Guide For Choosing The Right Laser Cutter

 

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our customers is what materials can Beambox cut and engrave. So let’s talk about this laser cutting technology, and from a machining perspective, different types of laser and what they’re commonly used. for. 

The major part of the laser cutter is the laser beam, the beam determines wavelength and power, therefore determines the material that it can cut or engrave. There are three main types of lasers used in laser cutting, solid-state laser, fiber laser, and CO2 laser.

 

 

 

1. Solid-State Laser

Solid-state lasers, one of the most ancient techniques, use a crystalline or glass rod which is “doped” with ions that provide the required energy states. The most common two are diode laser and Nd:YAG laser. 

 A laser diode is a semiconductor device similar to a light-emitting diode in which the laser beam is created at the diode’s junction. You usually see this technique in CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc reading/recording and laser pointers. Usually, the power of diode laser is lower than 10W, for instance, the laser engraving module of FLUX Delta+ uses a 200mW diode laser. The low power, slow engraving speed, and the dark color of the results, making diode laser ideal for small quantities of non-metal engraving. 

 

Nd:YAG laser uses neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet as an active laser medium with a wavelength of 523 / 1064 nm. This wavelength can be easily absorbed by metal, so it is suitable for metal engraving, but not for non-metal engraving. A higher spec of this laser can operate in pulse mode to adjust the color of its results on metal. The laser power is usually smaller compared to other types of laser, but it is more powerful and faster than diode laser, so it is ideal for metal engraving.  Most laser marking machines we see use an Nd:YAG laser, very suitable for large-quantities and small-area metal marking in factories. 

2. Fiber Laser

Fiber lasers are a type of solid-state laser that is rapidly growing within the metal cutting industry. Fiber lasers are pumped by semiconductor laser diodes, it supports high output power because of the fiber’s high surface area to volume ratio, which allows efficient cooling. The fiber laser is suitable for metal engraving and cutting, but not for non-metal (except for engineering plastics based on resins). Though this type of laser is more pricey, the high optical quality and speed make it an ideal choice for commercial metal marking and cutting.

3. CO2 Laser

 

 

The carbon dioxide laser was one of the earliest gas lasers to be developed, in this type of laser, the electricity runs through a gas-filled tube, to produce light.

40W – 150W CO2 Laser:

The wavelength of this laser is 10640 nm, can be absorbed by most organic materials, so it is very suitable for cutting and engraving on non-metals, including wood, leather, paper, acrylic, rubber and more. Glass, rocks, anodized aluminum can be engraved on. When a 50W machine operating at full power, the temperature of the focus point is close to 300° C, materials with a higher melting point cannot be cut, but if covered with a special coating, even metals like stainless steel, titanium can be marked.

1000W+ High Power CO2 Laser

CO2 laser also comes in 1000W – 5000W, and it can cut metal as well. This technique is more developed than others, the results and precision is better than fiber laser though it is more power-consuming.

 

 

Conclusion

Let’s take a look at the awesome chart that sums up this article.

Non-metal engraving
(marking)

Non-metal cutting

Metal engraving
(marking)

Metal cutting

Small
quantity.

Diode laser

CO2 Laser

CO2 Laser

Factory

CO2 Laser

Fiber Laser

Factory

Large
quantity

CO2 Laser

CO2 Laser

Nd:YAG Laser

Fiber Laser

High-power CO2 laser

Fiber Laser

One Last Thing

Beambox and Beambox Pro is the latest product FLUX proudly presents, a 40W / 50W desktop CO2 laser cutter that is perfect for laser etching and cutting on non-metal materials. Beambox comes with a camera alignment feature, a super active user community and an in-house software that supports Windows 7+ / Mac OS X / Linux, and with our special coating, you can also engrave on metal! Beambox is the best choice for designers, makers, schools, and studios who want to make full use of the laser technology to turn their ideas to life, at a very reasonable price.  Please click here for more details.