The most basic operational difference between flatbed and galvo lasers
The most basic operational difference between flatbed lasers and galvo lasers is how the laser beam is directed onto the material. Flatbed laser machines use motorized belts to move the laser head back and forth along the x and y axes in a plotter to create a mark, cut or engraving, similar to the way a printer operates. The laser beam, directed by fixed mirrors, always hits the material perpendicularly. This set-up (somtimes referred to as "flying optics") is ideal for creating clean, straight-cut edges. They are also generally classified as laser safety class 2 systems (also referred to as "closed" systems) which means they are fully enclosed and do not require operators to wear protective safety gear.
Galvo laser machines, on the other hand, use high-speed, motor-driven mirrors to steer the laser beam through a lens. Depending on the position within the laser marking field, the beam impacts onto the material at a greater or lesser angle of inclination. The marking field size is defined by the deflection angle and the focal length of the optics. Since there are no movable parts (with the exception of the mirrors) the laser beam can be guided over the workpiece at extremely high speeds with high precision and repeatability, making them ideal when short cycle times and high quality markings are required. Galvo lasers are available in Class 2 enclosures, or can be integrated with existing production equipment.
Watch our video for more information on the key differences.