Commercial Laser Cutting: Fibre Lasers vs. Gas Lasers
In commercial laser cutting, there are two main technologies: fibre laser and CO2 laser. Highlighted is a brief comparison of the performance of both technologies on several fronts.
1. Energy Efficiency
Using fibre lasers for commercial laser cutting is far more energy efficient compared to CO2 lasers. A fibre laser will use 3–5 times less energy compared to a CO2 laser in the same application. This is because delivery by laser optic cable significantly reduces any unnecessary power losses. Looking at these numbers, it's clear that the former is the more energy-efficient option for commercial laser cutting.
2. Cutting Speeds And Precision
Commercial laser cutting applications require speed and precision, both of which fibre lasers will deliver. Fibre lasers perform at higher speeds, which means that you will have no trouble meeting your set quotas within the given timelines. When they first came into the market, these higher cutting speeds applied to just thin materials, but thanks to product advancements, the higher speeds now apply to thicker materials.
In addition to the speed, fibre lasers deliver more precise cuts compared to their CO2 counterparts. The wavelength of the beam produced by fibre lasers is about ten times shorter compared to that of CO2 lasers. This shorter wavelength produces a more focused beam for high-precision commercial laser cutting.
Cutting with gas lasers can be quite challenging when it comes to certain materials such as those with reflective surfaces. Once the beam strikes the material, some of the energy will be reflected, affecting the quality of the cut. Again, the reflected power may cause serious damage to the laser itself.
Fibre lasers, on the other hand, have very high peak powers that will counter the reflectivity of the material to deliver quality cuts without getting damaged in the process. For the commercial laser cutting of any material with a reflective surface, such as brass, fibre lasers are the best option.
4. Maintenance Requirements
Fibre lasers demand very little in machine maintenance and part replacement compared to gas lasers. The mirrors in the CO2 lasers need regular maintenance, and parts such as the resonators need replacing every so often. Meeting all the maintenance demands will add to the costs of operating the gas lasers.
Fibre lasers have become increasingly popular since they first hit the market, and it is easy to see why that is the case. However, it is critical to remember that your choice will ultimately depend on your specific commercial laser cutting application.