Metal laser cutting is a process that doesn’t simply depend on laser power. You also must consider the laser’s wavelength, among other factors. The shorter the laser’s wavelength, the more precise the cut will be.
How Gas Affects Metal Laser Cutting
Gas assist is another factor to take into consideration, as it will further increase cutting efficiency and help achieve the desired result.
Cuts that use oxygen, or oxygen assisted cuts (OACs) are highly effective since oxygen reacts on contact with the metal and thus make the cutting process easier, though one downside is that it blackens the metal in the process.
Nitrogen gas, on the other hand, produces a weaker cut since nitrogen is an inert gas. The upside to using nitrogen is that the material won’t oxidize in the process.
A Fiber or CO2 Laser Cutter for Metal: Which Is Better?
Today, fiber laser cutting is considered the most ideal method for cutting metal. This is because this method provides some of the best results and typically requires less power in the process compared to CO2 lasers. You’ll generally get a more precise and efficient cut with a fiber laser cutter for metal.
Specifically, a fiber laser running at 500w can cut 5mm-thick steel using oxygen assist gas and approximately 2mm using nitrogen. Meanwhile, a CO2 laser operating at 150w can only cut 1.2mm of steel using oxygen and is incapable of cutting any metal using nitrogen. So, as you can see, you’re normally better off using a fiber laser cutter for cutting metal in most cases.
However, if you are willing to spend more, high-powered CO2 laser cutters can provide optimal performance, but keep in mind that CO2 cutters are both more expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. In fact, CO2 laser cutters are trending in the industry for good reason.
Depending on the application and your resources, either may be right for your application.
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