Fiber laser supplants CO2 for metal cutting
Since August 2015, a particular company has not sold a CO2 laser cutting machine in Britain or Ireland.
COVENTRY, WARWICKSHIRE, ENGLAND – As verification that fiber laser technology has taken over for CO2 laser power for cutting sheet metal and plate, David Larcombe, managing director of Bystronic UK, explains that since August 2015, the company has not sold a CO2 laser cutting machine in Britain or Ireland.
In contrast, fiber laser cutters have sold well (FIGURE). In November and December 2016 alone, the company took orders for 14 of them, half of which were for high-power models launched at the EuroBLECH show in Hannover, Germany, at the end of October. Two of the seven high-power machines were 8kW, with the remainder equipped with a 10kW fiber laser source—the most powerful currently available on the UK market.
|2 power source." title="Every laser cutting machine sold by Bystronic UK in the past year and a half was equipped with a fiber rather than a CO2 power source." height="338" width="450">|
|Every laser cutting machine sold by Bystronic UK in the past year and a half was equipped with a fiber rather than a CO2 power source.|
"Of the seven lower-power fiber laser machines we sold during the last two months of 2016, five were 6kW while the other two were rated at 4kW and 2kW," Larcombe says. "There is still a demand for the latter, competitively priced fiber models from manufacturers processing only thinner-gauge materials."
Larcombe thinks that higher-power fiber laser machines are the future, as they cut thicker plate and produce superior-quality edges. The 10kW fiber source is able to process 25mm mild steel and 30mm stainless steel and aluminum. Fiber also allows reflective materials to be cut safely. The same source can handle 15mm brass and 12mm copper, formerly processed by water-jet or plasma cutting machines.
According to Larcombe, the 10kW source can cut mid-range thickness materials much faster. For example, mild and stainless steels in the 3 to 6mm range can be profiled 2.5 to 3 times faster than with a 6kW fiber laser, providing a massive boost to productivity.