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Fiber Laser,YAG Laser,CO2 Laser Cutter,What is the Difference

May 08, 2021

YAG lasers and CO2 lasers have been around for decades,which are widely used in many applications since the technology and process are relatively mature. While fiber laser as a representative of the third-generation laser technology, is a new type of laser developed in recent years,which have been extensively developed rapidly in the world due to its advantages in high efficiency and high lifespan etc,So,What are the difference between YAG laser,CO2 laser and fiber laser?

 

Fiber Laser, YAG Laser, CO2 Laser Comparison

 

The reason why laser cutting machine can fast be loved in the market and gradually replace the traditional cutting method is because of its unique advantages in various aspects, so what are them outstanding? Let's compare CO2 laser, YAG laser and fiber laser cutter.

 

Laser Type

Fiber laser

YAG laser

CO2 laser

Beam Quality

excellent

general

good

Area

excellent

poor

poor

Power Consumption

Good

general

poor

Lifespan

excellent

poor

poor

Maintenance

excellent

poor

poor

processing

excellent

general

general

Initial Cost

Good

Good

excellent

 

Fiber Laser

 

Structure:

 

optical fiber structure

A fiber laser is a laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements,and optical fiber is usually solid glass fiber produced by SiO2 as the matrix material. It is mainly widely used in optical fiber communication. The principle of light transmission is the mechanism of total internal reflection of light. Ordinary bare fiber is generally composed of a high refractive glass core (core diameter is 9 to 62.5um), a low refractive silica glass layer in the middle (core diameter is 125um) and the reinforced resin coating in the outer.

 

There are two types of fiber including single-mode fiber and multi-mode fiber:

 

  • Single-mode fiber: The central glass core is relatively thin (diameter 9um+0.5um), which can only transmit one mode of light, with small dispersion.
  • Multimode fiber: The central glass core is thicker (50um+1um), which can transmit multiple modes of light, but the larger dispersion and not pure light.

 

Advantages:

 

  • Fiber laser have these advantages:
  • Small size
  • Low energy consumption
  • High beam quality
  • Low operating cost
  • High photoelectric conversion efficiency
  • Long life
  • High stability
  • Maintenance-free
  • Multi-band
  • Low operating cost
  • Environmental protection.

 

Disadvantages:

 

The cost of fiber laser is relatively high, usually only used for metal processing, not suitable for non-metal processing such as plastic, paper or cloth and other materials that CO2 lasers can.

 

YAG laser

 

Principle:

YAG laser

 

YAG laser is a solid-state laser based on yttrium aluminum garnet crystal(ND:YAG). Like other solid-state lasers, YAG laser is composed of active medium, pump source and resonant cavity. However,There are different types of activated ions doped in the crystal, different pumping sources and pumping methods and different structures of the resonant cavity etc.Therefore,There are many types of YAG lasers. For example:

 

  • In terms of output waveform,there are continuous wave YAG laser, repetitive frequency YAG laser and pulsed laser, etc.;
  • In terms of wavelength,there are 1.06μm YAG laser, frequency-doubled YAG laser, Raman shift YAG laser (λ=1.54μm) and tunable YAG lasers etc.;
  • In terms of doping element,there are Nd: YAG lasers, Ho, Tm, Er and other YAG lasers;
  • In terms of shape of the crystal,there are rod-shaped and slab-shaped YAG lasers;
  • In terms of output power (energy),there are high power and medium and small power YAG lasers.

 

The YAG laser cutters use laser beam with a wavelength of 1064nm after expanding, reflecting and focusing, and then meet the material to instantaneously melt and vaporize the material.

 

YAG lasers have these advantages of good beam quality,high efficiency, low cost, stability, safety, more precision, and high reliability.which can used for cutting, welding and punching etc.

 

  • Fast speed, high efficiency and good returns.
  • Small edges, smooth cutting surfaces, and large aspect ratios.
  • Extremely small thermal deformation,processing various materials such as hard, brittle, and soft material.
  • No mechanical changes
  • Easy to realize automation

 

Application:

 

Suitable for laser cutting, welding and drilling of metal materials: such as carbon steel, stainless steel, alloy steel, aluminum and alloys, copper and alloys, titanium and alloys, nickel-molybdenum alloys and other materials.

 

Fiber Laser VS YAG Laser

 

Laser Type

Fiber laser

YAG laser

Electro-optical conversion

30%

3-5%

Max output power

50kw

6kw

Beam Parameter Product

Below 25

25

Lifespan

Above 100,000 hours

1000 hours

Operation cost

low

high

Body size

small

big

Maintenance

free

regular

Flexible processing

excellent

general

Stability

high

general

Non-ferrous metals

poor

good

 

YAG Laser Vs CO2 Laser

 

YAG laser can work in pulse and continuous modes, and its pulse output can adjust into short pulses and ultra-short pulses by Q-switching and mode-locking technology.Therefore,processing range of YAG laser is larger than CO2 laser;

 

Output wavelength of YAG laser is 1.06um, the smaller than that of CO2 laser(10.06um).Therefore,More higher efficiency than CO2 laser in processing metal.

 

YAG laser with compact structure, light weight, easy and reliable to use, and low maintenance requirements.

 

YAG laser can be combined with optical fiber. With the help of time division and power division multiplex system,making a laser beam  easily transmitted to multiple stations or remote stations, more flexibility.

 

Fiber Laser Cutter Vs YAG Laser Cutter

 

Processing

 

YAG laser cutter can cut highly reflective materials, such as aluminum,copper and other non-ferrous metal materials that fiber laser cannot cut. However, YAG lasers are almost all low-power laser cutter,which can only cut sheet materials below 8 mm. Compared with fiber laser, the relatively low efficiency.Fiber laser can reach very high power and smaller body size saving space.

 

Cost

 

YAG laser has been developed for decades,Therefore, the price of YAG laser cutter is relatively cheap.Of course,with the popularity of fiber lasers,this advantage is getting weaker and weaker. In addition, the YAG laser cutter consumes a lot of power during processing than fiber laser.

 

Maintenance

 

There is no optical lens in the resonant cavity of the fiber laser, fiber laser has the advantages of adjustment-free, maintenance-free, and high stability.Therefore, more easier maintenance and replacement than YAG lasers.

 

Fiber Laser Cutter Vs CO2 Laser Cutter

 

Processing

 

The CO2 laser cutting machines have a wide cutting range from thicker metal plates to high-reflective materials such as aluminum plates; and for non-metallic materials such as acrylic, wood, PVC and other materials, the cutting thickness of the CO2 laser can reach 60 mm. Moreover,CO2 laser is a continuous laser resulting in smooth and good quality cutting edge.

 

However,Although the cutting width of the CO2 laser is relatively thin,but very slow speed in thick plates processing. For thin plate processing, the cutting speed of fiber laser is 2 to 3 times higher than that of CO2 at the same power.In addition,It is not suitable for large-format processing due to the large beam divergence.

 

Operation Cost

 

The use of the CO2 laser cutting machine is higher operation cost,not only the expensive price of front and rear mirrors but also the  cost of replacement parts due to the lifespan of the turbine bearings is only 8,000 hours. Moreover, CO2 laser cutter will consume gas than fiber laser basically without consumables during operation, and the lower photoelectric conversion rate than fiber laser cutting machine,the more power consumption.

 

Maintenance

 

The CO2 laser cutting machine with complex structure,which is inconvenient to maintain, and high operation requirements, while the fiber laser cutting machine is relatively easy to maintain, and low operation requirements even in the harsh working environment,resistance for dust, shock, impact, humidity, and temperature etc.

 

Summary

 

In fact, regardless of YAG laser,CO2 laser and fiber laser,each laser cutting machines have their own advantages and disadvantages. you should choose them reasonably according to your own cutting requirement and budget.