What is a Diode Laser:

A Diode Laser is a device that uses semiconductor material to convert electricity into photons, or light. Depending on the material used in the semiconductor, the light emitted can take many forms including invisible UV light, visible light, and even near-infrared light. This light emitting technology is more commonly referred to as a "Light Emitting Diode", or LED. The diodes used in laser engravers are extremely bright and powerful. Once the light is emitted from the diode, it is pushed through a lens where it is focused to a very narrow point. Sometimes there is more than one diode used to create focused light to engrave and cut. When searching for a diode laser you will see advertised wattages (which is a power measurement which describes how strong the emitted laser beam is). The light emitted from diode laser cutting or engraving is visible and extremely intense. Therefore, eye protection is mandatory when working around these lasers.

What is a Co2 Laser:

A Co2 Laser uses a high voltage power supply to charge gases in the laser tube to create infrared light. That light is focused in the tube through the laser output window, which then travels through three mirrors and finally through a focus lens. The more electric power that is pushed to the tube, the more powerful the laser beam. The process of generating the laser beam inside the laser tube creates heat, which is why all Co2 Lasers require a cooling method to maintain a reasonable operating temperature in the tube. The cooling functions for the laser tubes are typically built in to the machine and are not necessary to add on to the system. Typical power outputs for Co2 Lasers range from 30w to more than 1000w.

 A few important differences between Diode Laser and Co2 Laser:

Diode Lasers

  • Engraving area: Smaller working area than Co2 lasers, average is 400mmx400mm (15"x15")
  • Semi Portable: These lasers are light and can be operated in the open air with ventilation or in an enclosure.
  • Speed: Engraving and especially cutting speeds are very slow.
  • Safety: These lasers typically do not include an enclosure. This leaves operators exposed to hazardous visible light and fumes from engraving.

Co2 Lasers

  • Enclosure - Includes enclosure with safety switches to protect operator.
  • Fume Extraction Fan - Includes fan to vent out harmful fumes from the laser enclosure.
  • Power - Co2 Lasers are far more powerful than diode lasers. They require a lot less power output to engrave and cut materials.
  • Speed - Co2 Lasers can cut and engrave faster than a diode laser.
  • More Materials - Co2 Lasers can engrave and cut more materials to include clear materials and acrylic.
  • Larger Engraving Area - On the 50w and bigger models, they typically have a large engraving area compared to diode lasers.
  • Cooling - Requires cooling during operation.


Laser Setting Information:

Please remember, all laser settings are a starting point. There are a lot of variables that play into getting the settings correct. We will never be able to give exact settings to work on every laser out there. So, it’s important to understand that testing will most definitely be necessary. 

Below are a few important details to understand when using any Laser:

  • Focal Distance: Your laser manufacturer should provide you with the information about what the ideal focal distance is for your laser. Always ensure you are engraving and cutting with the focal distance optimized for your laser.
  • Wattage: Specifically, when it comes to Diode lasers, there are multitudes of wattages and styles. We test with 10W and 20W Diode Lasers, so our settings are based on those wattages. 
  • Contrast: The goal with engraving is to create a contrasting mark on the material. Depending on the material's composition, the contrasting mark may be more or less visible. For example, a two-ply material with a red and white layer will create very high contrast. While a single ply material may not engrave with any contrast.
  • Cutting: While a diode laser can cut through certain materials, there are some materials that it cannot cut through. For example: stone, ceramic, glass, metal, clear acrylic, and sublimation acrylic are not able to be cut on a diode laser. However, it can cut through materials such as: wood, MDF, cardboard, leather, faux leather, card stock, opaque acrylics, opaque plastic sheets. 
  • Laser Test Grids: There are tutorials available for most lasers on the market that describe creating and executing a laser test grid to determine power ranges for engraving and cutting. One such tutorial can be found here: Design a Laser Power Scale Test Pattern Tutorial: https://youtu.be/xkvyJupD7qM?si=qf4-zLYTobzWe0yt



Q: Will a diode cut or engrave on Rowmark plastics?

AWe have tested many of the Rowmark plastics, many of them did pass the cut and engraving test. However, it is vital to understand that any clear or fluorescent material will not work with a diode laser. This would include products such as clear acrylics, ColorHues, Translucent Cast Acrylic, Fluorescent Cast Acrylic, and Lucent.

A diode laser icon will soon be added to Rowmark and JPPlus products that are compatible with diode laser technology.

Q: Can a diode cut or engrave metal?

A: While the diode can be used to engrave metal, it is not strong enough to cut through metal. If the metal does not have a color coating, then the mark will not produce much contrast. To increase the contrast, products such as Cermark can be applied to the material surface before laser engraving.

Q: Can a diode cut or engrave stone materials?

A: A diode laser cannot cut through stone; it can however engrave on the material. There is not a high contrast in the engraved color, but rather an altering of the texture of the material.

Q: Can a diode cut or engrave glass?

A: A diode laser cannot cut through glass, but through utilizing black paint or paper placed behind the glass you are able to engrave a design onto the surface of the glass.


For additional product support and troubleshooting, please contact JPPlus Advanced Support Team:

• Phone: 419-500-4877 • Email: ast@jpplus.com •

Schedule an appointment: https://jpplusadvancedsupport.setmore.com/