Solid state laser marking technology has been around since the 1980’s, when lamp pumped, Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers were THE standard laser engines. These lasers were – and still are - well suited to laser marking, producing tens of kilowatts of peak power with sub 75ns pulse durations which made it possible to mark and engrave on both plastics and metals. Over the past 30 years, however, the evolution of solid state markers has seen a number of milestones including; Nd:YVO4 “vanadate” lasers, diode pumping, the utilization of 532nm and 355nm wavelength sources, and, finally, fiber laser technology.
Today, the fiber laser is a mature product capable of high speed, high quality contrast marking and engraving on plastics and metals. With the lowest cost of ownership of any laser marker on the market, it offers extremely short term ROI, so replacing a legacy Nd:YAG laser marker is a worthwhile proposition.
Here are the 5 key benefits of fiber laser technology and 5 reasons to upgrade from Nd:YAG:
- No Consumables: Fiber lasers are single emitter diode pumped, and these Telecom grade diodes provide a combined operational lifetime in excess of 50000 hours. That means no consumables, and no unplanned downtime to replace failed lamps.
- Air cooled, 110v: At 5-10 times the electrical efficiency of Nd:YAG lasers, fiber lasers up to 50W are air cooled and can run off a standard 110V electrical outlet. No more chillers or high voltage 3 phase utilities!
- Faster speeds: High beam quality enables utilization of the full average power of the laser. In contrast for many applications the Nd:YAG laser requires an small diameter aperture placed in the laser cavity, essentially working as an optical filter to improve beam quality. The aperture dramatically reduces average power and processing speed. In many cases a 20W fiber laser can out perform a 50W Nd:YAG laser. (see figure below)
- No Maintenance: As the name suggests the fiber laser is generated within a fiber with a core diameter of around 10 microns. This architecture requires no maintenance such as cavity alignment that is often needed for Nd:YAG lasers, again avoiding unplanned downtime.
- Compact Footprint: With both the power supply and laser fitting into a 4U 19” rack and the scan head being small enough to hold in your hand, the marker can fit just about anywhere. Not only that – it may be mounted in ANY orientation!