The Importance of CO2 Laser Tubes
Laser systems are quickly becoming a crucial component of modern production facilities. A glass CO2 laser tube is comparatively inexpensive than other laser sources. For that reason, they are now popular tools for small and large projects. There’s a wide variety of laser machines out there to suit your needs, from desktop laser engravers for hobbyists, cabinet laser engravers for small businesses, and fiber laser markers for metalwork projects.
Advantages of CO2 Glass Laser Tubes
CO2 lasers offer a multitude of advantages, the biggest being its raw laser power. The smallest tube available on the market is at least 25 watts while others provide output power from 40-80 watts OMTech offers both Borosilicate and Hermetic glass tubes from 40W to 100W. You can choose one according to your specific engraving needs.
Here are some benefits of using CO2 glass laser tubes.
- Lower priced than other laser tubes: Glass production is cheaper than metal production. That is one reason why these laser tubes are easily available at low prices.
- Cutting Capabilities: CO2 laser glass tubes generate a continuous and steady beam with direct current, resulting in consistent cuts on a wide range of materials.
- Efficient Cooling Mechanism: Another benefit of these tubes is their easy cooling mechanism. Hence, these laser tubes are effective for the lengthy production of goods. Thanks to this efficient water cooling system, users can operate laser glass tubes in sites with higher temperatures up to 70-75 degrees.
- Adequate Usage limit: CO2 glass tube lasers come with adequate hours of usage. Just pay attention to the standard limits specified by the manufacturer. Consumers can choose the specific number of hours according to their required energy and production needs.
- Easy Maintenance: Unlike radio frequency or other sophisticated laser tubes, CO2 laser glass tubes are easy to maintain. There is no complicated cleaning process, so you don’t require professional assistance for maintenance.
What you Should Know about Glass CO2 Laser Tubes
The Correct Power Rating
Many suppliers and brands market tubes at their ‘maximum power’ instead of specifying the correct ‘rated power.’ You may think you are buying a 50-watt tube, only to find out it’s rated at 40 watts. Running your tube at maximum power will vastly diminish its lifetime. Consumers can judge the rating with the help of the tube’s physical size. For instance, if a retailer sells you a 50-watt tube, but it’s only 800 mm in length, you probably have a 40W tube rating. If you have an underpowered tube for your application, you may have to overdrive the tube to yield the required performance.
Here is a general guideline:
- 100 watt tube = 80 x 1400mm
- 80 watt tube = 80 x 1200mm
- 60 watt tube = 55 x 1200mm
- 50 watt tube = 55 x 1000mm
- 40 watt tube = 55 x 800mm
Invest in Good-Quality CO2 Laser Tubes
When you need a replacement tube, make sure you buy from a trusted supplier and a reliable brand. Some people complain that the supplier does not answer their emails if they have an issue with the product. In that case, you will have no option but to purchase another tube.
Find a reputable brand that manufactures high-quality CO2 laser tubes and offers a strong warranty.
You can determine the manufacturing date from the tube’s label, which should be close to the date you are buying the product. However, you can expect it to be up to two months old. This date is important as the manufacturer’s warranty often starts from it and not the delivery date.
Never Overdrive the Tube
The CO2 inside the tube disintegrates into Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide with use. When you overdrive the tube, it accelerates this process and reduces the working life. Over time, the tube’s performance degrades, and the power output decreases, causing the user to either slow the cutting speed or increase the power. Naturally, it results in the tube running longer and harder than usual or overdriving.
Many tubes have a catalyst for combining Oxygen and Carbon Monoxide to make up for the lost CO2. However, some free oxygen collects on the cathode and gives it a yellow tint, helping manufacturers determine if the tube has been overdriven. In that case, the manufacturer can refuse any warranty claim. To prevent overdriving your laser tube, check the manufacturer’s recommendations and data for optimum current.
Clean the Tube Regularly
Cleanliness is a critical contributor to tube life. Your laser tube loses around 9 to 13% of its laser capacity through its lens and mirrors. However, if these components are dirty, this loss increases. Again, the additional loss of power at the work surface means the user will have to lower the operating speed or increase the intensity. Dirty optics can shorten the lifespan of your laser tube.
Hence, keeping the tube’s lens and mirrors clean is essential. Users should clean and check the tube’s mirrors every week but remember to clean the lens every day.
Tips to Prolong your CO2 Laser Tube’s Lifespan
It’s not uncommon to have tubes operating beyond two years or more. However, they will eventually fail and at the most awkward time. Keeping an emergency backup is a great idea, so you don’t have to put your projects on hold while you wait for a replacement tube to arrive.
Overheating can reduce performance and lead to permanent damage. Thus, use a dedicated chiller or water cooler with an electrical interface that automatically stops the laser when the water cooling unit is not functioning. If you have a small laser tube, you can go for a sealed water tank.
Industrial Dual Water Chiller
All tubes have a limited life, and the power output gradually decreases with time. You can purchase a low-cost power meter so you can regularly check the intensity directly out of the laser tube. As soon as it reaches around 65% of the Rated Power, you may need to replace your tube.
If you are looking for a glass CO2 laser tube, accessories, or parts, find the best products on OMTech. We showcase cutting-edge laser engravers so you can find your dream device at an affordable price.