Updated: 3 days ago
This week, we are going to take look into the pros and cons of fiber lasers. These are some of the newest and coolest lasers on the market, but they have some major drawbacks.
Fiber lasers have some big advantages. They are best for high-contrast markings like metal annealing, etching, and engraving. This a massive advantage over CO2 and diode lasers as these are unable to engrave regular metal. Fiber lasers are therefore a great choice for marking of serial numbers, barcodes, and data matrix on metals. Fiber lasers also have a longer life and typically require less maintenance. This is an advantage over CO2 lasers, which have CO2 tubes that require replacement every few hundred hours and can be several hundred dollars. Fiber lasers are also smaller than CO2 lasers and use much less power. One growing trend is to use fiber lasers to clean metal objects by removing rust, paint, and other contaminants. You can check out a cool video of this process here and here.
The biggest drawback of fiber lasers (and the reason why we haven’t added one to our shop yet) is the lack of versatility. Particularly with non-metallic applications, fiber lasers are lacking in their ability to cut a diverse set of materials. While this is slowly improving as new generations are made, fiber lasers still struggle to cut materials such as wood, acrylic, and rubber. This is a massive disadvantage, especially from a business standpoint, as those materials are used to produce a wide variety of products. While engraving and cutting metal is fantastic, we don’t feel like it’s worth giving up your ability to cut these organic materials especially for those just starting out or those looking to make a business out of laser engraving.