Desktop and Small format Laser Cutters

We are going to talk about new technologies of cutting of materials, more specifically of the fiber laser cutting machine that provides several advantages in both cost and quality of the service. When you are researching about laser cutting machines, you will find various models, cutting capabilities, platform sizes, etc.   Laser cutters offer a versatile and economical way to laser cut or engrave many different or unique materials.   The type of laser technology you need will mainly be dependent on the material you or your shop needs to process.  Let’s talk about two technologies of fiber laser cutting machine and Co2 Laser Cutting (Conventional).

Briefly, these technologies are directly related to the formation of the laser beams wavelength that in turn processes the material on the z-table.

Laser Beam Generation

In the generation of the CO2 laser beam is produced by a mixture of gases. This beam has a wavelength of 10.6 microns and an efficiency of about 8%. This poor efficiency in the generation of the laser beam generates a lot of heat and, therefore, requires a lot of cooling, requiring the use of a cooling turbine. This turbine must undergo annual maintenance and be replaced every approximately 40,000 hours on the CO2 laser cutter.

Differently, the fiber laser cutting machine is a solid state laser beam generated by the excitation of crystals. The wavelength is 1.06 microns and has an efficiency of 30%, and does not require much cooling. Without the need for gas to generate the beam does not require turbine cooling, the operation and maintenance costs are drastically reduced. The life of the source is equal to the lifetime of the equipment.

Is the difference too big?

There is another big difference between the types of laser cutting machines based on the laser wavelength namely fiber technology and CO2 based technology.

How the laser beam is transported on laser cutters

In CO2 laser cutter machines the transport of the beam is done by a system of mirrors. These mirrors require maintenance and should be replaced from time to time as they deteriorate due to particles that may enter the circuit.

Fiber laser cutting machines, the beam is transported through a fiber optic cable, which is maintenance free, consequently brings a great savings in costs with preventive and corrective maintenance compared to the mirrors mentioned above.

Power Consumption

Due to the low efficiency obtained in the generation of CO2 laser and the great need for cooling the energy consumption is higher. The fiber laser cutting machine operates on much less energy and thus more efficient as it does not require as much cooling due to its generation system is again – more efficient.  Overall the loss of energy in laser generation is much lower.

As an example, a 5 kW CO2 laser cutting machine consumes approximately 70 kW when a 3 kW fiber laser consumes about 25 KW *.

* It is believed that a 3 kW fiber machine is equivalent in performance to a 5 KW CO2 machine.

In general terms, we can say that a fiber laser machine has 60% less energy consumption than a CO2 laser.

Applications

Epilog laser has a great machine for engraving but prices are very high.  But, if you have the money it is one of the best options.  The performance of the laser cutter machine for thin sheets (up to 5 mm thick), is more effective than a CO2 machine. This is mainly due to the wavelength of the fiber bundle which is 10 times smaller than that of CO 2 (1.06 microns compared to 10.6 microns). 5 mm thick, the performance of both is very similar. Another advantage of fiber laser cutting machine is its superior performance when processing reflective materials such as aluminum, bronze or copper.  Also as a side note you can review a US based laser cutter company here.  Its a pretty good laser cutter for the price.  Also, find reviews of another prominent Chinese company based in the US –  Thunder Laser .  There are lots of potential laser cutting companies in the USA and each has its strengths.  I would suggest purchasing from a regional seller like EPILOG as opposed to importing one from abroad.  More and more we are finding problems with over seas imports when people decide to import on their own to save money.  It often becomes the most expensive route long term.

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