CO2 Laser Cutters: A Comprehensive Guide

In recent years, CO2 laser cutters have emerged as the most cost-effective and valuable cutting tools, serving as reliable partners in bringing your creative ideas, designs, and concepts to life. These tools are instrumental in …

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In recent years, CO2 laser cutters have emerged as the most cost-effective and valuable cutting tools, serving as reliable partners in bringing your creative ideas, designs, and concepts to life. These tools are instrumental in crafting personalized gifts, arts, crafts, decorations, signs, and logos. With a CO2 laser cutting system, you can effortlessly engrave any graphics and cut any shapes & contours on a variety of materials, including wood, acrylic, plastic, foam, stone, fabric, and leather.

Variety and Selection

CO2 laser engraving cutting machines come in a wide array of models, each offering different features and price points. Therefore, understanding your needs and budget is crucial to find the best tool for your business. This guide aims to walk you through the key considerations when shopping for a CO2 laser cutter, helping you understand its definition, working principle, features, configurations, usages, and how to choose and purchase the one that offers the best value.


A CO2 laser cutter is an automated laser cutting machine that employs a carbon dioxide light beam to engrave and cut various materials. These materials include wood, MDF, plywood, chipboard, dieboard, cardboard, acrylic, fabric, jeans, plastic, leather, paper, ABS, EPM, PE, PES, PUR, PVB, PVC, PUR, PMMA, PTFE, and thin metals. The machine is widely used in industrial manufacturing applications, school education, small businesses, home businesses, small shops, and home shops. It comprises a bed frame, cutting head, lens, mirror, generator, power supply, water chiller, control panel, and a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) system.

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CO2 Laser

The CO2 laser is a pulsed wave beam where the carbon dioxide gas obtains a continuous wave or high output area in the infrared medium. The wavelength is 10.6μm. This light source is used for rapid prototyping, with high-power lasers used for cutting and drilling. The medium power output is used for engraving. Given that the output wavelength is easily absorbed by water, it is also widely used in medical treatment.

CO2 Laser Generator

A CO2 laser generator is a gas laser generator with CO2 gas as the working material. The discharge tube is usually made of glass or quartz material, filled with CO2 gas and other auxiliary gases (mainly helium and nitrogen, and usually a small amount of hydrogen or xenon). The electrode is generally a hollow nickel cylinder and a resonant cavity. One end is a gold-plated total reflection mirror, and the other end is a partial reflection mirror polished with germanium or gallium arsenide. When a high voltage (usually DC or low-frequency AC) is applied to the electrode, a glow discharge is generated in the discharge tube, and there is a laser output at one end of the germanium mirror, and its wavelength is in the mid-infrared band near 10.6 microns.

Carbon Dioxide Laser Generators

Carbon dioxide laser generators are usually made of hard glass, and generally adopt a layered sleeve structure. The innermost layer is the discharge tube, the second layer is the water-cooled casing, and the outermost layer is the gas storage tube. The diameter of the discharge tube of the carbon dioxide laser generator is larger than that of the He-Ne laser tube. Generally speaking, the thickness of the discharge tube has no effect on the output power, mainly considering the diffraction effect caused by the size of the light spot, which should be determined according to the tube length. The longer tube is thicker, and the shorter tube is thinner. The length of the discharge tube is proportional tothe output power. Within a certain length range, the output power per meter of discharge tube length increases with the total length. The purpose of adding a water cooling jacket is to cool the working gas and stabilize the output power. The discharge tube is connected to the gas storage tube at both ends, that is, one end of the gas storage tube has a small hole communicating with the discharge tube, and the other end communicates with the discharge tube through the spiral return tube, so that the gas can circulate in the discharge tube and the gas storage tube flow, the gas in the discharge tube is exchanged at any time.

CO2 Laser Tube

A CO2 laser tube is a sealed glass tube composed of hard glass, a resonant cavity, and electrodes that produce a light beam for cutting and engraving materials.

The Hard Glass Part

This part is composed of GG17 material fired into a discharge tube, water cooling jacket, air storage jacket, and air return pipe. The sealed-off generator is usually a three-layer casing structure. The innermost is the discharge tube, the middle is the water purifier, the outermost layer is the gas storage sleeve, and the return gas pipe is used to connect the discharge tube and the gas storage tube.

The Cavity Part

This part consists of a total mirror and an output mirror. The total mirror of the resonant cavity is generally based on optical glass, the surface is gold-coated, and the reflectivity of the gold-film mirror is above 98% near 10.6um; the output mirror of the resonant cavity is generally made of infrared materials that can transmit 10.6um radiation Germanium (Ge) is the substrate, and a multilayer dielectric film is formed on it.

The Electrode Part

The laser generators generally use cold cathodes, which are cylindrical in shape. The choice of cathode material has a great impact on the life of the generator. The basic requirements for cathode materials are low sputtering rate and low gas absorption rate. As far as the machine is concerned, the quality and performance of the tube directly affect the working efficiency.

How It Works?

A CO2 laser cutting machine is an automated smart cutting tool kit that uses a glass laser tube to produce a light beam, and works with a numerical control system to irradiate the beam to the surface of the object, and at the same time release high energy to melt and evaporate the surface of the object, thereby realizing the plan of cutting and engraving. The beam is a column of very high-intensity light, of a single wavelength, or color. In the case of a typical carbon dioxide laser, that wavelength is in the Infra-Red part of the light spectrum, so it is invisible to the human eye. The beam is only about 3/4 of an inch in diameter as it travels from the resonator, which creates the beam, through the machine’s beam path. It may be bounced in different directions by a number of mirrors, or “beam benders”, before it is finally focused onto the plate. The focused beam goes through the bore of a nozzle right before it hits the plate. Also flowing through that nozzle bore is a compressed gas, such as Oxygen or Nitrogen. Generally speaking, higher power is used for cutting, lower power is used for engraving. The power is adjustable during operation. Turn it down for engraving and turn it up for cutting. The level of power will also affect the depth of engraving and the thickness of cutting.

Technical Parameters

Brand: Hymson Laser

Model: MW Series

Laser Power: 80W, 100W, 130w, 150W, 180W, 280W, 300W

Laser Type: CO2 Laser Tube

Laser Wavelength: 10.6 μm

Max Cutting Speed: 1400mm/s

Position System: Red Dot

Positioning Precision: ≤±0.01mm

Cooling System: Water Chiller

Drive System: Servo Motor & Driver

Graphic Format: BMP, AI, DST, CDR, PLT, DXF, JPG, PGN

Price Range: $3,000.00 – $20,000.00


CO2 laser cutters are used for cutting & engraving a variety of materials such as wood, plywood, MDF, chipboard, cardboard, fabric, leather, plastic, PMMA, acrylic, paper, bamboo, ivory, rubber, EPM, depron foam, gator foam, polyethylene (PE), polyester (PES), polyurethane (PUR), carbon fibers, neoprene, textile, jeans, polyvinyl butyrale (PVB), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), beryllium oxide, polytetrafluoroethylenes (PTFE /Teflon), and any materials containing halogens (chlorine, iodine, fluorine, astatine and bromine), phenolic or epoxy resins.

1. Advertising Industry

  • Double-colored board
  • Organic glass
  • Label
  • Crystal cup
  • Warranty signed

2. Arts and Crafts Industry

  • Wood
  • MDF
  • Ivory
  • Bone
  • Leather
  • Plywood
  • Paper

3. Packing and Printing Industry

  • Rubbery board
  • Plastic board
  • Double-layered board
  • MDF board
  • Plywood board

4. Leather and Garment Industry

  • Fabric
  • Textile
  • Synthetic leather
  • Man-Made leather
  • Jeans

5. Architectural Model Industry

  • ABS board
  • Model

6. Production Totem Industry

  • Appliance signs
  • Anti-fake commodities

From a technical and economic perspective, carbon dioxide laser machines are not suitable for cutting thicker sheet metals compared with fiber laser machines. The typical products that have been used are automatic elevator structural parts, elevator panel, machine tool and grain machinery enclosures, various electrical cabinets, switch cabinets, textile machinery parts, engineering machinery structural parts, large motor silicon steel sheets.

Patterns, signs, marks, and fonts of stainless steel (generally 3 mm thick) or non-metallic materials (generally 20 mm thick) for decoration, advertising, and service industries, such as the design of art photo albums, the marks of companies, units, hotels, shopping malls, Chinese and English fonts in stations, docks, and public places.

Special parts that require even slitting. The most widely used typical part is the die-cutting board used in the packaging and printing industry. It requires a slot with a width of 0.7 to 0.8 mm on a 20 mm thick wooden template, and then inserts a blade in the slot. Use fashion on the die-cutting machine to cut out various packaging boxes with printed graphics. A new field of application in recent years is the oil screen pipe. In order to block the sediment from entering the oil pump, a uniform slit with a width of 0.3 mm is cut on the alloy steel pipe with a wall thickness of 6 to 9 mm, and the diameter of the small hole at the starting and cutting hole cannot be greater than 0.3mm.

HowMuch Does It Cost?

When considering investing in a CO2 laser cutter, one of the frequently asked questions is whether it makes economic sense for your business. How much will you pay for it and how much time and cost can it actually save for your business?

CO2 laser cutter prices range from about $3,000 to $20,000+ depending on its features and laser powers, and the table size your projects required, as well as the considerations beyond cost. A small entry-level CO2 laser cutter starts from $3,600 used for home shop, while some hobby lasers can be as expensive as $7,800 with higher powers used for small business. The industrial carbon dioxide laser cutting machines cost anywhere from $6,000 to $19,800 used for commercial use.

How To Buy?

  1. Consultation: We will recommend the most suitable laser cutter engraver to you after being informed by your requirements.
  2. Quotation: We will offer you with our detailed quotation according to the consulted machine.
  3. Process Evaluation: Both sides carefully evaluate and discuss all the details (technical parameters, specifications and business terms) of the order to exclude any misunderstanding.
  4. Placing Order: If you have no doubt, we will send you the PI (Pro forma Invoice), and then we will sign a contract with you.
  5. Production: We will arrange the laser cutter engraving machine production as soon as receiving your signed sales contract and deposit. The latest news about production will be updated and informed to the buyer during the production.
  6. Quality Control: The whole laser engraver cutting machine production procedure will be under regular inspection and strict quality control. The complete machine will be tested to make sure they can work well before out of factory.
  7. Delivery: We will arrange the delivery as the terms in the contract after the confirmation by the buyer.
  8. Custom Clearance: We will supply and deliver all the necessary shipping documents to the buyer and ensure a smooth customs clearance.
  9. Support and Service: We will offer professional technical support and free service by Phone, Email, Skype, WhatsApp, Online Live Chat, Remote Service around the clock. We also have door-to-door service in some areas.

How To Use?

It is very dangerous for a CO2 laser cutter to break down during work. Novices must be trained by professionals before they can operate independently. Here are 13 easy-to-follow steps for safe work based on experience:

  1. Prepare the materials to be cut and fix them on the workbench.
  2. Call the corresponding parameters according to the material and thickness.
  3. Select the corresponding lens and nozzle according to the cutting parameters, and check whether they are in good condition.
  4. Adjust the cutting head to the appropriate focus.
  5. Check and adjust the centering of the nozzle.
  6. Calibration of cutting head sensor.
  7. Check the cutting gas, enter the command to open the auxiliary gas, and observe whether it can be ejected from the nozzle well.
  8. Trial cut the material, check the cross-section, and adjust the process parameters until the production requirements are met.
  9. Prepare the cutting program according to the drawing required by the workpiece, and import it to the controller.
  10. Move the cutting head to the starting point to be cut, and press “Start” to execute the cutting program.
  11. The operator is not allowed to leave the machine tool during the cutting process. In case of emergency, quickly press the “Reset” or “Emergency Stop” button to terminate the operation.
  12. When cutting the first workpiece, stop cutting to see if it meets the requirements.
  13. Pay attention to check the auxiliary gas flow when cutting, and replace it in time when the gas isinsufficient.

How To Maintain?

A CO2 laser cutter must be cared for and maintained regularly, so that it can engrave and cut more accurately and at a higher speed for you, which can also prolong the service life of the machine. Here are 20 maintenance tips:

  1. When using the machine, the device should be turned on or off in strict accordance with the correct boot sequence.
  2. The machine shell, laser power supply, and computer power supply must be well grounded. Regularly check whether the grounding screw is rusted or loose, and clean and fasten it in time.

Daily Maintenance and Operation

3. Prior to initiating work each day, it is crucial to inspect the focusing lens for any contamination. If any is detected, it should be promptly cleaned. However, caution must be exercised to avoid applying excessive force during the cleaning process, as this could result in a shift in the optical path. The maintenance of reflective lenses and focusing lenses at all levels should adhere to the principle of “timely cleaning upon detection of pollution”. A specialized lens cleaner should be employed for this task.

4. Before each operation of the machine, it is essential to verify the functionality of each limit switch. This ensures that the equipment will not encounter collisions that could compromise the accuracy of the equipment during the operational process. Additionally, attention must be paid to adjusting the focal length and securing it firmly to ensure that the processing effect is not adversely affected by a reduction in the focal length, or even worse, a mechanical collision.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

5. If moving parts such as trolley pulleys, slide ways, and linear guide rails become contaminated or corroded, it will directly impact the processing effect. These components should be cleaned regularly and lubricated on the guide rails to prevent rust.

6. After prolonged use (especially cutting), the honeycomb platform may accumulate processing waste and even block the honeycomb holes. This could result in smoke or even burning when exposed to the beam. Regular removal of this waste is necessary.

Cooling System Maintenance

7. The cooling water should be kept clean and replaced regularly. During processing, it is important to check whether the water level is sufficient and whether the water temperature is too high. The use of substandard circulating water is strictly prohibited. Poor-quality water can seriously affect the laser power and significantly shorten the lifespan of the laser tube. Damage to the tube caused by the use of poor-quality water by the user is not covered by the warranty. The use of pure water is recommended. The volume of cooling water should not be less than 30 liters, and the submersible pump must be submerged. During the operation of the machine, the water temperature must be checked at any time (the optimal working water temperature is 25~30°C, the maximum water temperature cannot exceed 35°C, and the minimum water temperature cannot be lower than 5°C). Should the water feel warm, it should be changed immediately. A method of changing the water that does not affect the work is to discharge part of the hot water and then flush with cold water. Every three days, the water tank, water pump (especially the filter sponge of the water pump), and the water inlet and outlet hoses must be cleaned.

8. The laser tube is cooled by circulating water, so some white scale will appear in the tube after long-term use. A small amount of vinegar can be added to the circulating water, then the groove can be removed and its interior rinsed with clean water to keep it in optimal working condition and prolong its service life.

Smoke Exhaust Maintenance

9. It is important to ensure that the smoke exhaust port and the exhaust duct are not blocked, and any obstruction should be checked and removed at any time to keep it unblocked.

Light Intensity Adjustment

10. The light intensity should be adjusted to not exceed 20MA to prevent rapid aging of the laser tube.

Lens Cleaning

  • Before starting work every day, the lens must be cleaned once.
  • The reflector on the machine should be cleaned carefully, otherwise, the optical path must be readjusted.
  • The third radiation mirror and focusing mirror must be removed and cleaned. After cleaning, the lens installation.
  • Before each operation, please pay attention to the focal length. Inaccurate focal length will seriously affect the engraving effect.
  • After each operation, the work surface should be cleaned briefly. When cleaning, be careful not to fly dust.
  • Cleaning should be done after each operation. When doing cleaning work, when the power is cut off, you can gently push the beam and trolley, but it is strictly forbidden to push and pull violently.
  • Check the water protection switch regularly (once in half a month) to determine whether it is working normally.
  • Every other week, the guide rails must be cleaned, and lubricating oil should be added to the moving guide rails.
  • Every other week, clean up the peripherals of the machine (such as fans and air pumps).
  • After the machine works every day, it should be cleaned well. In the case of power failure, you can slowly push the focusing lens group and the X-axis guide rail seat, and it is strictly forbidden to push and pull violently. The bed body should be kept clean, especially the two linear guide rails. It is required to clean the oil stains on the guide rails and guide rail seats after work every day; transformer oil must be added to the linear guide rails and sliders before starting work the next day.

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