Why no K40 w/ Lightburn

So i am looking to get my first laser at the end of the year and I am looking at something relatively inexpensive and i keep wondering why no manufacturer makes a K40 that is compatible with Lightburn?
You can replace the control board and DIY so it can be done.
There are a TON of folks upgrading K40s with all sorts of after market upgrades and in the market you pretty much have K40s at $600 is, the New 20w LED at about $1200 and the “50w” co2 lasers for about $2200. But no one sells an “up graded” co2 laser in the $800-1200.
It seams to me that if you took a K40 replaced the control board, improved a few things inside, upgraded the exhaust etc (pretty much what DIY types do) and sell it for $900-1400
Am i missing something?

You were not clear on the intended purpose for the machine. That is the most important part of purchasing any kind of machine. Is it hobby/learning and what materials do you want to use?

The K40 is a minimalists machine. The controller on board is quite a creation, but the software that runs it does all the work. You can improve a K40 and run Lightburn with a < $50 upgrade board.

You can’t directly compare an led with a co2, there is a frequency difference in the generated ‘beam’ between them. The power is also expressed differently.

Led lasers are generally specified by their ‘input’ power and the co2, by it’s output power. The led people can use misleading advertising to sell the product. I’ve seen advertised led lasers that claim are equivalent to a 50 watt co2… the input power to these are 40watts, so there is no way it’s generating addition power.

They try and compare ‘dot’ size and relate it to power… just beware. A good estimate of an led output/input is at best 20%, mine have always been about 10% or less. So a 40 watt input led laser, I’d expect to have about 4 watts out.

Being able to adjust Z is a nice attribute.

When you start adding things, the cost goes up and makes it not worth buying a machine just to upgrade it. It’s a great learning tool, as is most of these machines.

Here is a link to a Russ Sadler video on upgrading the K40… it will shows all of the things you need to do with it to upgrade it. Russ knows what he’s doing and he attacks all the weak points of the K40… some of these issues also existed on many machines…

You are probably right about the 800 - 1200 range, but there is such a change in how it’s built that I don’t think you will find one in that range.

If you hunt you can find one like mine for around $1,600. Be careful of whom you purchase and ensure it’s delivered to you home, not the closest port to China, LA or SF. I have a 50 watt China Blue, even with that I’ve added/changed a number of items.

The controller in my machine, by itself > $400. It also has separate motor drivers for the steppers, all this adds cost to the machine…

All of these require some way to ‘remove’ the heat from the laser and that’s some kind of coolant. It’s a drag if you live where it’s warm to have to shovel ice around. Nothing was such a great addition as the CS5000 series chiller, they cost a couple of bucks also…

This is mine, about a two days after receiving it… It’s stock with the exception of the bed, tossed the honeycomb that came with it and use a sheet of rolled steel.

It’s now looking like this…

You’ll hear from many here about this I’m sure…

Take what information you’ve been given and ‘choose wisely’ …

Take care, good luck


I was act just wondering why we get $600 K40s, $1200 LEDs and $1900-$2200 50w CO2 machines.

Seams there is a bit of a gap that could be filled with a slightly better K40.

As for what I am looking to use a laser for… I am a model builder and a wood worker. But I figure to mostly use a laser in my model building. So cutting a lot of relatively thin wood wood for buildings. Less then 1/8” thick for the basic walls and extremely thin material for the Windows, doors, trim boards and Board and Battens to be glued on top of the basic walls. Something between the trim and the wall board thickness to be used to make “brackets”. And gable trim for the models (give or take 1/16 thickness. The exact material is not that important as the buildings get painted,
May also use the laser to cut “jigs” for building styrene structures such as legs and such to keep the plastic in place as the “glue” dries. In general ou build a jig out of wood to glue up plastic parts as the glue does not stick to the jig (and you use plastic for jigs if you are gluing wood)
That being said i am sure that the more experience I gain in using a laser will result in me finding “new” uses for it. Both in my model hobby as well as in my wood working hobby.

So this is a a bit of a learning machine and a bit of hobby machine.

Note I used cad daily and I have drawn full cut drawings for CNC routers professionally in the past so I have some background so hopefully the learning curve on that end won’t be to bad.

Obviously something that can cut thicker is more versatile and will last longer as it works at a lower power setting. And a bigger table would be nice as one of the model buildings I would LIKE to build with this is over 30” long But I am budget restricted.So the reality is different then the “dream”. And most of my structures are small enough to fit in a typical K40 work area.

But my experience in model making and wood working has taught me that with most versatile tools I ultimately find more uses I never considered once I get working with them. As they say to a person with only a hammer everything looks like a nail. But when you add a new tool you ultimately find new uses you never thought about for it. I expect that to be the case with the laser.

As for budget…. I ideally would like to stay under $1300 to start. But my start max is probably about $1600 or so. With potential to upgrade as money allows and experience dictates but most laser are kind of stuck with some things. You can not easily expand the work area of most CO2 lasers for instance and putting in a more powerful tube is not usually an easy thing. The other issue is that I don’t have a log of space for a tall machine without major remodeling work on my work area. Which is not justified for a laser unless I would get a lot more use from it then i expect. So basically a counter top unit.

Anyway I am still looking at my options. BTW where did you find a machine that big for $1600?

You used to be able to get an older model of the 50w that Jack shows above in the $1350 range.
Inflation happened and OMTech raised prices in general since they are now a more well known name and their machines are more “shiny” now.

I will say that all these machines are coming with pass through doors now which are quite useful - one of those features where you don’t realize you need it, until you need it and then regret not having it.

You’ll likely have to search eBay, like I just did for 50w co2 laser, and it’ll be a bit of a gamble, as the first result for me was a similar 50w with a Ruida controller for around $1300. Add tax and liftgate and you’ll be at the top of your budget. Assuming you are in the US, make sure that the machine you find is actually warehoused and shipping from the US. You’ll likely get it in a week or so depending on proximity to warehouse.

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I got a 2021 model, they claimed. It has an access panel on the left side, that is wonderful… Getting to m2 is very simple. Pre ‘pi bridge’…

I changed all that stuff out with some of Sadlers parts and that left access panel was a godly gift.

@DougM If you can do it, you’d make a bundle…

Everything is the lowest cost there is on a K40, even controller → lps has a strange connection

If the control boards in the K40 cost them more than a buck or two, I’d be surprised. The controller on it is an 8051, that been around since the 70’s… Next step up is 10 times that price.

If you want something like a Ruida, it’s about $400… slightly larger and the shipping cost skyrocket…

Lots of people have expressed the desire to purchase something in the price range you are looking for, but it’s still a void or vacuum.

I think if it was a viable market there would be something there…

Good luck


Looking at 50w machines, (the next step up from the K40) sees the price for OMTech jump from $500 to $2300. (which is about $500-600 more then it was a about year or two ago IIRC). But you can still see a lotvless expensive versions on ebay. And i know OMTech has a good rep and US warehouse and what have you but they are almost $1000 more then other options for basically the same piece of hardware.
And for me a laser is jus another tool. A lot of folks seam to make Laser Cutting a hobby in and of itself. The same way some people will do with lathe turnings. It is there whole interest to other wood workers turning and lathes are just another tool like there drill press. That is my level if interest in laser cutters. I have no particular interest in making this a hobby and seeing what different tgings i can engreave and all that. (not that there is anything wrong with doing so). But i have to many hobbies as it is currently. So to me. this is more like buying a drill press or a work bench or what have you. I doubt i will even engrave much.

My OMTech 60 W laser cost $3200 to have it rolled off the liftgate at the basement entrance, complete with LightBurn and a nearly endless supply of crappy plywood I’ve upcycled into several projects.

As with you, I wanted a tool, rather than a project, so paying more for something that worked, shipped from an actual company with relevant experience seemed reasonable. It arrived well-aligned and worked fine out of the crate, but since March the key lock switch and the laser power supply have failed. Both were covered under warranty, which definitely improved my mood.

IMO (*), a K40 from a reputable supplier will do what you want, albeit without LightBurn: design your parts in whatever CAD program you’re using, export the vectors as SVG / DXF / whatever, import into the K40’s control program, set the cut parameters, burn the parts, and move on. The fact that the K40’s program isn’t the nicest piece of software is irrelevant, because you use it only for laser control.

Minor upgrades to a K40 will be straightforward, if and when you decide you need whatever capability it’s lacking, but, until then, assuming all your parts fit inside the K40’s work envelope, go for it.

(*) All I know is what I’ve read, but I’ve read a lot.

Unless you are a Linux person as that software doesn’t run, so you would have to deal with Windows… Suspicious it’s doesn’t run on the Mac either.

From your description, that you wish to use it like another tool similar to a drill press… I don’t know if you want a laser… Just keeping the laser setup and operating correctly is a ‘ton’ more work than using a drill press. You are not going to find a ‘chart’ that details speeds/feeds for particular materials, like regular machining on a drill press.

Having said that I can see you finding you have a tool with countless capabilities that you would never think of and you will more than likely upgrade or put it away…

I guess it comes down to ‘choose wisely’…

Good luck, let us know what you decide and how it works out… love to hear from you about the experience.


I have a Mac around the house but I use a PC. AutoCAD plays a lot nicer with a PC

That only applies to the Corel software shipped with the K40s but there are 3 other software packages, all free and all run on Windows and Linux and work with they stock M2Nano controller which comes with the K40 and now some K50’s.

K40 Whisperer - [K40 Whisperer]
Meerk40t - [GitHub - meerk40t/meerk40t: Hackable Laser software for the K40 Stock-LIHUIYU laser boards.]
VisiCut - [https://visicut.org/]

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Didn’t realize there was any ‘hole’ for Linux with the Chinese… Assume these don’t come with the machine?


I think I was in Middle School by the time I was “voiding warranties” by buying stuff and disregarding any junk pre-loaded or pre-installed and connecting or adding my own parts to make the product better.

While a cracked version of Corel Draw comes with most K40 machines, along with a USB dongle, there are other options and often times they are better and all the ones I listed are free if you can follow instructions on installing them.

You are correct. Note that all of these are open source efforts.

Meerk40t in particular is quite interesting and frequently updated. It has a working Ruida emulation mode so that you can connect LightBurn to the emulator and have it control the K40 with the default board.

I believe there’s also a GRBL/g-code mode but not sure what the state of that is as I haven’t heard much about it. That would be useful since LightBurn g-code license is cheaper.

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Monport Laser sells a K40 with the Grbl board that’s compatible with Lightburn and it’s on sale right now for $599. I also have a discount code for another 10% off:


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Jack, I see what looks like a Russ Sadler head on your laser. Where did you get it, please? I see Cloud Ray offers on, but my laser has a front-mounted head and I. was unsure if their head would have an adapter for the front mount. Mine is an OMT 50watt, from 2020.

I have virtually the same animal as you a 50 watt China Blue…

Russ Sadler :slight_smile:

I have his ‘rack and pinion’ belt drive and his tube mount on my machine.

As far as I know the only difference between the 2020 and the 2021 model is the left side access panel…

These things all look alike, but that doesn’t mean all the part are directly replaceable.

Good luck


I remember Russ said, shortly after he designed the head, that he would sell a small number. I looked a few days ago on rdworks.com to see if there was any way to get one there- did not see any. My laser head has been replaced under warranty by OMT already. The original head had 2 of 3 threaded holes stripped out by dodgy installation. It is still a problem, any shake or rapid movement will knock it out of vertical. It sure seems to be hard to find a head that fits the laser with the rail on the front and not the top!

And he released the design to Cloudray.com and for a period of time they sold kits but I no longer see them. If you’re handy with a few tools you can send the design to SendCutSend.com and get them cut out and even bent and threaded if you’re not so handy. But it’s not a single click/order type of thing.

I think this is all the parts he makes…