Diode Lasers: Pros and Cons
Updated: Jan 3
Diode lasers are the most popular hobby laser right now. Today, we’re going to look at why everyone wants one as well as why you may want to reconsider and get a different type of laser.
Diode lasers are the most budget friendly lasers. This is the main reason that they are so popular. A diode laser typically ranges from $150-$2000, depending on the power and the brand of the laser. This makes diode lasers a great entry-level laser as there is a low start-up cost. They are also typically much smaller than other types of lasers and can fit in an office or garage.
The biggest con of the diode laser is the low power. Diode lasers are typically only 1W to 20W, with the higher power ones being much more expensive. As a result, they can only cut through soft materials like paper and cardboard as well as thin pieces of wood. Cutting may even require many repeated passes to get all of the way through the material. They are, however, able to engrave these materials fairly easily. Diode lasers will struggle to cut typical cast acrylic as it is not the correct wavelength needed.
Another con of the diode lasers is that they are not typically enclosed. Often, higher end CO2 and fiber lasers are enclosed systems. Due to the low cost and small size of a diode laser, they are completely open systems. This means that they should only be operated in a very well-ventilated space, or risk exposing yourself to fumes. You should also ensure that you never look directly at the beam or else it may damage your vision. Safety glasses can be purchased separately to ensure your eye safety.
While their low power makes them unsuitable for business purposes, diode lasers are a great option for those looking to simply have fun and enter the world of laser engraving.
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