What do you need to know about fiber laser engraving machines?

OMTech Laser
·
29.August 2023

Fiber laser engraving machines are modern and efficient laser systems used for engraving and marking metals and plastics. Utilizing fiber laser technology, these machines offer high accuracy and speed. In this blog, we will explore the key aspects you need to know about fiber laser engraving machines.

What is a fiber laser?

A fiber laser is a type of solid-state laser that employs an optical fiber as its active medium. Within a fiber laser, a doped fiber optic core, encased by a cladding acting as an optical guide, serves as the gain medium. When the doped fiber core is energized by light from an external source, it generates and amplifies the laser signal within the optical fiber, resulting in high power and energy output.

How does a fiber laser work?

A fiber laser works by using an optical fiber as a resonator in which the laser light is generated. The fiber consists of a doped core surrounded by a layer of non-doped material. When injecting pump light into the fiber, absorption occurs within the doped core, leading to a population inversion. This inversion in the lasing medium prompts oscillation between mirrors situated at both ends of the fiber, ultimately resulting in the emission of laser light.

The laser light is emitted through the resonator's exit mirror and can be used for engraving or cutting materials. By using an optical fiber as a resonator, a fiber laser can maintain high beam quality and efficiency, making it ideal for many industrial applications.

What kinds of applications are suitable for fiber lasers?

Fiber lasers are incredibly versatile tools that find their place in various industries and applications. Here are some of the most common ways fiber lasers are applied:

Industrial Manufacturing: Fiber lasers are used in industrial manufacturing to fabricate parts and components, particularly in the automotive and aerospace industries. They can be used to cut, weld, and mark materials such as metals, plastic, and ceramics.

Medical Devices: Fiber lasers are also used in medical device manufacturing, particularly in preparation of implants, processing of stents, and engraving of surgical instruments.

Jewelry Making: Fiber lasers can be used to create detailed patterns and engravings on jewelry. You can engrave on a variety of materials including gemstones, metals, and glass.

Food Industry: Fiber lasers are used in the food industry to enable precise markings and engravings on food packaging and labels. This contributes to the traceability and safety of the products.

Electronics Industry: Fiber lasers are used in the electronics industry to manufacture micro devices, printed circuit boards, and other electronic components.

Research and Development: Fiber lasers are used in research and development in a variety of applications, including the development of laser technologies, optics, semiconductors, and photovoltaics.

What are the advantages of a fiber laser?

High Speed: Compared to other types of lasers, fiber lasers can work much faster with the same power, resulting in higher productivity. Depending on the application and material, fiber lasers can achieve speeds up to 10 times that of other machines.

Minimal Material Wastage: Compared to other laser systems, fiber lasers feature a narrower cutting gap. This attribute minimizes the removal of material while enabling higher cutting speeds and decreasing wear on the material. This is especially advantageous when working with high-value materials like stainless steel and titanium, as they require precision and clean cuts that can help lower material costs.

Compactness: Compared to other types of lasers, fiber lasers take up less space and are easier to transport. This makes them particularly well-suited for small to medium-sized businesses with space limitations.

Low Maintenance: Maintenance is also easier and less expensive as fiber lasers are generally less prone to wear and tear, and they contain no moving parts like mirrors or glasses that need to be cleaned or replaced.

Lower Energy Requirement: Fiber lasers consume only about a third of the energy that CO2 lasers need, so they have less of an impact on electricity bills and the environment. Also, they can achieve the same effect with less energy, resulting in more cost-effective operation.

What are the disadvantages of a fiber laser?

Limited Flexibility: Fiber lasers are primarily designed for metal materials, which can make marking other materials like wood, paper, and acrylic challenging.

High Costs: Compared to other laser systems such as CO2 laser engraving machines, fiber lasers are usually more expensive to buy. This can present a challenge for smaller companies that might not have the budget to invest in this technology.

How long does it take to engrave something with a fiber laser engraving machine?

The time required for engraving using a fiber laser engraving machine depends on several factors, including the size of the design, the material type, desired engraving depth, and the laser power.

Simple designs might take only a few seconds, whereas intricate patterns or engravings on dense materials like metal could extend to several minutes or even hours.

However, as a general guideline, fiber laser engraving machines exhibit exceptional speed and can achieve rapid engraving, particularly in comparison to other types of engraving machines. This makes them highly suitable for mass production of engraved products.

What software is needed for a fiber laser engraving machine?

A fiber laser engraving machine requires special software that convert graphics and text into the desired engraving format. Typically supplied by the machine manufacturer, this software is often user-friendly and straightforward. Some common software options for fiber laser engraving machines include:

  1. LightBurn: This easy-to-use software supports a variety of file formats and offers a wide range of editing options.
  2. EZCAD: This powerful software offers a wide range of functions and options, and is widely used in the industry.

Choosing the right software depends on what you need and how much you want to spend. But remember, it's important to make sure that the software works with your machine.

How much does a fiber laser engraving machine cost?

The price of a fiber laser engraving machine can differ a lot based on factors like size, power, extra equipment, and the maker. A solid, industrial-grade machine can cost tens of thousands of euros, while smaller desktop models come at more affordable rates. When purchasing a fiber laser engraving machine, the total cost should be considered. Besides the buying cost, there could be added expenses for setting up and training, upkeep and fixes, and things like laser lenses and spare parts. Doing a thorough cost breakdown aids in planning the budget and making sure all expenses are covered.

Conclusion

Fiber laser engraving machines find extensive use across various fields due to its precision and fast engraving speeds, especially in industries like metalworking, electronics, and automotive. The benefits of fiber laser machines include low operating costs, high energy efficiency, compactness, a narrow kerf and minimal material removal, as well as higher engraving speed and accuracy. These properties result in higher productivity, lower material costs, and less maintenance. If you're seeking a high-performance fiber laser engraving machine tailored to your requirements, it's important to grasp the advantages of fiber lasers and begin your search for the optimal machine.