What laser power level do I need for my application?

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The most important factor to consider when selecting the power level of your Trotec laser is whether the machine will be mainly used for cutting or engraving. If the laser will be primarily used for engraving, you can achieve good results with a laser having a power level of between 25 and 80 watts (W). For laser cutting and high-speed applications, we recommend a laser power of more than 80W.

However, we recommend a personal consultation with a Trotec specialist to determine the optimal laser power for you.

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What Effect Does a Laser’s Power Have in Practice?

The maximum power of your laser affects both the quality of your products and the processing time. The difference between two different power levels is best demonstrated using examples. Therefore, we engraved an aluminum data plate and cut the Trotec logo out of acrylic.

Example 1: Cutting Acrylic – Comparing 80 and 120 Watts

A 120W laser completes the entire process in 29 seconds. In contrast, an 80W laser only completes 65% of the process in that time frame. By using a laser with a power level of more than 120W, futher time savings can be realized while maintaining a consistent cut quality.

Laser power: 80W
Progress: 65 % finished
Time per unit: 29 seconds 

Laser power: 120W
Progress: 100% finished
Time per unit: 29 seconds

Example 2: Engraving Anodized Aluminum – Comparing 30 and 80 Watts

In comparison with the 30W laser, the 80W machine is twice as quick when engraving the aluminum sample. This speed ratio also applies to other engraving applications (e.g., rubber stamps).

Laser power: 30W
Progress: 48% finished
Time per unit: 55 seconds

Laser power: 80W
Progress: 100% finished
Time per unit: 55 seconds

Recommended Laser Power Levels for Different Materials

Depending on the type of material being processed, a specific laser power level will provide an optimal result result:

  • Engraving paper usually requires less power than engraving wood
  • Using a low laser power level on acrylic can create a shallow and uniform engraving
  • When using engraving materials such as plastic laminates (e.g., TroLase), a higher power level permits shorter job processing timelines

The laser power can be easily regulated on JobControl. However, the maximum power depends on the hardware. In addition, the following rule applies: a laser machine with a high laser power level offers great flexibility as it allows you to process a wide range of materials.

The following table outlines the required minimum power levels for different materials:

Material Recommend laser power (watts)
  Engraving Engraving and cutting
MDF (6mm) 40 60
Laminate/engraving materials (1.6. mm) 40 40
Paper 25 40
Acrylic (3mm) 30 40
Stamp (2.3 mm) 30 30
Anodized aluminum 30 -

NOTE: These values are guidelines only. A higher laser power usually results in faster throughput times and higher efficiency.

The Optimal Laser Power for Cutting Applications

Generally, the thicker the material, the more crucial a high laser power level is in order to achieve a quality cut. As a rule of thumb when cutting acrylic, 10W per millimeter is required.

A comparison of 200W and 400W laser cutting times for acrylic sheets of varying thicknesses is shown in the graphic below. 

Other plastics, such as polycarbonate or SAN, are also typically processed with lasers. A high power level (200W or 400W) is required to cut these materials cleanly, even if they are relatively thin (2mm or 3 mm).

What laser power is needed for a fiber laser?

Even with a fiber laser, considering the main application is crucial when selecting the right laser power. High laser power levels are required when engraving metals. For annealing and marking, good results can be achieved with 20W or 30W lasers.

Which laser machine is best for me?

We would be happy to advise you on the optimal choice for your applications.
Take advantage of our many years of experience during a consultation, application test or demo.

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