In the previous article, we wrote about what is the difference between a plasma cutter and a fiber laser. You may have already decided that a laser cutting machine is the best solution for you. The first question that probably arises now is which laser power you should decide on.

What does your workshop need?

It would be best if you optimally matched the choice of laser source power to your needs. First, think about what your workshop needs most; what its specific features are. For example, do you intend to cut as a service (in which case the thickness of materials cut will probably be more diverse), or do you need a cutting machine only for your shop? It is also worth specifying which types of materials are most often processed at your workshop.

The general rule is that a laser source is analogous to a plasma source in a plasma cutter. The thicker parts we want to cut, the bigger the source we need. Of course, you should take into account that a higher power of the machine is also comes with its higher price. Most machines available on the market have a power of 2-6 kW. However, there are also fiber laser cutting machines with higher power on the market – their production costs and thus their prices are often unaffordable.

Is high power Fiber laser cutting machine cost effective?

Choosing a high-powered cutting machine may not be cost-effective for the majority of companies. It results from a large price difference between generators with greater power which does not always go hand in hand with proportionally greater efficiency. The greatest efficiency improvement in relation to price occurs when comparing a 1 kW cutter with a 2 kW cutter. Here we can see that the thickness of cut sheets increases by 50%, and in the case of carbon steel or in case of brass – even twice.

Technical specifications for 1kw and 2kw laser cutting machines

Table 1 Technical specifications

With further increases in power, the differences in the thickness of the cut materials are no longer this spectacular. When comparing a 3 kW fibre laser to a 4 kW cutting machine, the difference is not that visible.

Technical specifications for 3kw and 4kw laser cutting machines

Table 2 Technical specifications

What to consider when choosing a laser cutting machine?

As you can see, when choosing a cutter with a specific power, it is worth considering not only the predictable thickness of the sheets to be cut, but also the type of material from which they are made of. When cutting black steel, the thickness of cutting material, even with a 2 kW generator can reach up to 16 mm. In the case of other materials, such as brass, the capabilities of the laser will be considerably inferior.

You should also discuss how much productivity you are interested in as the laser power also affects the cutting speed. With a constant thickness of cutting sheets, the working speed increases with the increase od power.

Main job of the Fiber laser cutting machine

Having all this in mind, it is worth remembering that the primary purpose of a laser cutting machine is to cut thin materials. Therefore, it is not difficult to see that choosing a machine with increased power to extend the range of laser capabilities beyond a certain range is unprofitable. If our aim is to cut 20 mm or more thick sheets, it will be a much more profitable investment to buy a plasma cutting machine. Of course, suppose we want higher quality and precision of cutting. In that case, it is worth investing in a laser with increased power, but do not forget about the increased financial investment involved.