The Top 5 Advantages of a High-Power Fiber Laser Cutting Machine – Elena

(light)Superhero movies are filled with characters who’ve been granted great power. Some, like Spider-Man, use it responsibly, others, (looking at you, Thanos,) not so much. Well, we won’t claim to be superheroes but we are about to gain a lot more power. In our case it comes, not from Infinity Stones or radioactive spiders, but an 8kW fiber laser cutting machine.

In case you’re not familiar with laser cutting machines, yes 8kW is a lot of power. It’s a big step up from the lasers we have today. Here’s why we’re so excited about bringing this new machine into our shop.

Cutting Metal With Light

Laser cutting is about focusing a beam of intense, coherent light down to a spot that’s hot enough to melt metal. Then it’s used to cut a thin line through that metal, either by moving a sheet under the beam or moving the beam over the sheet.

Traditionally, meaning over the last 20 years or so, laser cutting meant using light from a CO2 laser. A few years ago a new technology appeared that offered some advantages. This was the fiber laser, and in “Advantage Fiber VS CO2 in the Laser Cutting Battle,” we explained what it brings to the party. At the time we said our next laser cutter would likely be a fiber machine. Well, that time has come.

What’s Special About Fiber Lasers?

The big advance over CO2 lasers is that the light they put out is a much shorter wavelength. A CO2 laser emits light with a wavelength of 10.6 microns while that from a fiber laser is 1 micron. (Physics nerds will point out that both are in the infrared part of the spectrum and are therefore invisible to human eyes.)

Now, what does this have to do with cutting metal? Two things:

  1. A shorter wavelength can be focused into a smaller spot. That means more energy per square millimeter, so faster heating, and a smaller kerf.
  2. Many metals reflect the long-wavelength light but do a much better job of absorbing the shorter wavelength from the fiber laser. That means less of the fiber laser light is reflected and more goes into heating and melting metal.

So, bottom line: a fiber laser provides a lot more energy to cut with. But most laser machines don’t cut with light alone.

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