Job shops usually select C02 laser machines because of their consistency of operation. C02 laser’s cutting rate, cost of operation, and cut quality allows companies to fabricate a full range of materials at competitive prices.
We will explore the benefits of both technologies, how they can complement each other, and how machine shops may benefit from using both.
First, let us outline the advantages of both fiber and CO2 lasers. And what they offer to the business operations of a machine shop.
Advantages of Fiber Laser Technology
Fiber lasers are proven to cut more quickly than CO2 lasers when fabricating sheet metal that is thinner than 5mm . They are also cheaper to operate.
When cutting thin sheet metals, it can cut nearly 3 times faster than CO2 lasers, and its operating costs is usually half of what’s required to run a CO2 because it consumes much less electricity. In addition, with neither mirrors nor laser gas, it require less maintenance.
The intervals between maintenance is 50% longer. So its servicing costs is 50% less. In addition, it requires less consumables for operation, and the consumables are more affordable than a comparable CO2 machine.
As lasers from fiber optics are more easily absorbed into the metals, the machine is able to cut reflective metals such as copper, brass, or aluminium. On the other hand, a CO2 laser cutter could be damaged by strong back reflection. Being more flexible, a fiber laser machine can take on more varied jobs.
Since about 70 percent of all cutting jobs in the sheet metal cutting market are less than 5mm thick, a fiber laser machine can be used for a large segment of the sheet metal industry.
Finally a fiber laser machine is generally less expensive than an equivalent CO2 lasers.
Advantages of CO2 Lasers
While a fiber laser machine cuts better when the sheet is thin, its cut quality deteroriate when the metal thickness exceeds 5mm. The cut quality of a CO2 laser is consistent for all material thickness. This is so even when the speed of cutting is changed.
When the metal is thicker than 5mm, a CO2 laser will have a better cut quality and a lower cost per part.
It can also cut acrylics and wood. Since fiber lasers cannot, a CO2 laser will be more flexible for niche industries where the need to cut these materials is in demand.
Benefits of incorporating both technologies
It’s apparent that both laser technology have complementary strengths, fiber is more efficient at cutting thin metal of thickness 0.5–5mm and CO2 more efficient with thicker section alloys of 6mm thickness and above.
Many job shops have traditionally used only CO2 lasers because of their consistent cut quality and their ability to cut various thickness. But you can easily enhance the operation of your machine shop by harnessing the advantages of fiber technology.
Once your job shop picks up enough work to warrant additional machines, you should give some thought to buying a fiber laser to match to the CO2 you have.
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