Mar 06, 2015

[Final installment in a series of three articles comparing metal-cutting lasers.]

In two previous articles we examined the differences in electrical costs and resonator operating costs between the various types of metal fabrication lasers.

We can recap the previous articles by looking at chart #1 below. It shows the operating cost over 8 years for a 4kW laser.

(Note: Click charts to enlarge.)

Chart 1
Chart 1

We can also see by chart #2 the actual differences of energy consumption for solid state lasers.

Chart 2
Chart 2

The differences in the operating cost are based on the maintenance and the efficiency of the style of laser being used. Chart #3 illustrates the different efficiencies for the various cutting lasers.

Chart 3
Chart 3

The final piece of the puzzle for laser processing is the cutting speed. Approximately 80% of the time while the program is running the laser is cutting, this is the majority of the processing time. The cutting capabilities of the laser is directly proportional to the beam quality and beam waste of the laser. Chart #4 illustrates the characteristics for the four cutting lasers.

Chart 4
Chart 4

Things to be aware of are the mode quality, beam waste, spot size, and depth of field. The depth of field generated by the laser will affect the cut quality and the thickness of the materials processed. The depth of field is the usable portion of the unfocused beam. This occurs on both sides if the beam waste (smallest spot size). As the focal position is shifted up and down to enhance cutting the operator must always keep the material within the depth of field or the material will stop cutting.

Finally I would like to share some comparative cutting charts to show the difference in feedrates for the CO2, Disk, and Fiber lasers.

Steel (Using O2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Steel 0.040 1.0 280 340 319
O2 0.060 1.5 210 252 260
  0.080 2.0 170 200 224
  0.100 2.5 130 173 173
  0.120 3.0 120 150 151
  0.180 4.5 110 130 132
  0.250 6.4 100 110 110
  0.375 9.5 70 75 85
  0.500 12.7 56 52 60
  0.625 16.0 38 41 45
  0.750 20.0 32 30 33

Steel (Using N2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Steel 0.040 1.0 360 1682 2362
N2 0.060 1.5 260 1186 1417
  0.080 2.0 200 910 760
  0.100 2.5 170 500 550
  0.120 3.0 140 374 380
  0.180 4.5 80 200 213
  0.250 6.4 50 89 95

Steel (Using Air)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Steel 0.040 1.0 720   2126
Air 0.060 1.5 470   1417
  0.080 2.0 350   756
  0.100 2.5     472

Stainless Steel (N2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Stainless 0.040 1.0 400 1682 2362
Steel 0.060 1.5 290 1160 1654
N2 0.080 2.0 230 886 886
  0.100 2.5 195 610 610
  0.120 3.0 160 334 354
  0.180 4.5 100 177 197
  0.250 6.4 80 120 138
  0.375 9.5 28 25 59
  0.500 12.7 16 16 39
  0.625 16.0 14 12 28

Aluminum (N2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Aluminum 0.040 1.0 420 845 2126
N2 0.060 1.5 320 501 1417
  0.080 2.0 260 354 756
  0.100 2.5 215 265 425
  0.120 3.0 170 177 402
  0.180 4.5 60 132 170
  0.250 6.4 40 92 100
  0.375 9.5 10 40 45
  0.500 12.7   20 21

Aluminum (Air)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
 Aluminum 0.040 1.0 460 2165 2165
Air 0.060 1.5 300 1219 1417
  0.080 2.0 210 680 756

Copper (O2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min
Copper 0.040 1.0 N/A 765 1701
O2 0.060 1.5 N/A 472 898
  0.080 2.0 N/A 315 591
  0.100 2.5 N/A 215 378
  0.120 3.0 N/A 115 236
  0.180 4.5 N/A 47 113
  0.200 5.0 N/A 35 80

Brass (N2)

MATERIAL   FEEDRATES  
      CO2 Disk Fiber
  inch mm 4.0Kw 4.0kW 4.0kW
      in/min in/min in/min

Brass

0.040 1.0 N/A 787 2126

N2

0.060 1.5 N/A 472 1063
  0.080 2.0 N/A 335 591
  0.100 2.5 N/A 242 378
  0.120 3.0 N/A 150 236
  0.180 4.5 N/A 80 106
  0.250 6.4 N/A 42 42

As you can see from the published feed rates the fiber laser due to beam characteristics has the best coupling of the three lasers illustrated by the actual feed rates. When looking at the highly reflective materials like copper and brass the CO2 laser cannot perform at all.

When taking all the ingredients necessary to process metal with a laser the fiber is the least expensive and most productive of the three lasers.

Call 855-773-7727 to order your fiber laser today! (Or email Info@JMTUSA.com.)

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Other Articles in the Series:
Fiber Laser vs. Thin Disk and CO2
Laser Resonator Operating Cost Comparison

 

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