One issue that the owners of these devices must eventually confront is that the CO2 laser tube such a machine often contains will eventually need to be replaced. Fortunately, the issues most relevant to choosing an appropriate replacement part are not difficult to understand or account for.
Two Factors That Influence the Cost and Usefulness of Particular Tubes
Because the price tag carried by such a replacement part will inevitably be substantial, choosing an especially appropriate product will always be important. Some of the factors that contribute most directly to laser tube price and functionality alike include:
Type. There are two types of tubes that are commonly offered by manufacturers, each with a characteristic look and method of operation. Glass-based tubes are the more common and make use of electricity to excite the gases they contain. Because glass tubes are permanently sealed at the time of manufacturing, they cannot be serviced or refilled once they begin to deteriorate. Tubes with metal housings that are designed to leverage radio frequency (RF) energy instead of electricity, however, will normally include valves that allow them to be refilled. Metallic, RF-based tubes tend to cost quite a bit more than glass parts to purchase, but can make up for this by offering longer overall lifetimes since they can be serviced.
Power rating. Another important factor to consider is the power rating of a given tube. Most laser machines will be ready to accept tubes of a variety of power levels, even if various other components will limit this range to some extent. More powerful tubes are almost always larger than those that are less so, and this fact alone makes them more expensive to manufacture. A 150 watt laser tube, for instance, will typically be fifty percent longer than a tube of identical diameter that produces only two-thirds as much power. As a result, buyers can expect to pay a similar or even somewhat larger price premium for the more powerful tube.
Years of Reliable, Valuable Service for a Single Investment
Fortunately, most tubes will be ready to provide many thousands of hours of service once they have been installed. While it will often take a significant investment to see to the replacement of a tube once that becomes necessary, choosing an appropriate part will ensure that this commitment will pay off for a long time to come.