The importance of measuring your co2 lasers output power
The single most critical point of failure on a dc excited CO2 laser is the glass CO2 laser tube.
Once output power begins to decline it is a stones throw away from failure.
On average it is quoted by DC laser tube manufactures a working life of between 2000-8000 hours, this is a very vague figure and time alone is not a reliable metric to base tube replacement on. At point of sale tubes are often marketed with a peak power and working agreement power. Peak power is the physical maximum the manufacture managed to achieve with the tube during testing and is usually marketed as a unique selling point. Working agreement power is the power level at which the tube could maintain a stable beam of the correct mode (Tem00). Beam stability is also an important factor during testing and manufacture.
It is important upon delivery to test the output power of your new laser tube, it is possible that it could suffer from manufacturing defects or even postal damage causing leakage of the gas mixture required to sustain a TEM00 beam. This allows your to compare the output power vs the advertised power, this is of high importance as it is not uncommon for Chinese sellers to fraudulently claim higher powers or even re-brand refurbished used tubes as new. This will give you a fighting chance at disputing a claim at point of delivery, rather than having the tube fail a few weeks down the line.
When a tube reaches the end of its working life the tube output power will begin to drop, this decline will be steady with use. With regular power testing a user will be able to notice a trend and catch a failing tube before it completely fails rendering the machine useless. This allows for ample time for a replacement to be sourced without causing any unplanned downtime. Proactively replacing a laser tube is also beneficial in many ways.
- Allows for the best deal to be selected, sourcing a tube locally is usually the most expensive option, overseas shipping of a large glass tube can have its complexity’s though.
- No unplanned downtime, unplanned downtime costs the manufacture on average 10x more than planned downtime due to order loss, back orders, overtime etc.
- When a tube completely fails its not uncommon for it to become open circuit, when this happens the high voltage arc (22kV-35kV) will arc to the nearest grounded point. This is usually the machine body and its not uncommon for your RCD to trip on your MCB board causing power outage to all your powered devices, this can cause data loss, time loss, or even damage to sensitive electrical equipment not designed to cope with these huge electrical spikes usually associated with a lightning bolt.
- Ensuring maximum machine throughput is achieved at all times, in a busy manufacturing environment this is important as no one wants a machine to be loosing money.
To recap on the points made above, catching a tube failure before it happens can save you money, time, and increase production. This tool really does pay for itself.
Perfect for measuring 10-200W CO2 laser tubes.