Carbon dioxide lasers, also known as CO2 lasers, were one of the first gas lasers developed. They are still used extensively in everything from industrial operations to at-home hobby shops and are the highest-power and most efficient laser available. It’s important that any hobbyist or small business owner understand a few things about how co2 laser cutting works so that they can safely employ this technology, so read on to find out more about CO2 lasers.
The Laser Tube
The laser tube is comparable to the edge of a knife. When choosing a laser, the quality of the laser tube itself is one of the most important things to consider. Because it does most of the work, it is also the part that wears out the fastest, so choosing a higher-quality laser tube allows users to get more work done before having to worry about replacement parts.
Unsurprisingly, lasers with higher wattage allow users to cut through thicker materials. They also offer more precision than lower wattage lasers. Depending on the application, continuous wave laser power can be measured in milliwatts (mW), kilowatts (kW), or even gigawatts (GW), although most hobbyists have no need for super-powered lasers like these.
Choosing a power level requires understanding what application the laser will have. Most hobbyists use co2 lasers for engraving, rather than cutting, which requires a much lower power level. Stronger lasers are able to cut through everything from wood to metal and beyond and are often used for industrial cutting and welding.
Interestingly enough, CO2 lasers have recently seen a surge in popularity as surgical instruments. They are able to cut through soft tissue with incredible precision and accuracy, allowing them to be used in situations where mechanical trauma might damage surgical sites or other delicate areas. Of course, hobbyists certainly shouldn’t try it at home, but it’s a testament to the versatility of this incredible tool to know that it can be used for everything from welding to surgery.
What Can Hobby Lasers Do?
Hobby lasers are much less expensive than their industrial and medical counterparts and are more than powerful enough to turn computer designs into small statues or engraved pieces. This can help at-home artisans and artists turn their visions into reality in a far shorter amount of time.