What should I take into account when purchasing a CO2 laser system?
What must I take into account and how can I, as a purchaser, be sure to come to the right decision for my needs?
This is often the critical question before investing in new machine technology. In most cases, pure confusion reigns when a range of information is obtained from an exhibition visit, for example. The prospective purchaser is exposed to a flood of arguments and characteristics which should now ideally be weighed against one another. There is a lot of information on the market, and every system provider naturally presents his products uncritically and to advantage for the prospective purchaser. How then does the user come to a rational decision?
First of all, make a list of the main criteria which will influence your decision:
- Production advantages
- Product advantages
- Reduction of tolerances
- Reduction of waste
- Minimisation of tooling costs
- Reduction of production engineering
- Ergonomical aspects …
You should first focus on these and other criteria in order to replace one or more production steps with a suitable laser application. Below, we will highlight the questions to ask in order to arrive at a fact-based decision in favour of a laser application.
- What is the application?
a. Marking b. engraving c. cutting d. or a combination of several?
- Is the material or range of materials basically suitable for processing with a CO2 laser?
- What are the dimensions/formats of the material to be processed that is to be placed on the processing table?
- How large/small are the products to be manufactured?
- What are my expectations of the application?
a. Quality? b. Quantity? c. Flexibility? d. Costs? e. Handling?
If the questions have been adequately answered and a laser application appears to be a reasonable alternative to conventional production processes, then you should particularly take into account the following points when purchasing any CO2 laser system.
1. The CO2 laser source should NOT consists of a glass tube. If the power is more than 60 watts, it must be constantly
cooled by means of a water cooling system in order to guarantee stable laser power for the process in years to come.
2. The laser beam should be guided within the system so that laserradiation in no case is it exposed and therefore does
not present a risk of injury. On the other hand, this should not affect direct access to the processed material.
Furthermore, safety equipment should not interfere with operation unnecessarily.
3. The user should be sufficiently enlightened with regard to possible hazards and be able
to study the handling of the system technology in a comprehensive training course.
4. The moving components and axes should be in lightweight design but still be robust. If
the specific weight is too high, this restricts acceleration and leads to inaccurate
positioning results. Vibrations must not adversely affect the results of the application at
5. Highly dynamic, maintenance-free servo motors for the X and Y-axis are an advantage for
many applications. They reduce production time and produce higher quality while at the
same time having a longer life.
6. In general, the movement system and the laser beam source are the most important
components in a laser system. They substantially determine the life of the equipment
and the quality of the application results.
7. Sophisticated extraction systems ensure the economical removal of process emissions.
This applies to cutting applications both above and below the processed material. At the
same time, exhaust quality is not always the same. Exact matching of the air quantity
required and a balanced extraction concept considerably reduces maintenance effort and
at the same time guarantees a pleasant working climate at the fabrication area.
8. The optical cutting system is likewise substantially responsible for the application results.
This should withstand a common material crash without damage and not have too much
in the way of expensive control electronics. Possible repair costs can be avoided when
the system is robustly designed but is finely adjustable.
9. We do not recommend obtaining design software from the machine builder. An "open
software system" can be controlled by any customary design software running on a
commercially available PC by means of different driver software. At the same time, the
range increases as operating systems are improved. This provides independence and
allows sufficient scope for industry-specific specialisations.
10. Design software and drawing programs should remain independent of the system
technology. This saves additional investment in software products and protracted training
11. Make sure that the system manufacturer offers you a complete system in which the
components are mutually compatible. In this way, not only does CE conformity lie with
one manufacturer, but also the warranty and warranty claims can be directed to one
12. Excellent after sales service and upgrade options are very important basic requirements
which should be met in order to keep the equipment up-to-date at all times over the long life of the system technology.
13. Regular service and maintenance costs - after commissioning and if the system is used correctly - should not exceed
3% of the purchase price for each year of operation.
14. Before investing in laser technology, you should be sure to have your usual materials tested by
the system provider with your special requirements. A specific demonstration in your presence
will leave no questions open. In this way, you will avoid disappointment and window-dressing
and therefore poor investment in advance.
Laser system manufacturers sometimes offer only small production runs or individually manufactured units. For the typical user, this so-called special machine build can often only be a on-sided manufacturing solution. In practice, however, flexibility and modularity are required in order to satisfy changing demands. A well-engineered, solid basis with a transparent structure in design and concept is therefore a benchmark for the whole system technology.
Therefore, also pay attention to the optional equipment features and their compatibility:
- Modular exchangeability of the most important assemblies
- Different lens and cutting nozzle sizes, optimised for various application
- High-quality optics
- Different table concepts and material supports, optimised for specific applications
- Conveyor systems for processing roll material
- Automatic material feed by means of Feeding units
- Automatic material removal by means of Winding units
- Shuttle Table or changeover table option for increasing productivity
- Integration in manufacturing lines by means of an appropriate I/O interface
- Other mechanical processing tools for when the application is not a laser application
- Ink marker for non-contact product inscription without laser
- Ergonomic discharge table with maximum operational safety
- Camera recognition for monitoring and aligning cutting contours with printed surfaces
- Rotary engraving device for cylindrical objects
- Backward-compatible optional equipment features
Other economic aspects for your success:
- Laser power stages: Replaceable and expandable
- Sealed-off CO2 laser technology, practically maintenance-free
- Modular, dismantleable laser system for easy transportation and installation
- High and continuous spare parts availability for your laser system in years to come - worldwide
- Advantageous service products (finance, leasing, hire purchase etc...)
- Extended warranties
- Personal and competent contacts and specialists at the manufacturing company