Modern CO2 Laser Reviewed
If you’ve got a laser cutter, it is highly probable that it uses a laser diode. But more expensive machines use a carbon dioxide laser tube along with mirrors. There was a time when these lasers came in two flavors: very expensive and amazing or moderately expensive and cheaply made. However, we are seeing that even the moderately expensive machines are now becoming quite advanced. [Chad] reviews a 55-watt xTool P2. At around $5,000, it is still a little spendy for a home shop, but it does have pretty amazing features. We can only hope some less expensive diode lasers will adopt some of these features.
[Chad’s] video that you can see below attempts to recreate some of the amazing things xTool did on their product introduction live stream. He was able to recreate most, but not all of the results. In some cases, he was also able to do better.
For example, the device has two cameras and can move the height dynamically. So, for example, the company showed engraving a curved guitar, with the laser moving to accommodate the curve. It also could automatically duplicate a design on multiple pieces, and thanks to the cameras, it was able to correctly position the design on the pieces regardless of their position or orientation.
As [Chad] points out, though, it is more work to align and maintain a tube laser than a solid state one. There is cooling fluid, and mirrors to align and clean. Honestly, if you are doing simple cuts and engraving on flat things one at a time, this might not be worth your money. But if you are using your laser to make money, the efficiency would be a big plus.
He couldn’t reproduce all the tests because he didn’t have the conveyor feeder that lets you cut long items or the riser to cut tall objects. He did, however, engrave tiny text on a grain of rice which is pretty impressive. Of course, with a 55-watt laser, it could cut through most material he tried, too. It did have some trouble with some 18mm hardwood, though.
Of course, you could build your own, but it might be hard to match some of the features. When looking at lasers, don’t forget you can’t just look at power. The laser source counts, too.