Image of a CO2 Laser head.

What is a CO2 Engraving Laser?

What is a CO2 Engraving Laser?

       A CO2 Engraving Laser uses high voltage electricity to excite Carbon Dioxide (and a few other) molecules into emitting a powerful photon light. This beam of photon light is powerful enough to etch or cut several materials such as wood, acrylic, leather and some metals. It is a very popular option in the home crafts market due to it’s stability, ease of use and affordability.

But is that scientific mumbo-jumbo what you were really looking for. Doubtful!

What is a CO2 Laser?

Well, a CO2 Laser is one of two things and lets get this out of the way real quick. Dermabrasion (burning the skin to remove tattoos or for hair removal), IS done with a CO2 laser! But that is NOT what we are talking about here.

A CO2 Engraving Laser is a tool that many industries have used for a long time to etch, engrave or cut items. In the last decade, it has gained a growing following in the home/hobbyist realm of  entrepreneurs because it can afford you the ability to make a business in your basement (or garage or kitchen, etc.).

Personally, I love my CO2 Engraving Lasers, especially my Omtech MF2028-60 – 60W CO2 Laser, because it allows me to think about something I want to make, design it on my computer, and then make it. It’s really that simple. Of course there are limitations, but once you recognize them- it’s not hard!


How does a Carbon Dioxide (CO2) laser work?

A C02 laser uses a tube full of Carbon Dioxide Gas (add a few others) as it’s lasing medium. It operates by applying a high voltage electrical discharge to CO2 gas that is trapped within a sealed tube. This causes the gas to release photons of light. At each end of the tube is a mirror that is used to amplify and focus that light. Because the tube is usually quiet long, the machine utilizes more mirrors to reflect that photon beam to a the “laser cutting head.” Here it is reflected once more to the focal lens where it has it’s final transformation into a singular tight beam. This beam is that is considered the laser output and can be used for etching or cutting many materials. 

What are the basic Componets of a Carbon Dioxode (CO2) laser?

  1. The CO2 gas filled tube. 
  2. An electrical power source.
  3. Mirrors to amplify and to redirect the beam.
  4. The focal optics.
  5. A movable lasing surface.
  6. An enclosure to house everything listed above.
  7. The cooling system. This is usually external, but some are built in to the smaller models. 
  8. An exhaust air waste removal system. Most are internal, but many laser operators add an external in-line fan.

You may want to check out this article on desktop CO2 Lasers, what is the best option for choosing the best desptop CO2 Laser?

Make sure to check out the rest of my website and blog!

Have a great one!


Hill Country CNC & Woodwork

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