machine or upgrade when they learn more about their needs.
For example, one of these add-on options is the extension kit; this upgrades the Laser Mini’s working area from 230x300 mm/9x11.8 in. to 1x1 m/39.1x39.1 in. (a little over 3x3 feet)! This gives the Laser Mini the largest area of any of our machines. If you’re concerned about safety, there’s also the option to buy a safety cover and an exhaust fan!
What is the Etcher Laser?
The Etcher Laser crowdfunding campaign began in 2018, making it the newest of our laser engravers. While still having the goal of having a low price to allow as many users as possible, this laser was designed to be pre-assembled, making it ready for creation right out of the box. In addition, there are some new features compared to the Laser Mini that users may want. For example, the Etcher Laser has a camera on the lid to help users position their design on their material. Also, the Etcher Laser is our only machine with its own app available for iPhone use!
So why compare them?
So far, the FABOOL Laser Mini and Etcher Laser may seem pretty different to you, but there’s one important similarity: the laser head! Both the Laser Mini and the Etcher Laser use a blue diode laser head, and both have a 1.6W and 3.5W option available. The means that both lasers are capable of the same type of precision, and can work on the same materials! They also both function using SmartDIYs Creator, so both will accept the same file types for your designs.
This is an important fact for users who have a Laser Mini OR an Etcher Laser. If you’ve been on our website, you may have read a blog where we use the Etcher Laser, or our settings results where we use the Laser Mini, or vice versa. You may be confused as to what to do if we’re not talking about your specific machine. But, because they are the same type of laser head, that means the settings should be about the same*! As long as the power matches, you can use the same settings we describe! So:
FABOOL Laser Mini 1.6W = Etcher Laser 1.6W
FABOOL Laser Mini 3.5W = Etcher Laser 3.5W
For example, if we say we created a project with 1000 speed/100 power on our Etcher Laser 3.5W, you could do the same project with the same settings on your Laser Mini 3.5W! Conversely, if we did something at 500 speed/75 power on our Laser Mini 1.6W, you could do the same on your 1.6W Etcher Laser! Users may find this especially helpful for some of our older tests, before the Etcher Laser was available. Because it’s been available longer, we have done more tests with the Laser Mini, but knowing this equivalency, you’ll be able to use the same settings on your machine!
*Due to differences in individual lasers (i.e. age) and material production, you may need to tweak the settings to get the exact same result as ours.
Now what’s the difference?
We’ve talked about each machine’s features above, but now it’s time to run through some quick comparisons:
Both machines are designed to be more affordable than other laser processors. That being said, if you’re looking at the flat price of the Laser Mini or the Etcher Laser, the Laser Mini is less expensive.
The Laser Mini comes as a kit for each user to assemble. If you’re less mechanically inclined, worried the set-up will be too hard, or just want something ready out-of-the-box, then you should go with the pre-assembled Etcher Laser.
For actual size of the machine, the Etcher Laser is a bit bigger, as it is encased. For processing size, the FABOOL Laser Mini has a bit bigger area (a little over an inch in length). Keep in mind this is the base machine; the Laser Mini’s area can be extended, or it can take up more room if you add a safety cover.
For the Laser Mini, you may need to measure or test with the software exactly where your design will be.With the Etcher Laser, you can use the built-in camera to help position your design over the material.
Due to the way the heads are designed, the Etcher Laser laser head needs to be about 40 mm away from the material you're working with; the FABOOL Mini must be around only 3 mm away from the material.This means, if you ' re working on a thicker material or something with a weirder shape *, you may need the laser head to be higher! In this case, the Etcher Laser would be your best bet.
* For example, one time we were working on a square plaque with small walls.We needed the design to be right next to these walls.This wasn't possible, as either the laser head would block the laser from reaching the walls, or the laser head would be too high to process!
Both machines are lasers, and the same safety precautions should be followed.However, the Etcher Laser has some safety advantages by design: the laser is encased with a lid to protect your eyes (unless the bottom cover is removed), and the encasing also allows more particles to be caught during processing.The Laser Mini can do the same, but you will need to get the add-on safety cover.
We think that just about covers it! If you still have questions about the differences and similarities between the Etcher Laser and the FABOOL Laser Mini, feel free to reach out and let us help you! Remember, while they have their differences, it's all about what works best for your needs!
Check out the FABOOL Laser Mini.
Check out the Etcher Laser.