Metal vs. Glass CO2 Laser Tubes

If someone is interested in purchasing a CO2 laser machine, there are several factors to consider. The main attribute that helps to differentiate the available systems is the laser tube type the machine uses as the laser source. It is possible to find more details here, but the two main options include air-cooled metal tubes and water-cooled glass tubes. Knowing what each offer can help someone determine which type of tube to use.

Glass Laser Tubes

A water-cooled glass tube may be an appealing option because they are less expensive. Also, the laser is created by exciting gas with a DC current. This is an overall inexpensive process. Modern glass tubes can also produce quality beams that work adequately for laser cutting; however, there are some drawbacks of glass tubes to know about.

Almost all glass tubes need to be water-cooled. Glass is not a good thermal conductor, which means that it is necessary to have circulating water to help with heat removal. If a water-cooling system is not present, the glass laser tube may overheat, causing it to be inoperable. This type of cooling system increases total costs and the user’s footprint. It also introduces many more points of failure that must be maintained.

Having to have a water-cooling system also creates safety concerns. The DC power supplies that excite this CO2 gas in the glass laser tube have to operate at extremely high voltages. When these voltages are combined with the water-cooling system, the results may be lethal if something happens to go wrong.

With the DC-excitation process, the rate that the laser tube pulses are limited. Instead, it “pulses” when it moves across the material, firing several times a second. The DC-excited laser tubes will not pulse as often, which reduces engraving quality and speeds.

Metal Laser Tubes

The biggest drawback of metal laser tubes is their higher price tag. The cost, though, provides peace of mind regarding size, safety, durability, and performance. Ceramic and metal CO2 laser tubes are air-cooled. Their gas is excited using RF or radio frequency alternating current. Regulating the temperature is a process that involves fans only, which are built into the machines. This helps to reduce the user’s spatial footprint while removing the need for and cost of any other equipment.

The RF process provides more rapid laser pulsing. This offers higher engraving speeds along with finer details in the engraving. Metal tubes are much more durable, as well, and last longer than the glass ones mentioned above.

With the glass label tubes, it is possible to get higher-quality cuts at lower prices. With metal laser tubes, it is possible to get the highest quality laser cutting and engraving results and have confidence that the laser is going to last longer, engrave faster, and be much safer.

Making the right decision is essential, so it is important to keep this in mind. Being informed is the best way to ensure that the results desired are achieved and that the quality engraving needed is seen.