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Review: Creality Falcon2 Laser Cutter/Engraver

Nov 17, 2023

After a 3D printer, a laser cutter/engraver is one of the most useful fabrication tools a maker can own. But they tend to be either expensive or ineffective. Now the new Creality Falcon2 promises to offer great capability at a reasonable price. Does it fulfill that promise? I found out.

Disclaimer: Creality provided me with this laser cutter free of charge, but this review is as unbiased as possible. Creality did not pay for this review and these are entirely my own thoughts.

The hobbyist laser cutter market is dominated by two types of lasers: powerful but expensive CO2 lasers, and affordable but weak solid-state lasers.

CO2 lasers require a large laser tube, which increases the cost, weight, and complexity of the machine. The generic K40-style laser cutter is a popular CO2 model, which I owned in the past. It had an impressive 40W of laser power, but was quite bulky and very heavy.

Solid-state lasers emit light from diode, which is far more compact but also much more difficult to run at high power levels. Because they're compact, it is possible to mount the laser directly to a gantry in order to simplify the machine and keep weight down.

These lasers also produce beams at different wavelengths, which effects their efficacy with different materials. CO2 lasers tend to operate at about 10,600nm (in the infrared range), while the solid-state laser in the Creality Falcon2 operates at about 455nm (the very low end of the visible light spectrum, near ultraviolet).

To increase the power of the Falcon2, Creality used four solid-state laser diodes (each capable of 6W) focused into a single beam. That results in 22W of total power, as apparently two watts get lost to waste. While that isn't quite as powerful as a K40, it is enough for most hobbyist tasks. And thanks to the lower wavelength, the Falcon2's solid-state laser module actually performs better with some materials.

The new Creality Falcon2, with its 22W laser module, has a pre-sale price of $1,199.00, which makes it about three times as much as a generic K40 laser cutter. It is, however, the same price as the Falcon2's biggest competitor: the xTool D1 Pro 20W laser cutter. The two machines have very similar specifications, though the Falcon2 includes the air assist module and the D1 Pro does not.

The Creality Falcon2 has a working area of 400x415mm, with a laser spot size of 0.1mm. The resolution is 254 DPI (Dots Per Inch) and its maximum engraving speed is 25,000mm/min.

It has built-in sensors to detect air flow from the air assist module, fires, and lens clarity. Limit switches allow for quick homing and a simple control panel on the machine lets users run g-code files from SD cards. For additional safety, there is both a key lock for power to the machine and an emergency stop button.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Falcon2 lacks an enclosure/shield. I'm on record saying that I think unenclosed laser cutters present a real safety issue. The laser module itself has a shield and the machine can detect if it isn't resting on a table properly, but there are many scenarios in which those are insufficient to prevent injury.

I believe a proper full enclosure is the only responsible option, but many manufacturers seem to think otherwise and the Falcon2's design is not unusual.

To cut or engrave something with the Falcon2, you will need software capable of translating graphics into g-code. Creality recommends either the free, open source LaserGRBL or LightBurn, which costs $60.

While I have used LightBurn in the past and would recommend that, I seem to have lost my license key and so I chose to use the free LaserGRBL for my testing.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the software, as it isn't a Creality product. But LaserGRBL is very basic. It will do the job for simple designs if you want to save $60, but it is quite limited in its capability.

It would be nice Creality released their own free software for use with the Falcon2, but I understand why they wouldn't want to reinvent the wheel. I think most users will want to use LightBurn, as it is popular and packs in a lot of features.

I tested the Falcon2 by simply cutting and engraving a bunch of different stuff. Creality helpfully includes a sample pack of different materials, which is great for users who want to experiment with their new laser cutter. You will, of course, want to buy material (probably in bulk) once you know what you want to accomplish.

The Falcon2 lacks a motorized Z axis, which means you must adjust the height of the laser module manually to get the laser focused properly on your work piece. That is easy to do and only requires that you loosen two thumbscrews, place an offset guide between the work piece and the laser module, and then tighten the thumbscrews.

Like most machines, the Falcon2 can easily cut and engrave wood, paper, cardboard, felt, leather, and acrylic. But unlike the K40, it can also work with metal—I assume that that is thanks to the wavelength of the laser. It can cut very thin stainless steel sheet (think foil) and engrave stainless steel.

That was a feature I was very excited about, as engraving metal usually requires a very expensive professional machine. I was quite skeptical about that and didn't expect it to work, but it did! I was able to engrave stainless steel without any issues. At medium power, you imparts a sort of colorful rainbow onto the metal. At very high power (and relatively slow speed), it blackens the steel for nice, highly visible markings.

Out of curiosity, I tried cutting aluminum foil. That did not work and it ended with the "Lens" light flashing—probably because the foil reflected the laser back up into the lens. To fix that, I took out the lens, rubbed it clean, and reinserted it. That solved the problem, though Creality included a backup lens that would have come in handy if I had ruined the original.

Of course, it handled the other materials with ease. It cut and engraved wood quickly, left nice clean lines in felt, and produced accurate parts in acrylic.

I have to say, I'm very pleased with the performance of the Creality Falcon2. The ability to engrave stainless steel is a standout feature for which I have many uses in mind. I sold my K40 more than a year ago when I moved across the country, because it was too big to lug around. But the Falcon2 is lightweight enough that I plan to hold onto it.

The price might seem high, but it is competitive and within reach of many hobbyists. That gets you a powerful machine with a very generous working area.

I do, however, think that Creality (and all laser cutter manufacturers) should include a proper enclosure or shield. I'm not worried about my own safety, as I know what I'm doing. But I do worry about the safety of novice users who may not have the experience necessary to operate the machine without risk.

If it weren't for the lack of enclosure, I would wholeheartedly recommend the Creality Falcon2. As it stands without an enclosure, I will recommend it with the caveat that you must understand the danger and how to operate the machine safely.