Fibre of their being

2 min read

Not only can fibre lasers cut thin materials more quickly than CO2 laser profilers, but recent higher power units can also manage thicker materials, too. Will Dalrymple compares several recent products

Particularly in the UK, a big driver for sales of Bystronic (0844 848 5850) laser profilers has been fibre lasers, the company reports. While sales of its CO2-laser-based profilers almost halved from 2012-2014, in stark contrast, sales of its BySprint Fiber-based products grew 260% in the same period, from 15 to 54 units.

There are some very good reasons for the switch. Fibre lasers can cut thin materials faster than CO2 lasers, require less energy to generate a beam of similar power, and can also process materials like copper and brass whose reflective surfaces could damage CO2-laser-based profiling machines.

The highest power fibre lasers can also cut quite thick metal sheet; several new models support a 25 mm (one inch) cutting capability in mild steel.

Two recent Bystronic laser profilers have as an option Bystronic's new 6 kW Fiber 6000 laser source. They are the BySprint Fiber 3015 (bed size 3 m by 1.5 m) and BySprint Fiber 4020 (bed size 4 m by 2 m). Both units offer positioning speeds of 100 m/min in a single axis, or 140 m/min for 2-axis simultaneous movement, and a positioning accuracy of 0.1 mm.

Bystronic says that the Fiber 6000 cuts 3 mm thick stainless steel three times faster than a 6 kW CO2 laser; cutting 4 mm thick aluminium is 38% faster.

To help manage these high speed cuts, its Cut Control safety function improves process reliability with extra monitoring. In case of a 'cutting tear', the system stops the laser and repeats the cut.

Maintaining piercing and cutting process safety on Prima Power's (024 7664 5588) recently launched Platino 2.0 Fiber profiler is Night Cut control software. That software package is just one of three: the other two are Smart Cut, facilitating fast cutting on thin (less than 5 mm thick) sheets, and Max Cut, for fast cutting on sheet greater than 5 mm thick. Prima Power claims the latter two programmes can improve processing times by 30%. Moreover, an impact protection system avoids damage to the machine head, in case of collisions with workpieces or fixtures.

The Platino 2.0 Fiber profiler features a new design of head with sealed optics and a single universal lens with which a variety of nozzles can be used, and which can be swapped out using an optional automatic changer. It comes with 2, 3, 4 or 5 kW power fibre laser source and offers a work area of 3,000 mm by 1,500 mm and 150 mm in Z (and so suits 120 by 60 in sheets). Axis speed is the same as the Bystronic machines: 100 m/min, or 140 m/min for combined X-Y motion. In similar fashion, its maximum linear axis resolution is 0.1 mm.

Finally, although only sporting a 4 kW laser source (from a TruDisk 4001 laser source), the Trumpf (01582 725335) TruLaser 3030's new BrightLine Fiber option also packs a punch, powering through similar thicknesses of material as the others (see also p. 58, Machinery April). This capability comes on a machine with a 3,000 by 1,500 mm sheet capacity (115 mm in Z), and maximum simultaneous head speeds of 140 m/min. Position deviation is 0.05 mm.

First published in Machinery, June 2015