Laser replacements after using the GF

Hello everyone I’ve a question related to what I think you said during the Q&A …

@Dan said we won’t need to replac the head because it is meant to last and it is simply amazing, the tube will need to be replaced every (approx) 2years depending on the use for “less” than $500… but do we need to change the "laser every 2 months depending on the use for "less than $300 ??? can someone explain please ??
Have an amazing day!

He’s talking about the replaceable filter for the laser. It will clog up with particles, depending on how much you cut and what kind of things you cut. If you run the machine constantly, as in a large scale production environment where you are cutting every day, all day - it might last only a couple of months before needing to be replaced. Home use will last longer. Cutting wood and paper as opposed to acrylics will make it last longer as well. :slight_smile:


What @jules said. The “less than $500” is the cost of replacing the laser tube, which at most should be every couple of years. The “less than $300” applied to the air filter, which that life cycle can vary drastically based on what’s cut and how much.


Most laser tubes have a “10,000 hour” norm lifespan (from time of production to rated shelf/use life). Kinda like expiration date on food packages.

Now from reviewing the other laser groups and postings, a better quality laser tube will be up in the 20,000 hour range. With 8,760 hours in a year, that means up to 2 years of normal usage/lifespan.

With heavier usage and depending on environmental temperature controls, optimal performance lifespan will decrease (thus warranty of 12 or 18 months - previously 6 or 12).

Now as to the 2 months and $300 reference, I am not sure how that was supposed to be communicated or if that was even just a thought that started in the head but got jumbled in delivery to the mouth or fingers.


Pretty sure they were just talking about the filter there. Dan brought up filter costs and the other employee (Rita?) brought up the laser replacement costs.


Yes @dan was talking about replacing the filter for the Pro Unit – stating that cutting and etching a lot of acrylic will mean that we would need to change the filter more often because of what and how much is being filtered out. Wood, paper, cardboard all have much less demand on the filter…

Are you saying laser tubes degrade when not being used? I was expecting that with only occasion use mine would last a lot longer than 2 years. If I have to pay $500 every two years regardless of use it is not really feasible for hobby use.

From what I have read and those who tinker with their Chinese lasers, the tubes are rated by 10,000 hour units from time of production. Better quality (and thus more dollars) tend to have longer real world lifespans.

Because the internal gases can potentially break down with usage and seep past the seals, the manufacturers rate the quality of their laser tubes. Now with the optimal performance reference, that means the laser tube will start to be less powerful (dropping from the 40 or 45 watt original rating to lower measured rates). @dan has been asked how the output is measured and he stated that they have some multi-thousand dollar testing gear.

Now understand that as manufacturing of laser tubes have improved, longevity has increased. Forums from 6 to 8 years ago talk about replacing tubes after 2 or 3 years (not sure if it failed or they wanted the rated power performance back) and the replacements are still running after 5 to 6 years.

For warranty and standardized ratings, the industry will reference 10,000 to 20,000 hours shelf life (from date of manufacturer). They cannot consistently address usage because environmental operating temperatures, load ratings and duration of projects effect the laser tube. Biggest wear on the tube is it going too hot during operations.

For hobby usage, I cannot see you needing to replace the laser tube for 3 or 4 years. I am assuming that Glowforge will have some sort of discovery for when the power output gets less than the unit can perform with and give you notification. The 40 Watt laser will probably recommend only running jobs for XX number of minutes before allowing the tube to cool, while the 45 Watt one can run longer for the same projects (and faster) before needing a cool down period.

The Chinese units keep temperatures lower by external water chillers/coolers (think your car’s radiator), while the Glowforge has peltier coolers internal that rely on the vented air to dissipate the heat build up.

Just like regular oil changes, sensible driving habits and general cleaning for a car, you can easily get 100,000 plus miles and 10 to 15 years when it is treated correctly, good ventilation, moderate temperature operational environment (if it is too cold or too hot for you, probably not good for GF :glowforge:) and keep it clean and don’t touch internals that need to be left alone.


I apologize for the confusion. The “less than $300” referred to air filter changes, not the tube. The air filter is used up as you print. Acrylic uses it up more than most materials.


so, the air filter (the one we bought and might be released by July- August) is the one that must be replaced every 2 or so months depending on the use??

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Not the plastic housing for it, but yes the filters always have to be replaced in laser units if they have one…just like air conditioner filters. They get clogged and lose effectiveness.


Not the whole thing, just the actual filter inside the housing (like any other filter they eventually clog). From what they have said so far 2 months would be exteem (manufacturing environment cutting acrylic non-stop). For lighter use and less acrylic (more wood/leather/paper etc) they are guessing a much longer life span (maybe a year or more). We won’t really know until they are in the wild for a while and we are able to see how they are actually being used. Filters on anything are hard to estimate.


Will the machine tell us when they need replacing or will we just get poisoned?

I can see that it could detect increased pressure when clogged by particles / gunk but what about the ability of the activated charcoal to remove poisonous gases, or does it not do that?

@Jules @kennethclapp thank you! :slight_smile: have a great weekend :slight_smile:


You too Mary!:slight_smile:

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Can’t remember where i heard it (was from dan) but there’s a sensor that tells you when it needs to be changed. Probably the Q&A.

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Not sure how they plan to do it whether by sensor, time in service or otherwise but here is quote from Dan (Sept.)


The internal gases breakdown with use and through leakage. But just like lightbulbs and similar things you can get way more or way less time on a CO2 tube. I’ve seen people burn them out in 2 months (overpowering the tube is really hard on the tube life) and I think @smcgathyfay said she’s got a tube that’s 16(!) years old and operating fine. The 2-3 year average lifespan for “average” use is the only guideline you’ll get from nearly any laser mfg. What’s “average use” is up for definition - it’s like my car’s oil change intervals when they finally told everyone that city driving is “harsh conditions” and not “average daily driving” so to ignore the standard interval and go with the shorter harsh driving conditions interval. No word on what “average” is for a GF.

One good thing we have with this is that it’s intelligent enough to pause when the temperature is too high - that’s not a typical laser feature - so running it hot won’t be as big an issue as with most lasers. I don’t know if it will let you specify a maximum power limit for the machine vs the job - I run my lasers at 95% power or less. The impact of power on a CO2 tube is non-linear - it actually spikes pretty rapidly above 95-98% power. So keep your jobs to cut at 95% or lower and that will help lifespan as well.


Yes I understand they wear depending on use and power. I ordered a pro for business use but since it won’t turn up now until July 2017 I will have actually retired then and be drawing my pension! So I will only be using it very occasionally and was hoping the tube would last pretty much as long as I do. Particularly as $500 is exorbitant for a laser tube.

Unless they are faulty light bulbs don’t leak significantly when cold. They have a very long shelf life and if run under voltage they will last virtually forever because the life time is inversely proportional to the 12th power of voltage. Consequently if slightly overrun they last no time at all, just like laser tubes. Similarly if they don’t have enough ventilation the life goes down.

@dan, do the tubes have a rated shelf life?

Yep, agree entirely with this.
Classic modern day example of this is the Centennial Light. TIL - Lately they have been running it through a Uninterruptable PSU. Probably for the voltage smoothing and to generally keep it constantly powered during any power fluctuations or interruptions.

Also, Light Bulb Methuselahs is an interesting read.