Types of laser

Types of laser for different applications – the main ones at a glance

Gas lasers, fibre lasers and crystal lasers are the most common types of laser for manufacturing industry

A wide range of machining methods now rely on laser technology. Whether that means cutting, welding, material removal or labelling on many different materials – lasers are suitable for a massive range of applications and operate efficiently and at low cost while delivering very high cutting quality. The laser beam delivers the following benefits:

  • Radiation is only emitted in a limited wavelength range
  • The beam can be transferred over large distances with no significant loss of energy and without widening
  • Focusing allows the energy density to be increase

CO2 lasers – gas lasers

So-called gas lasers use gas as their active medium to generate high radiation capacities. The most common laser types are CO2 lasers whose effect is based on a mixture of carbon dioxide and gas which is excited by electricity. The wavelength of the light generated by this is suitable primarily for machining non-metallic substances and plastics. The beam quality is very good as is the efficiency level of these lasers. Among the various types of laser, the CO2 laser is suitable for plastics, wood, paper, acrylic, glass, textiles, leather and stone.

Fibre laser

The various types of laser also represent the stages of development in laser technology. The fibre laser is now replacing the CO2 laser in many areas because it can cut thin metal sheets around eight times faster although it uses around 70 percent less energy. Fibre lasers can cut various materials such as sheet steel, stainless steel and aluminium in thicknesses ranging from around 0.1 to 30 millimetres. Coated metals and plastics can also be cut using this type of laser. The fibre laser is a type of solid-state laser. These lasers generate the beam using a so-called seed laser and then amplify it in special glass fibres.

Nd:YAG or Nd:YVO – the crystal lasers

Crystal lasers have the most unusual names of all laser types but the names are easily explained in that the Nd stands for neodymium ions. These irons are used to “dope” a crystal, in other words neodymium irons are inserted into the surface of the crystal. The abbreviation YAG stands for yttrium aluminium garnet, whilst YVO stands for yttrium orthovanadate. Both are synthetic crystals specially manufactured for industrial purposes. Crystal lasers are also types of solid-state laser and a suitable primarily for engraving metals and plastics. They can also be used to cut sheet metal and welding robots are also fitted with this type of laser.

Do you want to machine an unusual material and you are looking for the appropriate type of laser? We will be delighted to advise you in everything to do with laser cutting or water jet cutting. Write to us at info@gkteso.de

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