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Which Laser Tube?

When buying a 2D laser plotting system, most people will look at the price or the spec or both. Few will consider tube life which could prove to be a costly oversight.

Long life and quality too

There are two types of laser tube to consider - RF or DC excited.

DC excited tubes will carry out most cutting jobs but with a low pulse rate they’re not suitable for marking. DC tubes have a low life expectancy, sometimes just a matter of a few hours. To counter that, DC laser tubes are far cheaper than the alternative.

RF excited tubes are considerably more expensive but last many times longer, as much as 50K hours plus. With their long life they can work out cheaper in the long run than DC excited tubes with an added bonus in the form of better resolution and edge quality.

The price of tube failure

ULS Laser Exchange Program.

When a DC excited tube fails, it’s probably cheaper to replace it then have it repaired or re-gassed. With their high cost, a simple replacement is not an option with RF excited tubes. Despite this, DC tube costs will probably work out the same if not more than RF excited over a system’s lifetime.

That’s not to say RF tubes are problem-free. If an RF tube fails and it cannot be repaired or re-gassed cheaply and quickly, the user is faced with potentially serious downtime issues. Some major manufacturers have quoted repair times of three to six months which means that often the only alternative is to replace the tube at a prohibitively high cost.

Minimal downtime tube repair

With a Universal Laser Systems (ULS) laser source, you can take advantage of the ULS Laser Exchange Program. 

The program is designed to replace all ULS CO² laser sources with little or no downtime. The service is cheaper than most quotes for a re-gas.

ULS will pick up the old laser tube that same day (the company even offers a white glove service from UPS). The customer can either replace the tube from their own stock or request a refurbished laser source for exchange from ULS. This is usually shipped overnight to minimise downtime.

With ULS’s Rapid Reconfiguration™, customers can install the replacement tube themselves with no service call or training required. All they have to do is undo the power connection and lift the old tube off the guide rail. The new tube is then fitted following the same procedure in reverse. The whole process takes just a few minutes.

For details of the ULS range of laser material processing systems and information on ULS support services including the Laser Exchange Program and Rapid Reconfiguration™, please contact