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Fiber Laser Vs CO2 Laser Vs UV Laser,What is Difference

May 03, 2021

Laser equipment system is more and more used in various industries in terms of its excellent performance. There are many types of lasers,each laser has its own advantages and different application.There are mainly tree kinds of fiber lasers,CO2 lasers and UV laser. what are the differences between fiber lasers,CO2 lasers and UV laser?

 

Fiber Laser

 

The wavelength of fiber laser is 1.06μm,belong to infrared light, which can generate high heat after being focused to melt or vaporize materials.Compared to CO2 laser,the electrical-to-optical conversion rate of fiber laser is about 30% to 40%,with the same laser power is resulting in low energy consumption by its high conversion efficiency.On the other hand,Because fiber laser with a small focused spot at 0.01mm,2 to 3 times that of CO2 laser when laser cutting thin metal plates.

 

Fiber laser is the prior choice for the most of metal marking and engraving.Of course,It is also suitable for part of no-metal material application.

 

Compared with other lasers, fiber lasers have the advantages of simple structure, high conversion efficiency, good beam quality, low maintenance costs, good heat dissipation performance and more than 100,000 operating hours etc.It has become the mainstream laser source in traditional industrial manufacturing fields such as metal cutting, welding and marking. It is widely used in manufacturing lines, medical cosmetology, aerospace and military applications all around the world.

 

How does a Fiber Laser Engraver work?

 

A fiber laser uses an optical fiber doped with rare earth elements as active gain medium.The most commonly used earth element in fiber lasers is erbium, although there are others that use thulium, neodymium and ytterbium among others.It allows fiber lasers to be ultra-focused and transmit a high power output.

 

When a high energy laser beam hits the work-piece it evaporates the surface of material to expose deeper material and leave a permanent mark, essentially “carving” by physical and chemical changes.

 

Types of Fiber Lasers

 

There are two different types of fibre laser source(Q-switch and MOPA) used by different laser marking manufacturer.The main difference between them is the variety of frequency and pulse width.

 

Q-Switched Laser

 

Q-Switch laser is more earlier developed than MOPA laser,which is also commonly used in fiber laser marking machine because of its lower price.

 

Compared to MOPA laser,Although it is a typical fiber laser source,but it has own disadvantage that is the frequency of its is fixed, and more narrow range of duration width.Therefore, this means it is less flexible than a MOPA laser.

 

MOPA Laser

 

MOPA laser as a new technology solution, its appearance made up for the shortcomings of Q-switch that is frequency adjustable and a more larger duration width,So you can hardly set two parameters independently to mark a variety of material and get a higher quality by its high flexibility . It is also more expensive than Q-Switched laser.

 

Pros

  • Many applications
  • High efficiency than CO2 laser
  • Maintenance-free
  • High operation speed

 

Cons

  • Less application than UV laser
  • Higher price than CO2 lasers
  • Can not engraver some organic materials

 

CO2 Lasers

 

CO2 laser is more earlier used than fiber laser and UV laser,medium power CO2 laser system is commonly used for industrial engraving and cutting no-metal materials ,such as :wood,glass,paper,ceramic emgraning and rubber etc.Small and lower power Co2 laser system is commonly used by beginners and hobbyists because of its a quite cheap price.

 

How do they work?

 

The wavelength of Co2 laser is 1.08μm,also belong to infrared light.A CO2 laser system uses a discharge tube filled with gases as active laser medium. The gas chamber of a CO2 laser is filled with CO2 and other mixed gases,such as nitrogen and a smaller percentages of helium, hydrogen, and xenon. When an electric current introduced directly into the gas discharge tube resulting in producing lase beam,then through a series devices to amplify these energy to reach the level of output.

 

Pros

  • Good suitable for engrave no-metal materials
  • Good engraving speeds
  • Lower price than fiber and UV laser

 

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan
  • Not suitable for marking metals
  • Less accurate than fiber and UV laser

 

Fiber Laser vs Co2 Laser

 

Power Consumption

 

Compare to CO2 lasers, The fiber lasers poss higher electrical to optical conversion rate hence consumes much less electricity. In the long term, customer can save on the power costs of running a fiber laser,Not only comes from the oscillator but also the chiller unit.

 

Materials Application

 

A fiber laser is very suitable for marking and engraving most of metal material,while A CO2 laser is more suitable for engraving and marking no-metal material like textiles, wood, plastics marking and acrylic etc,but not suitable for marking metals.

 

Edge Quality

 

In all thicknesses application, including stainless and aluminum, the CO2 laser cutter can do a better edge quality than fiber laser. As the thickness increases,the result is not much difference. However,Fiber laser with the smaller spot size,which is better suitable for cutting the reflective materials that CO2 laser can not.

 

Speed

 

A fiber laser has more higher cut speed than CO2 laser. For example, cutting below 0.125 inch aluminum, using some assist gas can reach three times speed than CO2.

 

Maintenance

 

Fiber lasers are hardly maintenance-free design in 100,000 operating hours, while CO2 lasers are relatively more prone to failure and require regular maintenance.Even when fiber laser require maintenance, the cost of maintaining is relative lower.

 

Initial costs

 

Compared to CO2 laser,A fiber laser is more expensive while you may save on power and maintenance costs in the long term, It will cost at least $35,000 for a common model,while a simple CO2 laser engraving or cutting machine starts at $2,000.Therefore,for hobbyist or no much budget group,A CO2 laser makes for faster return of investment and even for small-volume orders.

 

UV laser

 

UV laser

The work of UV laser is a little different form fiber and CO2 laser,which belongs to “cold processing” .This process does not generate thermal deformation (heat damage) on the inner layers and nearby areas of the material.

 

How do UV laser marking machine work?

 

The wavelength of UV laser is 355nm,belong to ultraviolet (UV) light, which can generate high heat after being focused to melt or vaporize materials.

 

UV lasers emit high energy photons in the ultraviolet spectrum to hit the surface of the materials and break the molecular bonds of materials to make permanent marks on the surface of various materials .

 

Type of UV Laser source

 

There are common tree types of UV laser source, including: Solid state ,gas lasers and metal vapor laser.

 

Solid-State Laser:

 

One is solid-state, Q-switched Nd: YAG laser. In these UV lasers,using a special crystal to change the infrared 1064 nm wavelength into the ultraviolet 353 nm wavelength. The shape of laser beam is Gaussian model,Therefore, the energy of round spot gradually decreases from center to edge.

 

Application:

  • Below 1W Lasers are commonly to use DIY engraving.
  • 1 W-3 W lasers are suitable for cutting cardboard, PLA, ABS,wood, plywood and PVC etc.
  • 3 W-6 W lasers are suitable for cutting plywood and wood with max 3.2 mm thick, and other materials .

 

Metal Vapor Laser:

 

The copper vapor laser is commonly used while the vapors of several metals can also be used,which can generate 511 nm and 578 nm wavelength radiation. These shape of laser beam is also Gaussian model,which is suitable for applications similar to solid-state Laser.

 

Gas Laser:

 

The wavelength of this UV laser based on the type of gas mixture. The shape of laser beam is rectangular instead of round beam,and offers a comparatively consistent energy density distribution,but the energy density of the beam reduces sharply at the edges.

 

Application:

 

Gas lasers are mainly used for industries requiring extreme precision. For example, micro-chip fabrication and manufacturing industries.

 

In general,UV laser system is very suitable for marking delicate or accurate work-piece in most of material application that fiber or CO2 laser can not do or be hard to finish. However, a UV laser system is not  suitable for engraving or cutting application.

 

Pros

  • Marking many materials even if fiber or CO2 can not do
  • Fine and accurate result
  • Very low power output
  • Maintenance-free
  • Long lifespan

 

Cons

  • Not fit to cut or engrave
  • Higher price than CO2 or fiber laser

 

Summary

 

Whether choosing a CO2 laser,fiber laser or UV laser depends on your applications and materials used. CO2 lasers have been used around for decades in many industries by its versatility and cheap cost,which is more suitable for no-metal material processing,and a more attractive option for small scale business.Fiber laser as a new technology, has been popular used in recent years,which is more suitable for metal material processing by its speed and efficiency in industrial applications.In the long term, customer can get more greater production capacity and save on the power costs of operation.While UV laser is more suitable for fine work that fiber or CO2 laser can not do or be difficult to do.