Prolong CO2 Laser Tube Lifetime with a Laser Water Chiller
Lasers are beneficial for engraving most materials such as wood, glass, leather, and acrylic. For that reason, laser engraving machines are becoming an indispensable component of today’s production facilities, as well as small businesses and lifelong hobbyists. A high-powered laser engraver's performance and lifespan depend on various factors such as frequency of use, routine cleaning, and maintenance. However, users often overlook a crucial element to guarantee their machine's long-term functionality: effective cooling.
While there are many industrial water chiller products on the market, choosing a reliable laser water chiller is the best way to extend your laser tube’s life.
Let’s take a look at how industrial water chillers for laser machines work and determine their role in improving your laser engraver’s durability and performance.
Why You Need a Water Laser Chiller for Your Engraver Machine
Like most forms of light, laser beams produce heat. When you run your laser for extended periods, excessive heat builds inside the laser tube and its surrounding components, leading to cracked tubes, beam arcing, and other damages that can diminish engraving quality and rapidly destroy your CO2 laser tube. In many cases, DIY water pumps for co2 lasers are insufficient because they do not closely regulate a consistent cooling water temperature for CO2 lasers.
What you really need is an industrial water chiller. These specialized laser water chillers perform water circulation cooling on the machine’s laser generator and regulates its temperature to prolong its life. Recirculating chillers utilize active refrigeration for applications that require precise temperature control or below ambient temperatures. Standard models come with cooling capacities ranging from 600W to several KWs.
Protect Your Laser Tube Investment
CO2 laser tubes can be expensive. From a 40W laser and up to 150W, a new tube can set you back $200 to $2,000, or even more in some cases. Protecting your investment with a high-performance laser water chiller is a wise decision. There are many DIY laser cooling methods out there like an ice water bucket with a water pump for CO2 lasers. While this DIY laser cooling equipment might work fine for K40 laser water cooling, it will not perform with the same consistency of a laser water chiller on a higher wattage laser. Why would you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a new CO2 laser tube only to let it overheat from inadequate laser cooling equipment like CO2 laser water pumps in ice water buckets? Never compromise on your laser tube cooling system — your wallet will thank you later.
CO2 Engravers: At What Wattage is a Laser Water Chiller Required?
Lasers underwent an incredible technical evolution in the last two decades. But since power and output wavelengths are sensitive to temperature variations, maintaining temperature is necessary, even in applications that do not need precise temperature control.
For low-power lasers (40W and below), air-cooling efficiently removes excess heat — a k40 water chiller or even a water pump for CO2 lasers will be sufficient. Medium-power lasers (50-100W) require a water pump or cold plate to deliver a consistent flow of ambient-cooled water directly to the laser head. However, for a high-power laser (100W and above), users need a recirculating industrial water chiller for cool, deionized water at a consistent flow rate and temperature. Capable laser water chillers guarantee long-term, corrosion-free performance with consistent laser water cooling functionality to prolong the lifespan of your machine.
A low-power laser engraver can work best when you are engraving thin materials like paper. However, you will need a high-power laser engraving machine for other materials. You will not need an industrial chiller for laser machines below 50W — again, a k40 water chiller is all you need. However, when you are using laser engravers of 50W and above, you surely need an industrial water chiller. Opt for a 5K laser chiller when you go above a 100W laser engraving machine. You can also find an efficient chiller that can hook up two machines at once.
If you run a laser engraving business and you're using your K40 or medium-power laser engraver for 8 hours every day, you should certainly leave the DIY laser cooling methods behind and invest in an industrial water chiller. The convenience of having professional-grade laser cooling equipment will save you time, effort, and many trips to your freezer.
What Size Water Chiller Do I Need for My Laser Engraver?
Laser engraving machine manufacturers recommend using laser cooling equipment, such as an industrial water chiller, to reap their machines’ full benefits. You need a water chiller for laser machines because the cost of installing an industrial chiller is a fraction of the cost of buying a laser engraver. However, the laser chiller you choose must be adequately equipped and correctly sized.
Unfortunately, many laser chiller industrial manufacturers provide a vague description of features and specs that make it difficult to choose the best laser cooling equipment for you. If you choose a cheap or mediocre product from an unknown brand, the chiller could spell disaster for your laser engraving machine.
The first step to select the best chiller industrial brand is to determine the water cooling requirements for the laser. Make sure you buy a laser water chiller that comes with clear information about its cooling capabilities in the operating manual. Not to mention, cooling capacity determines the chiller size. The heat load is the amount of waste heat that a laser chiller removes from a laser engraving machine. Typically, this value is in BTU/hr or watts. The chiller you choose must be powerful enough for the laser engraving machine you are using. We recommend a 3000 chiller for 50-100W machine or something ranging between 5000 and 5200 for above 100W. However, if you run a laser engraving business full time, you'll want a 5000 chiller even for 50-100W laser machines.
There are a few other factors to consider, such as temperature display, temperature monitors with high/low alarms, water flow rates, etc. Other considerations, such as ISO 9001 certification and warranty, can help you make the most out of your industrial water chiller.
What Temperature Should a Laser Engraver Water Chiller Be?
OMTech specialists always recommend using distilled water for laser tube cooling, ensuring it stays between 60–70°F (16–21°C). Consistent using optimal CO2 laser tube temperature is actually a key to consistent laser performance.
Also keep in mind that your laser beam will perform slightly different at various cooling temperatures. The engraving result can look different if you change your laser cooling temperature, even by a few degrees. It's impossible to estimate the perfect CO2 laser cutting temperature, although the ideal range is the same for engraving, from 60–70°F (16–21°C). You might benefit from experimenting at different laser cooling temperatures within this range to optimize your laser cutting and laser engraving operations.
The laser beam is produced by running high-voltage electricity through the sealed glass tube, where it excites the carbon dioxide and other gases, producing a monochromatic infrared (invisible) beam of laser light. As some gases are consumed in this chemical reaction, excess heat can cause the electricity to accelerate gas consumption — producing a more intense laser beam.
This phenomenon explains why laser cooling extends the tube’s lifetime and shows how differences in CO2 laser tube temperature can affect laser power settings. With all other variables the same, the laser beam will be slightly more powerful at higher temperatures, meaning that consistent cooling temps help ensure constant and replicable engraving performance. Following this principle, you should monitor how your laser performs at various temperatures within the recommended range and use your laser water chiller consistently.
7 Key Features of Industrial Laser Water Chillers
Choosing a quality laser water chiller can add years to your laser engraving machine’s life and improve processing accuracy. Here are a few important features that can help you prolong your laser engraver’s life:
1. WATER FLOW
A consistent flow of ambient-cooled water to the laser head or a cold plate is adequate for a medium-power laser. However, a recirculating industrial water chiller is the most efficient laser cooling equipment for high-powered lasers.
2. BUILT-IN ALARMS
Low/high-temperature alarms can prevent any damage to your laser engraver. Moreover, a computer, visual, and audible alarm can signal the fault. Both shutoff and low-flow alarm features can protect the laser and water chiller from costly damages.
3. DIGITAL DISPLAY
Digital temperature displays offer a constant update so you can determine the machine’s temperature levels. However, if you're running a DIY laser cooling system, you can always install a thermometer.
4. OBSERVATION WINDOW
Since industrial water chillers have completely enclosed systems that prevent evaporation, an observation window lets you easily monitor your laser chiller’s water level.
5. DO WATER CHILLERS MAKE A LOT OF NOISE?
Before buying, check the rated decibel (dB) level in the manufacturer’s specifications. After all, you may not want to deal with extra noise of laser cooling equipment in your workshop.
6. CONVENIENT MOBILITY
If you frequently need to relocate your laser chiller, choose one with caster wheels for mobility. Locking casters keep the chiller stable during operation.
7. WHAT ABOUT A WARRANTY?
A laser chiller’s credibility significantly depends on its warranty. Many industrial water chillers offer one-year protection with technical support. Choose brands with ISO 9000 registration and products with industry certifications such as CE and CSA.
OMTech: The Best Place to Buy a Reliable Industrial Water Chiller
If you are looking for a credible and reliable industrial chiller for your laser engraving machine, OMTech is a one-stop solution for all your needs. Here you can find our collection of CO2 laser engravers, accessories, software, and everything you need to get exceptional performance out of your laser engraver.
OMTech provides a range of robust industrial chillers for cooling down your machine with ease and reliability. Our top-notch industrial water chillers deliver consistent performance and are famous for their durability and compatibility with CO2 cabinet models (50-150W). Our chillers not only prolong the lifespan of your machine but also enhance your device’s engraving accuracy.