Among the first criteria for choosing a laser cutter, we find the power of the CO2 tube. There are tubes ranging from 30 to 180 watts. Obviously, they don’t have the same performance, nor the same use and utility. We take stock of the different tubes and the best laser cutting power according to your needs.
The power of a CO2 tube for a laser cutter: what does it change?
The power of the tube, expressed in watts, has an influence on:
The kind of materials you’ll be able to cut: With a 180W CO2 tube, the most powerful, you can expect to cut thin steel. With a 40w laser cutter, you will only be able to cut thin and low density materials.
Their thickness: the more powerful the tube, the more you can cut thick materials in 1 pass.
Machining time: with a more powerful tube, you will be able to go faster for the same task (by increasing the power, and decreasing the speed).
The life of the tube: a low power tube has a shorter lifespan … especially if you use it continuously at high power (> 70/80% of its capacity). An 80W tube is guaranteed – often – 3,000 hours of work; when a 180 W tube is guaranteed 10,000 hours.
And a 40 W tube in action (you will notice the smoke due to the lack of extraction, this machine is a K40, the cheapest on the market, and reserved for leisure):
The different powers of laser cutters
There are tubes from 30 to 180 Watts.
A 30 or 40 W laser cutter (like the K40) will allow you to cut thin materials, sometimes in 2 passes. For example, you can cut plastic, MDF or 3 / 4mm wood in one pass… but at high power.
With a laser cutter between 50 and 100 W, you can cut slightly thicker materials in one pass (with our 80W, by going not too fast, we cut 6/8 mm wood).
With 100-140 W laser tube, 10/12 mm plywood and MDF.
With a 140-180W laser tube, you can expect to cut materials up to 25mm thick (and even thin steel with 180W).
Choose your laser power according to your needs
In any case, a high power tube is more versatile. However, depending on your budget or your applications, it may be sufficient to choose a low wattage CO2 tube.
Application Minimum tube power
- Cut 1-3mm acrylic: 40w
- Cut 3-5mm acrylic: 50w
- Cut 3-8mm acrylic: 80w
- Cut 2-4mm Plywood: 40w
- Cut 3-8mm plywood: 80w
- Cut 18-20 mm acrylic or wood: 180w
To summarize, the pros often use a machine of at least 80w. If you don’t know how to choose the laser power, send us message to get more info.