The Difference Between Glass and Metal CO2 Laser Tubes

CO2 laser tubes are an important unit of laser cutting machines. It stores CO2 and generates lasers for cutting/engraving the material you choose. Such tubes ensure high efficiency, continuous laser output, and excellent improvement in fine lines for smooth tube laser cutting. So, they are a must-have!  

Due to its dramatic effect on the material, the CO2 laser tube is a good yet significant investment in the engraving industry. That’s why, while choosing the laser tube, you must consider quality output, life span and replacement cost. 

Also, remember that your requirements for CO2 tube types may depend on the machine you are using. According to your machine, you can either choose glass or metal CO2 laser tubes.  

So, what’s the difference between glass and metal CO2 laser tubes? Read through to know:  

The Main Differences Between the Two 

When it comes to glass and metal CO2 laser tubes, the metal laser tubes use a radio frequency for fast pulsing lasers. With their small laser spot, you can be assured of ultra-fine detailing.Meanwhile, glass CO2 laser tubes produce lasers with direct current.    

Just like that there are several other differences between the two, like: 


Metal CO2 tubes work continuously and are often used for high-end requirements. That’s why they get hot easily. To reduce their temperature, they use an air cooling system.  

Meanwhile, glass CO2 tubes require cooling as well, but they use a water cooling system to do so. They work under a mechanism that needs consistent water flow within the tube. If not, the glass CO2 tube may overheat and break. Water chillers provide a consistent water flow & keep the water temperature regulated. 


It’s pretty obvious that metal CO2 laser tubes are more durable than glass CO2 laser tubes. This could be justified by the fact that the former is stronger and the latter is fragile by nature. 

Glass CO2 laser tubes are also less heat-tolerant. As a result, its surface eventually deteriorates over time. Its optics and electrodes are constantly bombarded with ions, which further contributes to its weaker surface.  

If we compare the durability of these tubes, glass laser tubes can last up to 3 years, while metal ones can work seamlessly for up to 6 years.  

Cutting & Engraving Performance 

Both metal & glass laser tubes offer a refined cut of the desired product but vary slightly when it comes to detailed artwork for engraving – metal laser tubes will produce a smaller beam spot diameter resulting in more intricate detailed engravings at higher speeds than their glass counterpart. 

Glass is best suited for cutting thicker materials while being more cost-effective at higher power levels; meanwhile, both types can handle delicate items such as paper or plastic without issue depending on their respective settings. Ultimately, each has merits suitable for various requirements so customers should select accordingly based on individual needs! 

Budget and Cost 

Investing in a laser machine is an exciting opportunity, but it’s important to keep budget and usage needs in mind when choosing the right laser tube. Metal laser tubes offer greater precision for detailed artwork engraving, but at a higher cost that can be 4-5 times that of glass options.Glass tubes are more cost effective yet still offer reliable performance through 3+ years of use, while metal versions may even last 6+ years. However, if you plan on cutting thicker materials, like those over 6 mm, then opting for the cheaper option might ultimately make your wallet happier! 

Start Working On Your Laser Cutting and Engraving Projects 

Now that you know about the difference between both laser tubes in South Africa, let’s run through a quick recap. 

  •  Glass CO2 laser tubes require a water chiller, while metal CO2 laser tubes are air cooled to meet temperature regulatory requirements. 
  • Metal laser tubes are more precise in engraving and longer-lasting than glass laser tubes. 
  • Glass CO2 laser tubes are ideal for lots of cutting, especially thicker material. 
  • Metal laser tubes can engrave at higher speeds. 
  • A glass laser tube is 4 times cheaper than a metal laser tube. 

Summing up, we can say that glass laser tubes are best for simple engravings like logos, monograms, or letters. However, if you want high-precision engraving and do at least 80% of your work as engraving, you should choose metal CO2 laser tubes. However, if you are doing a lot of cutting, a glass laser tube is best, as the cost-effectiveness outweighs the quality output.