How Long Does a Laser Tube Last?

Having visited some of the more reputable Chinese Laser Tube manufacturers Websites. I determined that they indicate a service life of anything from 1,000 to 10,000 hours. Unfortunately, this is not the number of hours used, but the number of hours from the Date of Manufacture. Their Warranty is generally 3 ~ 12 months. Here’s what you can expect.

This is because CO2 Glass laser tubes degrade over time, even if not in use. As 1000 hours equates to approximately 6 weeks, the time it takes to deliver the laser tube from China, could mean it’s already outside the manufacturers warranty when it arrives.

So how do you tell if your Laser Tube has failed under warranty?

Looking at EFR Laser, a brand I have had experience with. Their website states that their F Series laser tubes have a Service Life of up to 6,000 hours. They also offer a 360 day warranty that is based on the power falling below 80% of the rated power for the first 180 days. Or, it falling to 75% of the rated power for the remaining 180 days.

Buying a laser tube from a reputable source, you can expect the actual power output of the laser to be around 7~10% higher than the rated value. Hence a 60 watt tube (with physical dimensions usually around 50mm diameter and 1200mm long) would output around 65 watts when new. This tube would need the power output to drop to below 45 watts in the first 180 days in order to claim on the warranty. Video evidence is usually needed to make a claim.

It is not unusual for a Grade A, reputable brand to last more than 2~3 years or even longer. But making sure you have a Grade A tube in the first place is the main problem.

Close up of a 50W laser tube
Close up of a 50W laser tube

The problem with Grade B Tubes.

It is quite common for “suppliers” to sell Grade B tubes which have failed the required quality standards and only just meet the rated power. This means there is no head room as the tube degrades and it will hit the 80% limit pretty quick. Not surprisingly, the manufacturer will not support these Grade B tubes and you could be stuck with a dud.

How you use the Laser Tube can affect it’s Longevity.

Another consideration is how you use the laser tube.

If you are mostly cutting thick materials, you will quickly notice a loss in power as you are running the tube close to it’s recommended maximum current. The only way around this is to slow the cutting speed but it doesn’t take long before this becomes unworkable.

If you are only engraving, then you could lose 50% of the power before it could start to affect your manufacturing.

Check out our post on “How to get a longer Life from your laser tube” for some great tips on getting the best life out of your laser tube.

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Last updated August 26, 2021

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