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CO2 VS. FIBER LASER – WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU BUY?

At present, there are five kinds of laser light sources: gas laser, solid-state laser, semiconductor laser, fiber laser and dye laser. 

Among them, CO laser and fiber laser are the most commonly used in the field of industrial processing. 

In recent years, fiber laser cutting technology has been widely used in the industry. In 2014, fiber laser surpassed CO laser to become the largest share of laser sources. 

Fiber laser cutting not only provides the cutting speed and quality that can be achieved by CO laser cutting, but also significantly reduces the cost of maintenance and operation. 

We will make a comparison based on the CO laser and the fiber laser as followed:

Fiber Laser Source VS Co2 Laser Source

ItemsFiber laser sourceCO2 laser source
Wavelength1.06um10.6um
IPCE25-30%8-12%
SizeSmall size, lightweight and compact structureSize is too large, and it has higher requirements for the environment
LaserpathLaser path is simple. The laser comes out of the laser and passes through the optical fiber and can be directly connected to the cutting headLaser path is complex, and there are many optical lenses in the resonant cavity
MaintainingLessRegular maintenance, such as mirror calibration, resonant cavity maintenance, etc.
OperationMaintenance-free, high stability, easy to operateLaser path should be adjusted before use, so the laser path needs to be adjusted manually and maintained regularly.
Cutting RangeIt is suitable for cutting metal materials, and can also cut high reflective materials such as copper.Especially suitable for cutting non-metallic materials, but not suitable for cutting high reverse materials.

The wavelength of fiber laser is 1.06um, which is not easy to be absorbed by non-metal, so it is not suitable for cutting non-metallic materials. 

The wavelength of CO2 laser is 10.6um, which is easily absorbed by non-metal, so it is more suitable for cutting non-metallic materials. A large number of continuous and rapid cutting of metal materials will affect the life of RF tubes.

If you want to know more professional knowledge of Co2 laser Original article found here!

Comparison of energy consumption between fiber lasers and CO2 lasers

ItemsFiber laser sourceCO2 laser source
IPCE25-30%8-12%
Working environmentThe light path is simple, the requirement to the environment is not high, and it has high tolerance to dust, shock, temperature and humidity.High requirements for the external environment, less dust, equipment should be separated from the nearby source, keep dry and constant temperature
Laser GasNoThree-in-one gas
Internal protective gas of laserNoHighly clean gas
External light path maintenanceNoRegular Maintenance
Processing convenienceGood flexibility and strong adaptabilityNot easy
Metal absorptivity35%12%

The fiber laser has the advantages of high photoelectric conversion efficiency, convenient maintenance and low cost, and the optical fiber transmission is suitable for flexible production and can be transmitted by multiple optical paths, which is convenient for the switching of laser processing tasks.

Fiber lasers have the characteristics of short wavelength, so as to improve the light absorption of cutting materials, and can cut materials such as brass and copper as well as non-conductive materials. 

A more concentrated beam produces a smaller focus and a deeper depth of focus, so that the fiber laser can quickly cut thinner materials and cut medium-thickness materials more effectively. 

How to choose?

CO2 laser systems require regular maintenance, mirrors need to be maintained and calibrated, and resonators need regular maintenance, while fiber laser cutting solutions require almost no maintenance. 

Compared with the CO2 cutting system, the optical fiber cutting solution is more compact and has less impact on the ecological environment, so it requires less cooling and significantly reduces energy consumption.

The photoelectric conversion rate of fiber lasers is more than 30%, the photoelectric conversion rate of CO laser cutting machines with the same power is about 10% 15%, and the photoelectric conversion rate of solid-state laser is 3%. 

The power consumption of a fiber laser is only 20% of that of a CO laser with the same power, and the comprehensive cost is even lower. 

By comparison, it can be seen that the optical fiber laser cutting machine has higher working efficiency, better cutting effect and maintenance-free under the same conditions, but the cost of purchasing the machine is slightly higher, so large and medium-sized enterprises can give priority to optical fiber equipment.

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