Tube Health Status

Is there something in the GFUI that will report the health of my tube? Kind of like how I can get estimated ink levels in my printer, can I see estimated remaining hours of my tube? And I’d hope this would be based on some sort of hardware check as opposed to number of hours used or something as arbitrary as that?


  • Tom

I think @takitus raised this last week (this week?) and @dan hopperized it.


When I worked with a six foot water cooled laser tube the control panel displayed the output wattage. As the output dropped we could gauge when we were going to need to replace it.

I don’t know if the GF has any way to monitor that but it might be possible measure some other voltage or wattage level in the system.

Or just see how long you can hold your hand in the beam path. The longer you can keep it there the sooner you will have to replace the tube. :smiley:


I’d think that’d possibly be something that could be checked during a POST or possibly even during each forge.


So here’s something other laser owners may be able to answer: do tubes generally require replacement because they die, or just because they’ve lost enough power that it’s too bleeping annoying to keep running jobs with them? If it’s a slow-degradation thing, that changes some of the calculations. (Meanwhile, I was thinking that one of the nice things about proofgrade materials is that they potentially give you a pretty accurate idea of the health of your tube.)


There’s nothing visible to users right now, but they track everything that happens on your machine. They knew when my y-axis motors changed alignment by 5mm(gantry was a little out of square). They track every job, every material, etc, so they can run metrics. Not only that, but almost every mouse click, drag, and drop. So they will definitel have a record of how much time has been run on the tube, and at what power… how many jobs, how many cuts, how many engraves.

So I’m hoping they will give us access to at least some of this data, if not all of it.

The other part of that equation is the estimated life of these tubes. I’m hoping we will hear an amount in hours at some point soon. Without that, run time won’t have very much meaning.


It’s slow degradation.


Tubes die for many reasons. There is a tube hours measurement… and then there is also an “age” problem. So the tube will age on the shelf… dropping power. And the tube will also age as it’s used.
On My ULS laser… I got about 3years out of my used tube before it had to be replaced - under light usages (read twice a month over a weekend). The cost of replacing my tube wasn’t “inexpensive”; so we’ll see how glowforge fairs.


Except when it’s sudden death. :slight_smile:

Both happen. If you measure your tube output regularly you can sometimes catch degradation. Pretty impossible to predict sudden death. That’s why some folks will buy a spare tube before theirs dies. Of course that means you have storage degradation to deal with.


Just think of them as a really expensive, hopefully long-lived incandescent.


Out of likes. Thanks! That’s good to know!


Out of likes. Thanks! That is how I was thinking about them, but I wasn’t sure if that was the correct way to be thinking!

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i will say while it’s too small of a sample size to really model, dan mentioned hey tested a few og tubes that had been sitting in storage and noticed minimal degradation, as i recall. not sure how long they sat, tho.


That is scary stuff.

I can’t wait for an open source alternative that is also a quality product. If Inventables would offer one I’d grab it.


Why is it scary? I don’t think we’re giving them any info besides how their software is used

If you have a support issue they can replay what you did to get more insight. It’s going to help their support team quite a bit.


do you have a smart phone ?


Because we work with designs where intellectual property issues are important.


That’s interesting! So, in theory when we first set up our machines (and, say monthly thereafter) GF can check whether everything is perfectly aligned and running smoothly? @dan ?


I don’t think that is a good analogy because incandescent filaments don’t fade much and don’t age while off. They fail catastrophically, usually when switched on from cold.

I think there are two ageing effect with lasers. When running some of the gas gets chemically converted into something else due to the high energy plasma. When off some gas leaks though the seals. So they normally lose power slowly.

I think when they catastrophically fail it is due to a seal breaking. For example I heard of one failing at a local hackerspace because a terminal arced and got hot enough to compromise the seal.


yes yes my point was that they age and the older they get the higher the risk of complete failure

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