The primary advantages of cutting flat sheet metal with a fiber laser is derived from it's solid state design configuration that is maintenance free and provides a lower cost of operation than can be achieved with comparable CO2 lasers.
Briefly, fiber laser light is created by banks of diodes. The light is channeled and amplified through fiber optic cable similar to that used for data transfer. The amplified light, on exiting the fiber cable, is collimated or straightened and then focused by a lens onto the material to be cut.
The focused beam of even a 2 kW fiber laser demonstrates a 5X greater power density at the focal point when compared with a 4 kW CO2 laser. It also possesses a 2.5X greater absorption characteristic due to the shorter wavelength of the fiber laser
The higher absorption of the fiber wavelength and the higher power density created by the focused beam combine to achieve a 400 percent increase in cutting speed in thin materials that are less than 1/8 in thick. Research shows that approximately 70 percent of all cutting applications in the flat sheet cutting market are in the thin-material range under ¼ in thick..
Fiber laser operating costs are typically one third of what a CO2 system can offer due to the lower electrical consumption and high electrical efficiency of fiber lasers. Other factors that favor fiber lasers include the absence of mirrors or beam path bellows that are necessary in CO2 systems.
Fiber can cut copper, brass, stainless steel and aluminum much better and more safely than CO2 because the beam is more readily absorbed and not reflected.