Life Expectancy of Laser

I for one would love to see a little read out in my software that shows hours on the laser and possible hours the machine has run too. Maybe some more metrics like number of projects completed, and how much data transferred to the GF.


@amos: Great suggestion, passed along!


Could a “power test” job/mode be setup to fire the laser at different powers over a certain material and log the results using the cameras? As long as the same material was used each time, this might give some indication of when the laser may fail and help prevent down time from sudden failure?

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@amos… Our Brother industrial embroidery machines do something very similar. They track a stitch count, total hours logged & have a trip counter that is reset after each service from the dealer. This allows us to accurately track when it’s time to perform maintenance, just like a car. I would love to see this in the GF Pro that’s coming to me.

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I was wondering if something else break, not just the laser but some other components and I’m out of warranty… Are you planning to sell different pieces or there are some kind of assistance where I can send the machine back to be fixed?

Assuming long term success, I would say that they would offer both spares and repair work as keeping units already sold operating is important to any company’s reputation.
I am hoping that the design will be such that 90% of repairs can be done by a tech savvy owner.

This is a great idea. Much like farmers tractors. They don’t measure mileage, they measure working hours because it’s a more useful metric based on how they are used.

Some dirtbikes have an hour meter, some have an odometer, and some have both. I always prefer to be able to see both: not just how long it ran, but how hard it was run. 1hr and 5 miles from a light user is a huge difference in wear & tear from 1hr and 50 miles from a pro racer. I feel like that could apply to light/heavy laser use as well.

I think it would be hard to keep track of if you measured working hours at every power output setting. And it’s in Glowforges best interest to give more general information to help stop people from comparing their laser lifespan.

Hours Cutting and Hours Engraving should be enough, as they use very different processes to do both, it wouldn’t be too hard to track both.

In theory, I believe, each cut-file that gets sent to Glowforge should have all that (estimated) data in it already. So the algorithm to (eventually) calculate remaining laser tube expectancy would (maybe) compare cutting/engraving time@speed/power/cooling levels. 'Dem algy rythyms are powerful smart.

@dan silly thought, actual mileage counter! For drive belts(can’t remember if it uses belts or gears or whatever) and motor. Eg. How much they have rotated. Don’t know what these electric motors are rated for but for the long run health of our mechanical parts this would be helpful.


I have a projector. It listed a life expectancy on the bulb of…I dunno, 2000 hours. After a long bit of use(a secondary monitor for watching movies in the parents basement(it’s been a while since I’ve used it-it’s spent the last two years at my church and occasionally lent out to Carnival for Autism as the founder is a friend(who recently registered it as a 401 3c [tax paying] non-profit))), it started giving me warnings about bulb life. I researched a new bulb and figured I’d buy it as soon as the bulb went. and waited… and waited… and waited. I think my church finally bought a bulb for it after a number of uses there and the original still hadn’t blown though it was obvious to me before I unofficially donate it that it was much diminished in brightness.

I imagine the same for any bulb type tool. It may slowly fade away into the sunset like the nameless cowboy at the end of the movie or it could end like a Micheal Bay movie and leave you blind and deaf.


That’s a reminder of good perspective on consumables or life expectancy. I remember paying much more that what I paid for a Glowforge for a digital projector. The sticker shock when I had to replace a bulb made me think that I should just be satisfied with a zoetrope. And it was just a bulb, not a laser and when I was done watching, nothing was created.


@marmak3261, I remember researching a big screen projector, and realized I could buy mid sized color TV for what the projector bulb cost!

In an aircraft, every component has a “high time” for replacement, based on hours or cycles.
A general expectation for our laser is 2years for average use.
It’s going to be a couple of years before a service life profile can be established for our custom tubes. The laser is the major consumable, but is only one component in the system.

The preview dialog shows time required to complete the file, so it would seem an easy enough task to keep a cumulative record of total time each machine has experienced.
Although the laser is only firing a portion of the total “print” time, the cumulative time in operation will also reflect the service life of every other component in the system.

Just as a means of gathering operational and reliability statistics, (that will prove valuable to Glowforge) I think keeping a time record of sorts is an excellent idea.

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@dan - Is the tube lifetime mostly based on calendar time or in-use time? E.g. is it a 700-day tube or a 700-hour tube?

My old glass tube HeNe laser from 1980 still works FWIW. It never could cut anything of course - it was just good for aggravating the cat. :wink:


There is a shelf life that is yet unannounced. For actual use:


Welcome! Glad you joined us. :sunglasses: Enjoy the reading, there is a lot to be found here and the search function is really good.
What is the power on that old laser?

I’d have to take it out of its enclosure, I think 100mW. Seems like the shelf life on these things can be pretty long - assuming the state of technology hasn’t gone backwards over the past 37 years.



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