Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Laser technology: What is a CO2 laser made of?

The optical resonator consists of two mirrors and two metal electrodes inside a sealed metal tube, which is then filled with a gas mixture.

Laser technology: What type of gas is inside a CO2 laser tube?

The gas inside a laser tube is a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen, hydrogen, helium and xenon.

Laser technology: How is a CO2 laser produced?

The laser is assembled in a cleanroom environment, to ensure that the structure is free from any contamination or moisture which would limit the life of the laser.  The mirrors are carefully aligned to ensure the maximum amount of light is reflected, then they are tested on our custom-made precision infrastructure.   Other elements external to the resonator such as the beam delivery, correction optics and RF power supply are assembled on optimised manufacturing cells.  These are combined with electrical assemblies and cable harnesses to form a completed system. The final system undergoes a thorough test where the beam is aligned to customer requirements and the system is cycle tested and inspected before shipping to the customer.

Laser technology: Why is the CO2 beam invisible?

The CO2 laser emits light in the infrared spectral region, which is beyond the spectral response of the eye.  The human eye typically sees wavelengths between 380nm (violet) and 740nm (red); the CO2 laser operates at much longer wavelengths, generally between 9 and 11µm (9000 to 11000nm).

Laser technology: How do you see invisible laser beams?

We use various means to visualise and characterise the laser beam.  For alignment purposes, with the laser operating at low power, heat-sensitive paper or card can be used to locate the laser beam.  Beam shape and quality can be assessed by making burns in Perspex, or a specialist camera system can be used.

Laser technology: What are optics made from?

Lenses for use with CO2 lasers are usually made from zinc selenide (ZnSe).  Glass cannot be used, as the CO2 laser wavelength cannot pass through it.  Our resonator mirrors (inside the laser cavity) are made from copper with an appropriate coating.  Beam delivery systems may utilise copper or silicon mirrors, with appropriate coatings.

Laser technology: What is the core technology of your lasers?

Our lasers are diffusion-cooled sealed CO2 slab lasers.

Laser technology: How do your CO2 lasers work?

In simplistic terms, a laser cavity consists of a gain medium between two mirrors, and a means of “pumping”, or supplying energy to the gain medium.

In our CO2 lasers the gain medium is a gas mixture which occupies the space between two planar metal electrodes.  These electrodes are water-cooled, and RF energy is used to excite a gas discharge between them.  Nitrogen molecules are excited into a vibrational level, and subsequently transfer their excitation energy to the CO2 molecules.

The lasing transition then occurs in the excited CO2 molecules.  As the excited electrons return to their ground state, photons are emitted.  These photons are all of the same wavelength (defined by the energy difference between the excited and ground states) and are coherent – these properties distinguish laser light from “normal” light.  As the photons travel back and forth through the gain medium, reflected by the cavity mirrors at each end, they stimulate other excited electrons to return to the ground state, releasing more photons with the same wavelength and phase – this process is known as stimulated emission.

A rapid cumulative effect occurs, and soon there are many photons of the same wavelength and phase travelling in the same direction within the cavity – this is the laser beam.  One of the cavity mirrors is partially transmitting, to allow a portion of the beam to exit the cavity, while the remainder continues to propagate between the resonator mirrors, maintaining the stimulated emission process.

Our CO2 lasers produce laser light at wavelengths between 9 and 11µm.  The most prominent wavelength is 10.6µm, although other spectral lines are present; we can use different gas isotopes and/or mirror coatings to encourage these to propagate and suppress the 10.6µm emissions.  This is how we produce lasers at alternative wavelengths, namely 10.25µm and 9.3µm.

Laser performance: What is the lifetime of Luxinar lasers?

The expected tube lifetime (at rated power) of our lasers is in excess of 20000 hours continuous running.  The laser output power drop will be in the order of <1% per 1000 hours of operation (lasing).

Laser performance: How do you measure power?

Power is measured using a calibrated power meter, which is designed to work at the CO2 laser wavelength.

Laser performance: How good is your beam?

All of our lasers have a specified M2 0.83), although typically we achieve M2 < 1.1.  Each laser incorporates correction optics after the resonator, to ensure that the output is a round, Gaussian beam.

Laser performance: What are the diode alignment specifications and tolerances?

The laser diode pointer is a Class 3R device, operating at 635nm with maximum output power of 4mW.  It produces a visible beam which gives an indication of where the CO2 laser output will hit the workpiece; however, it does not eliminate the need for careful alignment and focusing of the CO2 beam before operating the laser.  Refer to the relevant manual for further details.

Laser performance: How big is the laser beam/spot?

Beam size at the laser output varies from 6mm to 12mm, depending on the laser model.  See the relevant product datasheet for specific information.  Focused spot size depends on the beam delivery and focusing optics used by the operator.

Laser performance: What is the thickest material a laser can cut?

That depends on the material, as well as the power of the laser and the speed of the process.  A few examples to illustrate this… we can cut up to 3mm stainless steel, 6mm mild/carbon steel, 1mm aluminium, 30mm Perspex, 25mm plywood, etc.  Contact our applications laboratory if you wish to know about a specific material – we may be able to advise, or we can test samples for you, free of charge.

Laser performance: How do I choose the right laser power for my application?

We recommend testing samples in our applications laboratory in order to make specific recommendations for your product or material.  Contact us if you have an application you would like to discuss.

Laser performance: What are the differences between a CO2 laser and other lasers while processing?

Different laser wavelengths interact with materials in different ways, so some applications are very well suited to CO2 laser processing, while others might work better with a different laser.  Lasers with a shorter wavelength can generally be focused to a smaller spot than the CO2 laser, giving higher power density on the workpiece, and faster processing in theory.  But some materials do not absorb the shorter wavelengths well, negating this advantage.  Laser marking effects can be quite different at other wavelengths, depending on the material.  CO2 lasers input a lot of heat to the material, so heat affected zones are significant in some applications; in many cases though, CO2 may still be the most effective technology.

Laser performance: What materials can be processed with your lasers?

We offer sample testing in order to determine process parameters for specific materials, and to make laser recommendations on that basis. Contact our applications laboratory for advice and to discuss requirements.

Buying a laser: Why should I choose Luxinar lasers?
  • High quality product:
    • The resonator has to be assembled in a clean room (Class 10000).
    • The resonator has to withstand a high vacuum.
    • We use a hi-tech manufacturing process similar to the semiconductor industry.
    • Exceptional beam quality and pulsing capability – round shape beam for increased power (for faster, repeatable and reliable processing).
    • Consistent, reliable, repeatable products.
    • We only make lasers – we are CO2 laser specialists.
  • High reliability and extended lifetime:
    • Guaranteed 20000 hours compared to rated power, with around 1% power drop per 1000 hours (power headroom).
  • High quality customer service:
    • Applications laboratories with comprehensive facilities & sample reports (free of charge).
Buying a laser: Can I rent or borrow a laser before I commit to purchasing?

We offer free of charge demo lasers for a period of three months.  From the fourth month onwards, we would ask for a nominal monthly rental fee.  This is to ensure that both Luxinar and you are committed to explore potential business opportunities where the laser can be used.  The overall demo period is to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. At the end of the demo period, you can either return the laser or purchase it.

Laser set-up & safety: Do Class 4 lasers require safety controls?

Please refer to our manuals, where the relevant safety standards are explained.

Laser set-up & safety: Do lasers emit radiation?

Lasers emit radiation in the form of light; CO2 lasers from Luxinar emit infrared radiation.  They do not emit ionising radiation and are not radioactive.

Laser support: What are your typical service escalation actions?

A number of issues can be fixed by a phone call; with some OEMs we can connect remotely, others would need a member of the Luxinar service team on site or the return of the laser – it all depends on what the cause of the problem is.

The OEM integrator is the first point of contact and then they decide what happens next.

Laser support: Do you have service and repair centres?

We have service and repair centres at our manufacturing base in Kingston upon Hull, UK and at our sales and service office in Shanghai, China.

Laser support: How do you support your customers worldwide?

We support all our customers through OEM integrators, our Luxinar offices in the UK, China, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the USA, and via independent service organisations.

Laser support: Are your lasers serviceable in the field, or must they be sent back for repair?

Our lasers are not serviceable by the end user.  Newer designs, such as the SR series and OEM 45iX, can be repaired by trained OEMs, Luxinar engineers or trained distributors in the field in some cases, but usually the units are returned for service.

Laser support: Do your lasers need regular servicing or maintenance?

In most environments regular servicing is not required, only systems installed in very difficult environments would require regular maintenance.

Laser support: If I have to return my laser for repair, how long will it take?

If a part is returned for analysis and repair, expect up to 5 weeks downtime (a repair quotation will be provided on request).  For service repairs, typical turnaround times are as follows:

  • Laser tube and laser assemblies requiring tube repair: 20 working days from receipt of order.
  • Laser assembly without tube repair, RF/controller repairs: 10 working days.

The above timescales are based on date of receipt of goods and/or receipt of a formal written order, whichever is later.

Laser support: I cannot afford to have my production stopped while my laser is repaired. Is there a faster option?

We can offer a service exchange unit for components that are less than 10 years old.  Under this option, the customer receives an immediate replacement module from our stock, and experiences minimal downtime.

Laser support: What is your customer care like?

The Luxinar aftersales team is comprised of technical specialists, passionate and knowledgeable about laser sources. Each team member has an in-depth understanding of laser technology and our products, as well as a wealth of experience of lasers working in a multitude of industries and environments.

Our dedicated, highly skilled and experienced aftersales technicians located in Europe, China, South Korea and the USA are on hand to provide the following support:

  • Product documentation
  • Spare parts identification
  • Fault finding assistance
  • On-site service & troubleshooting
  • Fault data feedback to Engineering
  • Spare parts/consumables sales
Laser support: Do you offer training?

Luxinar offers a variety of courses on all our products . Courses are held at our training centre in Hull, UK.

Courses provide an operational understanding of lasers and their applications. Training is also given on mechanical and electrical integration, as well as the ancillary equipment and services needed to ensure trouble-free operation.

Participants who successfully complete our training course will return with knowledge and skill to effectively operate and maintain their laser source. This will result in an increase in operational efficiency and reduced downtime.

Basic training can also be arranged at our regional offices in Asia and Europe and we are working on an online option for customers who are unable to travel.

Contact us at aftersales.uk@luxinar.com to find out more about the training courses offered.

Other: Where are your lasers manufactured?

All our lasers are manufactured at our headquarters in Kingston upon Hull, UK.

Other: Are your lasers suitable for using at home?

Our lasers are not suitable for home use. Our industrial laser sources require mechanical integration, beam delivery, control systems, etc., in order to be useful.

Other: Do you have any case studies to show us what your lasers can do?

There are some application examples on the applications pages of our website. We are producing a series of application brochures – these will be available for download on our website, or on request.  Contact our applications laboratory for further information, to discuss your particular requirements or to request sample testing (free of charge).