YAG Laser vs. CO2 Lasers,what’s the difference between them?

YAG Laser vs. CO2 Lasers,what’s the difference between them?


What is the difference between a YAG and CO2 laser?


Two of the most common types of lasers you hear about are YAG and CO2. While Epilog manufactures a CO2 laser system, we wanted to give you some information about the two different types of laser systems and which one may be right for your application. Both CO2 lasers and YAG lasers generate a very concentrated beam of light, but from there the lasers become very different in their uses and how they work. In this article we will first look at the different uses of the two laser types, and when each one is right for your application, and finally break down the benefits of each system.

What are the different uses for YAG and CO2 lasers?

YAG lasers and CO2 lasers react very differently on different materials because of the differing wavelengths of the laser beams. The wavelength of a YAG laser (1.064 microns) is exactly ten times smaller than the CO2 wavelength of 10.64 microns, which makes it ideally suited for absorption in most metals, but this small wavelength inhibits its ability to be absorbed by many other materials (wood, acrylic, plastics, fabrics, etc.)

A CO2 laser beam is not easily absorbed by metal, but can easily be absorbed by many organic materials such as wood, acrylic, rubber, etc, while it tends to reflect off of most metal surfaces. It’s the different wavelengths of the two beams that are mainly responsible for the different types of materials that they will react with. There are a number of other differences between the two lasers; thermal efficiency, heat transfer, minimum and maximum power output, etc. and these characteristics all have an affect on the materials that the beams react with.

YAG Laser Benefits:

  • Engraves into metal
  • Faster than a CO2 laser system (when set up as a galvo system

YAG Laser Drawbacks:

  • Setup time for artwork can be very lengthy, especially when engraving graphics.
  • Does not work well on organic materials (wood, acrylic, etc.)
  • Expensive to purchase and costly to maintain

CO2 Laser Benefits:

  • Works well on wood, acrylic, plastic, and many other materials
  • Can mark stainless steel (with LMM) and most coated metals
  • Quick set up for each new piece

CO2 Laser Drawbacks:

  • Not as fast as a YAG (but still engraves at 120 inches per second)
  • Does not engrave into metal, but will mark some metals

This is the fast observation of the YAG and CO2 laser cutting machines, both of which have their most suitable applications, but if you want more precise areas to divide them and see how the CO2 laser works, there is our connection below the text, and you can contact us for more information.