As 3D printers become commercially available more and more, people are commenting that this will mean the death of the laser cutter.
I’d like to respectfully disagree.
While a 3D printer is quicker, it is limited in what it can do and what materials it can work with.
This is not the case with the laser cutter, which can be used by hobbyists and small businesses alike. Laser cutters can be used to create jewelry, art, and much more!
There are a lot of laser cutters on the market. It can be hard to narrow down the choices. I often get asked which is better: the Muse or the Glowforge?
Well, today I’m going to definitively answer that question.
In this article I’ll be comparing the two cutters in key areas like their price, their strength, how easy they are to use, and how practical they are.
If you can’t pick between these two laser cutters, you’ll be able to by the time you finish this article.
Let’s take a closer look at these two laser cutters…
The Muse 2D is one of the most legendary laser cutters on the market.
It has got this reputation for three main reasons: (A) being fantastically compact, (B) being impressively powerful, and (C) being amazingly priced.
This cutter will sit nicely on a workbench or desk, while still offering enough power to cut metal and engrave glass.
It comes with an easy-to-use LED control panel and can function offline. The cutter also comes with a one-year warranty.
- Functions offline.
- Comes with an easy-to-use LED control panel.
- Up to 45w laser (can cut through many materials and can engrave glass).
- Can purchase an upgraded cutting laser.
- Very affordable.
- One-year warranty.
- Free design samples online (and lots of user-made support).
- Can purchase an upgraded filtration system.
- Can purchase a rotary cutter.
- The company that makes the Muse doesn’t offer much customer support (there is, however, a lot of user-made support online available for free).
- Its external cooling system is larger than an internal cooling system.
The Glowforge Pro is the star of the Glowforge range. It is the most compact, powerful, and easy-to-use machine they offer.
Glowforge has a vast library of online resources available to its customers and has a helpful and active customer support network.
The Glowforge Pro comes with a 45w laser that works on hard materials like wood but can also be used on more complex items like leather.
It can also be used to engrave glass and metal. This cutter has an internal cooling system and comes with a one-year warranty.
- 45w laser (can cut through many materials and can engrave glass).
- One-year warranty.
- Tons of online support from the company.
- Comes with an extra air filter.
- Doesn’t run off-line as it exclusively uses cloud-based software.
- No control panel.
Muse Vs. Glowforge
Let’s start by looking at the main differences between these two cutters:
The Glowforge range may be unique in the world of laser cutters as it can only be used while connected to the internet.
The Glowforge Pro runs exclusively off a cloud-based software system.
If the laser cutter is not connected to the internet, it cannot be used, and at that point it becomes little more than an expensive ornament.
If you live in an area with bad Wi-Fi or your laser cutter is an essential part of your business, then this is not the right laser cutter for you.
The Muse 2D and 3D, on the other hand, can be run offline.
RESULT: A massive win for the Muse
If you’re familiar with laser cutters and how they work, then you can skip over this section.
However, first time buyers may need to know more about what support these companies offer their customers.
Full Spectrum Laser (FSL), the company that makes the Muse, offers very little support. They have a query submission form on their website, and that’s pretty much it.
Thankfully, lack of information from FSL has resulted in many users putting together guides on their YouTube channels and blogs.
FSL does offer a range of manuals and pattern guides for their customers.
Glowforge on the other hand offers an enormous variety of support to their customers. From helplines, manuals, video guides, and even a public forum.
You’ll be able to find the solution to any problem you have on Glowforge’s website.
RESULT: a big win for Glowforge
Let’s talk about the all important laser strength. If a laser cutter can’t get this right, then it’s not worth anything.
The Muse offers two different laser strengths, 40w and 45w.
Upgrading the laser will cost you around $250 at most retailers. You can also purchase a rotary cutter for the Muse 2D and 3D.
The Glowforge Pro comes with a 45w laser.
How strong does that make these machines?
Well, check this out:
Things a 45w laser can cut through:
Things a 45w laser is strong enough to engrave:
- Metal (both hard and softer metals).
- Leather, wood, plastic.
As an added bonus it is possible to purchase an attachment for the Muse 2D and 3D that allows it to engrave on curved objects. They call it a rotary extension.
It is not possible to get anything similar for the Glowforge Pro range.
RESULT: A slim victory for the Muse 2D and 3D.
Let’s end this section with a brief note on the prices of these laser cutters.
While the prices of these cutters vary wildly depending on where you buy them from, you will find the Glowforge range consistently more expensive.
However, if you wanted to kit out your Muse with all the available accessories you’d need a cool $12,000.
The basic Muse 2D will cost you anywhere from $3,000 and up. This will get you a one-year warranty, a 40W laser, and an external cooling system.
For double the price you can pick up the Muse 3D. This model offers you what you get with the 2D, but includes a 3D for extremely accurate design placement and a motorized autofocus.
Muse also offers a few upgrades:
- A more accurate 45w laser.
- A fume extractor with better ventilation (costing upwards of $2,000).
- An attachment that allows you to engrave curved objects (rotary attachment).
For closer to $6,000+, you can pick yourself up the Glowforge Pro. This also comes with a one-year warranty, a 45w laser, and an internal cooling system.
As you will have noticed, this is a very similar price to the Muse 3D.
RESULT: A runaway victory for the Muse.
Here are some of the key differences between the Muse and the Glowforge laser cutters:
- The Muse lacks a diverse range of customer support. On the other hand, Glowforge offers an abundance of support, including a helpline and a dedicated community forum.
- The Muse has an online mode, whereas the Glowforge has to be connected to the cloud to run. This is because it has cloud-based operating software.
- The Muse comes with an external cooling system (water based), whereas the Glowforge only has a built-in cooling system.
- The Muse comes with an LED control panel, the Glowforge does not have one of these.
- The Glowforge comes in at nearly twice the price of the Muse.
And the Winner Is….
This is a pretty simple choice for me (which is very rare).
The Muse really is the better option.
Let’s start with the biggest flaw of the Glowforge. If you live in an area with a bad internet connection this will be little more than a $6K doorstopper.
If you are using it for business purposes, you will not want to rely on an uncontrollable factor like that.
You can get a Muse laser cutter that does what the Glowforge Pro does – for half the price.
Add to this that the Muse is easier to use, better designed, and can be easily upgraded… Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have a clear champion.
The only thing the Glowforge Pro really has going for it is that Glowforge really does offer great customer service.
So, to conclude, Muse is the overall winner. It is cheaper, easier to use, and offers a lot of upgrades.