5 Types of Laser Compared

Lasers are an essential component in modern laser processing systems.

With the advancement of laser processing technology, lasers themselves are also evolving, leading to the emergence of new types.

Initially, the main types of lasers used for processing were high-power CO2 gas lasers and lamp-pumped solid-state YAG lasers.

The focus of development has shifted from increasing laser power to improving beam quality, once the power requirements have been met.

The development of semiconductor lasers, fiber lasers, and disk lasers has brought about significant progress in fields such as laser material processing, medical treatment, aerospace, and automobile manufacturing.

The five most prevalent lasers in the market are CO2 lasers, Nd:YAG lasers, semiconductor lasers, disk lasers, and fiber lasers. Can you provide information on their characteristics and application scope?

CO2 laser

Application: 

The wavelength of a CO2 laser is 10.6 micrometers, and it has low absorption when it comes to metal materials.

It is typically used for cutting non-metallic materials and welding metal materials.

Its applications are widespread and include welding in aviation, electronic instruments, machinery, and the automobile industry.

Nd: YAG laser

Application: 

Nd:YAG lasers have a high absorption coefficient for metal, making them suitable for cutting, welding, and marking applications.

Thanks to their high energy, high peak power, compact design, durability, and reliable performance, they are widely used across industries such as defense, medical treatment, scientific research, and more.

Semiconductor laser

Application: due to the high uniformity of laser beam and poor penetration, the semiconductor laser is not suitable for metal cutting, but its spot characteristics are suitable for metal surface treatment, such as cladding, hardening, 3D printing, etc.

It can be widely used in aerospace, medical, automotive fields.

Disk laser

Application: disc laser is a spatial optical path coupling structure, so the beam quality is very high

The laser is appropriate for laser material applications such as cutting metal, welding, marking, cladding, hardening, and 3D printing.

It is widely used in the automobile manufacturing, aerospace, precision machinery, and 3C electronics industries.

Fiber laser

Application: due to high electro-optic conversion efficiency, good metal absorption coefficient and high beam quality, fiber laser can be used for metal cutting, welding, marking, metal surface treatment applications.

Laser technology is extensively utilized in industries such as aerospace, automobile manufacturing, 3C electronics, and the medical field.

However, to determine the most suitable laser product, it is necessary to consider the performance and application of each type of laser.

Below is a table that provides the characteristics and applications of the five mentioned types of lasers.

Laser typeNd:YAG Laser CO2 LaserFiber LaserSemiconductor Laser Disk Laser
Laser wavelength (μm)1.0-1.110.61. 0-1.10.9-1.01.0-1.1
Photoelectric conversion efficiency3%-5%10%35%-40%70%-80%30%
Output power (kw)1-31-200.5-200.5-101-20
Beam quality156<2.510<2.5
Focusing performanceThe beam divergence angle is large, it is difficult to obtain a single mode, the focused spot is large and the power density is lowThe beam divergence angle is small, the base film is easy to obtain, the focused spot is small, and the power density is highSmall beam divergence angle, small spot after focusing, good single-mode and multi-mode beam quality, high peak power and high power densityThe beam divergence angle is large, the focused spot is large, and the spot uniformity is goodThe beam divergence angle is small, the focused spot is small, and the power density is high
Cutting characteristicsPoor, low cutting capacityGenerally, it is not suitable for cutting metal materials. When cutting non-metal materials, the cutting thickness is large and the cutting speed is fastIt is generally suitable for cutting metal materials with fast cutting speed, and can adapt to the cutting of plates with different thickness, high efficiency and large cutting thicknessDue to the uniform spot and poor beam penetration, it is not suitable for cutting application and metal surface treatmentIt is generally suitable for cutting metal materials, with fast cutting speed, and can adapt to the cutting of plates with different thickness
Welding characteristicsIt is suitable for spot welding, three-dimensional laser welding and welding of high reflection materialsIt is suitable for laser brazing and high reflection material weldingIt is suitable for spot welding, brazing, laser compound welding, laser scanning welding and high reflection material weldingIt is suitable for brazing, compound welding, laser cladding welding, gold room surface treatment and high reflection material weldingIt is suitable for laser spot welding, brazing, compound welding, laser scanning welding and high reflection material welding
Type of processing materialCopper, aluminumNon Machinable high inversion materialHigh inversion materialHigh inversion materialHigh inversion material
Metal absorptivity35%12%35%35%35%
VolumeSmallMaximumCompact and compactSmallSmall
Maintenance cycle300 hours1000-2000 hoursNo maintenance requiredNo maintenance requiredNo maintenance required
Relative operating costHighHighLowcommonlyhigh
Processing portabilityGood flexibility and adaptabilityInconvenient to moveGood flexibility and flexibilityGood flexibility and adaptabilityGood flexibility, strong adaptability, but sensitive to earthquake
Technologyusedusednewestnewnew
Service life>300 hours>2000 hours>100000 hours>15000 hours>100000 hours

Performance and application comparison

Semiconductor lasers have clear technical advantages compared to traditional CO2 lasers and solid-state YAG lasers, such as their small size, lightweight, high efficiency, low energy consumption, long lifespan, and high metal absorption.

With the continued advancements in semiconductor laser technology, other solid-state lasers based on semiconductors, such as fiber lasers, direct-output fiber semiconductor lasers, and disk lasers, are also growing rapidly.

Fiber lasers, particularly rare earth-doped fiber lasers, have experienced rapid growth and are widely used in fields such as optical fiber communication, sensing, and laser material processing.

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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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