In recent years, CO2 laser cutters have emerged as the most economical and high-value cutting tools, serving as reliable allies in bringing your creative ideas, designs, and concepts to life. These tools are adept at creating personalized gifts, crafts, arts, decor, signs, and logos. A CO2 laser cutting system enables you to effortlessly engrave intricate graphics and cut out any shapes and contours on a variety of materials, including wood, acrylic, plastic, foam, stone, fabric, and leather.
There is a wide array of CO2 laser engraving cutting machines available in the market, each with a different set of models, features, and prices. Therefore, it is crucial to understand your specific needs and budget to identify the best tool for your business. This guide will 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, also known as an automatic laser cutting machine, employs a carbon dioxide light beam to engrave and cut a variety of materials such as 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. This versatile tool is widely used in industrial manufacturing applications, school education, small businesses, home businesses, small shops, and home shops. A typical CO2 laser cutter comprises a bed frame, cutting head, lens, mirror, generator, power supply, water chiller, control panel, and a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) system.
The CO2 laser is a pulsed wave beam in which carbon dioxide gas obtains a continuous wave or high output area in the infrared of the medium. The wavelength is 10.6μm. It is a light source used for rapid prototyping. High-power lasers are used for cutting and drilling, while medium power output is used for engraving. Since the output wavelength is easily absorbed by water, it is also widely used in medical treatment.
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.
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 is composed of GG17 material fired into a discharge tube, a water cooling jacket, an air storage jacket, and an 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 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 of the laser generators generally uses cold cathodes, which are cylindrical in shape. The choice of cathode material has a significant impact on the life of the generator. The basic requirements for cathode materials are a low sputtering rate and a 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 toolkit that uses a glass laser tube to produce a light beam. This beam works in conjunction with a numerical control system to irradiate the surface of the object, simultaneously releasing 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.
The Hymson Laser CO2 laser cutters come in various models including STJ9060, STJ1325, STJ1390, STJ1490, STJ1610, STJ1626. They offer a range of laser powers from 80W, 100W, 130w, 150W, 180W, 280W, to 300W. The laser type used is the CO2 Laser Tube with a laser wavelength of 10.6 μm. The maximum cutting speed is 1400mm/s and the positioning precision is ≤±0.01mm. The cooling system is a water chiller and the drive system uses a servo motor & driver. The graphic format supported includes BMP, AI, DST, CDR, PLT, DXF, JPG, PGN. The price range is $3,000.00 – $20,000.00.
CO2 laser cutters are used for cutting & engraving a variety of materials. They find applications in several industries including:
- Advertising Industry: Used for engraving on double-colored boards, organic glass, labels, crystal cups, and warranty signs.
- Arts and Crafts Industry: Used for engraving on wood, MDF, ivory, bone, leather, plywood, and paper.
- Packing and Printing Industry: Used for engraving on rubbery boards, plastic boards, double-layered boards, MDF boards, and plywood boards.
- Leather andGarment Industry: Used for engraving on fabric, textile, synthetic leather, man-made leather, and jeans.
- Architectural Model Industry: Used for engraving on ABS boards and models.
- Production Totem Industry: Used for engraving on appliance signs and 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 panels, machine tools 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.
How Much 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?
The process of buying a CO2 laser cutter involves several steps:
- Consultation: We will recommend the most suitable laser cutter engraver to you after being informed by your requirements.
- Quotation: We will offer you with our detail quotation according to the consulted machine.
- Process Evaluation: Both sides carefully evaluate and discuss all the details (technical parameters, specifications, and business terms) of the order to exclude any misunderstanding.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the factory.
- Delivery: We will arrange the delivery as the terms in the contract after the confirmation by the buyer.
- Custom Clearance: We will supply and deliver all the necessary shipping documents to the buyer and ensure a smooth customs clearance.
- 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:
- Prepare the materials to be cut and fix them on the workbench.
- Call the corresponding parameters according to the material and thickness.
- Select the corresponding lens and nozzle according to the cutting parameters, and check whether they are in good condition.
- Adjust the cutting head to the appropriate focus.
- Check and adjust the centering of the nozzle.
- Calibration of cutting head sensor.
- Check the cutting gas, enter the command to open the auxiliary gas, and observe whether it can be ejected from the nozzle well.
- Trial cut the material, check the cross-section, and adjust the process parameters until the production requirements are met.
- Prepare the cutting program according to the drawing required by the workpiece, and import it to the controller.
- Move the cutting head to the starting point to be cut, and press “Start” to execute the cutting program.
- 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.
- When cutting the first workpiece, stop cutting to see if it meets the requirements.
- Pay attention to check the auxiliary gas flow when cutting, and replace it in time when the gas is insufficient.
How To Maintain?
A CO2 laser cutter must be cared for and maintained regularly and 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 some maintenance tips:
- When using the machine, the device should be turned on or off in strict accordance with the correct boot sequence.
- 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.
- Before starting work every day, observe whether the focusing lens is polluted, and clean it in time if any. Please be careful not to use too much force when cleaning the reflector, otherwise it will cause the optical path to shift! The maintenance of reflective lenses and focusing lenses at all levels should follow the principle of “cleaning in time if there is pollution”. Special lens cleaner must be used for cleaning.
- Before each machine works, please check whether each limit switch is working normally, so as to ensure that the equipment will not have collisions that affect the accuracy of the equipment during the working process. In addition, please pay attention to adjust the focal length and lock it tightly to ensure that the processing effect will not be affected by the decrease of the focal length, or even mechanical collision will occur.
- If the moving parts such as trolley pulleys, slideways and linear guide rails are polluted or corroded, it will directly affect the processing effect. They should be cleaned regularly and lubricated on the guide rails to prevent rust.
- After a long time of use (especially cutting), the honeycomb platform will stick to processing waste and even block the honeycomb holes. It may smoke or even burn when exposed to beam. It should be removed regularly.
- The cooling water should be kept clean and replaced regularly. During processing, check whether the water level is sufficient and whether the water temperature is too high. It is strictly forbidden to use inferior circulating water. Poor-quality water can seriously affect the laser power and greatly shorten the service life of the laser tube. The damage to the tube caused by the use of poor-quality water by the user is not covered by the warranty. It is recommended to use pure water. The amount of cooling water should not be less than 30 liters, and the submersible pump must be submerged. During the working process of the machine, the water temperature must be checked at any time (the best working water temperature is 25~30°C, the maximum water temperature cannot exceed 35°C, and the minimum water temperaturecannot be lower than 5°C). Once the water feels warm, it should be changed immediately. The water change method 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.
- The laser tube is cooled by circulating water, so some white scale will appear in the tube after long-term use. We can add a small amount of vinegar to the circulating water, then take out the groove and rinse its interior with clean water to keep it in the best working condition and prolong its service life.
- Pay attention that the smoke exhaust port and the exhaust duct cannot be blocked, and check and remove the obstruction at any time to keep it unblocked.
- Adjust the light intensity not to exceed 20MA to prevent rapid aging of the laser tube.
- Before starting work every day, the lens must be cleaned once.
- Clean the reflector carefully on the machine, otherwise the optical path must be readjusted.
- The third radiation mirror and focusing mirror must be removed and cleaned. After cleaning, the lens installation must be firm, but not too tight, so as not to break the lens.
- 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.