Upgrading the tube in a laser cutting and engraving machine is one sure way to expand its range of capabilities and improve its overall performance. As long as a suitably rated power supply is present, it will often be possible to install a tube that generates a significantly more energetic laser beam, which can easily make a real difference.
Adding a 100 watt laser tube to a machine that shipped with a 60-watt part, for instance, will allow the device to cut more quickly and to a significantly greater depth. Laser cutter owners who opt to go this route, though, still have another important decision to make.
DC or RF: How Best to Coax Carbon Dioxide to Generate a Laser
Most affordable laser cutting machines on the market today rely on the same basic approach to generate the beams that do all the work. This almost always involves the use of a tube that contains a mixture of gases, with carbon dioxide, or CO2, being the most voluminous of them.
Passing an appropriate type and amount of energy through those gases will set in motion a cascading effect that sees a steady escalation of activity. Molecules of CO2 that get excited in this way jostle those of other gases until the latter become so active they start emitting photons.
There are two fundamentally different types of energy that are commonly used to put this process in motion. Most often, glass tubes filled with gas and sealed permanently at the factory have direct electric current applied to them to produce this effect.
An alternative that has benefits of its own sees pulses of radiofrequency energy being used for the same basic purpose. Tubes that reflect this approach are normally made from metal and can be opened and serviced later on as might be needed.
An Important Choice Whenever a Tube Upgrade is Forthcoming
As might be expected, these two similar but distinct ways of producing laser beams each have their own advantages. Using direct current to generate a laser ensures a steady beam that will contribute to the cleanliness and evenness of cuts. Radiofrequency energy, however, can produce beams that are more precisely focused, which can be advantageous.