Jewelry might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to machining. Machine tools typically conjure up ideas of heavy-duty, industrial-sized behemoths. We picture them as part of a high-tech manufacturing center, or perhaps in an old-school factory.
So it might be a bit of a surprise to find that there’s a much smaller world of modern machine tools. Jewelers use a variety of machine tools, since their work requires just as much precision, but on a tinier scale. Because of the smaller size involved, some of the more popular engraving tools are hand-held; others are benchtop models more in line with their industrial cousins.
In this list, we’ve assembled nine affordable and professional jewelry engraving machines. There’s enough variety here for everyone, whether you’re a hobbyist or a full-time professional.
What is a jewelry engraving machine?
In jewelry manufacturing, an engraving machine is a crucial tool for producing jewelry designs. There are two main types of jewelry engraving machines: manual and computer-numeric-controlled (CNC).
Manual machines require the operator to use a hand tool to control the engraving process. This type of machine is typically used for basic designs that don’t need as much precision.
CNC machines are controlled by a computer, which allows for more intricate designs. They are also faster and more accurate than manual machines. CNC machines come in a variety of sizes and with various features. Three-axis (3-axis) machines move the jewelry up and down, left-to-right, and forward and backward. A 5-axis machine can move the jewelry in all directions, allowing for more complex designs.
How does a jewelry engraving machine work?
The jewelry engraving machine uses a laser to cut or etch designs into the metal surface. The artist sketches out a design on a computer and then inputs the design into the machine. The laser is then directed at the metal and begins to cut or etch the design into the surface. The level of detail that can be achieved with a jewelry engraving machine is astounding – you can create anything from delicate scrollwork to intricate portraits.
Our Top Jewelry Engraving Machines
1. Dremel Engraving Tool
Let’s start small. Dremel’s been making these handheld engraving tools for a while. Featuring a carbide tip and stencil set, this particular model can be found on Amazon for under $30, making it one of the most affordable on the list. The Dremel can be used on metal, plastics, wood, leather, and even glass and stone. There’s also a vast number of add-ons and accessories, including diamond tips and a variety of cutting tools, that expand the capabilities of the Dremel.
There’s no automation; this is strictly a hand-held tool. But for jewelry making hobbyists or even professionals who prefer a freehand approach, the Dremel is one of the best starting points.
2. Utool Engraver
Another handheld model, the Utool engraver comes with a number of attachments and letter/number stencil sets. In high power mode, the Utool is capable of 7200 strokes per minute, enough for everything from wood to sheet metal. This is a utilitarian engraving pen or scriber, like the Dremel listed above. It’s ideal for learning the basics of engraving and taking a handheld approach to working with a variety of materials.
3. Proxxon Engraving Device
The Proxxon engraver is a mechanical (not laser-etched) router-type machine tool. As such, it’s aimed squarely at customers who are looking for something more powerful than the average engraver, and certainly more accurate than anything hand-held. The Proxxon is still a small device, measuring roughly 11 x 12 inches and weighing under six pounds.
This engraver is a great midway point, providing more power and production than a handheld tool, but without any automated components. It’s also somewhat limited, dealing primarily with basic shapes, letters, and numbers. It’s great for creating nameplates and basic templates, but to expand your range significantly, you’ll want to look at something a bit more powerful.
4.) BB-1S Best Built Compact Ring Engraver
The BB-1S is a CNC engraver for marking on the inner and outer of rings. It’s light, sophisticated, low noise, portable device that will allow you to easily etch designs into metal with ease. The only thing better than its portability? This machine has wireless Bluetooth compatibility so it can be used from any tablet or phone in your arsenal running iOS7+.
5. Gangou Laser Engraver
This machine looks a bit more like a router than an engraver – and that’s intentional. Instead of carving out wood or metal workpieces, this is a standard laser engraving machine, etching or burning out patterns in a variety of materials. The Gangou laser engraver doesn’t work on metal workpieces, but for everything from acrylic to wood, this is a powerful and versatile choice.
6. Ortur Laser Engraver
A true CNC laser engraver, the Ortur Laser Engraver provides DIY engraving from design to final production for amateurs and professionals alike. The Ortur uses commonly-available design programs like LaserGRBL and LightBurn, providing custom engraving for nearly any user. The Ortur uses laser technology with a number of advanced features, including cut-off safety features if the laser stops moving. In other words, this is more than a simple laser etching or laser marking machine; this is a laser engraving cutting machine that’s advanced enough to handle high-end projects.
7. Mactron 30W JPT Metal Laser Engraving Machine
This machine is the 30/50W desktop fiber laser engraving machine, it is equipped with the 30W/50W fiber laser source, and adopts our self-developed galvo head which has the double red light focusing function, and the laser machine equipped with the Siemens electrical system, all wire based on the CE standards and make the labels.
8. CNC Masters Air Turbine Air Spindle
Another attachment for CNC Masters milling machines. The Air Turbine Air Spindle is designed for production runs. This is a top-line engraving attachment capable of 40,000 rpm and is ideal for large-scale production of engraved metal workpieces or parts. Like the other CNC Masters engraving attachments, the Air Turbine is backed by the power of the CNC Masters’ milling machines. It’s more than capable of handling stainless steel pieces and virtually any other material you can throw at it.
9. Best Built Computerized Engraver BB70M
The multifunctional BB70 is a well-designed machine that can do everything from engraving and cutting on pendants, flasks, watch cases, or rings to creating beautiful 2D cuts for gold plating. It also does 3D wax carving with some design capability of the user!
Handheld engraving tools like the Dremel provide a lot of versatility to experienced and hobbyist metalworkers alike. The middle range of engravers tends to be limited, although laser engravers add increasing design capability and computerization. Adding an adapter to the CNC Masters milling machines couples the power of those machines with the detail of mechanical engraving, adding a CNC-powered tool to any jeweler’s tool kit.