Laser machines available on the market mainly differ by their laser source. C02, fibre, and vandate sources are the most common. Each of these sources has advantages and disadvantages with regards to processing various materials.
C02 lasers are the most widely used laser type. Their beams are derived from a carbon dioxide gas mixture, which is stimulated electrically. With a wavelength of 10.6 micrometres, they are mainly suited for processing non-metallic materials and most plastics.
Suited for the following materials:
The following Trotec lasers are equipped with a C02 laser source:
Fibre (or fiber) lasers generate laser beams through amplifyed diode currents. The process begins with a low-powered diode (an electrical component), commonly referred to as a "seed laser," emitting a current. This energy is channelled through glass fibres, which are enchaned through the addition rare-earth elements (i.e. "doped"). The fibres are supplied with energy from devices called pump diodes, which results in the amplification of the seed laser's current.
With a wavelength of 1.064 micrometres, fibre lasers beams have an extremely small focal diameter. As a result their intensity is up to 100 times higher than that of C02 lasers, despite the same average power being emitted.
Fibre lasers are suitable for marking and engraving:
Fibre lasers are also able to create high-contrast markings on certain plastics.
These machines are generally maintenance-free, and they have a long service life (at least 25,000 hours of laser operation).
A special type of fibre laser is the MOPA (master oscillator power amplifier) laser, which has predetermined adjustable pulse durations (between 4 and 200 ns). This feature offers the user a high degree of flexibility when processingr workpieces. For example, anodised amluminum can be marked in different shades of black, and colour markings can be made on uncoated steel.
The following Trotec laser machines are equipped with fibre laser sources:
The most common laser types in this category are Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) and Nd:YVO (neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate), named after their doping element (neodymium) and crystal components. Crystal lasers have the same wavelength as fibre lasers (1.064 micrometres), and are thus also suited for marking metals and plastics. Unlike fibre lasers, however, these laser types contain relatively expensive pump diodes. These parts must be replaced after approximately 8,000 to 15,000 laser hours. Nd:YAG and Nd:YVO crystals also have a shorter service life than those of a fibre laser.
Crystal lasers are capable of processing the following materials:
- Coated metals
- Ceramic (to some extent)