How a CO2 Laser Works and What It Can Do

Laser beams can be produced by a variety of means, some of which are especially well suited to particular use cases and applications. Most laser cutting machines that are marketed to hobbyists and small businesses today include tubes filled with gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). A co2 laser cutting machine will often prove to be an especially versatile tool that provides a lot of capability for the money invested.

A Proven Technology That Produces Results

CO2 laser tubes actually include at least two different gases, although the eponymous one plays an especially fundamental role. Electricity that passes through the tube excites individual molecules of CO2 to higher energy levels, with this process forming a sort of foundation for what happens next.

Those enhanced molecules of CO2 then cause another gas to undertake a similar process of its own. That secondary gas actually does the work of emitting highly energized photons, with the CO2 providing the required encouragement.

This approach to the generation of a laser beam has proven to be especially reliable and cost-effective. As a result, it forms the basis for many of the most affordable and capable laser cutting machines on the market.

Many Materials Can be Cut by CO2-Powered Lasers

A laser beam produced using a gas-filled tube can easily be powerful enough to cut cleanly through any of a variety of materials. Some of the kinds of stock that hobbyists and small businesses most often use such devices to cut include:

  • Leather. Natural leather can easily be cut into any desired shape by almost any CO2-powered laser cutter.
  • Acrylic. Clear or translucent acrylic can be difficult to shape by other means, but laser cutters make short work of this type of project.
  • Metals. Although the power output of a particular laser cutter will limit the options, many types of metal can be cut quite reliably with such devices.

There are quite a few other types of materials that are often cut using laser machines that are equipped with gas-filled tubes as well. While there are certain cases where other laser technologies will be more appropriate, CO2 lasers are especially versatile and cost-effective.