Inside Look At Laser Cutting Metal


fiber piercing metalModern laser technology has proved efficient to the new designers as it offers them the desired shape and in the least possible time. Herein a high power laser is made use of and is focused on the surface that needs to be given shape or cut. The focus of the laser at a point on the surface is equivalent to one-thousandth of an inch, and even that slightest contact can melt, burn or cut the material, however, the intensity of the ray is decided according to the need. The result of this technique is high quality and clean. Unlike other methods, the material used doesn’t come in contact with the cutter, and there are no chances of rough edges or uneven surfaces. Fiber laser cutter has been widely accepted by industries that deal with metal perforation because of its efficiency and accuracy. Not only metal cutting, the laser is used in various fields be it medical sciences or cutting diamonds, etc.

These days the latest trend is metal perforation which involves making holes in the sheet or the rod that could be a little difficult using machines. It’s not impossible but very time to consume and at times not accurate. The laser is extensively used in metal perforation industries for creating various shapes and designs. Besides that, it is used in melting or cutting of glass, wood, optical fiber, ceramic and various other materials that are too hard to be cut by hand or by machine. Use of fiber laser cutter has made life easy and more creative, any cut or design that you are searching for can be obtained through laser cutting. One doesn’t have to wait for days to get their work done; the technique is quick and flexible to be used any which way you like.

C02 laser has traditionally been the laser machines of choice used by job shops due to their consistency of performance in regards to cutting speed, the cost of operation and cut quality throughout all ranges of metal thickness. This allows job shops to process a full range of materials at competitive rates.

With the popularity of fibre lasers growing rapidly many job shops are considering the benefits they can offer their business about increased efficiency in operational cost and turnaround time. This article will explore the advantages of each laser technology, how they can complement each other in the right setting and how larger volume businesses like job shops can benefit from having both.

First off let’s outline the strengths of both Fibre and CO2 lasers and what advantages they offer to the business operation of a job shop.

Benefits of Fibre Laser Technology:

Fiber lasers have been shown to cut faster and are cheaper to operate than CO2 lasers when fabricating thin sheet metal up to 5mm in thickness.  Not only cutting but fiber laser marking machines offer high speed metal marking and the prices are affordable:

In cutting thin sheet metals, they can cut almost 3 times faster than CO2 lasers, and operating costs are typically half of what is required to operate a CO2 due to having much lower electrical consumption and the absence of mirrors that are necessary for CO2 systems. Also, due to the absence of mirrors and laser gas, they require less maintenance. Servicing intervals are typically 50% longer which in turn allows for 50% lower servicing costs. Furthermore, they require fewer consumables to operate, and the consumables required are cheaper than the associated CO2 systems.

As the beam produced from the fiber optics is more readily absorbed into the metals, this provides the ability to cut reflective metals such as Copper, Brass, and Aluminium whereas cutting these metals with a CO2 laser could damage the machine due to intense back reflection.  See Thunder laser reviews. This provides greater flexibility to take on more expansive work.

Research has shown that approximately 70% of all cutting applications in the flat sheet metal cutting market are in the thin-material range under 5mm thick. This constitutes a large segment of the flat sheet metal market.

Finally, fiber laser machines are more affordable to purchase than the equivalent CO2 lasers.

Benefits of CO2 Lasers:

The cut quality of a CO2 Laser remains constant throughout all ranges of material thickness whereas a fiber laser while being a superior cutter in the thin material range; it starts to lose cut quality once the material thickness exceeds 5mm.

While fiber optics offers performance advantages in the thin material range, CO2 lasers will outperform them once the metal thickness being cut exceeds 5mm.

This holds true regarding

  • – Speed of cutting
  • – Cost per part
  • – Quality of cut*

* While this may be true when comparing most Fibre Lasers to CO2, in some units the consensus of cut quality in fibre may vary. Some fiber laser units have been showing to achieve equal to or superior cut quality to CO2 laser right up to 12mm in mild steel. At this thickness, the laser also cut at an equal speed to CO2 and energy consumption per cut part was still lower using the fiber technology.

Furthermore, CO2 lasers can cut acrylics and wood which fiber optics cannot, thereby providing greater flexibility to niche industries where the need to cut these materials is in demand.  For more in depth reading check out:

Benefits of incorporating both technologies:

It is clear that each laser technology offers strengths that can directly complement the other, with fiber providing greater efficiency processing the thin metal sector (0.5mm – 5mm) and CO2 providing greater advantages in thicker section metals (6mm and above).

Most job shops have traditionally used CO2 lasers exclusively as they provide consistent cut quality and operating costs throughout varying ranges of metal thickness. Given the niche advantages of fiber technology, however, one can easily deduce the benefits of having a one to enhance the operation of a job shop greatly.

Once a job shop acquires enough ongoing work volume to justify multiple machines it is worth considering a fiber laser as a complement to the existing CO2 currently in use. Reduction in ongoing costs increased the speed of cutting, and the ability to cut reflective metals have all been benefits reported by job shops who have already taken advantage of these efficiencies provided by fiber laser machines.

Before taking the next step, you should contact your local expert in laser cutting machines for more information.

When considering your next option for your laser cutting machine, it is best to chat to some experts and make sure that you are getting the best machine for your operation.