Which is better than another? CO2 laser or fiber laser? Why?
It is hard to say which one is better than another, it depends on which industry it is used in, if you want to mark metals, you need to buy a fiber laser. If you are marking organic materials such as textiles, wood, or cardboard, then a CO2 laser is the best choice. The main difference that determines the type of material each laser can handle is the wavelength.
CO2 laser marking is ideal for a variety of non-metallic materials including plastics, textiles, glass, acrylic, wood, and even stone. They are used for pharmaceutical and food packaging, as well as for marking PVC pipes, construction materials, mobile communication gadgets, appliances, integrated circuits, and electronic components. If thicker materials need to be cut, it is best to use a CO2 laser. When cutting materials over 5 mm, CO2 lasers provide faster initial piercing times, faster linear cutting speeds, and smoother surface finishes. CO2 lasers use much more power than fiber lasers, which results in higher operating costs.
Fiber lasers are best suited for high contrast markings, such as metal annealing, etching, and engraving. They produce extremely small focal lengths (up to 100 times the intensity of CO2 systems), making them ideal for permanently marking serial numbers, bar codes, and data matrices on metal. Fiber lasers are widely used for product traceability (direct part marking) and identification applications. Fiber lasers are maintenance-free machines and have a long service life. They are also smaller than CO2 lasers. Plus, due to the high electrical efficiency of fiber lasers, they use much less power than CO2 lasers, resulting in significant cost savings for cutting applications. Fiber lasers are also increasingly in demand for industrial cleaning applications such as the removal of rust, paint, oxides, and other contaminants.
In conclusion, while each laser has its advantages and unique use cases, CO2 is an older technology and fiber lasers are rapidly gaining ground as the technology evolves. Fiber lasers offer speed advantages, almost half the operating costs and three to four times the workload compared to CO2 lasers.
What is a CO2 laser?
The CO2 laser refers to the production method of the laser itself. A resonator, purged with carbon dioxide gas at high speed (turbine or blower), uses various methods to split the ions of light particles (usually radiofrequency or direct current stimulation) so that the light particles collide with each other and split at larger intervals.
How does CO2 laser work?
In a C02 laser, the main working substance consists of three gases: carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and helium. Carbon dioxide is the gas that generates laser radiation, while ammonia and helium are auxiliary gases. The addition of ammonia accelerates the thermal relaxation process of the 010 energy level and therefore facilitates the evacuation of laser energy levels 100 and 020. The addition of ammonia mainly plays an energy transfer role in the 002 laser, which plays a strong role in the accumulation of the number of particles in the energy level on the C02 laser and the high power and high efficiency of the laser output.
Excitation conditions of the C02 laser: In the discharge tube, a DC of several tens or hundreds of mA is usually input. When discharged, the ammonia molecules within the gas mixture in the discharge tube are excited due to the impact of electrons. The excited nitrogen molecules then collide with C02 molecules, and the N2 molecules transfer their energy to the C02 molecules, which leap from the low energy level to the high energy level to form a particle number reversal to issue a laser.
Nowadays, the CO2 laser can be used in many industries in the society to help people increase the efficiency:
C02 laser application of marking, cutting, welding. In industrial places, the common carbon dioxide laser equipment mainly C02 laser marking machine, C02 laser cutting machine, C02 laser welding machine, etc., in these devices, the core components of the laser are carbon dioxide laser (C02 laser).
What is fiber laser?
Fiber laser is simply a term used in the fiber optic delivery method, which brings a strong and amplified light source to the cutting head of the laser machine. The term does not specify how the light source is created (as opposed to the light source of a CO2 resonator). The fiber-optic beam delivery method has greatly simplified the process of manufacturing lasers, and as a result, many machines have entered the market at greatly reduced prices.
How does a fiber laser work?
The fiber optic receives the light source from the resonator of the laser cutter and transmits it to the CNC-controlled cutting head. In the cutting head, the laser light is emitted from the end of the fiber optic cable and refocused through a series of focusing lenses to an almost perfect point on the material surface. Blown with cutting gases (e.g. NO2 and O2) around the laser, the material to be processed quickly evaporates in the intense heat and is blown away as dust particles.
What's the difference between CO2 laser and fiber laser?
Laser is generated by CO2 excitation, the electro-optical conversion rate of 10%
Laser generated by pumping, the electro-optical conversion rate of 25% or more
The light path is transmitted through the reflector, and it is difficult to guarantee the length of the light path
Optical routing fiber optic transmission, flexible optical path, easy to achieve fixed length
Large cutting machine, difficult to achieve multi-shot cutting
Compact cutter for multi-shot cutting
Low energy utilization, need water cooling to dissipate energy
High energy efficiency, air-cooled
Resonant cavity with optical lens, the optical path with reflector, maintenance difficulties, high cost
No lens, adjustment-free, maintenance-free, high stability
Unable to complete multi-dimensional space processing
Multi-dimensional processing can be easily accomplished
The optical path is easily contaminated, the use of the environment and cutting material requirements are high
Competent in the harsh working environment with high tolerance to dust, shock, vibration, humidity, and temperature
Gas is a consumable product with short service life and needs to be replaced frequently.
Laser-free gas-pumped diodes with a reliable operating life of over 1 million hours
High power consumption
High conversion rate, no chiller, low power consumption
The large wavelength, low absorption of metallic materials
The small wavelength, the high absorption rate of metal materials, fast cutting speed
The above video shows what are main differences between laser and fiber laser on different aspects.(double click) And the below graph shows the cost difference.