Fiber laser technology has been a prevalent topic of discussion in the fabrication industry for several years. Today, that discussion appears to be transitioning into a new phase. While much of the early buzz regarding Fiber lasers tended to focus on the technology and how it worked, companies are now examining the effects of Fiber technology on their business and competitive posture. In essence, the “pioneering phase” of Fiber technology is ending, and giving way to the “must have phase” in which companies are coming to recognize that Fiber technology has become a necessity. Indeed, if your company is primarily a thin gauge sheet metal shop with applications under 1/8”, then I am sure you have already felt the impact of Fiber lasers and are well along in having this discussion.
Fiber technology, as you may have heard, provides distinct operational advantages in comparison to CO2 laser cutting systems. Fiber lasers can require up to two-thirds less electrical energy to produce the same wattage. Since it is delivered to the cutting head via Fiber optic cable, mirrors and a bellows beam path are not required. There is no need for laser gas, as the beam is generated using solid-state laser diodes and a rare earth element within an “Active Fiber”, and Fiber lasers consume about 50% less overall in hourly operating costs.
The benefits of using Fiber lasers do not end with its technical advantages. Other considerations include less overall maintenance and up to 2.5 times faster feed rates in thin materials under 1/8” thick. When you combine the aspects of 50% less overall operating expenses with 2.5 times faster feed rates, it is easy to see that you can introduce a real “game changer” for reducing your cost per part while also producing more parts per hour.
If you are fortunate enough to have been one of the early adopters of fiber cutting technology, then you already know how this new technology has improved your profitability and productivity, and how much more competitive you are in the bidding process. If you are not currently using fiber technology, then your discussion should surely be focused on the importance of acquiring this technology if you want to maintain profit margins and remain competitive in the thin sheet metal cutting market.
After years of listening to opinions originating on both sides of the fence, it is clear to me that Fiber is a technology that has caught the attention of the main-stream fabrication industry. It is quickly becoming a “must have” for any company that wishes to compete in the thin sheet metal cutting market and a perfect example of how the implementation of new technology can help lower costs.
By Frank Arteaga, Head of Product Marketing, NAFTA Region
Bystronic Inc., Elgin, IL – Voice.email@example.com