Lasers, like other similar cutting devices, are bought for a specific purpose – to earn money.
Lasers are not cheap, so choosing the device that will earn the most and the fastest is the most important decision when buying. Of course, every company claims to make the best and fastest lasers that cut almost for free and never break. If, however, we take our word for it, it will quickly turn out that the machine was not the best choice.
The only solution is to compare the devices of interest to you in practice. It turns out that the differences in efficiency between the lasers offered on the market are so large that sometimes one laser will have an efficiency greater than 2 lasers of another. As you can see, it is not about single percentages but multiples.
Most interested parties believe that the cutting performance is primarily influenced by the power of the laser source. In a situation where we cut thick sheets, it is indeed one of the key factors, but not the only one. The configuration of the optics is also very important, and hardly anyone pays attention to it.
All lasers are generally used for cutting thin sheets, and attempts to increase the thickness of the cut by increasing the power have little effect. For example, a 1kW laser cuts black sheet up to 6mm, a 2kW laser up to 15mm, while a 4kW laser only 20mm, and to cut 25mm we need another 2kW. In this situation, the outlays are disproportionately large to the results achieved. In addition, the quality of cutting at such thicknesses is comparable to plasma cutting, which is many times cheaper. For an additional charge from 4kW to 6kW, you can buy a plasma that will cut and 50mm without problems.
Fiber lasers are perfect for thin sheets where no cutting technology can match them. However, in the case of thin sheets, where the cutting speeds are very high, e.g. 1m / s, the laser efficiency is no longer limited by the power of the source but by the dynamics of the machine.
While the laser power can be easily compared, the dynamic parameters of individual lasers are not.
There are so many parameters determining the efficiency of the control system and mechanics that the average user is not able to determine what will be more beneficial for him.
There is therefore no other option but to conduct tests. Just a note! they cannot be tests on random details and shapes that the laser dealer will show us. Proprietary samples are usually prepared in such a way as to highlight the advantages and hide the flaws of a particular laser.
So you need to prepare the test detail yourself that you want to cut. Such a detail should contain all types of shapes that are commonly used in technology.
The sample should contain circles with different radii, rectangles of different sizes, spline shapes and polylines, i.e. objects consisting of a large number of short segments connected together. It is the quality and speed of execution of the latter that determine the quality and efficiency of the control system. Therefore, ellipses, splines and polylines must be placed on the test workpiece. The easiest way to insert the latter is as letters from a font with oval and complex shapes.
Under no circumstances should you send the prepared pattern in advance because most often the shapes will be manually converted into arcs and the machine settings will be optimized for this shape. Nobody in normal production conditions will do such activities and therefore it is so important to be personally involved in carrying out all the activities necessary to cut a detail, starting from loading the dxf file, generating the path and cutting.
Only such a scenario will give reliable results.
The interested party should visit each of the companies offering such a laser and repeat the tests on the same files and sheet thickness. Only then will the potential buyer have some data to compare the performance of the machines he is interested in.
Another factor is the quality of the cut details, and while the edge quality itself depends also on the operator’s competences, the accuracy of the shape mapping itself is not necessarily the case. Pay attention to whether the shapes are not deformed and the circles are not eggs and whether there are no undulations at the corners.