One of the most common questions asked by customers when looking at laser cutters is about the materials that can be cut. There is no black and white answer to this question. Laser cutting technology varies based on the type of laser purchased.
The most important part of a laser cutter is the beam. This determines the power and wavelength, which dictates the materials that can be cut or engraved. Learning about the different types of laser cutters is the first step in finding out which one should be purchased.
The Solid-State Laser
The “OG” in laser cutting is a solid-state laser. These use a glass rod or crystalline that is “doped” with ions. This is what provides the necessary energy states. While there are several types of solid-state lasers, the two most common include the Nd: YAG and diode lasers.
The fiber laser is a type of solid-state laser. Today, it is becoming more popular for individuals who are cutting metal. The fiber laser is pumped using semiconductor laser diodes, and it provides a higher output of power because of the higher surface area to volume ratio. This ensures efficient cooling.
Fiber lasers can be used for metal cutting and engraving. However, it is not designed for use on non-metal materials. The only exception to this is engineering plastics made with resins. While the fiber laser is more expensive, the higher optical quality and speed have made it a smart choice for commercial metal cutting and marking.
One of the earliest gas lasers developed is the carbon dioxide laser. With this type of laser, the electricity moves through a gas-filled tube, which creates light. There are a few options, including CO2 lasers rated between 40 watts and 150 watts. There are also higher, commercial-grade CO2 lasers that are rated at 1000 or more watts. Some go up to 5000 wats, which may be used for cutting metals (in some conditions).
Finding the Right Laser
When shopping for a laser cutter, learning about the available options is just a first step. It is also a good idea to learn more about boss laser and other options to ensure the right brand is purchased for the project or material it will be used on.
In some situations, it is smart to test a laser before purchasing it. Some manufacturers allow this, but this is not the case for all options. As a result, an interested buyer can ask a friend or acquaintance about the laser cutter they have purchased. This is an effective method to get first-hand information about the laser cutter being considered.
Understanding the options that are available, learning more about each one, and considering the demands of the job or project are the best ways to find a laser cutter and engraver that can handle the job. While making the right decision can require some time and effort, it will be well worth it in the long-run and ensure the highest quality results are achieved.