- Red laser guard to protect eyes
- Quick-focusing shroud setup
- Wide compatibility with engraving software
- Brand: Sculpfun
- Laser Power: 5.5W
- Working Area: 410 x 420mm
- Screen: N/A
- Connectivity : USB
- Software: LaserGRBL
- Incredibly easy to set up and use
- Great results on a variety of materials
- The extra laser protection is helpful
- No wireless features
- Laser struggles with certain colors of acrylic
The Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine is a high-end diode laser engraver that still manages to come in shockingly cheap compared to a lot of the competition. Does this mean that the S9 will be able to outperform its predecessors, the S6 and the S6 Pro? To find out, we’re going to take a deep dive into the latest effort from Sculpfun.
The Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine is a fixed-focus laser engraver with a 445-nanometer wavelength blue diode laser, with 5.5 watts of output from the laser itself, making this a perfect choice for anyone who is starting out in the world of maker culture in general, or laser engraving and cutting specifically. It arrives as a kit with simple instructions to help you put it together, and luckily it’s not an exceedingly long process to get it done. There will be no Ikea-level problems arising from these directions.
It took me about forty-five minutes to get the thing put together and up and running, and it was mostly simple. The only fiddly bit was putting the tracks inside the beams to move the laser and shroud around the engraving area. The kit comes with all the tools you’ll need to get it together, but it’s helpful if you have some anti-static tweezers or something similar on hand to help pull the rubber tracks through. Once it’s physically set up, you just have to plug it in, connect the USB-A to USB-B cable, and install one of the two suggested engraving applications.
Getting Used to the Software
The S9 comes with a few documents other than the start guide in the form of some PDFs that you can find by scanning a QR code on the front of the manual. This runs you through the process of using the laser, and it’s pretty simple to follow. The user manual recommends two different pieces of software for you to use: LaserGRBL is a free and more user-friendly, but somewhat basic software choice, while LightBurn is paid-for software that offers more advanced user features for experienced users.
With the software downloaded, the manual runs you through setting the focus of the laser. After placing a protective surface underneath the area you’ll be engraving on, you place the object you’re cutting or engraving underneath the laser, then loosen the nuts at the back of the laser shroud and place the aluminum focusing column underneath the shroud. Then tighten up the nuts once more and the laser will be at the perfect distance from the engraving for optimum results. Thanks to being a fixed-focus laser, it’s incredibly easy to set up and get ready for a burn with consistent results every time.
At this point, the included manual covers the use of the LaserGRBL software but doesn’t cover LightBurn as heavily. This makes a lot of sense since you probably won’t need much software instruction if this isn’t your first laser engraver, but if it is your first time, then you’re probably going to lean towards using the more simplified software. You also do get some examples of optimal settings for this laser with different materials, both in terms of cutting and engraving. These settings are also crucial for LightBurn and other similar software, but be sure to remember that the stats in the book deal with millimeters per minute so if your software uses something else you’ll need to convert them.
The Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine Handles Many Materials
In terms of how well the S9 itself deals with engraving and cutting different materials, it’s mostly good news. Despite being easy to set up and use, the S9 can deal with a surprising variety of different materials with excellent results. There’s a small, coaster-sized piece of thin wood included for you to try out, but you can engrave on almost anything from paper and card, all the way up to metals and plastics, as long as you follow the safety information when choosing what you’re picking up to avoid something catching fire or letting off harmful chemicals.
If you’re using the appropriate settings, you can easily get incredibly good results even on your first few uses of the device. The software allows you to simply take images and use various tools to convert them into usable engraving or cutting patterns. With the speed and power settings from the manual, you simply enter them into the correct fields and hit start. There is some fiddling when it comes to getting quality settings quite right for the image and material you’re using, but a lot of these results speak for themselves.
One of the first things we tried was engraving some images onto blank coasters, and after a little experimentation, it was easy to get multiple different designs done without many errors. We also tried out some more complex ideas, such as cutting a wooden dice tower design out of a piece of wood for us to glue together. Not only was this achieved very easily, but it was also possible to size the tower down to the correct size for our sheets of wood. Of course, we did end up with a very small dice tower as a result, but that’s a limitation of the material more than anything else. Besides, the resulting tower is pretty cute, and can at least be used for rolling characters with tiny D6s.
Slate Is a Laser’s Best Friend
Experimenting with other materials also produced stellar results. Slate, in particular, is an excellent medium for this engraver. It creates a lovely contrast between the image and the background, and it does it pretty damn quickly, so even on larger designs, it doesn’t take all day to get things done. On that note, bear in mind that you, and anyone else in the room, need to be wearing the included safety goggles during the use of the device. If you’re planning on using this in a domestic home rather than in a private workshop or something, then you’ll need to buy extra goggles for anyone who is planning on walking in.
Another material we tried out was 3mm acrylic. In the guide, it gives suggested settings to use on acrylic, but for some reason on the safe-materials sheet, acrylic and other forms of plastic are simply crossed out, likely because they give off toxic fumes when burnt. Either way, the machine can handle cutting acrylic sheets very quickly, as long as you’re dealing with a dark enough color or one that a blue laser won’t have trouble with. Just make sure you’re well ventilated.
It’s a bit tougher engraving on metal, at least if you’re limited in your experience. We tried engraving on painted metal with the suggested specs in the book and although it looked good while still painted, after clearing away the paint with acetone we were left with very faint lines. Even on repeated attempts with slower speeds or more passes, it became clear that not much was happening.
Is the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine Worth Your Money?
So, are there any downsides to the Sculpfun S9 Laser Engraving Machine? Well, if there’s anything minor to say, it’s only that if this were aimed more specifically at beginners, it would have been useful to have more information about the specifics of working with certain materials. It’s not really much of a mark against the machine, but while it makes mention that it would be difficult to cut clear acrylic or plastic, it doesn’t mention the potential difficulties with lighter colors in general.
At the end of the day, not only is it incredibly easy to set up and use the S9 Laser Engraving Machine, but it’s also a shockingly powerful cutting and engraving machine for the money that you’re putting into it. This device will run you just over $300, and for that, you’re getting some incredible cutting power. The clever optics in the laser assembly make it possible to cut through materials all the way up to 15mm depending on the material in question. Whether you’re a hardcore member of the maker community, looking for a new cutter and engraver for your builds, or a hobbyist who wants to knock out some plaques and coasters for your friends, you’ll struggle to find a laser of this quality, for this sort of price.
We hope you like the items we recommend and discuss! MUO has affiliate
and sponsored partnerships, so we receive a share of the revenue from some of your purchases. This
won’t affect the price you pay and helps us offer the best product recommendations.
About The Author