CO2 lasers are laser systems that produce intense beams of light by exciting carbon dioxide gas with electricity. CO2 lasers are among the most common industrial lasers and are widely used in metalworking applications. Lasers are excellent tools for etching, engraving and welding metals. They can also cut sheet metal and thin tubing with extreme precision, though they cannot be used to cut through thick metals.
Lasers, especially a laser as common as the CO2 laser, are valued as metalworking tools because they are not subject to some of the limitations of other metalworking tools. The labeling of very small electronic parts, for example, calls for a tool that can create a readable label without damaging the surface on which it is inscribed. Laser engraving involves no hammering or other forceful motion and can produce engravings as shallow as a few micrometers.
In sheet metal cutting, blades and stamping equipment can warp or create burrs at metals’ edges. In applications where the shape of a cut metal must not be disrupted, lasers are capable of producing clean cuts without affecting the metal in any undesired way. Also, lasers cut metals without leaving behind microscopic blade shards or any other contaminants, making them very useful in applications where strict metal purity and contaminant standards must be met.
Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers are light amplifiers, which means that they generate light and amplify it using electricity. When some kinds of light are amplified and intensely focused, heat is generated at the focal point, which is the point at which the light is most intensely focused. Depending on the intensity of the beam of light and the degree to which it is focused, the amount of heat produced will vary.
In order to produce a more intense beam of light, optical amplification chambers are often filled with gasses, which, when stimulated by electricity, release photons. This emission generates the beam of light, which is then directed by several strategically placed reflective surfaces and focused by a series of lenses.
Carbon dioxide gas is often used in laser systems because it is inexpensive and highly effective. Compared to other gasses, carbon dioxide is easily stimulated and can be used to produce powerful laser beams. CO2 lasers are easily configured to accommodate the range of applications for which they are used. They have even proved effective for medical applications like skincare and dental care procedures.