What Are the Types of Laser Cutters?

Since the 60s, laser cutting has been a popular method of cutting. Due to its increasing use in industrial operations, it is today as relevant as ever. As technology advanced, various types of laser cutters came into being, which might be a little confusing. So what are the types of laser cutters?

There are three major types of laser cutters. They are CO2 lasers, fiber lasers, and crystal lasers. Crystal lasers are further classified into two types: - Nd:YAG and Nd:YVO. Another newer and lesser-known laser cutter is the direct diode laser.

Great, now you know all the major types of laser cutters. But do you know which would be best suited for your purpose? And how would you even choose one? Each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading to learn more.

4 Major Types Of Laser Cutters

4 Major Types Of Laser Cutters

Each laser has a constant wavelength and can be used for a variety of applications. Each uses a different base material to activate the laser. This is either done electronically (through a gas mixture) or by physical diodes. The laser cutter's design and type of laser determine its strength.

Here we will talk about four types of laser cutters. You may read about them below.

1. CO2 Laser

CO2 laser devices are a form of the gas laser cutter. A CO2 laser produces light beams by passing energy through a gas mixture-filled tube. There may be other gases, like nitrogen and helium. It can be used on both metal and non-metal surfaces. However, it works best with non-metallic materials.

Plastic and wood are among the materials that these machines can cut and engrave. For industrial machinery, the greatest power of CO2 lasers can reach several kilowatts. CO2 lasers for machining typically have a power range of 25 to 100 watts with a wavelength of 10.6 micrometers.

You can increase the power of the CO2 laser by adding more oxygen. Nevertheless, this is risky because the oxygen can catch fire. They are not as good at cutting metal because the metal might spark or catch fire, causing damage to the mirrors.

Advantages of CO2 lasers include:

  • Can cut through thicker material at the same or lower power.
  • No irregularities on the material cut
  • Cost-effective solution

2. Fiber Laser

The laser in a fiber laser cutter is made of optical fiber. It functions by channeling and amplifying the laser beam through fiberglass diodes. This makes them very powerful and saves a lot of energy.

A fiber laser beam absorbs the materials being cut. As a result, there isn't any reflection. Thus, it is the best laser cutter when it comes to reflective materials.

With the same amount of average power, they can achieve intensities 100 times greater than CO2 lasers. Their wavelength is 1.064 micrometers, which results in a very narrow focus diameter.

Advantages of fiber lasers include:

  • No need for gas flow.
  • Reduced operating expenses as there are no fans and mirrors
  • More energy efficient than CO2
  • No danger of reflection from materials

3. Crystal Laser

Crystal laser cutters come in two types - neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet and neodymium-doped yttrium ortho-vanadate. They produce a strong beam capable of cutting through thicker and tougher materials than conventional laser cutters.

They are utilized in a variety of sectors for a variety of purposes, including manufacturing, military, medical, and more.

One disadvantage of this equipment is that it might be costly. They may also have lower serviceability.

Comparing Nd:YVO and Nd:YAG lasers, Nd:YVO lasers have a larger pump absorption and gain, a wider bandwidth, a wider pumping wavelength range, a shorter upper state lifetime, a higher refractive index, and lower thermal conductivity, according to RP Photonics. In medium or high power, Nd:YVO lasers can operate continuously like Nd:YAG lasers.

4. Direct Diode Laser

Direct diode lasers are a type of solid-state laser. It uses a doped glass rod. Their power is usually less compared to other types of laser, around 10W.

Despite producing lower quality beams than fiber lasers, multi-kilowatt power level direct diode lasers are suitable for commercial use. This is why they are used mostly for metal cutting applications.

How To Choose The Right Laser Cutter?

How To Choose The Right Laser Cutter?

Despite the fact that laser cutting has been available and used for decades, there appears to be some uncertainty about how to choose a laser cutter. It is vital to know what you're getting because if it malfunctions or does not work according to your needs, it will be a loss. We have compiled a few things you may consider on how to choose a laser cutter.

1. Functionality

The most important factor to consider before making a purchase is to decide what the laser cutter will be used for. A laser cutter mostly has two purposes: cutting and engraving. So make a decision first!

The laser cutting machine may be used to cut a variety of materials. Because the materials will have varied requirements, it's better to know how you'll use the machine first, so you can make an informed selection.

2. Bed Size

The amount of work you will do at a time depends on the laser cutter's bed size. The larger the size, the more work your machine can accomplish.

You cannot modify the bed size later because it is a permanent feature. As a result, you must base your selection on the quantity of cutting work that you intend to do. For example, if you want to handle huge projects, you should certainly choose a laser machine with a large bed.

3. Optics Quality   

The performance and quality of the laser machine's work are greatly determined by the optics. No, it is not the power consumption that determines how well a machine operates.

 Thus, focus on the quality of the optics rather than the amount of power it uses. You may request your manufacturer for a demonstration of how the machine operates on different materials and in different settings to ensure the quality of the machine optics.

4. Power Scale

Laser cutters come with a variety of power levels. Some laser devices have low penetrative powers, while others use the entire wattage of power available.

You may get a lighter laser cutting machine if you wish to buy laser cutting equipment for hobby purposes. However, to penetrate some metals for manufacturing applications, you will require a laser cutter with a longer power.

5. Convenience

If you are a novice laser cutter, or even an experienced one, a simple user interface never hurts anybody.  It is also possible that as a first-time customer, you have no idea how to use the laser cutting equipment.

As a result, your machine should come with an easy-to-follow user's handbook that explains not only how to run the equipment but also how to do routine maintenance and small repairs.

Conclusion

Commonly, laser technology serves many similar functions, including cutting, drilling, engraving, and more. It is important to know the types of laser cutters before investing.

And by now you know what are the types of laser cutters. Still, confused about which one to choose? Please contact us.

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