MOPA Laser vs Fiber Laser Marking Machines,What is Used For

Fiber laser marking technology has been evolving and improving since it was invented. Experts are making it capable to meet marking, engraving and labeling requirements for different industries- machinery, electronic 3C products, packaging, food etc.. All in all, laser marking technology has been better than the traditional marking technology for not only because of the marking effects but also for the efficiency in production.

Today, the laser industry has two types of fiber laser marking machines, so what is MOPA laser,namely MOPA (Master Oscillator Power Amplifier) laser technology and Q-Switched laser technology. The latter prides itself for having a large market share whereas, MOPA laser is comparatively newer than Fiber (Q-Switched) laser with its constant growth and development. Other than that, there are many differences that could help you to choose any of the laser technology. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Difference in Inside Technology

While the two laser engraving machines look similar from outside, they hold a lot of differences inside.

To begin with, Q-switched or fiber laser machines operate on a technology that generates path light anywhere between 1 and 500 kHz whereas, MOPA machines work on a completely different power source. The energy so generated creates a pulse frequency within the range of 1 to 4000 kHz, which enable the engraving machine to give different results on metals and plastics than the Q-switched laser technology.

MOPA laser is capable of etching, marking, labeling and engraving on many materials and surfaces, which you cannot expect from fiber machines. They find it hard to work on sensitive materials. MOPA machines can simplify marking, engraving or etching on different materials ranging from nickel and gold plating to PCB and plastics. Other than that, following benefits make MOPA laser engraving machines worth buying:

  • Efficiency level is 10x than typical YAG laser systems
  • 10 to 200W power source
  • No alignments, lamps or water cooling
  • Design requires least maintenance
  • Simple and compact design
  • Reliable- can work up to 100,000 hours along with 2-year warranty

Difference in Marking Applications

  • Aluminum Oxide Sheet- Surface Stripping

With every passing day, electronic products are getting more efficient, thinner and lighter in weight. From mobile phones, tablets and computers to marking, labeling, cutting and engraving machines, laser technology has become the essence of time. These electronic devices use light-weighted aluminum oxide on the product’s outer shell.

When Q-switched laser marks conductive parts on the aluminum plate, it easily deforms the material followed by bulging convex on the back side. This affects appearance of the product. On the other hand, for MOPA’s small pulse parameters, they cannot deform the material as fiber laser which is why, the shading turns out to be brighter and delicate. Since MOPA technology uses small pulse width parameter, laser leaves the material within a short time period but, the energy so generated is enough to clean the anode layer- the process is known as aluminum oxide surface stripping (Anode processing). This makes MOPA laser a better option to go for.

  • Anodized Aluminum- Black Marking

Yes, it’s now possible to mark the black text, trademark and model on the anodized aluminum material’s surface. You would be amazed to know that this application is now in use of many manufacturers of electronic items, namely Apple, ZTE, Meizu, Huawei, Lenovo etc.

Now the question is, which laser technology has handle it well? It has been proved that MOPA technology has got more power and capabilities to carry out the process more efficiently. MOPA laser is provided with multiple pulse frequency and pulse width adjustment. This makes it easy to utilize high frequency parameters and narrow pulse width to mark the material in black. Another worth considering part is that you can use different parameter combination to mark gray levels.

  • ITO, Semi-Conductor and Electronic Precision Machining

When it comes to performing precision machining of ITO, semi-conductors and electronics, it’s important to find fine line application. Q-switched or fiber laser technology is incapable of regulating the pulse width parameters due to which, it would be a bit difficult to get a fine-tuned line of the material’s surface. Whereas, MOPA laser has the ability to adjust the frequency and pulse width parameters that do not only draw fine lines but also keep the edges smooth and even.

  • Other Applications

Apart from the 3 common yet most important applications, below are other application cases for MOPA and Q-switched laser engraving machines.

ApplicationQ-Switched or Fiber LaserMOPA Laser
Deep metal markingRough or uneven shadingFine shading
Black marking of stainless steelDifficulty in adjusting effect, out-of-focus technique is neededMultiple color marking with pulse frequency and pulse width
ABS/PC plasticsHandfeel heavy and yellowish marking effectsNo handfeel and yellowish color
Painted transparent plastic buttonsDifficult to cleanHighly efficient and easy to clean

Difference in Parameter Specification

Considering the JPT M6+ MOPA laser series and Raycus fiber laser, you can find the following differences quite easily:

Type of LaserFiber or Q-switchedMOPA
Model or SeriesRFL-P20QYDFLP-20-M6+-S
Laser TechnologyQ-switched modulationSeed source electric signal modulation
Pulse Width90-130ns (Fixed)1-250ns (Adjustable)
Pulse WaveformNo modulationControllable through a modulated signal
Peak PowerNo modulation, low peak powerCan be modulated, high peak power
First Pulse Rising TimeCannot be modulated, slowCan be modulated, fast

Wrapping Up

All in all, there is no denial in saying that both machines are capable of performing the same tasks but, if your business requires finishing of plastic materials or engraving of different colors on titanium, stainless steel or aluminum (black color), MOPA laser is the perfect option you can go for.

However, if you want to engrave metal surfaces deeply and at high speed, without engraving colors, then go for fiber laser machines. While both types look similar, they still have a lot of differences not just in terms of technology but also the benefits and applications specify their difference. Last but not the least, their prices are also different- MOPA laser is expensive as compared to Q-switched laser.

So, always make a decision based on your budget and business requirements or else, take help from an expert who can guide you to choose the right type.