AlgoLaser Alpha 22W Laser Engraver Review: Is It Worth It?

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Laser engraving has been around since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until more recent times that it became available to the general public. I’ve looked at them off and on, since becoming aware that they were available, but never found one that I thought was powerful enough at a price I was willing to pay just to be able to experiment with it. So, I was glad when I was offered the opportunity to review the AlgoLaser Alpha model laser engraver.

In this article, I’ll go into all the details of my experience and whether the AlgoLaser Alpha is worth it.

Integrating Laser Engraving into Woodworking Projects

Let me say that I am totally new to laser engraving, which has been a factor in how I reviewed the product. I have no basis for comparison, other than a desire to be able to use it in my woodworking. This has been an enjoyable learning experience for me, as I’ve worked out how to use the laser engraver and the software that is used to run it. 

Let me say that I am totally new to laser engraving, which has been a factor in how I reviewed the product. I have no basis for comparison, other than a desire to be able to use it in my woodworking. This has been an enjoyable learning experience for me, as I’ve worked out how to use the laser engraver and the software that is used to run it. 

My wife and I own a 1940 Craftsman-style home. Many of the homes built in that era had built-in hutches and other cabinetry. Kitchen wall cabinets often had wood-framed glass doors. I have a row of five wall cabinets that I want to remove the raised panels from and replace with etched glass, so my wife can use them to display fancy crystal, plates and serving dishes. 

In addition, it has become popular to offer personalized wood items, such as charcuterie boards, with the family name on them. The laser engraver is the tool to use for engraving the name. It is easy and provides excellent results. In addition, your woodworking business or personal logo can be engraved into the back of projects, especially those given as gifts or offered for sale. 

Unboxing the Laser Engraver

The AlgoLaser Alpha 22W Laser Engraver ships as five major pieces, making up the four sides of the frame and the “gantry” that carries the laser module. The laser is not mounted but needs merely to be slid onto its mounting bracket. It comes connected electrically and with an air hose. 

All the major components are extruded aluminum and fit together very precisely. Assembly is extremely easy and consists mostly of attaching the frame pieces together with metric socket-head cap screws. Allen wrenches are provided. 

All the belts and components are pre-installed into the frame, with the belts only needing to be tightened (a few turns with an Allen wrench). The laser metal cover is magnetic and detachable, so it would be easy to clean.

There were a few electrical connectors to attach as well. Everything was clearly laid out in the quick-start guide, with full-color photos to show how it all fits together. The total assembly time was about 20 minutes. 

There was only one part that actually had to be installed, a drive shaft, which was held in at both ends with flexible couplings, again attached with Allen screws. 

In addition to the laser engraver itself, there is an air pump, which merely needs to be plugged into the main part of the engraver electrically and with an air hose. The air pump is controlled by the engraver’s motherboard, automatically adjusting the airflow to meet the speed and intensity of the laser. 

The laser engraver was well-packed in form-fitting high-density foam. I can’t imagine anything being damaged in shipping unless the box itself were to be run over by a forklift. Everything I saw, from the quality of the parts to the packaging, to the instructions, and even to the inclusion of protective eyewear spoke to me of quality and attention to detail. 

Using the laser engraver is simple, as everything is controlled from the “cut file,” produced by second-party software. That can be downloaded to the laser engraver itself via a thumb drive or by connecting the laser engraver directly to a computer. The connecting cable is provided. 

Features of the Laser Engraver

The AlgoLaser Alpha is packed with a lot of features. In this section, I’ll focus on the most important ones that make it stand out.

22W Laser Module Technology

The key defining features of the Alpha model are that it comes with a 22-watt laser module and the engraving area is 400mm square. The 22-watt laser is strong enough to cut through 12mm of basswood plywood, 10mm of white oak, 30mm of pine, or 10mm of black acrylic on one pass. 

It is also strong enough to engrave aluminum, steel, and stainless steel; even cut through a 0.1mm stainless steel plate in one pass. It can engrave up to 500 separate colors into stainless steel by adjusting the laser frequency to change how the laser oxidizes the metal. I have not yet explored this capability. 

Advanced Second-Generation COS Technology

The polarized laser beam is 40% smaller, thanks to advanced COS optical technology. This provides a smaller “pixel” increasing the resolution available for images produced. Incredible accuracy in locating of the laser head, coupled with this smaller beam size, makes for excellent graphics.

Adjustment of the laser’s focal length is semi-automatic, requiring merely deploying the laser’s spring-loaded focus rod and using that to set the height of the laser module, before clamping it in place with the flip of one lever. 

Powerful CPU

The Dual-core CPU is also a highlight, delivering a significant speed boost and achieving an impressive 32% higher CPU performance. This also means files load faster via WiFi 2.4G. This is particularly useful when loading large design files or accessing files from a mobile device.  Because the CPU improved the performance, you can get started on your projects faster.

It just makes the entire process more seamless.

Engraving Speed

Speed-wise, it boasts up to 400mm/s engraving speed, so I didn’t really have to wait very long to finish a project. I tried the machine on a variety of materials, including luan plywood, oak plywood, solid oak, aluminum, and glass, and it does fly through the process swiftly — without sacrificing quality, of course.

It’s also worth mentioning that the AlgoLaser Alpha can be used offline, with features such as Remote Control, Direct Image Import, Built-in Drawing Tools, and even a Template Library. 

Safety Features

Safety-wise, there are a few features in this department. It does have some pretty standard ones like current and voltage detection, beam protection, and an emergency stop switch.  

It can also detect machine offset and tilt. This not only ensures the stability of the project but also acts as a preventive measure, averting potential accidents by identifying any deviations during the engraving process. 

I personally like that AlgoLaser has incorporated a bunch of these safety features. There are definitely some hazards when operating laser engravers, but having these safeguards significantly enhances the overall safety of the machine.

Functional Testing

The AlgoLaser Alpha 22W Laser Engraver, like their other models, is designed to work with either LightBurn or LaserGRBL software; both from third-party suppliers. I used LightBurn in working with and testing the Alpha. 

This software package is extremely powerful, allowing multi-layer graphics, with separate settings for each layer. This means that you can have layers that are engraved directly from photographs, along with layers that are filled design, outlined design, and finally that cut out the finished piece. 

It does take some time to learn the operating software and I would highly recommend watching their tutorial videos, which are available on YouTube. Part of the reason why I haven’t done color laser engraving yet is that I am still working my way through those videos, which are very comprehensive. 

The laser engraver is shipped with some sample materials for use in making your first engravings. I personally tested the AlgoLsaer Alpha on luan plywood, oak plywood, solid oak, aluminum and glass, engraving photos, line art, logos, and some filigree artwork. 

All were extremely easy to do. My only problem was in learning how to create multiple layers in the LightBurn software so that I could use existing artwork, fill my own artwork created in Corel Draw, and cut out the engraving. Once I found the right tutorial, it was extremely easy to do the engraving. 

As is apparently necessary with any laser, it is necessary to run a test grid on any new material, so as to determine what speed and laser intensity to use to receive the desired results. The software has the ability to create such a grid, as well as show the outline of the laser’s travel so that the material can be properly located. 

A laser engraver does both cutting and engraving with light. That focused light converts to heat when hitting the surface to be engraved or cut and it is the heat that actually does the work. 

Engraving wood with the Alpha was extremely easy, providing a variety of different shades in the wood. I was able to engrave the same logo either light or dark, simply by changing a couple of settings in the control software. 

Since the laser is focused light, it needs to have a colored surface to interact with, preferably a dark-colored surface. Being new to this, I had to learn that point the hard way. At first, laser engraving of glass didn’t work for me, as the laser light just passed through the glass, hitting the surface behind it and not marking the glass. 

With aluminum, the laser light was reflected up and away from the surface, leaving nothing behind. Both materials needed to be painted, providing a dark surface to absorb the light. 

I painted aluminum with both black spray paint and black tempura paint. In both cases, the laser was able to engrave the surface of the aluminum well. I have yet to try this with either stainless steel or brass, but considering the results that I received with the aluminum and that they provided stainless steel samples, I am sure that it will work well. 

I also painted glass with the tempura paint, allowing the laser engraver to do an outstanding job of etching the glass. My wife’s kitchen cabinets will soon be transformed. 

In my opinion, the tempura paint is a better choice for painting both metal and glass, as it will wash off fairly easily with water, leaving a clean, engraved surface behind. 

However, it takes several coats with the paint, to get an even, opaque surface. On glass, I needed four coats, before I felt it was sufficient. From the results, I would say that my decision to use four coats was correct. 

More Cutting Tools:


I would highly recommend the AlgoLaser Alpha 22W Laser Engraver to anyone who wants to add laser engraving capability to their workshop. The price of the unit is reasonable, the power is excellent and the quality of manufacturing is superb. 

I am looking forward to further experimentation with my Alpha and seeing how I can integrate laser engraving into my future woodworking projects. 

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Rich is a second-generation woodworker, having grown up in his dad’s workshop, “making sawdust.” Fifty years later, he’s still studying and working on improving his own woodworking skills, while also helping new woodworkers “catch the bug” for the smell of fresh sawdust. While Rich has done some custom woodworking projects, his greatest thrill is helping the next generation of woodworkers along, regardless of their age. His background as an engineer and a writer just adds to his ability to teach his true passion, woodworking.

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