Key considerations for evaluating a good fiber laser cutting machine.
There seem to be new companies offering fiber lasers nearly every month. Among them are companies I have never heard of, along with companies from other machine tool industries that are marketing a laser machine for the very first time! In speaking with my customers and prospects, I have been told that the old adage, “you get what you pay for,” still holds true. Major differences exist between both the various fiber laser machine offerings and the companies that provide them. Yes, the majority of fiber machines employ the same fiber source, but that is where the similarities end. In fact, performance differences become evident immediately after the laser beam exits the fiber delivery and enters the cutting head.
As it exits the passive fiber, the laser beam is not uniformly directional. This is due to the nature of how the beam bounces as it travels down the fiber optic cable. The cutting head, with the use of special optics, must then transform the laser light so that its beam size is consistent and directionally parallel, prior to projecting its energy onto the focusing lens. Without this consideration, the beam will have multiple focal point projections, and will subsequently be incapable of producing good cutting results or good processing speeds. The design of the cutting head is also critical to maintaining a consistent focal point. It must be capable of following height variations in the material at high rates of speed. Additionally, the machine frame and motion system must be able to take advantage of the high speeds afforded by fiber technology and accomplish dynamic changes in direction without compromising quality and accuracy. These are key considerations for evaluating a good fiber laser cutting machine.
Support from the company supplying the fiber laser machine and their level of expertise are also very important. My customers always ask me, “So, what makes your fiber laser different?” I tell them that what differentiates our fiber lasers is, first and foremost, the company Bystronic standing behind them. Even the best product in the world will become useless if you cannot get consistent and proper support for it. By their very nature, laser cutters require knowledge and application-specific expertise to provide optimal results. There are a host of benefits to be derived from working with a company that has extensive laser cutting experience and know-how to support both your machine and your cutting applications. That company should be a well-known entity in the machine tool industry, have an extensive history in the manufacture of quality machine products, and have the ability to provide you with training, applications and service. A well-designed machine, supported by a good company, will ensure that you enjoy the ultimate fiber laser experience.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.firstname.lastname@example.org