What to look for in a CO2 Laser Cutter

Laser cutter

If you’re looking to purchase a new laser cutter for either business or personal use, it’s important to have a few key details before you start your search.  These machines are often seen as the best in the business and today we’ll discuss why that is and what you should look for.

How do laser cutters work?

A CO2 laser cutter works by providing the energy for an electric current to run through a tube that contains carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen and nitrogen. The electrical current produces a strong light through chemical reaction. The electrical current that is produced is managed by what’s called a CNC multi-axis laser machine. The power produced is used to cut objects quickly and powerfully. Depending on what you’re using your laser cutter for, it should be able to cut the object smoothly within seconds.

What should I look for?

The most important factors to look for in a CO2 laser cutter are the CO2 tube quality, bed size dimension, and wattage. Obviously the tube of a laser  is important as it holds the chemical mixture that creates the power. They are usually made out of one of three materials – glass, metal or ceramic. Ceramic is the best material but also the most expensive. They can last up to 6 years (versus a 40w glass laser tube that only lasts about 500 hours) and have more consistency when it comes to holding and producing power. The laser cutter bed is also another important consideration – mainly to establish the size of the machine you need. This also impacts what materials can be cut and how much power will be emitted. The other consideration is the tube wattage.  This might be the most important thing to consider before purchasing. It also most directly impacts the size and type of materials to be cut, even more than the laser cutter bed. The more wattage, the more power is emitted.

What can I cut?

There are few common materials that most people expect to be cut by their laser. Depending on what you want to cut, you’ll be looking for different wattage. The most common are aluminum, stainless steel, mild steel, titanium, plywood and boron/epoxy. Titanium requires the least amount of wattage at between 210 and 250 watts. Aluminum can require the most wattage depending on the thickness, between 1000 and 10000 watts potentially. It’s good to figure out what you’re most likely to cut and go from there – you don’t want to buy a CO2 laser cutter that either isn’t strong enough or is too strong for what you need.

When purchasing a new CO2 laser engraver, it’s important to consider a few different things before you spend your money. A good laser cutter should be able to cut what you want (consider material), be as powerful as you need (consider wattage and tube material) and fit where you want it (consider the work platform)… then simply enjoy your new machine.  But be certain to review the company you are buying from.  You can find reviews of Boss laser here for example.


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