3D Printer vs Laser Cutter

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Updated January 16, 2023

Globally, consumers are now investing in the best 3D printers, whether it be for commercial or recreational use. Now, the best printers are used for all types of fascinating and practical jobs, but this isn’t to say they are unrivaled. Below we’ll compare 3D printers vs laser cutters, how these technologies are similar, and what sets them apart.


  • Both 3D printers and laser cutters use a computer-programmed model to create a 3D object.
  • Laser cutters make programmed excisions to a block of material and are more accurate and faster than 3D printers.
  • 3D printers add layers of material to form an object and are often more cost-efficient than laser cutters.

Continue expanding your 3D printer knowledge with more of our resources. We have articles on the various printer types, such as SLA vs SLS 3D printing. And we also have a great buying guide outlining the best 3-in-1 3D printers.

Insider Tip

Laser cutters are also versatile in terms of ability. For example, they are great for engraving and designing objects in addition to creating them.

Differences Between a Laser Cutter vs a 3D Printer

The main difference separating 3D printers from laser cutters is in how they go about creating an object. Laser cutters start with a block of material and then use a powered laser to cut away the excess. 3D printers, on the other hand, use a melted or sintered material — whether it be a plastic filament, power ceramic, or resin — and layer it on.

So, where 3D printers add on material, laser cutters take it away. And while each device accomplishes a similar goal, each has strengths and weaknesses.

For more on 3D printer material, read our piece explaining 3mm vs 1.75mm filaments to understand how the different types affect print quality. Furthermore, if you want to check out the details on specific models, we have a guide comparing Zmorph VX vs Snapmaker printers.

Variety of Materials

While material options for 3D printers have expanded over the year, laser cutters work with a wider variety. 3D printers mainly use either plastic filament or resin. Although now, there are some 3D printers available that sinter powdered metal or ceramic.

In the end, laser cutters can carve up just about any material, including plastic, biocomposites, wood, metal, ceramic, acrylic, and more.


Laser cutters come out on top in terms of both speed and accuracy. Lasers are insanely accurate and can make a cut as little as .0006 inches, meaning they can capture fine details. Certain 3D printers are also highly accurate, especially those that use resin to form objects. However, laser cutters are known for their impeccable accuracy and for accomplishing jobs in far less time.


Always use a 3D printer or laser cutter in a room with proper ventilation. Printers can give off toxic fumes, and laser cutters can produce harmful airborne particles.


If you’re looking to create 3D objects and are on a budget, you’ll likely end up with a 3D printer. The most affordable 3D printers are found for around $100 and range up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the average entry-level 3D printer will probably cost a few hundred dollars.

STAT: The first laser cutting tool was invented in 1970 in Scottland. (source)

Laser cutters, on the other hand, will begin at around $200 and can reach upward of 1 million dollars, with your average device running from $500-$3,000.

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