Laser Cutter Wattage: How to Select the Laser Power?

I. Understanding Laser Cutters

Laser cutters are a versatile technology that can be used for both cutting and engraving various materials. These machines rely on a combination of hardware and software to achieve the desired result, and a key performance factor of a laser cutter is determined by its wattage.

Laser Cutter Wattage

Laser cutter wattage, measured in watts, illustrates the machine’s ability to cut through different materials with varying thicknesses. The power consumption depends on the application and the nature of the material being worked on. For instance, cutting paper may require as low as 10W, while cutting hard metals might need more than 6000W.

Understanding Laser Cutters

II. Role of Power in Laser Cutting

Laser cutting power plays a crucial role in determining the efficiency and effectiveness of the cutting process. It directly impacts cutting speed, the type of materials that can be cut, and the suitability for specific projects. This section discusses the impact of power on cutting speed, power levels suitable for different materials, and wattage considerations for specific projects.

1. Impact of Power on Cutting Speed

The power level of a laser cutter determines its cutting speed. Higher power levels allow for faster cutting, as more energy is delivered to the material being cut. This means that a laser cutter with higher wattage can complete jobs more quickly than one with lower wattage.

On the other hand, lower power levels might require multiple passes or slower cutting speeds to achieve the desired results. Therefore, selecting the appropriate power level plays a crucial role in optimizing cutting speed and efficiency.

2. Power Levels for Different Materials

The wattage of a laser cutter also determines the types of materials that can be cut and their thicknesses. Here’s a general guideline for selecting the right power level for different materials:

  • 10-40 watts: Suitable for paper, thin plastic, and light fabrics
  • 40-60 watts: Works well for wood, acrylic, glass, and other medium-density materials
  • 60-120 watts: Can handle metal, thick plastics, and dense materials
  • 120 watts and above: Ideal for heavy-duty cutting, such as cutting through thick or hard metals

It’s essential to consider the material and thickness of the workpiece when selecting a laser cutter’s wattage, as using too low a power level may lead to incomplete cuts or poor cut quality, while using excessive power can damage the material or reduce precision.

III. How to select the laser wattage?

The materials cut by the fiber laser cutting machine are metals, mainly stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, brass, etc.

The cutting thickness that can be achieved increases with higher laser power.

Laser Cutter Wattage And Cutting Thickness

The power of a fiber laser cutting machine mainly depends on the laser source. In the market, 2000W and above are generally referred to as high power, power between 1000w-2000w is medium power, and power below 1000W is referred to as low power.

In terms of current demand, the market has a large demand for 2000W fiber laser cutting machines, which can meet most cutting needs. Cutting speed above 2000W may be faster, but the price is also higher. Laser power is one of the main factors that directly affect the price of laser cutting machines.

For thin stainless steel and carbon steel plates, a low-power fiber laser cutting machine may be used to cut well and, at the same time, ensure high cutting speed, which not only ensures work efficiency but also saves cost.

Therefore, when purchasing a laser cutting machine, we must choose reasonably according to our own metal materials and material thickness and not blindly pursue high power.

Of course, if you’re cutting both thick plates and thin sheets, and there is a high demand for production capacity, a high-power laser cutting machine within the affordable price range is also a better choice.

By properly adjusting the cutting speed and changing the auxiliary gas, the high-power laser cutting machine can also control the cutting quality well.

There are diversified products to meet the different needs of users for fiber laser cutting machines.

Small optical fiber laser cutting machines are mainly suitable for customers in the hardware, kitchen, and bathroom industries.

Medium power fiber laser cutting machines are generally chosen by customers in the advertising, sheet metal, and chassis industries.

High-power fiber laser cutting machines are needed by customers in the aviation, aerospace, rail transit, automobile, and other industries.

The choice of high-power fiber laser cutting machine depends on the personal cutting needs of customers.

Example

Let’s take the common 500W-1000W as an example to analyze:

Comparison of cutting process parameters of 500W and 1000W fiber laser cutting machines.

Carbon Steel

To begin with, let’s take carbon steel as an example.

As shown in the figure, the maximum cutting speed of carbon steel below 2mm with a 500W machine is about 6.6m per minute, and the maximum cutting speed of carbon steel with a 1000W machine is about 8m per minute.

The maximum cutting speed of 6mm carbon steel with a 500W machine is about 0.8m per minute, and the maximum cutting speed with a 1000W machine is about 1.6m per minute, and so on.

Stainless Steel

Next, let’s take stainless steel as an example.

As shown in the figure, the maximum cutting speed of stainless steel below 2mm with a 500W machine is about 8m per minute, while the maximum cutting speed with a 1000W machine can reach about 17m per minute.

For stainless steel of about 3mm, the maximum cutting speed with a 500W machine is about 0.4m per minute, while the maximum cutting speed with a 1000W machine is about 1.4m per minute, and the gap is very obvious.

It can be seen that when facing 500W and 1000W fiber laser cutting machines, a 1000W fiber laser cutting machine is obviously a wiser choice.

IV. Laser Cutter Wattage Chart For Cutting Metal

The following laser cutter wattage chart from 1000W to 6000W will be a good reference for you to select the correct laser power.

And for more detailed laser cutting thickness & speed chart, you can refer to this post.

1000W laser power

1000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

1000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.51233
Speed0.60.5-0.80.7-1.50.5-1.0
Common Tks.3622
Speed1.8-2.51.4-1.62.8-3.62.8-3.6
Tks.1111
Speed18-258-106-106-10

1500W laser power

1500W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

1500W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.81454
Speed0.3-0.70.5-0.70.40.8-1.0
Common Tks.4822
Speed1.5-2.41-1.46-73.0-4.5
Tks.121311
Speed28-328-1015-263.5-4.212-189-12

2000W laser power

2000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

2000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.101886
Speed0.1-0.30.4-0.50.2-0.40.3-0.7
Common Tks.51044
Speed1.8-2.51-1.11.5-2.01.2-2.0
Tks.13131212
Speed28-384-528-383-4.215-257-1012-184-8

 3000W laser power

3000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

3000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.1222128
Speed0.2-0.40.4-0.60.1-0.20.3-0.5
Common Tks.81065
Speed1.0-2.51.2-1.81.5-2.01.5-2.0
Tks.14141313
Speed35-454-635-453.5-4.230-356.5-830-354-5

4000W laser power

4000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

4000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.14221610
Speed0.2-0.40.4-0.80.2-0.40.2-0.7
Common Tks.101286
Speed0.8-1.21.2-1.80.9-1.61.4-2.0
Tks.15161413
Speed35-453.5-535-452.5-3.430-354-625-355-8

 6000W laser power

6000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

6000W Cutting Thickness (mm) & Speed (m/min)

MetalsStainless SteelCarbon SteelAluminumBrass
Max Tks.25252512
Speed0.2-0.40.3-0.50.1-0.20.3-0.5
Common Tks.1414108
Speed0.8-1.51.2-1.81.0-1.51.6-1.8
Tks.15181514
Speed36-408-1036-402-2.640-456-830-355-7

V. Precautions for selecting appropriate laser cutting machine power

1. It is selected according to the material to be processed and the thickness of cutting

Select the appropriate power based on the actual materials to be processed and the cutting thickness, in order to determine the model and processing format of the equipment to be purchased, and lay the groundwork for later procurement work.

The application fields of laser cutting machines involve many industries, such as sheet metal processing, metal processing, advertising, technology, medical devices, and more.

2. Select according to the smoothness of the cutting surface

Whether there are burrs on the cutting surface of laser cutting is mainly determined by the cutting thickness and the type of gas used.

Burring is not present when cutting below 3mm. Nitrogen is the best gas, followed by oxygen, while air is the least effective.

Metal laser cutting machines produce the least or no burrs, as well as a very smooth cutting surface, relatively fast cutting speed, and relatively small material deformation.

3. Selection of core parts for laser cutting

Is the laser and laser head imported or domestic? Imported lasers generally use IPG, while domestic lasers generally use Raycus.

At the same time, attention should also be paid to other laser cutting accessories, such as whether the motor is an imported servo motor, guide rail, bed, etc., as they affect the cutting accuracy of the machine to some extent.

One thing that requires special attention is the cooling system of the laser cutting machine – the cooling cabinet.

Many companies use household air conditioners for cooling, but the effect is poor. The best option is to use an industrial air conditioner, which can achieve optimal results.

4. Laser wattage selection

For example, most factories cut metal plates that are below 6mm, so there is no need to buy high-power laser cutting machines. 1000W laser cutting machines can meet production demands.

If the production volume is large and there is a concern that the efficiency of a 1000W machine is not as high as that of a high-power laser cutting machine, the best option is to buy two or more small to medium-power laser cutting machines. This helps manufacturers control costs and improve profits.

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Shane
Author

Shane

Founder of MachineMFG

As the founder of MachineMFG, I have dedicated over a decade of my career to the metalworking industry. My extensive experience has allowed me to become an expert in the fields of sheet metal fabrication, machining, mechanical engineering, and machine tools for metals. I am constantly thinking, reading, and writing about these subjects, constantly striving to stay at the forefront of my field. Let my knowledge and expertise be an asset to your business.

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