May 3, 2015 Off Comments in Business News, Laser Cutting by

In industrial laser cutting technology, there are two main players: fiber and CO2. Making the correct choice is crucial for high productivity and high-speed work. For intermediate thicknesses of regular ferrous metals there is no clear winner amid the two or for water jet and plasma options either.

How they work

Laser is a short form for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. When laser is pumped by a high strength light source or electric current, they amplified light as beams bounce back and forward through the cavity’s “gain medium”, until some of the light runaway through the partially silvered mirror at one end of the cavity. This made the laser functional just for not the power of the emitted light, but its abnormal properties (namely high coherence and very narrow spectrum), making it precious for industry.

CO2 lasers

The “gain medium” is necessary to laser operation. It can be liquid, solid or gas and is a main determinant of the laser light frequency. Co2 lasers have two sole characteristics that make them perfect for industrial cutting:

  1. Wavelength of light (emitting at 10.6um, near infrared) perfect for heating.
  2. High efficiency (over 30 percent) outstanding for gas lasers.

The resonators are placed in a separate cabinet with their related optical pumping, gas handling, and cooling equipment, emitting the laser beam through lenses and mirrors to deliver the energy to a single mark for clean welding or cutting. Normally, a changeable table translates in two axes below the beam, indicating the weld or cut in a material sheet. Metals are best candidates for CO2 laser processing just because of speed. Also clean, fast, and nearly slag free cuts doable in thinner metals. With COtechnology 6KW power is used, although power is not the only significant consideration in laser cutting.

Fiber Lasers

Fiber lasers normally use optical fibers, pumped with diodes to make solid state laser cutting equipments with far lesser components and no gas consumables. It decreases operating costs too. They also transfer pumped energy into laser light at up to twice the efficiency of gas lasers and normally use half the power. The wavelength of light is also shorter emitted by fiber lasers than CO2, usually 1 um. It has very small focal diameter, presenting high concentration heating which can be an order of magnitude upper than CO2 technology at similar power levels.

Which is better?

Fiber laser is the more dominant technology for high rate laser cutting in thin sheets, while CO2 is more preferred in thicker sections for high definition work with good cutting speeds.

From a simplicity and efficiency point of view, fiber would seem a clear option but for thick section steel plate (normally around 8-12mm) the power and speed of CO2 is still a top pick. Each has advantages for specific uses so make sure to know more of each of these laser cutting technology before making the switch.