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  1. #1
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    Realistic life of Chinese laser tubes

    Just curious about something....

    It seems that the major difference between the Chinese/US lasers is that the big US companies like Epilog/Universal use RF driven CO2 lasers, whereas the Chinese use high-voltage "direct" drive.

    It seems that the RF lasers are very expensive, and last for quite a few years.

    What about the Chinese lasers? Here's what I am wondering..

    1) How long can you expect a Chinese laser tube to last, realistically?

    2) Is the failure mode that the power drops off? Is the drop off linear over time, or like a rechargeable battery where it starts to go and then very quickly reaches expiration?

    3) Is the life based on time since manufacture of the tube or based on # of hours in actual use, or a combination? If a combination, which factors are more important?



    The reason I ask is because a Chinese laser would be cost effective for my shop, but a US one would not be. I may only use it every month or two, but I'd run 100 up to 1,000 pcs each time.

    I would not want to have to constantly be replacing tubes if they wear out just from sitting there unused. On the other hand, having the machine myself would be a big advantage in time and capability vs. always outsourcing the jobs.

  2. #2
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    I don't know the answers exactly but I guess you need to know the costs and how much per year/month you can afford to spend on the tubes.

    I see the RECI ones state 10,000 hours. I have read they get stale sitting around but that people have pulled out ones not used for a couple years and it was fine.

    I think it would be fair to say that you would not pay more than $300/year for an 80W RECI and everyone that has one would say thats on the high side.

  3. #3
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    Some Chinese tubes are DOA, others probably last for thousands of hours of use. I think its pretty safe to say that if it works well for a short time, you probably have good tube and it will last for a while. If you see a power dropoff or something early on, its already circling the drain. Assuming you have a good tube, you will have a gradual drop in power as the gas slowly leaks out. If you have an abrupt change in power, you probably have some type of electrical problem or a cracked optic or something. As an example in a lot of RF lasers there are two amplifiers, if one fails, you will get about half the power but it will still work. Its really a good idea to buy a power meter so that you can track the laser power and get an idea of when you should order a new one or have yours serviced. You could also buy a cheap machine and then upgrade just the laser once you make some money or get tired of changing tubes.

    Matt

  4. #4
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    Reci tubes and other tubes all have a warrenty time of 10 months. They have a high cost performance. Anyway, what you pay is less than 1/10 of RF tube. And many customers use them for years too. We sell RF tube laser also, but the price difference is too much.. It depends on your choice.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melody-gweike View Post
    Reci tubes and other tubes all have a warrenty time of 10 months. They have a high cost performance. Anyway, what you pay is less than 1/10 of RF tube. And many customers use them for years too. We sell RF tube laser also, but the price difference is too much.. It depends on your choice.
    Melody,

    Can you give an example of the price of the RECI tube and the RF tube for the same wattage?

    What is the expected life span of the RF system? And what (if any) is the warranty?

    I think the above answer is a good one - buy the laser, keep up with RECI tubes, then if/when the time comes, upgrade to RF.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by keebler303 View Post
    Some Chinese tubes are DOA, others probably last for thousands of hours of use. I think its pretty safe to say that if it works well for a short time, you probably have good tube and it will last for a while. If you see a power dropoff or something early on, its already circling the drain. Assuming you have a good tube, you will have a gradual drop in power as the gas slowly leaks out. If you have an abrupt change in power, you probably have some type of electrical problem or a cracked optic or something. As an example in a lot of RF lasers there are two amplifiers, if one fails, you will get about half the power but it will still work. Its really a good idea to buy a power meter so that you can track the laser power and get an idea of when you should order a new one or have yours serviced. You could also buy a cheap machine and then upgrade just the laser once you make some money or get tired of changing tubes.

    Matt
    Thanks for the info Matt.

    Can you point to any laser power meters? I am not that familiar with them - I've seen very expensive units in the past, but way more than a machine owner would spend to keep tabs on their laser's life.

    Is there something more reasonably priced than the pro units?


    Per Jason's post above, $300/yr in consumable expenses on a laser would be well within what I would consider reasonable. I just don't relish the idea of going to use the laser after a couple of months only to discover it's dead (and perhaps the backup tube is too!).

    I know the tubes are fragile... it's been a few years since I really looked into the Chinese lasers, and I assume there are USA-based resellers of tubes now that price them reasonably (i.e. not a multiple of what they sell for from China)?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SRT Mike View Post
    Melody,

    Can you give an example of the price of the RECI tube and the RF tube for the same wattage?

    What is the expected life span of the RF system? And what (if any) is the warranty?

    I think the above answer is a good one - buy the laser, keep up with RECI tubes, then if/when the time comes, upgrade to RF.
    Hi, Mike,
    The price of Reci is in the range of USD 350(V2)- USD 2200(V8).
    While RF 30W is USD5000! 100W 20000!
    Because we have high importing duty for this RF tube. So maybe you can buy this tube your local to save money~

  8. #8
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    Hi,

    Ordinary CO2 glass tube, Reci CO2 tube, or RF tube

    All is according to your budget.

    Ordinary tube using life: 3000-4000 hours
    Rec tube using life: 8000-10000 hours. Better than ordinay one.
    RF tube is the best one, when light finished, could refill the gass, convenient, good process precision, but much expensive
    Lucy (Jinan Consure Electronic Technology Co.,Ltd) 0086-18254116182
    Web:http://www.jncslaser.com Email: info@jncslaser.com Skype:consurelaser

  9. #9
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    The lowest price power meter I am aware of is a synrad power wizard. They come up on ebay rarely, I think they are $5-600 new. You don't necessarily need a "real" power meter though. If you asume the laser is putting out its rated power when you get it, what you care about more is relative power. You could have a standard test you run and keep track of the results to measure degradation of performance. I would think you could get a pretty good idea of the power by seeing how fast you can cut a certain material. Maybe acrylic would be a good one. Say you can cut 1/4" acrylic at X speed (the speed where the laser barely cuts it). After some time, it would be reasonable to assume the laser will have to go slower to cut the same thing, how much slower may be a good indication of the power output of the laser.

    Matt

  10. #10
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    reci Tube USA Distributors

    Can someone please list distributors for reci laser tubes in the USA?

    Anything good or bad about each would be helpful.

    Prices and shipping too.

    Mainly interested in 80 W or 100 W sizes.

  11. #11
    Hiya Nate,

    I think Ray Scott at Rabbit Laser USA does RECI's

    best wishes

    Dave

  12. #12

    Most Tubes are unreliable

    I owned a G. Weike LG3040 40w. I went through two tubes in 3 months. As stated before, you dont if you are getting a test tube in your laser or a new tube. Laser can not sit without use for a period of time. You have to use it due to C02 lasers are not truly efficient. Do not lasers in condition of temperatures of 78-83 degrees. You will kill your tube quick. Now i run an Epilog Legend 36 Ext 60w. I would truly invest in an RF laser instead of glass tube. Less hassle and i ran both side by side comparison. You loose a lot of resolution in chinese lasers...no grayscale process engraving!

  13. #13

    Most Tubes are unreliable

    I owned a G. Weike LG3040 40w. I went through two tubes in 3 months. As stated before, you dont know if you are getting a test tube in your laser or a new tube. Laser can not sit without use for a period of time. You have to use it due to C02 lasers are not truly efficient. Do not lasers in condition of temperatures of 78-83 degrees. You will kill your tube quick. Now i run an Epilog Legend 36 Ext 60w. I would truly invest in an RF laser instead of glass tube. Less hassle and i ran both side by side comparison. You loose a lot of resolution in chinese lasers...no grayscale process engraving!

  14. #14
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    For Chinese laser tubes, the lower power they have, the more stable they will be. As for the tubes with the power lower than 100W, they will have much longer life time as for years.

    The failure mode will be a dropping off of power or sudden death. The life based on combination of manufacturing date and actual using hours.

    You can really have a good expection on lower power Chinese laser tubes, as long as they are manufactured by large and famous laser tube manufacturers here. They will really tell you what is "cost effective".

    Melody
    li@wklaser.com

  15. #15

    Glass tubes are unreliable!

    I truly believe that the life of the tube is the day of manufacturing. I owned a G. Weike LG3040 40W laser and went through two tubes in 3 months. I truly believe these glass tubes were used to test other lasers. So you do not know what you get in your order.

    C02 lasers are not efficient when it comes to producing wattage. The big no...no is running it in conditions of 78 to 86 degrees. It makes the laser work harder to produces rated wattage. In the long run you are killing your charge. G. Weike lasers are well built and I cant take anything away from their technology.

    Consequently, if you are going to make an investment I would invest in a RF laser, not glass tubes. After all my laser expertise, I finally end up buying an Epilog Legend 36EXT 60 watt machine. I have not regretted a day of my purchase. Chinese lasers have minor flaws that does allow that quality etching and engraving. Such as grayscale, etching only 1 bit Black & White engraving.

    Glass tubes are simply a headache and more hassle then the RF sealed lasers.

  16. #16
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    I can only speak for our 80W Gweike machine here.
    We purchased it in 2007 and ran the first tube until last year when we switched to the spare tube that we purchased as a reserve.
    There is only a marginal difference in power between the two tubes. Both are still around 70 watts at 95% Power. The one from the shelf hasn't become much worse from just lying around, the first tube is also still very usable (seems a small bit weaker)

  17. #17
    And that is the thing. You shouldn't have to worry about whether your tube is losing power just by sitting on the shelf. I was for sure that I could truly benefit from my glass tube laser. However, I find that the heavy hitters of the laser industry are far more superb. I can truly count on 5 years at the least with my Epilog full charged. On the other hand, I don't know if the glass tube would last 30 days or 6 months. Running a business...you can not be taking that gamble.

  18. #18
    And that is the thing. You shouldn't have to worry about whether your tube is losing power just by sitting on the shelf. I was for sure that I could truly benefit from my glass tube laser. However, I find that the heavy hitters of the laser industry are far more superb. I can truly count on 5 years at the least with my Epilog full charged. On the other hand, I don't know if the glass tube would last 30 days or 6 months. Running a business...you can not be taking that gamble.

  19. #19
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    I think if you are running a business with only one machine, don't want to keep spares and you make enough money to justify the cost then a higher quality long lasting tube is the way to go.

    I am using may laser for some parts of my work so it doesn't pay it's way but it's the only tool in the workshop that can do what it does at the quality I need. That pretty much means cheaper lasers.

    From what I have read the cheaper chinese tubes, i.e. 40W etc are different from the higher powered RECI lasers. I only bring it up because you are comparing the top end to the lowest end when it looks like there is a good compromise between cost/power/reliability that sits in the middle.

    I have a 90W and another 90W spare. I think I have seen the price of the other ones and it was many times more. Not sure how many RECI's I could buy for the same price but it was a lot.

    When I buy a warranty I don't mind paying a bit for for some assurance on the product. That could be 20% more, 50% more.. maybe even 100% more very much depending on the fine print.

    When it may cost more than ten times the amount then the best insurance for me it to become my own insurer and keep spares on hand.

    The only thing that would ever see me spending that amount on an RF tube would be if there was an improvement in the quality of cutting/engraving that was not possible with a co2 and I could not develop my products without that additional quality.

    Other than that, why would you hand out so much money these days if you are a small company or one man band?

  20. #20
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    double post..

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