A look at the differences between two of the most common and competitive laser services on the market.

To the layperson, laser technology may seem like it consists of only one underlying system, whereas in reality there are actually a few different solutions available in this marketplace.

Here is a look at the distinctions between two of the most common and competitive laser services on the market, to help clear up any confusion and allow you to choose the most appropriate option for your next project.

Power consumption, speed & maintenance

The first distinction that sets fibre laser systems apart from CO2 lasers is the lower overall amount of energy they require to operate effectively. Laser cutting services which rely on fibre can use just a fifth of the total power required by CO2 equivalents to achieve the same results, which is obviously an important consideration both from the point of view of cost-effectiveness as well as sustainability.

The speed of operation is also an area in which fibre lasers take the lead, allowing them to complete tasks in less time and thus have a potentially greater throughput than their incumbent cousins.

Fibre laser equipment is also incredibly cheap to run from a maintenance perspective, since the solid state design of the assembly requires virtually no upkeep over time, regardless of how much it is used. This improves durability, reliability and long term value, making it easier to justify the upfront costs of ownership.

Price, performance potential & uses

As hinted at, fibre laser equipment comes with a steeper price than a comparable CO2 laser solution. These hardware costs can be offset by the lower energy usage and the operational speed advantages discussed above, but for some buyers the need to spend anywhere up to $1 million for a high power, high capacity fibre laser assembly may be the prohibitive factor in procurement.

CO2 lasers have performance benefits that go beyond mere speed, as they are generally considered to be more appropriate for delivering marking and cutting on thicker pieces of material, as well as on materials that are non-metallic and even organic.

Both CO2 and fibre lasers are suitable for marking, engraving and cutting, although the nature of the material you need to manipulate will have a role to play in determining which to pick. The impressive focal diameter and intensity of fibre lasers means that they are widely used for marking metals with serial numbers, for example. Meanwhile CO2 lasers can cut and mark glass, wood and acrylic with ease thanks to their effectiveness for straight line manoeuvres, as well as the consistency of the finish they create on deeper cuts.

Final thoughts

Both fibre and CO2 laser equipment is relevant and viable in the modern marketplace, and your choice between them will largely hang on what you require of them and how much money you have to spend.

Of course it also makes sense to outsource the use of this equipment to a specialist rather than permanently procuring the hardware for in-house use, so consider all your options as well as alternative technologies before committing.