Laser choices

Good morning! I have a ULS M-360 30-watt CO2 laser I purchased back in 2004, mostly used for wood engraving. I am interested in upping my game, would like to be able to engrave on glass (the M-360 will engrave a VERY light frosting) and possibly metal and would definitely like a rotary attachment. I’m seeing lasers like the xTool D1 and Creality’s new Falcon 2 that boast that they can engrave glass and metal, but as I understand it diode lasers are not as powerful as CO2 lasers so I’m confused as to whether it would be worth purchasing one of those. Anybody have any helpful information/opinions on that? Thanks in advance!

My machine is about 40W and engraves fine on glass at very low power. I would think yours would also. Remember the laser is shattering the glass that is heated.

Hobby co2 machines can’t do bare metal. There are coating that can be sprayed on and coated items that you can remove the coating.

The best laser for metal is a fiber…

Visible light dpssl (diode) cannot directly engrave glass or acrylic. Any of these are done by an indirect method.

What’s wrong with the 30W machine you have?

I googled it and didn’t come up with anything other than VLS. Do you have a link?


Thanks Jack, sure is a lot of mis-leading information on the internet! -( I see now that if you read the fine print the Creality & xTool models do say they can’t engrave directly on glass.I will have to do a little more experimenting with glass with my M-360, maybe I can get it to give better results. It is from United Laser Systems, as I mentioned it’s almost 20 years old so ULS doesn’t offer it any more. Here’s a link to a PDF with it’s specs if you’re interested: I did inquire about getting a rotary attachment for it from ULS, but it would cost about $1000, which is not much less than I’d pay for a brand new Creality or xTool model, which is why I was looking at them. Other than not having the rotary attachment and wishing it had just a little more oomph, the M-360 has been a good engraver…although I could do without the Centronix parallel connection, that’s kind of obsolete these days. Based on what you said, though, I think I’ll stick with it, maybe see what it would cost to add a higher-power cartridge to it. Thaks again for your input!

This looks like an RF excited laser… Does it have a tube you can see through?

If this is RF then you have what many of us desire or the cat’s meow… Most of these are controlled by only the pwm generated from the controller…

An RF (or metal tube) can have it’s gasses replace and made like new

Are you handy at diy, such as changing out the controller?


There is not any tube you can see through. I’ve never heard of RF excited lasers, what would that do for me? I did order a cartridge replacement several years ago as the old one was losing too much power. I AM pretty handy at diy, but not when it comes to electronics! :slight_smile:

It’s probably the cartridge you replaced.

A glass tube is dc excited, whereas a metal tube is rf excited. Quick response time and it will lase at lower percentage power.

It’s usually considered outside the price range of most hobbyists.

They generally have a number of fans…


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@jkwilborn those ULS machines are E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E and they mount the tubes in that metal case.
It was my first thought too, that it was an RF laser, when I saw the metal can inside the laser at the school maker space. Getting the model number and looking further exposted that it was a CO2 laser so it had to be inside that metal box. Better to keep hands off any pionty things or HV things and nice way to require purchasing from mfgr only.

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Yeah, this one cost me about $5000 back in 2004, and you could see where I might think about just buying a new laser if upgrading a single part is going to cost more than a new one! Back then there weren’t nearly as many choices when it came to laser engravers and ULS happened to have an office fairly close to me…I’ve been pretty happy with it though, I think I’ve got my money’s worth from it!

I saw no plumbing to indicate cooling, only fans… insufficient for a glass tube but common for a metal tube.

I also saw no lps, which is usually rather large.

It seems odd that the pdf doesn’t really help me out much.