If you’ve considered utilizing fiber laser technology within your business or job shop application, then this will serve as a reminder as to what this growing laser technology offers compared to CO2. We research and work with fiber technology as it relates to marking and cutting almost daily so, we hope this post will help serve to answers a lot of questions we get.
Fiber lasers are classified as a solid state laser since it utilizes a solid gain medium, as opposed to a gas or liquid. Inside the glass fiber the laser beam is amplified. With a 1.064 micrometer wavelength the fibre laser will output an very small spot size (100x smaller vs CO2) making it ideal for cutting reflective metals like stainless, aluminum even precious metals. This is one of the main advantages of Fiber compared to CO2.
Here’s a quick run down of the benefits of fiber lasers:
1. Metal Processing:
Fiber is superior to CO2 wavelengths when it comes to metal cutting. Unlike CO2, the near IR (infrared) wavelengths of fiber lasers is absorbed well by metals. This translates to up to 3x faster cutting speeds for thinner metals along with a cleaner edge quality.
2. Higher Precision:
The high beam quality and narrow beam diameter of a fiber laser is about 10x smaller compared to a CO2 laser beam making it ideal for applications that demand precision. In addition fiber lasers wavelength can produce narrower weld seams with minimal cutting kerfs (the actual cut width).
3. Greater Reliability:
A fiber laser is basically made up of fiber components that have been spliced together enabling the laser beam to remain within the fiber-optic cable until it exits the fiber onto the material. This allows for a more direct machine construction without the need for sensitive flying optics, mirrors or laser gases.
4. Greater Efficiency:
Fiber lasers are energy efficient and cost less to operate and maintain. Their wall plug efficiency is around 30% compared to only 3% with CO2. There’s also less to maintain since you have no optics to align or lamps to replace – uptime is maximized. Finally, the machine itself is space efficient. Compared to similar powered CO2 machines, a fiber laser’s compact size occupies a much smaller manufacturing foot print.
With that said, fiber technology is now utilized to process a lot more materials at power levels previously served by CO2 lasers. However, this is not to declare death to the CO2 wavelength by no means.
As good as fiber wavelengths work on reflective metals like copper, brass, and aluminum – CO2 lasers are superior when processing organic materials such as wood, plastics, glass, leather, as well as metals exceeding 5 to 6mm (with the exception of copper, brass, and aluminum.
The above is just a synopsis of well accepted information on fiber technology. How it can potentially better serve your business or shop application will require a bit more detailed analysis of course. We at Boss Laser can further help you determine what laser will best serve your application. Feel free to give BOSSLASER a call.