Metal fabrication is a hot trend right now, and it's easy to see why. Fiber laser machines have the ability to modify metal in many ways for various projects. Using a fiber laser machine coupled with a laser marking spray, crafting hobbyists and small businesses are able to customize items like jewelry, tumblers, keychains, home decor items, and even cases for cell phones and laptops. In an industrial setting, the applications for metal modification largely include the manufacturing of parts, engraving serial numbers on components, designing and personalizing goods, and creating signage for businesses.
Just as the uses for fiber lasers encompass a broad spectrum, so do the machines themselves. In fact, many people have questions about what type of fiber laser machine will be required for their specific needs. The most significant distinction to make is that fiber laser marking machines are made for metal engraving and fiber laser cutting machines are used for metal cutting. The excellent news is OMTech Laser has got you covered no matter what your fiber laser needs may entail. Their extensive selection of fiber laser cutters and fiber laser engravers strike that balance between quality and affordability. Their knowledgeable laser professionals can guarantee they will find a suitable machine for you.
How Fiber Laser Machines Work
Both fiber laser engravers and fiber laser cutters use fundamental technology. Laser diodes are used to convert electricity into light photons that are guided through a fiber optic cable which is doped with silica glass. The cable helps focus the photons into a singular pathway where they are introduced to a rare-earth element that amplifies the light and creates a laser beam. The strength or wattage (W) of the laser beam is the primary distinguishing characteristic between fiber laser marking machines and fiber laser cutting machines. To give you an idea of how much energy a laser beam would have to emit to cut through metal, for a 2 mm thick piece of sheet metal, a laser source would have to have a wattage of 500 W.
Fiber Laser Marking Machines
As mentioned above, fiber laser marking machines are used solely for engraving on materials, not for cutting them. This is because the average wattage for a fiber laser engraver is 20W – 100W which does not meet the wattage threshold needed to cut through metal. However, while this might seem a disadvantage over fiber laser cutters, it actually makes these machines ideal for the marking process. The lower power used by fiber laser marking machines gives users greater control over the quality of the cuts, allowing for higher precision. The focal lens length also significantly affects a machine's ability to etch metal. Fiber laser marking machines are equipped with a shorter focal lens than fiber laser cutters, giving them greater accuracy with their cuts.
OMTech's FM and MP lines of fiber laser marking machines deliver precision engraving at a suitable price for an individual or small business. These machines range from 20W – 100W and are desirable for more than just their low price tag:
- Their size: Unlike industrial-sized fiber laser cutting machines, fiber laser engravers are designed to fit on a work table and are, therefore, smaller and more compact.
- Lightburn software compatibility: OMTech's fiber laser marking machines work with Lightburn. Lightburn is an application that works directly with your fiber laser machine to edit and arrange your designs. The best part about Lightburn is that it can operate entirely offline after it is installed.
- Enclosure options: OMTech carries either enclosed or unenclosed models, giving the consumer the option to decide what type of machine they prefer.
Another feature of OMTech's fiber laser marking machines is the application of Master Oscillator Power Amplifier (MOPA) Technology. MOPA is a technique that enhances a fiber laser up to four times its original strength. Standard fiber lasers operate with Q-Switch technology which concentrates all of the laser's power into solid pulses. With MOPA, these pulses are increased in frequency and repetition, giving more accuracy to the beam itself. Further, when oxidation is introduced into the process, it interacts with the metal's surface and the heat generated by the laser and permanently colors the material.
Fiber laser engravers can work with various materials, including:
- Stainless steel
- Hard Plastics
When you consider this long list of materials, the project options seem endless. Some examples of things you can etch, customize, and personalize with an OMTech fiber laser marking machine include:
- Trophy plates
- Pet collars
Fiber Laser Cutting Machines
Used typically for more industrial-sized applications, fiber laser cutters are, simply put, more powerful than fiber laser marking machines. As opposed to the laser marking machines' shorter focal lenses, laser cutting machines come equipped with a medium focal lens. This makes their lasers perfect for cutting through thick metals with maximum strength. With wattages ranging from 1.5 kW to 3 kW, the fiber laser cutting machines by OMTech have lasers capable of cutting through stainless steel up to 8 mm thick. Their FC line of fiber laser cutting machines offers the following attributes:
- Large working area: With cutting areas up to 3000 x1500 mm, these machines are able to work on larger projects with bigger pieces of materials.
- Workbeds: These models utilize sawtooth working tables that give them the stability and rigidity needed for the size and scope of their projects.
- IPG versus Raycus lasers: OMTech fiber laser cutting machines use IPG laser sources. IPG lasers are generally of higher quality than their Raycus laser counterparts. They can operate at a higher frequency and with materials of higher quality.
- Cypcut software compatibility: Unlike Lightburn, Cypcut software is designed to support both laser cutting and nesting. Nesting refers to the process of manipulating the design of a project to eliminate wasted materials and optimize cutting space.
- Solid manufacturing: For maximum safety, all FC models include a smoke filtration system and transformer. Also, they are corrosion-resistant and manufactured by aerospace standards to operate at the highest grade of precision and accuracy available.
- Installation and training: Purchasing one of the models in the FC machine line automatically grants customers free installation and training. Also included is a lifetime of technical support with experienced professionals.
- Customization: By having the ability to choose laser strengths and types, the consumer can find an option that fits their needs and budget. Open- or closed-bed models are also available.
Fiber laser cutting machines are used with a range of materials but work great with hard metals and alloys such as carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and brass. The durability of these metals makes them ideal for industrial-size applications. Some examples of industries that use fiber laser cutting machines include:
What Do They Have In Common?
While their differences seem great, fiber laser cutting machines and fiber laser marking machines have one main commonality: they are both offered by OMTech. For each of their products, OMTech provides a 2-year warranty on all parts and hardware. Their commitment to their customers goes even further. OMTech's US-based technical support specialists are available by phone or email. OMTech understands that purchasing a fiber laser machine is a significant investment. Therefore, financing and leasing options are available, and through their partnership with ClickLease, the process has never been easier or faster. OMTech and ClickLease strive to make terms flexible and payments affordable with no hard credit pull.