Fiber laser cutting has been one of the most “disruptive” technologies introduced to the metalworking market since CO2 lasers were first introduced for cutting in the 1980’s. Fiber laser technology is considered a disruptive and “revolutionary” change because it has changed the entire status quo in sheet metal fabrication. And the opportunities are easy to realize.
Windows of Opportunity
There are many aspects of operating a CO2 laser that do not exist with operating a Fiber laser.
- A high power fiber laser is capable of cutting up to 5 times faster than a conventional CO2 laser and utilizes half the operating costs.
- For example, the Fiber laser does not need any warm-up time — typically about 10 minutes per start-up for a CO2 laser.
- The Fiber laser has no beam path maintenance such as mirror or lens cleaning, bellows checks and beam alignments. This can consume another 4 or 5 hours per week for a CO2 laser.
- Fiber lasers have a fully sealed fiber optic beam path both at the power source and at the Fiber delivery to the cutting head. The beam is not subjected to beam path contaminates as is the case with CO2 lasers.
Because the integrity of the Fiber beam remains consistent from day to day, so do the cutting parameters, requiring far less adjustments than a CO2 laser.
Creating Additional Machine Capacity
What becomes of all of this saved time? Higher productivity and greater machine capacity! With the Fiber laser capable of five times faster cutting speeds, generating three to four times more parts per unit of time and coupled with 50% less operating costs as compared to CO2, this represents a large opportunity based on having created more machine capacity. If you are running multiple lasers, perhaps you could consider replacing two CO2 laser cutting machines with one fiber laser?
Harvesting the Benefits
Effectively utilizing the speed benefits from high power fiber lasers takes careful planning and management of all processes. With a three to four time greater throughput and a cost of operation that is half of the CO2 laser, the financial gains can be game changing. The results are a lower cost per part, higher potential profit margins and shorter return on investment time. Let’s not forget the added benefit of increased machine capacity now that you are processing normal part volumes much faster, providing the opportunity to take on additional work to further increase your sales revenue and profits. Learn more about the economic benefits of Fiber lasers here!
Knowledge of the Big Picture
Certainly knowing and preparing in advance that front-end office systems will need to keep up with the productivity of the fiber laser helps fabricators adjust their front-end processes to keep the fiber laser cutting, instead of waiting for jobs. Knowing that materials will need to be presented to the fiber laser in a timely manner will drive new efficiency in material handling and inventory. Knowing that increased cut part volumes need to be met with additional bending capacity will help prepare the bending area for the increased volume. For fabricators using CO2 laser cutting systems, making the move to Fiber technology represents a huge window of opportunity that can’t be overlooked.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.firstname.lastname@example.org