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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking > General MetalWork Discussion > CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2021
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    4

    CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Hi All,
    First post here, and i am in need of some assistance.

    I have an aluminium boat building company, and am looking at getting a machine, or machines to cut the Aluminium, Perspex, Polycarbonate and steel / stainless etc going forward.

    I am looking at two seperate options.

    1 - getting a 6m x 2m Plasma Table and a 4x8 CNC router

    2 - Getting a 6m x 2m fiber laser


    The question is to those of you who know or have a fiber laser system,
    1, What can it do, can they only cut metal, or can they cut other materials also?
    2, I see people on youtube doing laser engraving work (both 2d and 3d) with fiber lasers on anything from Metal to Perspex and wood, can all fiber lasers do this or does it have to be specified?

    Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Robert

  2. #2
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    Nov 2013
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    1348

    Re: CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Hi,
    a laser powerful enough to cut aluminum is likely to be very expensive, think tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
    A 100W laser suitable for engraving, etching and cutting thin metals still likely to be many thousands.

    A plasma table will cut aluminum, but will still need to be powerful, say 100A to cut aluminum fast enough to be economic, so won't be
    cheap but still way less than a laser.

    There are of course companies that have large and powerful lasers suitable for cutting thicker metals but such machines are worth millions.
    That's not just the laser, which could be expensive on its own but the rest of the machine and the plate handling is large and expensive but is
    essential to keep the throughput high otherwise you'd lose money hand over fist.

    Craig

  3. #3
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    Jul 2021
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    6

    Re: CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Fiber Laser Cutting Vs. CO2 Laser Cutting:Which One is Better?
    At present, the fiber laser cutting machine has out-standing advantages compared with the CO2 laser cutting machine and has gradually become popular cutting equipment in the processing market. So, what makes the fiber laser cutting machine beat the CO2 laser cutting and occupy such a big market? Let us give you a detailed analysis below.

    CO2 Laser Vs. Fiber Laser Cutting: The Differences Between Them
    Fiber laser cutting machine means that the fiber laser outputs a high-energy and high-density laser beam concentrated on the workpiece's surface. The zone irradiated by the ultra-fine focus spot is instantly melted and vaporized. Compared with CO2 laser cutting, fiber laser cutting machine has advanced advantages and has developed into dominant equipment in high-precision laser processing. A fiber laser cutting machine can be used for plane cutting, pipe cutting, and bevel cutting. The cutting section is neat and smooth to meet the high-precision processing requirements of metal sheets and pipes.

    The Structure of Laser Equipment
    In CO2 laser cutting technology, carbon dioxide gas is the medium that generates the laser beam. But fiber lasers are transmitted through diodes and fiber optic cables. The fiber laser system generates a laser beam through multiple diode pumping. It then transmits to the laser cutting head through a flexible fiber optic cable instead of transmitting the beam through a mirror.

    In that respect, fiber laser cutting has many advantages. The first is the cutting bed. Unlike gas laser technology, the mirror must be set within a certain distance. There is no range limitation of fiber laser cutting. The fiber laser can even be installed next to the plasma cutting head of the plasma cutting table. There is no such option for CO2 laser cutting technology. Similarly, compared with a gas cutting system of the same power, the system appears more compact because of the bending of the fiber.

    The Conversion Efficiency of Electro-Optics
    Adopting an all-solid-state digital module and single fiber laser design, the fiber laser cutting system has higher electro-optical conversion efficiency than carbon dioxide laser cutting. For each power supply unit of the carbon dioxide cutting system, the actual general utilization rate is about 8% to 10%. Users can expect higher power efficiency for fiber laser cutting systems for about 25% to 30%.

    In this case, the total energy consumption of the fiber cutting system is about 3 to 5 times less than that of the carbon dioxide cutting system, and the energy efficiency is increased by more than 86%.

    The Advantages of Fiber Laser Cutting Over CO2 Laser Cutting
    Better Optical Quality 
    Compared with the CO2 laser cutting machine, the fiber laser cutting machine has better beam quality, with a smaller focus spot, making the cutting lines finer to achieve better processing.
    The Cutting Speed is Faster, and the Processing Efficiency is Higher
    Compared with the carbon dioxide laser cutting machine, the fiber laser cutting machine's cutting speed and efficiency are twice that of the same power carbon dioxide laser cutting machine.

    The fiber laser cutting uses a modular design, makes it no optical lens in the resonant cavity. Furthermore, no start-up time is required. Compared with carbon dioxide lasers, fiber lasers have the advantages of adjustment and maintenance-free, and high stability. A good fiber laser has stable performance, and the service life of core components can over 100,000 hours.

    From the above comparison, although the cutting ability of CO2 laser cutting is powerful, in terms of energy-saving and cost, optical fiber still occupies a higher advantage. The economic benefits of optical fiber are much higher than that of CO2. In the future development trend, Fiber laser cutting machine will occupy the market of mainstream equipment.

    HSG is one of the most famous fiber cutting machine manufacturers dedicated to providing smart laser cutting equipment solutions for global users. HSG has been operating stably in more than 100 countries and regions worldwide and has a wide range of benchmark customer examples. When choosing the laser cutting machine, HSG can provide the best laser cutting solution.

  4. #4
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    Re: CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Quote Originally Posted by robertlaurenson View Post
    Hi All,
    First post here, and i am in need of some assistance.

    I have an aluminium boat building company, and am looking at getting a machine, or machines to cut the Aluminium, Perspex, Polycarbonate and steel / stainless etc going forward.

    I am looking at two seperate options.

    1 - getting a 6m x 2m Plasma Table and a 4x8 CNC router

    2 - Getting a 6m x 2m fiber laser


    The question is to those of you who know or have a fiber laser system,
    1, What can it do, can they only cut metal, or can they cut other materials also?
    2, I see people on youtube doing laser engraving work (both 2d and 3d) with fiber lasers on anything from Metal to Perspex and wood, can all fiber lasers do this or does it have to be specified?

    Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Robert

    What would you be cutting specifically? If you literally plan to mill boats from a slab of aluminum then you probably wouldn't want a plasma or laser machine. They are usually more suited to 2d work.

    If you are cutting 2d shapes from sheet metal then it's a different story.

    The budget will have a huge impact too. Given the large cutting area needed, that rules out any of the cheaper VMCs.

    A cnc router can cut aluminum but you'd want one that's reasonably stiff to do it well in a business setting. A plasma or laser machine doesn't need to be as stiff but they'd probably be slower...

    Water-jet is another option to look at BTW.

  5. #5
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    Re: CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Hi Robert,

    Quite a few things to consider; Assuming you are talking about a 1064nm multi kW fiber laser, it'll work on steel, aluminium, stainless, but not polycarbonte/wood. They are essentially transparent at that wavelength, and will be a major fire risk! How the material absorbs or transmits the wavelength will determine how well it cuts

    The thickness of cut and speed required determine the power; Alu takes more power per unit thickness than e.g. carbon steel and stainless, and each have different ideal shielding gasses. e.g. a 1k fiber laser may get through 6mm carbon steel, but struggle with 1.5mm aluminum, or have a much lower feedrate.
    A CO2 laser will work on organics/plastics, although there are risks with certain materials. e.g. PVC will release some nasty chlorinated compounds when cut. Theres loads more info on CO2 lasers out there.
    Edge finish will be different with plasma vs fibre laser, fibre a lot cleaner. Depends what you next process is.
    Also, I use the same laser source for laser cutting and laser welding, just different heads. But not on a table machine like the ones I think you'd be looking at.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2008
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    Re: CNC Fiber Laser vs Plasma and CNC router

    Engraving wise, lower power fibre lasers (40-150W) using 2d galvo heads are used/marketed quite a bit for rapid engraving. If your cutting machine power can go down low enough/head move fast enough you can probably engrave too. Best to ask the manufacturer.

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