Our laser ages right along with us. As they get old, perhaps 12 or maybe even 15 years, the wattage put out by the laser tube can be greatly reduced. You will likely have to begin making small adjustments to the laser power and speed settings years before. If you are noticing lasered results that don’t live up to your expectations, such as a reduction in sharpness of rastered graphics or text, or maybe the cut edges of plastic or wood aren’t satisfactory, it is possible your laser power is too low to get consistent results.
Perhaps you are at a stage where you are lasering most items two or three times. Don’t wait until your tube is completely depleted. If you’re not sure where you stand with your laser tube’s power, you can rent a power meter from your laser manufacturer or one of the many industry suppliers who offer this rental service. Replace your tube when you’re are not getting good results due to the power that’s left.
Replacing a laser tube is something most of us will only do once or twice in our engraving careers. Laser tubes last over 10 years; 15 is a long age. Yet, most tubes are fairly quick and easy to replace and just need some realigning. Once you are back at full power, you will be thrilled with the improvement you see right away and likely wonder why you did not replace the tube sooner.
—Bob Hagel, Eagle’s Mark