When you need to cut or engrave a small piece of material, such as a screw head or a design into a part, what do you do? Your options are limited unless you have access to a laser cutter or other industrial manufacturing equipment. With most hand-operated CO2 laser systems, the beam is so tightly focused that it’s difficult and time-consuming to cut something smaller than about 20mm. Fortunately, there are several other models of CO2 laser systems available that may just fit your needs. Check out this article for more information on how to use microforge and other carbon dioxide laser systems.
What Is a CO2 Laser?
A CO2 laser is a laser system that uses carbon dioxide gas as a medium for laser light. Unlike other laser systems that use either helium gas or nitrogen gas, carbon dioxide is non-toxic and inert. The laser light from a CO2 laser can be either invisible (near-infrared) or visible light, with the two most common wavelengths being 532nm (near-infrared) and 564nm (visual).
CO2 lasers are commonly used for industrial manufacturing and are particularly effective for cutting and engraving materials, etching glass and plastic, and drilling into materials. CO2 lasers have a few advantages over other types of laser systems. First, because CO2 is non-toxic and inert, CO2 lasers can be safely used around people and materials. Second, CO2 lasers are not only safe but also very precise, so they can be used for work that needs exact holes, cuts or engraving.
Microforge and Other CO2 Laser Systems
CO2 lasers have been around for many years, and the technology has evolved to make the systems more compact and versatile. The new crop of CO2 laser systems is called “microforge” or “mini-CNC” systems. These systems are designed to cut and engrave materials on a much smaller scale, such as hobbyist-level components and electronic boards.
There are also other CO2 laser systems, such as the gas-discharge system, the argon-ion system, the alcohol-ion system, and the dye system. These lasers are designed for a specific type of substance and can’t be used for cutting and engraving materials.
Upgrade to a New CO2 Laser System
If you’re using a laser system made in the last five years, consider upgrading to a newer model. New laser systems are typically more efficient and have better features, from higher powers and beam quality to more advanced software and controls. There are a few things to consider before upgrading to a new system.
First, determine what type of laser system you have. If you’re not sure, look at the laser in your current system, and see what kind of markings are on the laser head. If there’s no marking or label on the laser, you may not be sure what kind of laser it is. Next, see what the new system can do that your current one cannot. Many manufacturers have online specifications and product comparison charts to help customers determine the upgrades in their approach.
What to Look for in a New CO2 Laser System
When researching new laser systems, seek out a model that is compact enough to fit on your benchtop but with all the features you need. There are several key features to look for in a new laser system: Power: The power of a laser system is the amount of light coming out of the head and the strength of that light. The power of a CO2 laser can range from 1W to several megawatts or millions of watts.
Higher powers mean that the laser head can handle a broader range of materials, from wood veneers to aluminium, but at a greater risk of injuring people or damage to materials. Beam Quality: Different laser systems have different beam qualities. This refers to the shape and colour of the beam and is measured on a scale from 1 (worst quality) to 5 (best quality).
You want a beam of 5 or higher to cut or engrave materials easily. Beam Size: The maximum beam size of a laser system is measured in terms of “mils” (1 mil being one millimetre of beam diameter). Smaller beam sizes are usually better because they can fit into tight spaces, but they can also be more difficult to manually position. Beam Positioning: Some laser systems, such as microforge systems, have manual positioning, meaning that the laser head can be manually moved to the material to be cut or engraved. Laser systems with automated positioning are usually better because they can cut material more precisely, but they’re more expensive.
CO2 lasers are safe, precise, and effective for cutting and engraving materials. Newer systems are more compact and efficient than older models, but make sure you choose a suitable model for your needs. Consider upgrading to a unique model if you have an older laser system. Buying a new laser system may be more cost-efficient than upgrading your older model. Next, decide on the features you want in your new laser system, research the different types of lasers, and select a model that fits your needs.