The Laser or acronym of light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Consists in the generation of a coherent beam of light. That coherence means that the size of the beam remains equally thin over great distances and therefore the energy concentrate in it.
The applications of the laser are almost endless, but in this article we will focus on its application to machining. Specifically in the cutting of sheet metal.
Laser machining involves the removal of material by melting the area where the laser beam comes into contact with the metal sheet.
Laser cutting allows very precise cuts and forms that could not made by other machining processes.
An advantage of laser cutting is the speed and the short time needed to prepare the machine. This makes it very competitive compared to other systems.
In CO2 laser cutting machines a mixture of gases is used to generate the laser beam. The high voltage required in the resonator for gas excitation is generated by semiconductor modules that are wear-free, which are small, efficient and reliable.
The CO2 laser cutting technology is suitable for cutting different materials, thick sheet, wood, acrylic, glass, paper, textiles, plastics, leather and stone.
The CO2 laser cutting machines have a high production in all sheet thicknesses up to 30mm and tubular parts. When the cutting process carry out with O2. The speed is practically the same as in fiber, for thicknesses greater than 6mm.
Fiber laser cutting machines are the newest development in laser cutting. The laser beam generate in an active fiber and guide to the cutting head of the machine by means of a transport fiber, through diodes and fiber cables.
Fiber laser cutting machines can be smaller than CO2 laser cutting machines and get twice the power with the same power supply. Fiber laser cutting is suitable for the treatment of thin sheet, medium thickness up to 12mm and non-ferrous metals, such as copper and brass. Access to the machine limite by safety, since laser reflections are highly damaging to the eyes. The focal diameter is very small, one hundred times more intense than with CO2.
CO2 LASER VS FIBER LASER
Cutting thicknesses in steel sheet metal.
As for the plate thicknesses that can cut, the CO2 laser cutting machine can cut up to 30mm thick. For its part, the fiber laser cutting machine can only cut thin and medium thickness plates up to 20mm.
Safety in laser cutting.
Regarding access to the cutting machine. Since the wavelength of the fiber laser is 1,064 micrometers and that of the CO2 laser is 10.6 micrometers. The fiber laser is ten times smaller, therefore it needs much more security, since laser reflections are harmful to the eyes. On the contrary, the CO2 laser cutting machine has exceptional access to the machine without being detrimental to the eyes.
Energy efficiency and maintenance.
Thanks to the fact that the fiber laser cutting machine is more energy efficient, it does not require any resonator gas. The costs are lower than with the CO2 laser cutting. For each power unit that passes through a CO2 laser cutting system, approximately 8 to 10% use. Meanwhile, approximately 25-30% can be expecte with fiber laser cutting.
The CO2 laser cutting machine uses mirrors to make the beam reach the lens. These mirrors have to be at a certain distance, so more space require for your design. The fiber laser cutting machine, thanks to its compact design, requires considerably less space.
As for the lenses they use, CO2 laser cutting requires two lenses that must be change depending on the material and thickness. And their life cycle is approximately 1000 hours. Fiber laser cutting uses a single lens with a life cycle of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 hours.