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Where are CO2 laser machines being used

The trace of laser technology can be found everywhere. Let’s look around and count some of the spheres where it’s present.

  1. Packaging. Cardboard boxes, paper envelopes, insets, or custom acrylic “mementos” for clients. Those and other packaging elements can be produced with the help of a CO2 laser cutter.
  2. Advertising. A lot of signs from acrylic or foam are made on laser machines. As well as logos, templates, letters, stencils, and other decorative elements from wood, PVS, plexiglass, etc. 
  3. Textile. Some of our clothes might’ve been manufactured thanks to the lasers. They can cut out leather, fur, tulle, some synthetic fabrics and natural ones. So at the end of the day our jeans and t-shirts may have been through laser tag. 
  4. Education. Laser equipment is being used in classes to strike a light of interest towards experimenting in students.
  5. Crafts. Custom designs, models and layouts come to life thanks to machinery, which helps all sorts of hobbies and young businesses. 

This wide area of applications can be explained by the potential of CO2 laser machines: they can both engrave and cut a big variety of materials. And now let’s figure out where these possibilities come from.

co2 laser cutting machine

How does the CO2 laser cutting machine work?

What is inside of this equipment and what each part is responsible for.

Bed 

This is the World Turtle for the laser machine. Its quality defines the precision of work: will vibrations appear or not, and what is the maximum speed of operation can be flutter-free. The sturdier the bed is, the better and longer the CO2 laser cutter works. 

Wattsan machine are constantly being upgraded to strengthen the stiffness.

We make beds with 2.9 mm or bigger thickness. This reduces the likelihood that the equipment will require repair. Also equipment has a special framing inside, that strengthens the structure.

Gantry

Now let’s talk about the World Elephant. The gantry moves along the Y axis, while the working head moves along the X axis beside it.

It has a considerable impact on machine precision, movement speed, and equipment inertia. Gantry carries the majority of the weight during operation, particularly during engraving or quick idle motions.

Wattsan CO2 laser machines’ gantries are 5mm thick aluminum with extra strengthening ribs to ensure long-term performance.

Laser tube

What are our Turtle and Elephant carrying? The key element that determines the approachable speed of work and maximum thickness of material which can be cutted.

How does it work?

co2 laser engraver machine

The CO2 laser tube looks like a glass bulb, and it has multiple inside glass chambers. The gas mixture is contained exclusively in the center bulb, also known as the gas discharge tube. The glass curve surrounding it is meant to facilitate the passage of cooling fluids.

Under factory conditions, each CO2 laser cutter’s tube is pumped with gas. However, it is not only CO2 gas, but a unique gas combination in which carbon dioxide is only one of several components. Most manufacturers use a three-component gas combination. It’s CO2-N2-He.

  • CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the primary ingredient responsible for photon energy emissions.
  • N2 (nitrogen) initiates the process of CO2 molecule vibration. In other words, it sets things in action and makes them work. Imagine it as a boss that gives a task to a worker (CO2).
  • He (helium) enhances the gas mixture’s resource because of its high thermal conductivity, which allows it to successfully maintain a low temperature. And that’s a salary that keeps the worker in its place for long periods of time without a burnout.

Machine’s functional application

  • If you want to make souvenirs out of 5 mm plywood, you may use a small model with a 60 W laser tube.
  • A huge furniture manufacture requires a huge machine and a strong tube of at least 100 W.
  • If you need to cut as well as engrave, a medium-format universal machine with a tube power of 60–80 W is ideal, since engraving is better done by tubes with a small value of watts. More about the engraving process you can read in this or this article.
  • For super-thick materials, you would need a 120–180 W tube.

There are a few moments about power that are important to mention: 

  1. If you want your tube to last as long as possible, there is one reinforced-concrete rule you should follow: do not set the power parameter higher than 85% all the time.
  2. Because Wattsan machines include a potentiometer that operates at power levels lower than 10%, it is possible to use even stronger tubes for engraving. However, tubes with 60 W or less give better quality.

The adjustable laser tube mounts make it possible to employ laser tubes of different diameters and lengths, which simplifies the setup and alignment of machines. But here is where we should talk about the next element of the CO2 laser machine.

Ignition unit

The laser tube has to be ignited, and that’s where this part of the system comes in. A high-voltage unit, as it’s also being called, generates the pulse of required power, which activates the gas and makes it achieve a high-energy state.

The high-voltage power supply needs to be matched according to the power of the laser tube. The capacity of the high-voltage power supply unit should not be lower than the power of the tube, and ideally, it should even have a margin, just in case.

Control system

Our machines run a system known as Ruida. It is an easy-to-use controller with a 5-inch screen and multiple buttons for managing all of the CO2 laser cutter’s operations.

It displays information about the state of your equipment, starts and stops the machine, moves the gantry, shows previews, and allows you to choose modes.

In short, the machine cannot work without the controller.

Ruida has its own memory, and the machine with this kind of controller can work even without a PC. Files can be loaded from a flash drive.

You may also plug it into a LAN network and connect up to 128 CNC machines at once, sending all jobs from a single PC. It is quite convenient if you have a huge production!

On our Youtube channel we have a video for you “How to use the Ruida”.

Movement

  1. Guides

Would have been great to have some guides in life to show us the way. Well, a lucky laser machine has those. 

Guides come in three shapes: roller, round, and rectangular.

Rollers are installed on small machines with a working area of 200×300 mm, which is appropriate due to their compact size and inexpensive cost. However, they are not employed on larger machines. Selection is between round and rectangular rail guides.

We use AMT PMI guides.

Because of the low frictional resistance, the needed driving force is significantly low, resulting in reduced power consumption. Furthermore, even while operating at high speeds, the temperature rise is minimal.

The PMI linear guideway is designed for sliding movement with a low friction coefficient, and the difference between dynamic and static friction is negligible.

  1. Belts

We use 3M belts featuring larger tooth sizes, ensuring prolonged service life and resistance to abrasion. Unlike polyurethane belts, 3M belts effectively prevent coin cuts by eliminating any flapping during stretching, thanks to the material. 

  1. Motors 

Engines can be two- or three-phase.

Two-phase engines are ideal for large, heavy machine components. For example, the WATTSAN 2030 Flat Bed machine’s huge gantry is accurately operated by two-phase motors.

Meanwhile, a three-phase motor powers the lightweight cutting head, which travels accurately and quickly along the x-axis. For small and medium-sized equipment, a three-phase motor is the ideal choice.

Chiller

It’s not the part of the machine itself, but it’s a crucial component of the system. 

CO2 lasers generate heat during the laser process, necessitating proper dispersion to prevent critical components from overheating. Insufficient cooling can lead to performance degradation and reduced lifespan of the laser tube.

The pump serves to circulate water, while the chiller actively cools it, a crucial step particularly advised for laser tubes with an output power exceeding 80 watts. Moreover, your choice of chiller model should consider not only the tube’s power but also the ambient operating temperature.

In contrast to the pump, the chiller operates within a closed circuit, preventing contamination of the water by dirt and thereby extending the lifespan of your tube.

How to choose a CO2 laser machine 

support for laser engraver machine

What are you going to produce?

The type of your product determines a lot. From the size of the table to the power of the tube. Buying a CO2 laser cutter is a responsible matter, so often the client already has an idea of the purpose of the purchase. In such cases, our managers can easily suggest a suitable model for you.

2030
FLAT BED
Work area 3000 x 2000 mm
Tube power 100-120 W
Max engraving speed 500 mm
Dimensions 2400x3750x800 mm
More
laser cutting machine for non metal
  • For example, for fabric cutting, a 2030 Flat Bed or 1610 cam conveyer would be suitable. Specially designed models for working with long rolls of fabrics, leather, tulle, etc.
  • For the manufacturing of rubber stamps, for instance, 0503 is appropriate. Small but ideal for such operations, a 50 W tube will handle the material and engraving admirably because of its relatively small beam spot size. 
  • For mass production, you can use 6090 due to its size and higher productivity. This also applies to the depth of the table. There are separate models with a lifting table function for those who cut stone or foam.
6090
LT
Work area 900 x 600 mm
Tube power 80-90 W
Max engraving speed 700 mm
Dimensions 1490x1030x670 mm + 315 mm (if on its wheels)
More
laser cutter engraver wattsan

For a more detailed recommendation, you can reach our managers; they will gladly help!

Conclusion

  1. СО2 laser machines are used in packaging, advertising, textile, education, crafts, etc. This wide area of applications can be explained by their potential: they can both engrave and cut a big variety of materials. 
  2. The CO2 laser cutting machine consists of several essential components, each with specific functions. The bed, akin to the World Turtle, provides stability crucial for precision work, while the gantry, comparable to the World Elephant, supports movement along the axes. 
  3. The laser tube, containing a unique gas mixture, emits photon energy for cutting or engraving materials. The power of the tube determines the machine’s capabilities, with higher wattages suitable for thicker materials or mass production.
  4. An important rule suggests not exceeding 85% power to prolong the tube’s lifespan.
  5. Other components include the ignition unit, control system, movement guides, belts, motors, and chiller, all of which are integral to the machine’s operation and longevity. 
  6. Choosing the right CO2 laser machine depends on the intended application, with options tailored for various materials and production needs supported by expert advice from manufacturers.
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