Choosing the best concrete engraving machine is dependent both on the size of the job and how much control someone wants over the engraving process. Concrete engravers that weigh several tons are sold at an industrial level and are shipped from China, while smaller models that resemble floor polishers are also available for jobs that cover a small area. The machines also operate on a variety of different principles, though most of them utilize diamond-tipped saws and bits to cut into the concrete.
Another main point to consider when purchasing the best concrete engraving machine for a particular job is how intricate the cutting level will be. The simplest and least expensive do-it-yourself (DIY) engraving equipment is designed to cut straight-line and circular patterns into brick-like material. These machines often resemble a heavy duty upright vacuum in appearance and are constructed of dense aluminum alloys. They run at around 8,500 revolutions per minute (RPMs), are portable and easy to store, and cut to a depth of 3/8 inch (9.5 millimeters). They are best suited to somewhat softer materials, such as brick, cobblestone, tile, and slate decorative foundations rather than hardened concrete itself.
More sophisticated machines for engraving concrete use a form of sandblasting technology to etch complex, delicate patterns into the surface, and can be used for hard materials such as marble or even something fragile like glass. They are cleaner than a diamond cutter as they vacuum up the dust as they cut, and reuse the vacuumed particles for further blasting work. Less expensive than a standard diamond cutting engraver, this type of machine only weighs about 145 pounds (66 kilograms). A drawback to a blasting system, however, is that it is only designed to cut fine patterns into the surface of material, which may erode away over time with a lot of floor traffic over the area.
For simple geometric designs such as circles, arcs, and squares, a heavy-duty engraving machine that is not hand-controlled is the best option. These machines are attached to guide rods fastened to the floor so that they can cut a pattern without user intervention, and are built upon a solid, four-wheel chassis. They run at up to 13,000 RPMs and have spring-loaded heads for constant tension against the cutting surface. Though not designed for cutting complicated shapes, several patterns can overlay each other to add to the sophistication of the work.
For very fine, freehand concrete engraving, hand equipment is also available. These machines weigh anywhere from 6 to 14 pounds (2.7 to 6.4 kilograms) and are designed for very precise cutting into hard materials. Despite appearing fragle and being the most portable of concrete engraving machinery, they also tend to be the most expensive units to buy. They can produce artistic patterns to a depth of around 0.25 inch (6 millimeters), and use both cutting bits and pneumatic impactors for shaping intricate designs or cleaning up deeper cuts made by other concrete engraving machines.