Difference Between CO2 Laser and Laser Diode

EMIT has many types of laser cutter and laser engraver. The major difference between each product is the size of the processing area and the laser power. But some laser cutting machines are equipped with laser diode. Many customers ask about the difference between CO2 laser and laser diode. In this article, we will explain the characteristics of each laser and its effects on processing.

What is a laser?

A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term “laser” originated as an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”(Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser).

To put it simply, to amplify and emit light. This difference in light amplification method is the difference in the type of laser.

CO2 Laser

CO2 laser generates infrared rays through CO2 gas and uses the infrared rays for the laser. It is energy efficient and capable of large output, and is frequently used in commercial laser cutters.

Since CO2 lasers use carbon dioxide gas, a gas pipe is required, and mounting the gas pipe increases the size of the device itself. In order to increase the laser power, the gas pipe must be mounted accordingly. In addition, since the gas pipe is fixed, it is necessary to reflect the laser using a mirror to reach the laser to the material.

Laser Diode

Laser diode is also known as semiconductor laser, and as the name implies, are lasers that use semiconductors. It emits light by passing an electric current through a semiconductor, and uses the light to exert various effects. It is often used around us, and is also used in laser printers and optical discs such as DVDs and CDs.

Laser diode has the advantages of being “small” and “useable at low voltage and low current”, so they are often mounted on small laser cutters.

Difference Between CO2 Laser and Laser Diode

The biggest difference between different types of lasers is that the materials that can be processed are different.

Laser Diode cannot process glossy materials, transparent colors, white and blue materials. In that regard, CO2 laser can process the above materials without any problems.

NOTE: Neither laser can process mirrors / mirror materials, vinyl chloride, or metal.

The reason why there is a difference in the materials that can be processed is because the wavelength of the laser is different. But in the case of laser diode, transparent or white to the human eye cannot be processed because the laser transmits and reflects.

When choosing a laser cutter, you have to choose a laser cutter not only for the processing area and laser power, but also for the material you plan to process.

Another difference is that the output power of the two is different. The output power of laser diodes is small, generally less than 2mw, while the output power of carbon dioxide lasers is generally between 50w-300w. Both can be engraved, carbon dioxide lasers are very suitable for processing non-metallic materials, and laser diodes are more suitable for processing metallic materials.

So when choosing a laser cutting machine or engraving machine, you should also pay attention to how much power you need.

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