Laser machines are not only for the schools, universities, Fortune 500 companies, and manufacturers. These wonderful cutting and engraving machines come in many sizes and models at different price levels to meet many customer needs. A hobbyist can find the perfect machine for them in a size and at a price that works for them. Computer-guided laser technology can be an important part of the creative process.
Part of the CO2 powered laser machine is the laser tube. These tubes come in DC or RF options. What is that? LASER is really initials standing for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation.
- DC stands for direct current and is the most commonly used type of laser tube. They are commonly manufactured in glass. Inside the tube, there will be a mixture of gases including helium, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, xenon, and hydrogen. Electrical energy is pushed through this tube to excite the gases and make a direct electrical discharge. This discharge is what creates the photonic laser beam which bounces back and forth to obtain a level of energy needed to form the photonic light beam that exits the laser at the other end. This beam is invisible but very powerful. The 60 watt co2 laser tube is common.
- RF or radio frequency is an alternative way to transfer energy into the tube and mixture of gases. It may be called “metal” tubes. This alternative method produces a beam or pulsed laser with very fast repeatability. While the DC tube has a parallel discharge in an excited tube, the RF laser discharges perpendicular to its resonator.
Which Type of Tube To Choose.
The expectations and end use of the laser equipment will play a large part in choosing the type of laser tube. But, the glass DC laser tubes cost about 10% of what the RF lasers cost. This is because DC laser tubes are lower technology. The two types have advantages and disadvantages to consider. The DC laser equipment costs a lot less and performs well but does not last as long as the RF laser machines. The RF laser machines may give a slightly rougher edge when pulsed, but generally very good results. RF equipment also produces good high precision engraving.
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