What is a Fiber Laser Cutting Machine
A fiber laser cutter is a collective name for all fiber optic type machines, including tube cutters, plate cutters, plate and tube integrated machines, etc. The productivity and cutting effect of lasers are unbelievable.
The metal manufacturing industry has also grown by leaps and bounds with the aid of fiber laser cutting machines. It is no exaggeration to say that fiber laser technology is one of the greatest technological inventions.
This article will discuss the fiber laser cutter's working principles, advantages, and disadvantages. And we will also discuss the difference between fiber and CO2.
Read on to find out more about fiber laser cutting machines.
What is a fiber laser cutting machine?
The fiber laser cutting machine is a large cutting machine that uses a laser beam as its core technology. It can easily cut and engrave various metal materials, efficiently producing large metal fabrications.
Servo motors and lasers are at the heart of the cutting machine, producing a highly focused beam of light for fast cutting. The fiber laser cutting machine's fiber optics enhance the laser beam again, giving the entire machine a higher cutting capacity.
The fiber laser cutter's power, volume, and cutting speed all influence the machine's productivity.
How the fiber laser cutting machine works
- The photons in the laser diode increase rapidly under the action of an electric current, and the resulting photons are pumped into the fiber optic cable to form a scattered laser beam.
- The scattered laser beam passes through the cladding and the fiber core and then gathers in one direction.
- The role of the cladding: When light hits it, it is reflected into the core. This ensures that the light remains in the core and follows its path.
- All laser beams eventually flow into the cable's laser cavity, forming a specific wavelength of light. (The trace elements in the fiber core determine the laser wavelength)
- The beam leaving the laser cavity passes through reflectors, focusing mirrors and other components on reaching the material's surface, where it is cut under computer control.
What are the laser parameters of a fiber laser cutting machine?
The laser parameters of a fiber laser cutting machine are different, and the range of application differs for each parameter. We will now talk about the meaning of each of the laser parameters.
Image courtesy of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Wavelength is the frequency of the light wave of a laser, measured in nanometres (nm). The longer the wavelength, the more energy it can deliver. Most commercially available fiber laser cutting machines have wavelengths in the infrared spectrum, which are suitable for cutting and welding. Green and blue wavelengths, which are smaller, are suitable for engraving or small devices.
Mode of Operation
Mode of Operation refers to how the laser beam is released. We usually divide it into pulsed and continuous modes.
The pulsed mode allows for higher peak power and is suitable for cleaning and engraving. Pulse energy, duration, and repetition rate are the three main parameters of pulse mode.
Continuous mode provides a constant power output over a long period and is suitable for welding and cutting.
Power is divided into output power and average power, with the power in continuous mode being the continuous mode and the average of the pulsed power being the average power. They represent the amount of energy the laser can produce in one second. Generally, the higher the power, the greater the machine's cutting capacity. At the same time, the fiber laser cutter will also be more expensive.
The beam quality indicates how well the beam is focused. A good laser beam can concentrate more power in a smaller area. The diameter of the laser beam is calculated using the following formula:
L: Working distance
λ: laser beam wavelength
M²: Laser beam quality factor
d: laser beam diameter
High power densities are more suitable for cutting and welding.
Laser safety class
|Hazardous if viewed with optical instruments such as binoculars
|Safe for unintentional exposure less than 0.25s
|Safe for unintentional exposure less than 0.25s
Why use a fiber laser cutting machine to cut metal
Fiber laser cutting machines are specially developed for cutting metal. We need help to cut metal by hand. Cutting hardware metal with a fiber laser cutter is much more efficient and requires less maintenance afterward. The most important thing is that it maintains the same level of precision for every workpiece.
Let's discuss what to look for when cutting metal with a laser.
Aluminium is one of the most common materials used in our lives. CNC fiber laser cutting machines can easily cut aluminum sheets and products. However, aluminum sheets are not very heat resistant, so we should choose a lower power for cutting. This will not affect the cutting surface and is less prone to burrs. You should always test the material before you start production.
This is one of the metal materials that are easy to cut. It is also the most used and produced metal today. It comes in wide varieties, including 304, 316, 321, 409, and others. The properties vary considerably from one material to another. If you have the budget, purchase a higher power fiber laser cutter for factory production.
Note: Many machines now support automatic loading and unloading, but we still need to be careful to wear protective gloves during the production process to avoid burns when handling.
Carbon steel is much more complex than normal metal, so we need to pay attention to the care and maintenance of the fiber laser cutter after cutting.
Copper is a non-ferrous metal, and when cutting with a CO2 laser cutter, copper can reflect the laser light and damage the laser tube. With the fiber laser cutter, this is not a problem at all.
Silver tends to melt quickly, so turning on air assist when cutting silver will give a perfect cut.
CO2 laser cutting machine VS fiber laser cutting machine
The main difference between a CO2 and a fiber laser cutter is how the laser beam is produced and the wavelength. The main differences between the two are discussed next.
The transmission medium of a fiber laser cutter is a mixture of rare elements. These rare elements are present in the fiber core to ensure the direction of the laser beam.
CO2 laser cutting machines use an electric current to excite the gas inside the laser tube to produce laser light. They are transmitted through components such as reflecting mirrors and focusing mirrors.
The shorter wavelengths of the CNC fiber laser cutting machine provide greater absorbed power.
A fiber machine's cutting speed and power are much faster than that of a CO2 laser cutter.
CO2 lasers are less expensive than fiber laser cutters. Both are more expensive, and the higher the power.
The fiber laser cutter requires little maintenance. The CO2 laser cutter is a little more complicated to maintain, as the laser tube will wear out during use, and you will need to replace it after a certain period.
Pros and Cons of fiber laser cutting machines
- High working efficiency and fast cutting speed
- Smooth cutting surface
- Lower running costs
- Suitable for all metal materials
- Large volume
- High price
Factors to consider when buying a fiber laser cutting machine
You only need to buy a fiber laser cutter if the material you are cutting is metal.
Before you buy, make sure you know the laser class. Industrial laser cutting machines are generally Class IV lasers. Although most machines are fully enclosed and have CE-compliant shields, you must be safe during operation.
Types of cutting
Laser engraving, etching, and cutting work on different principles. Choosing a laser cutting machine is feasible if you only need to engrave and cut. You must purchase a professional etching machine if you need to do an etching.
The lifespan of fiber lasers
There is no clear answer to this question. Almost all lasers do not reach the life span indicated in the instructions for use. However, we do know that a fiber laser's life span is about 3-4 times longer than that of a CO2 laser. The life of a laser is generally divided into three stages:
- Early: Within a period after you receive the machine, many manufacturers will promise to replace the laser for free if it fails. If a problem occurs during this time, the laser was defective at the factory, or you have made a severe mistake. You will need to replace it promptly with the manufacturer or find out what is wrong with how you use the laser.
- Normal use: Once the free replacement time indicated by the manufacturer has passed, your laser is operating steadily.
- End of life: Towards the end of the laser's life, you will notice a significant drop in the quality of the cut parts. This also tells you that the laser needs to be replaced.
What are the applications of fiber laser cutting machines
Fiber laser cutting machines are used in a wide range of applications in many metal manufacturing industries. The following are the top 5 common applications.
- Transportation: Many components in the vehicle, including doors and brakes, are produced using laser cutting machines.
- Household goods: Processing kitchen utensils, everyday display shelves, and many other metal devices
- Electrical appliances: Production of metal parts used in mobile phones, TVs, refrigerators, etc.
- Construction: Metal frames used in the construction of buildings or amusement facilities, and metal fences on roads
- Lighting: Lighting for public areas such as stadiums, gardens, and car parks is also produced using a fiber laser cutter.