Part of the Entertainment Lasers Metanode
There are two types of lasers commonly used in entertainment applications. The first of these, the older gas-ion lasers, are some of the earliest forms of lasers. Although some newer gas-ion lasers were made specifically for entertainment uses, many laser companies use retired medical lasers. All gas-ion lasers contain a large gas filled glass tube. The gases in the tube are the lasing medium. Different gases produce different colors of laser light. Commonly used gases include a mixture helium and neon, argon, krypton, and argon-krypton mixes. Gas-ion lasers require large amounts of power, usually two or three phases at 480 volts, and a high water flow for cooling. They also are very large and very fragile. And unlike newer lasers, they have a fairly short lifespan before they need to be retubed. However, because they are often older models, gas-ion lasers are cheaper than other types of lasers.
New entertainment lasers are not gas-ion lasers, but Diode Pumped Solid State Lasers (DPSS). These lasers use complicated electrical and physical properties of certain materials to produce minute amounts of laser light in a laser diode. This laser diode then pumps additional lasing material to produce larger amounts of laser light. Solid-state lasers are much more rugged than gas lasers, have longer lifetimes, and because they are more power efficient, need less electricity and minimal cooling. A disadvantage to solid-state lasers is their high relative cost compared to gas-ion lasers.