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How Do CO2 Laser Cutters Work?

3 mins read

CO2 laser stands for carbon dioxide laser. The machines use CO2 to generate a laser beam that can cut and engrave a wide range of materials. It is one of the most popular types of lasers because of its fast-cut speed, accuracy and superior cutting power.

The highly precise CO2 laser cutter/engravers are a popular choice for manufacturing, small businesses, schools, craftspeople, and hobbyists who want fast and flawless results on their projects and production lines. Moreover, there is a range of CO2 laser cutter machines. Your choice depends on your projects, size of workspace and budget. 

CO2 Laser beam modern technology at work

So, how do CO2 lasers work? Basically, it uses a stream of energised carbon dioxide to generate an intense beam of light that will cut, mark or engrave different materials. 

A CO2 laser machine relies on a high-pressure, gas-filled tube with mirrors at each end. These mirrors reflect the light generated by the energised CO2, back and forth, amplifying the beam of light. When the light reaches the desired intensity level, you simply direct it onto your chosen material.  

The amount of heat this highly concentrated beam of light puts out is powerful enough to cut and engrave effortlessly. Unlike a torch where the beam of light spreads out, a laser produces a point of light. Therefore, a CO2 laser will always achieve accurate results.

CO2 laser computer software

CO2 lasers come with sophisticated laser-cutting design software. First, design your graphic or wording on the machine’s intuitive computer software. Second, you then send this data to the laser dashboard. Third, the laser engraves the graphic/wording on your choice of material. For example, you can engrave photo frames, nameplates, awards, signage and so on. 

What materials can a CO2 laser cut?

The CO2 laser is a very powerful laser. For example, some of the top-performing models from the Epilog and Flux ranges will safely and efficiently cut and engrave a wide variety of materials: 

  •     MDF
  •     Cork
  •     Fibreglass
  •     Rubber
  •     Wood
  •     Plastic
  •     Acrylics
  •     Cotton, polyester and other types of cloth
  •     Cardboard
  •     Paper

Different power settings

Using the machine’s computer software, you can direct the laser beam to a single point on the material. Then, the material is vaporised by the heat of the laser beam. Additionally, you can control the amount of power the laser uses so that it only cuts through the top layer of the material.  

Alternatively, a more powerful CO2 laser beam will cut deeper into the material or workpiece. Simply put, you can cut harder materials, or to greater depths, with more laser power.

For example, the different power options on the Epilog Fusion Pro 48 model  are 50, 60and 80W. Alternatively, if you are not cutting thicker materials, you don’t need such a powerful model. You can go for a more compact machine with a much smaller footprint, such as the neat 30W Flux Beamo with a high-resolution laser. 


To sum up, a CO2 laser uses a stream of carbon dioxide to create a very intense light that can cut a wide range of materials when it is heated up to its ignition point. It uses the latest machining technology to guarantee precision work and a fast turnaround. Equally important, a CO2 laser is computer controlled. So, you can cut or engrave via a touchscreen control panel. The machine’s high-beam laser is suitable for a range of materials from wood and acrylic to cardboard and fabric.  

Additionally, you can opt for a more powerful CO2 laser for more challenging jobs. However, if you are unsure which materials or products a particular C02 laser cutter model can cut, contact us. Our team will be happy to help with a query or advise on your CO2 laser purchase.