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Fiber Optic vs. CO2 Laser Cutters: Which is Best for Your Business?

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While CO2 laser cutting has been around for several decades, the more recent innovation of using fiber optics in laser cutters is providing new options for metal fabricators.  

CO2 lasers are the most commonly used in the market, however, fiber lasers are newer and evolving more quickly. Both laser cutting systems offer distinct advantages and disadvantages to fabricators and therefore frequently draw comparisons. So which investment is the right one for your organization?

Advantages of Fiber Laser Technology

  • Reduced maintenance requirements and operating costs. No moving parts or mirrors.
  • Lower running costs and higher electrical efficiency.
  • Higher speeds when cutting thinner material (below 5mm).
  • Ability to cut reflective materials (copper, brass, aluminum etc.) without issue.
  • Longer servicing intervals and lower servicing costs.

Advantages of CO2 Laser Technology

  • Higher cutting speed with thicker materials and straight lines.
  • Faster piercing times.
  • Smoother finish when cutting thicker materials.
  • Lower initial cost.

Because they are newer, fiber lasers are more expensive than CO2 lasers. As a result, fiber lasers may simply be out of reach for smaller operations. However, they are certainly worth the investment, and many feel that fiber laser technology is the future. Fiber laser cutters are approximately three times more energy efficient than CO2 lasers, reducing electricity costs, and demand less frequent and less expensive maintenance. They offer far greater speed and precision when it comes to thin or reflective materials, increasing efficiency and productivity.

CO2 lasers, on the other hand, are less expensive initially. However, they have higher running costs and require more frequent and more expensive maintenance. These lasers are more adaptable and flexible for use on various materials with various thickness ranges. Therefore, if your operation has few projects involving intricate work on thinner materials, a CO2 laser cutting system may be a more appropriate investment.

In short, pitting the two technologies against each other simply reveals that this decision is all about context. Which cutting system is best for your business depends on your applications and your environment. That said, the total cost of ownership of a fiber laser cutter is drastically lower than the total cost of ownership of a CO2 laser cutter, largely as a result of power consumption and maintenance costs. Because of this, if fiber lasers suit your needs, we suggest investing in this newer technology, as we did. It is an investment in growth worth making.

For more information about Mainstay’s laser cutting capabilities click here or contact us today.