The Main Types of Laser Cutters-Elena

Differences in laser cutters come from the types of lasers in the machines, and the kind of laser determines the type of material thickness the laser may be able to cut. Generally, high-power lasers are ideal for professional applications that require cutting large amounts of plastic or metal. On the other hand, a low-power laser is effective for thinner materials like plastics, card stock, paper, and wood.

The three main types of lasers are:

1. Gas Lasers/C02 Laser Cutters

The cutting is done using electrically-stimulated CO2. The CO2 laser is produced in a mixture that consists of other gases like nitrogen and helium.

C02 lasers emit a 10.6-mm wavelength, and a CO2 laser has enough energy to pierce through a thicker material compared to a fiber laser with the same power. These lasers also give a smoother finish when used to cut thicker materials. CO2 lasers are the most common types of laser cutters. Because they are efficient, inexpensive, and can cut and rasterize many materials.

Materials: Glass, some plastics, some foams, leather, paper-based products, wood, acrylic

2. Crystal Laser Cutters

Crystal laser cutters generate beams from nd:YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate) and nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet). They can cut through thicker and stronger materials because they have smaller wavelengths compared to C02 lasers, which means they have a higher intensity. But since they are high power, their parts wear out quickly.

Materials: Plastics, metals, and some types of ceramics

3. Fiber Laser Cutters

Here, we can get a cutting sample by using fiberglass. The lasers originate from a “seed laser” before being amplified via special fibers. Fiber lasers are in the same category with disk lasers and nd:YAG, and belong to a family called “solid-state lasers”. Compared to a gas laser, fiber lasers do not have moving parts, are two to three times more energy-efficient, and are capable of cutting reflective materials without fear of back reflections. These lasers can work with both metal and non-metal materials.

Though somewhat similar to neodymium lasers, fiber lasers require less maintenance. Thus, they offer a cheaper and longer-lasting alternative to crystal lasers

Materials: Plastics and metals

Out the three, the application range of CO2 laser is very wide, by both makers and professionals. We usually use them primarily for cutting non-metal materials. And even though they also can cut metals, they also can do a good work on cutting non-metals and organic materials (wood, leather, rubber), and engraving hard materials.

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