For processing laser cuts with 0.25-inch to 4-kW laser, it can be a hurdle-less task for fabricators. Now when it comes to 12-kW or 15kW, they need high-powered fiber lasers.
And there are choices available in the market, but if you as a fabricator want to focus on thick metal cutting, only high-powered lasers are not the right choice. The 15-kW machines can do more tasks than cutting the thick material.
Overall, the major motive behind this laser technology is about decreasing process time in laser cutting. Let’s explore what these fiber lasers can do for a fabrication shop.
A Little Throwback to History
During the mid-2000s, high-powered laser cutting machines were a necessary tool for quick and efficient armor kits for US troop vehicles. After a few years with the debut of fiber laser technology, these giant machines were not in the trend anymore.
Why Fiber Laser Technology is a Hero
Fiber lasers produce a beam wavelength which is about 10 times shorter than the 10-micron beam wavelength with a CO2 resonator. It produces a higher power density which you add to the higher absorption rate will create a great cutting speed. This cutting speed outpaces that of a CO2 laser in less than 0.25 in.
It becomes easy for manufacturers to increase the power of these machine tools with the additional laser-producing modules, Amada laser parts, and Prima parts. That is the reason for the sudden surge in wattages. In fact, these systems can exceed 100KW in some instances.
Beam delivery systems cannot handle the power of 100-KW systems on their shop floors. Hence, each laser cutting system manufacturer is looking to produce a reliable cutting head which can deliver the fiber laser beam for an extended amount of time.
Recently, these machine tool developers are stepping into the production of cutting head optics which can modulate the beam size during cutting. Its development propelled fiber laser cutting machines from being a tool just for cutting thin sheet metal. When the cutting material gets thick, you need a wider beam to create kerf to remove the molten metal.
It is important for a company to look at the typical thickness range which makes up 80 percent of its work. Also, to make sure that your lasers are working fine, you need to install Amada laser parts and prima parts.
Here are the general rules to cut common metal such as steel, stainless steel, or aluminum with nitrogen:
- Up to 9 gauge—6 to 8 kW
- 0.25 to 0.75 in.—8 to 10 kW
- Over 0.75 in.—8 to 15 kW
Utilize the Material Exchange
The processing time on a fiber laser cutting machine is tied with the system’s ability to load sheets, unload cut parts, and skeletons. A fabricator does not gain any cycle time advantage if it has to wait for several times for the material movement. A lot of pallet changers are designed with CO2 lasers. It cuts slower rates compared to fiber lasers. They use hydraulics and can take 35 to 50 seconds to exchange a sheet.
The modern pallet changers rely on servo-driven technology. Here the automation is critical. When it comes to selecting pallet changer technology, fabricators should select one which can handle the thickest material they process.
Is High-powered Laser the right choice for you?
No, if your shop’s laser cutting workload is not expecting continuous growth. If it consumes only half of work shift, paying for a powerful laser to reduce the workload to a quarter of a shift won’t deliver a good return on investment.
If metal fabricators are maximizing their current laser cutting capacity, adding another shift, they can look at high-powered lasers. It is true when they use older laser technology. They can invest in a fast and efficient laser to reduce the number of laser operators needed.
Fiber laser cutting machines will grow in power if the cutting head and material handling can complement the power. You as a fabricator can take advantage of the power if you can feed these cutting machines for proper maintenance.