What Is the Difference Between Co2 and Fiber Laser? A fiber laser is a laser in which the gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements such as erbium. They are pumped by diode lasers, which are efficient and reliable.
Fiber lasers are used for military, medical, and industrial applications. A CO2 laser is a gas laser that uses carbon dioxide as its lasing medium. CO2 lasers are used for cutting and welding metals, plastics, and other materials. In this article, Byboe will show you the difference between them.
Fiber lasers excel at high-contrast markings such as metal annealing and etching. Fiber lasers have a minimal focal diameter, which results in a high intensity of up to 100 times greater than CO2 systems.
This makes them ideal for permanently marking serial numbers and barcodes on metals. Fiber lasers are used extensively for product traceability (direct parts marking) and identification.
Fiber lasers are maintenance-free and have a long life expectancy (our lasers last at least 100,000 hours). They are smaller than CO2 lasers.
Fiber lasers are also much more efficient than CO2 lasers in terms of high electrical efficiency, which results in significant cost savings when cutting.
There is a growing demand for fiber lasers in industrial cleaning applications, such as removing rust, paint, and oxides.
Your application will determine the fiber laser operating costs of your fiber laser system. For demanding environments like ours, industrial fiber laser systems start at $40,000 and can reach $1,000,000 for high-power laser cutting machines. The power will affect price, which can range from 20 W up to 6,000W.
How does a Fiber Laser work?
The laser cutting machine’s Resonator emits light from the fiber, then delivered to the CNC. The laser is emitted from the end of the fiber optic cable.
It is then refocused through several focal lenses to create a perfect dot on its surface. The machining material, which is quickly vaporized with cutting gases such as O2 and NO2, around the laser, is purged using a series of focal lenses and then blown away as dust particles.
Investment costs: The cost of solid-state laser technology decreases as it becomes more popular. A well-equipped domestic fiber laser cutting machine can be bought starting at 300K
Maintenance: The Beam Path Delivery system and its many use of bellows, mirrors, gasses, etc., has made it impossible to maintain the Fiber laser, precisely the solid-state resonator type. This has resulted in a significant reduction in maintenance and associated costs.
Speed: There is no comparison between fiber and O2 s in thin material. Fiber can go twice as fast as gage materials.
Operating costs: Fiber lasers require less power for their ResonatorResonator, and require less cooling. This makes them about 1/3rd as efficient as their CO2 counterparts. A fiber laser’s per-part cost is beautiful due to its lower maintenance, reduced consumables, and faster cutting.
Thick Material Finish: The advantage of CO2 lasers in thicker materials is their ability to achieve finishes, particularly in Stainless Steel or Aluminum. Fiber Laser technology has advanced, but CO2 remains the market leader in this field.
Overall Flexibility: The CO2 Laser has greater flexibility in cutting through non-metals and can cut through more materials.
Fiber laser technology improves and can cut Brass and Copper right out of the box (CO2 lasers struggle greatly with these materials). Still, they have limitations in their use, especially for non-metal applications.
Comfort Level/Known Technology: If you have one or more CO2 laser systems currently in use in your facility, you will likely gravitate heavily towards that fiber laser technology initially because it is the ‘demon’ you know vs. the one you don’t.
What Are They Used for?
The fiber laser cutter is the true titan of laser cutting. They perform at an exceptionally high level while maintaining the highest precision.
They can produce at high speed, which doesn’t stop them. Some of the most innovative and lucrative industries heavily depend on fiber lasers.
This material has many uses, including cutting automotive and aerospace parts and finely marking QR codes and batch numbers. These materials are available as workable materials:
- Stainless Steel
The CO2 laser marking process is perfect for keeping various non-metallic materials, including plastics, textiles, and glass.
They are used for food and pharmaceutical packaging, as well as marking PVC pipes, building materials, and electrical appliances.
It would help if you used CO2 lasers to cut thicker materials. When cutting materials greater than 5mm, CO2 lasers provide faster initial piercing times and straight-line cutting speeds. They also have a smoother finish.
The downside is that CO2 lasers consume significantly more power than fiber ones, which results in higher operating costs.
A high-power CO2 laser with a chiller can consume approximately 70 kW at maximum capacity. An equivalently powered fiber laser consumes 18 kW.
Co2 lasers are generally less expensive than fiber lasers. CO2 laser marking systems are usually between $35,000 to $80,000. The cost of CO2 laser marking systems will be affected by their power, which generally runs between 20W and 150W.
How Does a Co2 Laser Work?
After the CO2 Resonator has produced enough light, the beam is delivered differently than the fiber optic method.
To provide the full intensity of laser light, the beam is delivered by a complex cutting process of reflection and refractive down a path known as a beam delivery system.
This path is cleaned with protected Laz gases to keep it clean and dust-free. The laser beam is then reflected in the cutting head.
It is then refocused and emitted in a similar way as Fiber machines. This involves a series of lenses to refocus the beam and shield the path with high velocity cutting gases to purge it.
Finish: The edge quality of plate stainless or aluminum workpieces are generally better with CO2 lasers.
Flexibility: The flexibility of CO2 Lasers is available in various laser applications, including those that are not metal.
The technology is well-known: CO2 lasers have been around for over 30 years. This makes the results predictable. This provides a high level of confidence to the user.
Operating costs: Other than the lenses bellows, mirrors, and last gases required to maintain the beam path delivery system clean and pure, power consumption costs are about 70% higher because the CO2 Resonator and Blower need more power.
Maintenance: All components of the beam path delivery systems mentioned above require maintenance that can be both disruptive and very expensive.
Speed: A CO2 Laser can’t cut thin materials as fast as a fiber. A 4KW CO2 laser in 16 GA Mild Steel with N2 as a cutting agent has a cutting speed recommended of 260 IPM. An identically equipped Fiber Laser can cut at approximately 1,417 IPM. This is quite a big difference.
What Are They Used for?
Our CO2 laser cutter range is versatile and can be used for almost any purpose, from small desktop machines to freestanding flatbeds. There are many uses for CO2 devices. These are just a few uses for CO2 devices by businesses:
- Engraving barcodes
- 3-D models
- Fabric cutting
- Personalizing phone cases
- Automotive components
What Is the Difference Between Co2 and Fiber Lasers?
CO2 Laser vs Fiber Laser Price
If you want to make a wise investment, you will need to calculate the total cost of a fiber laser cutter. The total price includes the cost of the device when it is purchased and how much it will cost to maintain and repair it over time.
Fiber laser machines are more expensive than CO2 laser machines. High-end fiber laser machines typically start at 40,000 USD. High-end CO2 devices usually start at 10,000 USD.
Fiber laser machines will generally cost more than CO2 for the same features and stats like size, power, speed, and power (watts).
When calculating how much a fiber laser cutting machine will cost you, the initial/upfront costs are only one part. It is also essential to calculate the cost of operating, maintaining, and repairing the fiber laser cutter.
Many people overlook the operating cost of the laser cutting machine and focus only on the initial price. Maintain, repair, and maintain the fiber laser cutter. This is especially important if the laser cutting machine is used frequently.
Calculating the Total Cost
When used frequently, CO2 lasers are more expensive than fiber laser systems. These are some things to keep in mind when calculating the total cost of a laser device:
Consumables: Fiber laser systems don’t require gas to operate, but CO2 laser machines do. To achieve better cut quality, fiber laser systems can use laser gas.
Power consumption: Fiber laser cutters consume three times more potent than CO2 lasers. This means that a fiber laser requires 3X less electricity to cut the same material.
Maintenance and cleaning of parts: CO2 lasers include mirrors, turbines, and water tanks. These parts need to be maintained and serviced.
They can fail and cause costly repairs. You must ensure that your fiber laser cutters are properly maintained. This can save you money over the long term.
Repairs: The parts of CO2 laser machines are more susceptible to failure than those of fiber laser machines. A fiber laser machine can fail between 50,000 and 100,000 hours, while a CO2 laser machine takes around 20,000 hours.
Fiber laser cutters can be described as solid-state machines because almost everything is in one piece. They don’t have moving parts. This means fewer chances of something not working or breaking down.
Lifetime: All machines eventually break down. High-end CO2 laser machines generally last between 10 and 15 years. Fiber can last twice as long if not three times as long.
These points should be considered when calculating the cost of the type of laser cutting machine you choose. If you don’t need to cut a lot of material and only occasionally use CO2 devices, it is a good choice. Fiber laser systems are best if you miss a lot of fragile metals.
You should still consider one other thing that could impact your overall laser machine. That is time.
Time is money; you know that. The speed at which your laser cutting machine operates can significantly impact the value of your investment.
CO2 vs. Fiber Laser: Cutting Speed
Fiber lasers are generally faster when cutting thin metal (0-5mm or 1/4 inch). A fiber laser machine with 2kW power can cut thin materials at the same speed as a co2 laser cutting machine of 4-5kW.
The fiber laser machine can cut light metals up to 5 times faster than a co2 laser cutting machine if it has the same power. Because of its short wavelength, the laser from a fiber laser machine is more easily absorbed into the metal it’s working on.
Fiber laser machines also have a high power density. The fiber lasers can produce a lot of power in one place, which is why they can cut through thin materials like butter.
The CO2 laser machines better cut thicker metals of 5mm or more. The laser’s longer wavelength seems to be more effective at fiber laser cutting through thicker metals than the shorter wavelength fiber lasers have.
The long-wavelength is like a long, sharp saw. At the same time, the shorter wavelength works more like a drill or needle.
A long, sharp saw is better at fiber laser cutting through thick material. However, a powerful needle/drill is better at cutting through thin materials faster.
Fiber vs. CO2 Lasers: Cut Quality
The advantage of CO2 laser machines when it comes to fiber laser cutting is their consistent cutting edge quality (sharpness/more delicate edges) across all thicknesses.
This means you don’t have to worry about your advantage looking bad when cutting thin or thick materials. As the materials become thicker, fiber lasers have difficulty making consistent cuts.
As fiber laser technology improves, keep in mind that the machines are becoming more sophisticated. The cut quality of fiber lasers is much better today than in the early days.
If you are interested in fiber lasers but are concerned about their cut quality, it is worth asking the company to demonstrate the product to you.
SENFENG does precisely that. We invite anyone nearby to come in and cut a sample of the product they may need. Our customers can be sure that their machines will engrave the required product.
CO2 Laser Cutting vs. Fiber Laser Cutting: Safety
Fiber laser machine lasers can have a much more dangerous wavelength for your eyes and body. Eye protection is required when you use a fiber laser machine.
However, it would help to use the same precautions when using co2 laser cutting devices. As dangerous as co2 laser cutting machines, Wear eye protection and keep away from the laser beam. This is not something you should play with.
These are some things to consider when buying a CO2 VS fiber laser machine:
According to data I found online, the average cost for a CO2 laser per day was $12.73 an hour for a 4kW CO2 cutter. A 4kW fiber laser cutter costs $6.24 an hour on average.
Fiber laser machines are used primarily for cutting thin metals (0-5mm), metal marking, engraving, and etching, as well as metal welding.
CO2 laser machines can be used to cut, mark, or even engrave various non-metallic materials, including plastics and textiles.
Fiber laser cutting machines are smaller than CO2 lasers. Fiber laser cutting machines need gas storage tanks, pumps, and pipes. Fiber machines are much smaller than other types.
What Is the Difference Between Co2 Laser and Fiber Laser? Conclusion
A fiber laser is a laser where the lasing medium is an optical fiber. The fiber laser is usually smaller and more efficient than a gas laser and is relatively easy to fabricate. A gas laser is a laser in which the lasing medium is a gas, usually a mixture of helium and neon.
This is generally larger and more expensive than a fiber laser and requires more sophisticated electronics. We hope that our article can help you know what is the difference between fiber laser and co2 laser.