What is the expected life of the laser? In hours?

I’m intending to use this laser to make items to sell. As such, I’d like to factor the cost into the items I make based on an hourly basis. Whats the expected laser-life? Similar to how the bulb-life for a projector is usually estimated.

For example, if it has a 200 hour life, and it costs $2000, then for every hour I use it, I can factor $10 into the cost of the final product.



We’re still doing lifecycle testing to get an answer we can share more accurately - right now, all we have is the manufacturer’s specification, which is a two year life. You’re correct that hours of use will also factor in to this, though.

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That will depend in large part on how good the laser tube cooling is. Tube life drops off rapidly at higher operating temperatures. Without active cooling and a large coolant reserve (~3 gallons) it will be difficult to keep the laser tube in the sub 25°C sweet spot for very long. Based on typically available 40W tubes I’m guessing somewhere in the 1500 to 2000 hour range at optimal temp, much lower with inadequate cooling. If you can use a third party replacement tube (don’t see why not as the warranty will likely be void at that point anyway) then a new tube would run you around $200, so about $0.10 per hour. Depending on your local utility rates, you will likely pay more for the electricity.

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Spot on. @fablab_elpaso, the only thing I can add is that we won’t let you run when your tube’s hot - we pause to cool off - so you’re not going hit lifecycle problems.


Is the tube a user-servicable part? I imagine fingerprints and calibration would be huge issues. If not, would you consider working with electronics experts in major cities who could be certified to replace them? I know that Crutchfield has a relationship with thousands of car installers, so you can buy gear from Crutchfield and also a guaranteed-price installer certificate. The installers in their network take the voucher and get some large part of it, and Crutchfield guarantees you’ll be happy.

Good failsafe to have!

We’re working on some really neat tricks to make the tube user-serviceable without calibration. As the designated guy at Glowforge who calibrates the lasers, I have a strong incentive for this to get worked out. : )


Assuming you’re running standard 25.4 mm mirrors, you might want to try these. Will make alignment much more efficient:


My CTO mentioned that he has some of these in his home shop… I’m going to give him a hard time for not bringing them in. They look great.

We’re using standard mounts now, but will be switching to fully enclosed optics soon on our test devices.