Which is better technology? CO2 vs Fiber Laser is one of the common discussions in the manufacturing circle for many years.
Most manufacturers utilize both CO2 and Fiber technologies. They do so as they have noted the difference in technologies, abilities, and performance. Ultimately the selection of the technology comes down to the material you are cutting and its thickness.
Let’s know the CO2 and Fiber Laser process and their advantages and disadvantages.
1. CO2 Lasers
CO2 laser development dates back to 1964 by Kumar Patel. It is quite a convenient process even today. CO2 lasers are the high power continuous-wave lasers available at present. It is one of the oldest gas lasers available.
What is CO2 laser cutting?
In CO2 laser cutting, the light begins to process when electricity runs into a gas-filled tube. The gas tube has mirrors at both ends. One mirror is quite reflective and the other one lets the light come through.
The mirrors lead the laser beam to the material that needs to be slit. The gas is usually a blend of nitrogen, helium, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide.
Advantages of CO2 Lasers
- Good Finishing
CO2 lasers can give you a finer edge on stainless and aluminum workpieces.
- It is Flexible
CO2 lasers can work across the range of non-metals and laser applications.
- Good With Thick Materials
Lasering a thick material is no more an issue with CO2 lasers. The CO2 lasers leave the finishing even smoother on thick materials than fiber lasers.
- Faster Process
The CO2 lasers slit the material faster in a straight line. Also, it offers a quick probing time from when the cutting is first started.
Disadvantages of CO2 Lasers
Most of the components present in this technology need maintenance. This can not only disrupt your manufacturing process but also be expensive.
- Machine Size
The major issue with the CO2 cutting is its machine size. The machines are gigantic. Additionally, the CO2 tube requires much space. In a nutshell, it can occupy a big area. It is an issue when you are working in a small workshop or running a small business.
- Difficulty in Transporting
As it is a heavy and gigantic machine it is not transportable. Moving the machine to another place is a sluggish and costly process.
2. History of Fiber Lasers
Fiber Laser’s invention dates back to 1963 by Elias Snitzer. Yet, it took 2 decades to develop before they could be used commercially.
Even after hitting the market almost after twenty years, they are still away from being perfect. Though the first fiber laser was useful, it was not apt for heavy industry use as we see today.
What is Fiber Laser Cutting?
It is the heated cutting process that utilizes a high power density laser beam to melt, evaporate, and slit.
At the same time, high-speed airflow blows away the molten material, gaining on the cutting process.
The fiber lasers are constantly expanding their field. Though it is not perfect, it has become the hot spot of industry research and development.
Advantages of Fiber Lasers
- Low Maintenance
Optic fiber transmission, without a reflector, is maintenance-free and can save a lot of maintenance cost. Its mass use of mirrors, bellows has a less amount of cost associated with maintenance.
There is no comparison between CO2 and Fiber Laser in thin materials. Fiber lasers have double or triple the speed.
Numerous Varieties of Cutting Materials
One can use the fiber lasers on a range of materials like metal, non-metal, leather, wood, fiber. But, different materials might require different laser cutting techniques based on properties.
Disadvantages of Fiber Lasers
- Finishing of Thick Material
One of the advantages of a CO2 laser is finishing on the thick materials, especially stainless steel and aluminum. Fiber laser technology is still far compared to the CO2 in this case.
CO2 lasers are more flexible as compared to CO2 lasers. The CO2 lasers can slit a broad range of materials, especially non-metals.
- Up to You
Like every other technology, these both come with strengths and weaknesses. CO2 is older and the Fiber lasers are gaining the market fast. With the speed benefits, the operating cost is also less than the CO2 lasers.
Financial savings from the fiber lasers can be game-changing. But, you should choose technology based on material and other resources. Like if you need to work on thick material, CO2 lasers would offer better finishing. For the thin material, you should go with fiber lasers.