Many are interested in laser engraving tumblers, cups, and mugs. But finding the best laser engraver for tumbler engraving can be challenging. How do I know which laser engraver for tumblers works best? What laser engraving accessories do you need to engrave cups, mugs, and cylindrical objects? This article will share the four best laser engravers for tumblers in 2022 and teach you how to get started with laser engraving bottles, glasses, flutes, and more.
Can You Laser Engrave Tumblers?
Yes, it is possible to laser engrave tumblers, but you will need a laser engraver with rotary attachment. This specialized laser engraving accessory gets plugged directly into a laser engraving machine.
Why do you need a rotary attachment for tumbler engraving? Because of the way a CO2 laser engraver works. Because the laser fires straight down and has a specific focal distance, it can typically only engrave flat surfaces. If you attempt to engrave any round, cylindrical, or curved objects, the pictures or text will become distorted and out of focus — not ideal for the engraving design you want!
Adding the rotary attachment enables engraving on round or cylindrical items because it rotates the object as the laser engraves it. As the attachment turns the tumbler back and forth, it keeps its point of laser contact at the ideal focal distance.
This accessory will quickly set up on your laser engraver workbed and connect to the Y or X-axis port with a 4-pin cable. But there are several types of laser rotary attachments, and they all have some unique features. There are even more laser engraver models to choose from, and you might not know where to start. We will gladly teach you about each laser engraver for tumblers and help you decide which laser engraving machine will work best for tumbler engraving.
What Type of Laser Machine Is Best for Engraving Stainless Steel Tumblers?
CO2 laser engravers and fiber laser machines are suitable for laser engraving tumblers, depending on the type of material the tumbler is made of. There are many different qualities of stainless steel, and some will act a little bit differently.
With a CO2 laser, you can engrave blank or uncoated metal tumblers, but you must pre-coat the metal with a special laser marking agent. This coating ensures a distinct contrast in the final engraving.
On the other hand, a fiber laser can engrave uncoated metals without the use of laser marking spray. You won’t need to add anything on your stainless steel to ensure that the engraving stands out.
Want to see the difference? Look at some of the OMTech videos, where we explain it step by step and show you real-life examples of how some of our laser engraving machines work. We also show exactly how we use the laser engraver with rotary attachment.
Which Laser Engraving Machine Is Best for Glasses?
CO₂ laser engravers are best for engraving glasses. CO₂ lasers can etch and engrave glass cups, such as wine glasses, champagne flutes, and beer mugs. Fiber lasers cannot etch or engrave transparent glass because the wavelength of the laser is not absorbed, and it passes through the glass. Fiber lasers can engrave some colored or stained glass, but results are inconsistent due to the variable composition of glass.
People might imagine that all glass is made from the same formula, but it has dozens of different types, and each type can act a little bit differently when engraving. But it is entirely possible to take regular store-bought glasses and use your laser engraver to create stunning customized glasses for you and your clients.
For other materials, like wood, the laser beam will hit the piece and evaporate, leaving the engraving that you want. With glass, the process works differently. The laser hits the glass, which expands rapidly. The glass under the laser fractures. This gives the engraving that you see on the surface.
There are many different types of glass — for example, soda glass or lead crystal — and each has its own makeup that determines how well it can take the laser engraving process. Each formula of glass works a little bit differently. Surprisingly, some of the best glass to engrave is also some of the cheapest.
Which Type of Laser Engraver is Best for Engraving Ceramic Mugs?
You can engrave ceramic mugs with either a fiber laser or CO₂ laser engraver. However, different mugs have ceramic glaze coatings of various compositions and thicknesses, making it difficult to achieve consistent results. The professional solution is to look for “laser-friendly” mugs for sale that are listed specifically for laser engraving purposes. Once you find a reliable source of “laserable” ceramic mugs, you should keep using the same brand for consistent results.
The 4 Best Laser Engraving Machines for Tumblers
There are many different things to consider when buying a laser engraver for cups and tumblers. The first step is to determine the laser machine’s compatibility with laser rotary attachments: Does it have the appropriate connection port? Can the workbed fit the rotary attachment inside?
The next step is to get the best rotary attachment for your purposes — do you want to engrave cylindrical bottles, tapered tumblers, mugs with handles, or wine glasses? Some laser rotary attachments can work with all of these, while some may not.
In this section, we will provide the best laser engraver for tumblers and teach you more about tumbler engraving so that you can find the best laser engraver with rotary attachment for you.
1. Most Versatile Laser Engraver for Tumblers
The AF2028-80 is the most versatile laser engraving machine for tumblers because it offers up to 11” of maximum work bed depth, so you have plenty of space to fit all types of rotary attachments. In fact, with the right rotary attachment, you can engrave any type of bottle, glass, or mug — whether it’s tapered or perfectly cylindrical!
If your goal is to buy a machine that you can use for many different projects and create a wide variety of engraved products, then this could be the perfect machine to acquire for your business.
Another excellent feature of this machine is the autofocus. When you use a rotary attachment, you have to place it inside the work bed, where it holds your tumbler and spins it while the laser engraves it. With a manual focus machine, you have to turn a dial to lower the work bed. The autofocus feature with the motorized work bed makes it much easier to lower the work bed down. And since we all know that time is money, this is an important feature in the best laser machine.
The 80W laser tube is strong enough for many laser cutting projects, which is also why we selected it as the most versatile laser engraving machine for tumblers.
2. Overall Best Value Laser Engraver for Tumblers
If you’re looking for the best value for your money and a bit of a more minor start-up cost — this is the laser machine for you! This next machine excels both in start-up costs and in value. It will still save you time, but it will also save your budget.
The AF2028-60 is the best value engraving machine for tumblers because it comes with autofocus, has the same work bed depth as the 80W, and costs less because of its 60W laser power. When you engrave tumblers and bottles, you don’t really need 80W power — 60W is more than sufficient.
If your focus is engraving, and you only need minimal laser cutting power, then this could be the perfect machine for the job.
3. Best Budget Laser Engraver for Tumblers
For many companies, start-up costs are the most important thing. In that case, our best budget laser engraver for tumblers is the perfect fit.
The MF1624-55 is the best budget laser engraver for tumblers because it has the work bed depth to accommodate any rotary attachment — and it strikes a happy medium between laser power, work bed size, and affordability. Because the CO2 laser tube is only rated at 55W, it offers significant savings compared to more powerful laser machines.
However, it does not have autofocus, meaning you will spend a little extra time lowering and raising the work bed to load your rotary and focus the laser. But to complete your DIY laser projects and even get your laser business up and running, the cash you save may be worth this extra time.
4. Use a Fiber Laser Engraver for Tumbler Engraving
You can also engrave stainless steel tumblers with a fiber laser and rotary attachment of any wattage. One advantage of using a fiber laser for tumblers is that the fiber laser wavelength is capable of engraving both powder-coated and uncoated stainless steel tumblers. With a CO2 laser, you must coat blank metals in a special laser marking spray before you engrave. The end result can be beautiful, but it takes more time and money to spray the metal before you engrave it.
Another advantage of tumbler engraving with a fiber laser — with optimized settings, it’s much faster than a CO₂ laser. OMTech user Kristina S. was amazed when she tried engraving powder-coated metal mugs with her fiber laser: “Tumbler engraving was taking me 14 minutes on my CO₂ laser, and only about 2 minutes with my fiber laser. It was a night and day difference. My galvo laser engraver is now my dedicated mug machine.”
Any fiber laser from 20W to 50W is sufficient for metal tumbler engraving and can also work on tumblers made of some other materials.
Honorable Mention for Tumbler Engraving
Those are all great machines for engraving tumblers, but we still want to give one more honorable mention to one more machine that works well for many products, even stainless steel tumblers.
The MF1220-50R is a great value for tumbler engraving because it comes with a rotary attachment that is perfect for engraving cylindrical items, such as hydro flask bottles that are the same diameter from top to bottom.
However, if you want to engrave tapered bottles or mugs with handles, you will be out of luck, since, sadly, the included rotary axis cannot work with these.
With the right laser engraver for tumblers and a little bit of practice, you can create some stunning tumbler engravings. Start your laser engraving journey today — any of these laser machines will assist you on the journey!