xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura: Which Desktop Laser Cutter Wins?

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Choosing the right desktop laser cutter for your crafting projects can be as tricky as picking the perfect shade of color for your masterpiece.

Maybe you’ve found yourself standing in front of two popular choices, the xTool M1 and the Glowforge Aura, scratching your head in confusion. You wonder, “Which one will bring my ideas to life without breaking the bank or being too complex to use?” You’re not alone in this.

This article is your guiding light through the fog of decision-making. We understand the pain of spending hard-earned money on a tool that doesn’t quite fit your needs or the frustration of a steep learning curve that feels more like climbing a mountain than crafting.

That’s why we’re diving deep into the xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura debate, laying out everything you need to know to make an informed choice that will have you crafting with a smile.

Related: Is a Laser Engraver Essential for Wood Projects? A Starter’s Guide

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xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura (Summary Table)

Since their market introduction, both the xTool M1 and Glowforge Aura have made waves as top contenders in the desktop laser cutting scene. Each has its unique strengths and, of course, its limitations.

FeaturexTool M1VSGlowforge Aura
Laser SystemDiode laserVSDiode laser
Optical Power10WVS6W
Working Area385 x 300 mmVS305 x 305 mm
Smart Camera16MPVSWide angle & macro camera
Accuracy0.01mmVSNot specified
Laser Spot Size0.08mm x 0.08mmVS0.1mm
Max. Material Cutting8mm VS6.35mm
Passthrough slotVS
Circular Object ProcessingVS
Blade CuttingVS
InternetRequired for some functionalitiesVSRequired for operation
SafetyClass 1 laser, with safety featuresVSClass 1 laser, with safety features
SupportResponsive customer serviceVSActive community
Accessories and Add-onsVariety of attachments availableVSLimited to what’s integrated
SoftwarexTool Creative SpaceVSGlowforge Print
Overall Ease of UseUser-friendly, especially with Smart CameraVSEmphasis on software simplicity
Warranty12 monthsVS12 months
PriceCheck PriceVSCheck Price

Brief Overview of the xTool M1 Laser & Blade Cutter

xTool M1 Laser Engraver and Vinyl Cutter

The xTool M1 Laser & Blade Cutter is an amazing tool made by a company called xTool. They’re known for creating gadgets that help crafters, DIY lovers, and small business owners bring their creative ideas to life.

The xTool M1 stands out because it’s not just a laser engraver; it also has a blade cutter. This means it can do a lot of different jobs, like cutting through materials or engraving delicate designs on them. It’s designed to work with over 500 types of materials, which is pretty awesome if you love trying out different projects.

This tool is perfect for anyone who enjoys crafting, whether you’re just doing it for fun at home or making stuff for a small business. It’s especially good if you like working with a wide range of materials and you want one tool that can handle a lot of different tasks.

Full Review: The xTool M1 Laser Machine (Our Honest Thoughts)

Brief Overview of the Glowforge Aura Printer

Glowforge Aura

Glowforge, the company behind this printer, has a reputation for making crafting more accessible and fun for everyone. Though the Glowforge Aura is often compared to the xTool M1, it has its own set of bells and whistles that might catch your eye.

This printer shines when it comes to user-friendly features. It can be set up in less than half an hour, and it comes with free design software that’s easy to navigate. For those who might not be ready to dive deep into design software or don’t have the time to create from scratch, the Glowforge catalog offers thousands of designs. Whether you’re into simple engraving or looking for projects that are ready to make, the Glowforge Aura caters to a broad audience of crafters, from beginners to seasoned pros.

The Glowforge Aura has made crafting with a laser cutter more approachable and less intimidating, especially for those who are new to this kind of technology. Its simplicity doesn’t take away from the creativity it allows – making it a solid choice for both personal projects and small business ventures.

Full Review: Glowforge Aura: Everything You Need To Know About This Laser Printer

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura: Head-to-Head Comparison

Ease of Use and Setup

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura - Ease of Use and Setup

When it comes to getting started with a new gadget, we all want something that’s easy to set up and simple to use, right?

First up, the xTool M1. Right out of the box, setting up the xTool M1 was pretty straightforward. The instructions were clear, and we had it ready to go in no time. The software, xTool Creative Space, was also user-friendly, making it relatively easy for us to jump straight into crafting. After a few test runs, we felt comfortable with its operations.

Now, let’s talk about the Glowforge Aura. Setting up the Aura was a breeze, particularly because of its emphasis on a user-friendly experience. The Glowforge Print software guides you through the setup process with helpful tips and videos, making it incredibly accessible, especially for those who might be new to laser cutting. The seamless integration with its design catalog also adds to the ease of getting started on your first project.

Winner: Glowforge Aura

Both machines are designed with the user in mind, but the Glowforge Aura takes the slight edge for its exceptionally streamlined setup and beginner-friendly approach.

Portability

How heavy is the machine? How easy is it to move around? And does its design support moving it from one place to another without much hassle?

Starting with the xTool M1, we noticed right away that it’s designed to be pretty portable. It’s not super light, but it’s manageable enough that moving it from one spot to another isn’t a big deal. This makes it handy for folks who might not have a permanent spot for crafting and need to pack away their tools after use.

On the other side, the Glowforge Aura, while also not overwhelmingly heavy, feels a bit less portable than the xTool M1. Its larger size and the way it’s built make it feel more like a piece of furniture than a portable device. If you have a dedicated space for it, this won’t be an issue, but for those who need to move their laser cutter around, it could be a bit cumbersome.

Winner: xTool M1

It strikes a nice balance between functionality and the ability to be moved without too much trouble. While the Glowforge Aura is an amazing machine, its design leans more towards stationary use rather than frequent mobility.

Type and Power of Laser

Both the xTool M1 and the Glowforge Aura are equipped with diode lasers. This type of laser is known for being quite reliable and more affordable compared to CO2 lasers, making both machines a solid choice for craft enthusiasts and hobbyists who aren’t looking to break the bank.

When it comes to power, the xTool M1 features a 10-watt laser. This power level means the machine is well-equipped to work through materials more quickly and efficiently, giving a significant advantage for those projects where speed and efficiency are key. It also ensures you have the strength needed for a broad range of materials right from the start.

On the other side, the Glowforge Aura introduces itself with a 6-watt laser. While this is indeed powerful enough to handle a wide range of crafting materials and tasks, it simply can’t match the speed of the xTool M1’s 10-watt option. Engraving and cutting times were notably longer, and when it comes to crafting, sometimes faster is just better.

Winner: xTool M1.

It just gives you more options and flexibility to work faster on a broader range of materials, making it a highly attractive choice for serious crafters.

Material Compatibility

Glowforge Proofgrade Materials

This is super important because it tells you what kind of projects you can dive into.

Starting with the xTool M1, we were pretty impressed. This machine claims to work with over 500 materials, and while we obviously didn’t test them all, we did try a wide range. From vinyl to leather, from paper to acrylic, the xTool M1 handled everything we threw at it. The blade-cutting feature is a big bonus because it allows you to work with materials that are usually tough for laser cutters, like certain fabrics.

On the other side, the Glowforge Aura also boasts a good range of materials it can work with, especially for laser engraving and cutting. Glowforge has its own line of materials called Proofgrade, which are specifically designed to work seamlessly with their machine, giving consistent results every time. While the Glowforge Aura is pretty versatile, without the blade cutting feature, it’s slightly more limited in the types of materials it can handle compared to the xTool M1.

Winner: xTool M1

Mainly because of its additional blade cutting feature that opens up the range of materials you can work with.

Related: How to Select The Best Wood For Laser Engraving (Beginner’s Guide)

Working Area and Project Versatility

Glowforge Passthrough

This is super important because it affects what kind of projects you can take on – from small intricate designs to larger-scale creations.

Starting with the xTool M1, we’ve found its working area to be quite generous. At 15 x 12 inches (385 x 300mm), it allows for a good range of project sizes. Additionally, its capability to switch between laser and blade cutting adds a layer of versatility that’s hard to beat.

On the other hand, the Glowforge Aura, while also boasting a great working area, has a slightly smaller space at 12 x 12 inches (305 x 305 mm). However, where the Aura shines is its ‘pass-through’ feature that allows for infinitely long pieces to be worked on, albeit with a limitation on material thickness.

Winner: Tie

While the Glowforge Aura impresses with its innovative ‘pass-through’ feature, catering to longer project needs, the xTool M1 holds its ground with superior versatility.

Cutting and Engraving Accuracy

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura - Cutting and Engraving Accuracy

When you’re working on a project, every little detail matters, and you want your machine to capture that perfectly.

The xTool M1 impressed us with its accuracy. Thanks to its compressed spot technology, it delivers a super precise laser spot size of 0.08 x 0.08 mm. Combined with its autofocus lens that boasts an exceptional movement efficiency of 0.01 mm, the xTool M1 can pull off intricate designs with ease. Whether we were cutting out detailed patterns or engraving fine text, the results were consistently crisp and accurate.

The Glowforge Aura also showed off its efficiency and fineness in our tests. While the exact specifications of its laser accuracy haven’t been quoted by the manufacturer, from our experience, the Aura does a fantastic job with both cutting and engraving. Projects came out clean, and the machine handled different materials well.

Winner: xTool M1

While both machines are quite capable, the xTool M1 takes the edge in this category due to its demonstrated precision and the technical capabilities of its laser.

Circular Objects Processing

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura - Circular Object Processing
image via xTool

If you’re into crafting, you know how popular it is to engrave tumblers, mugs, glasses, and even curved bracelets.

With the xTool M1, we immediately noticed it had a special setup for handling those round goodies – a rotary attachment. This meant we could easily set up and engrave all kinds of cylindrical objects. We tried out a few tumblers and bracelets, and the xTool M1 handled them like a champ. The process was straightforward, and the results were impressive.

Moving over to the Glowforge Aura, we hit a snag. Now, we love the Aura for a lot of reasons, but when it comes to circular objects, it’s a bit of a letdown. Simply put, the Glowforge Aura doesn’t have a built-in option or attachment for handling cylindrical objects. It’s great for flat projects up to a certain thickness, but if you’re looking to personalize mugs or glasses, you’re out of luck.

Winner: xTool M1

If circular object processing is a big deal for you, the xTool M1 opens up a whole world of crafting possibilities that the Glowforge Aura just can’t touch.

Safety Features

Safety is super important when we’re working with powerful lasers.

First, let’s talk about the xTool M1. One thing we noticed and appreciated was its built-in safety sensors. These sensors make sure the machine stops working if the cover is opened during operation, which is a big plus in our book. It also has a cool feature where it pauses if it detects any unusual movement, helping to prevent any accidents.

Now, on to the Glowforge Aura. Like the xTool M1, the Glowforge Aura is designed with safety in mind. It has a similar automatic pause feature when the lid is opened, and it also monitors its internal systems to ensure everything is running smoothly. Additionally, the Aura has a built-in air filter option, which isn’t directly a safety feature but contributes to a safer crafting environment by reducing harmful fumes.

Winner: Tie.

Both machines show a strong commitment to keeping users safe while they bring their creative projects to life.

Related: Safety Tips for Power Tool Use: Your Essential Guide to Woodworking Safety

Additional Features and Accessories

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura - Accessories

These extras can make a big difference in what you can create and how easily you can do it.

Starting with the xTool M1, one thing we loved was the variety of accessories available. It comes with the option to add on a rotary attachment, which is fantastic for engraving circular objects like tumblers and bottles – something we found super handy. There’s also an air-assist accessory that helps with cleaner cuts and engravings by blowing away debris as you work. Plus, the built-in camera for material alignment makes starting projects a lot smoother.

On the other hand, the Glowforge Aura offers its own set of unique features. The passthrough slot is a standout, allowing for the processing of materials longer than the machine itself, which is great for larger projects. Glowforge also provides a wide range of Proofgrade materials designed specifically for use with their machines, ensuring quality and ease of use.

Winner: xTool M1.

Its range of add-ons and built-in features just offer a bit more flexibility and versatility for all kinds of creative projects.

Software

xTool M1 vs Glowforge Aura - Software
image via xTool

Both machines have their own dedicated software, which is crucial for designing your projects before you start cutting or engraving.

Starting with the xTool M1, it uses the xTool Creative Space. Our experience with this software was quite positive. It’s intuitive and straightforward, which is great for beginners but also has depth for more experienced users to explore. The software allows for a wide range of design manipulations and prepares your projects effectively for the machine. However, it could benefit from a broader library of ready-to-use designs.

Moving on to the Glowforge Aura, it operates with the Glowforge Print software. One thing that stands out immediately is its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy for anyone to jump right in and start creating. The software simplifies the process of transforming your ideas into reality, with a drag-and-drop function and an extensive materials library. Additionally, Glowforge offers a premium subscription providing extra features like design storage and a more extensive catalog of ready-made designs.

Winner: Glowforge Aura

While the xTool Creative Space is robust and highly functional, the ease of use and additional resources provided by Glowforge Print give it a slight edge in this comparison.

Related: Top 10 Laser Engraving Software for Woodworking: Free and Premium Choices

Ease of Maintenance and Care

Nobody wants to spend more time fixing and cleaning their machine than actually using it for fun projects, right?

So, let’s start with the xTool M1. What we noticed first was its straightforward maintenance routine. The instruction manual laid out simple steps for keeping it clean and running smoothly. We especially appreciated how easy it was to access and clean the laser lens and the blade cutter – just a couple of steps, and you’re done. Plus, the xTool M1 has a modular design, so if something needs a bit more attention, it’s not too hard to manage.

Moving on to the Glowforge Aura, this machine also impressed us with its maintenance regimen. The Glowforge team has done a great job of providing clear instructions and support documentation. Cleaning the lens and the crumb tray was pretty straightforward. However, the personal air filter (if you opt for that extra) does need regular replacement or cleaning depending on usage.

Winner: xTool M1

We found that while both are pretty user-friendly regarding upkeep, the xTool M1 takes a slight lead due to its more accessible modular design and slightly simpler routine.

Customer Support & Help Resources

This part is crucial because, let’s face it, everyone needs a bit of help now and then, especially when you’re learning something new.

Let’s start with the xTool M1. We found their customer support to be pretty responsive. When we had questions, we got answers within a reasonable timeframe, which is always a plus. They also have a bunch of tutorials, FAQs, and an active community forum where users share tips and solutions. It felt like there was always help at hand when we needed it.

Moving over to the Glowforge Aura, their customer support was also helpful. What really stands out for the Glowforge is the vast amount of resources available online. There are tons of video tutorials, a comprehensive help center, and a very active user community. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, you’re likely to find the help you need.

Winner: Glowforge Aura.

Both companies offer great support, but the abundance of Glowforge resources and the active community push it just a bit ahead.

Price and Value for Money

We know this is a major deciding factor for many, whether you’re crafting for fun or considering a small business venture.

Let’s start with the xTool M1. Its price varies depending on promotions and packages, but generally, it comes in around $1499. However, xTool often runs sales, making it a bit more affordable, sometimes closer to $1000. Plus, when you factor in its versatility – it’s both a laser and blade cutter – the value starts to look really solid.

On to the Glowforge Aura. Priced at $1199, it’s a bit cheaper at the outset. However, that’s without considering any add-ons like the personal air filter, which we highly recommend for safe indoor use. Glowforge doesn’t run sales frequently, except on shipping sometimes. But even at its base price, it offers great quality and precision.

Winner: Tie.

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The xTool M1 offers incredible versatility and power, justifying its price point, especially if you can snatch it up on sale. The Glowforge Aura, while less versatile without the blade cutting feature, comes in at a lower base price and also represents good value for its precise and high-quality laser crafting abilities.

By the way, we have rounded up a list of the 9 budget-friendly laser engravers and cutters available in the market today.

Can Either of These Laser Cutters Be Used For Commercial Purposes?

Many crafters and small business owners choose these machines to kickstart their product lines. Whether you’re making custom gifts, home decor, or unique pieces to sell online or at craft shows, both of these laser cutters have got you covered.

Both machines are supported by great communities and customer support, making them not just tools, but valuable assets for anyone looking to venture into or grow in the world of crafting for commerce. So, yes, if you’re eyeing either the xTool M1 or the Glowforge Aura for commercial use, you’re on the right track!

See our 8-step guide to starting a wood laser engraving business in 2024

Final Verdict: Which Should You Get it?

After thoroughly comparing the xTool M1 and the Glowforge Aura, taking into account factors like price, versatility, and user support, our final recommendation leans towards the xTool M1. Its combination of a laser and blade cutter, along with the ability to handle a wide range of materials, offers incredible flexibility for a variety of projects. Its price point provides great value, especially considering its robust features and accessories.

Interested in exploring more about xTool’s products? Check out our detailed comparison article on the xTool M1 vs xTool D1 Pro.

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DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team
DIY Wooden Plans - Editorial Team

We’re a small team of skilled woodworkers and engineers with a combined experience of over 15 years using power tools for woodworking. We have been creating power tool tutorials since 2020. Our aim is to become the largest free woodworking power tool resource website in the industry.

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