What's the difference

Pros and Cons: CO2 Lasers vs Fiber Lasers

Nov 10, 2021
3 min read

If you’re looking to cut, engrave, or mark parts, there are two main types of lasers to consider: CO2 lasers and fiber lasers. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each laser technology for cutting and engraving.

CO2 Lasers

CO2 lasers are the most commonly available type of laser on the market today. Systems available can range from a 40W unit that can sit on a kitchen countertop, to multiple kW machines used for production in factories and industrial shops. This is a testament to their flexibility and versatility. They can cut and engrave many types of materials due to their wavelength.

The core technology behind a CO2 laser is a vacuum tube filled with a carbon dioxide gas mixture. The vacuum tubes have a shorter lifespan than other laser technologies, and the systems generally require more maintenance long-term. However, CO2 lasers are a great choice if you are looking for a low cost option for processing a wide variety of materials, keeping in mind the lower lifespan, maintenance, and higher operational costs.

  • Extremely versatile: can cut plastic, wood, acrylic, fabric and other organic materials
  • Can engrave metals, glass, stone, and ceramics
  • Can control depth of engraving in plastics, acrylic, and wood by changing the power
  • Easily available in many different bed sizes and power wattages
  • Many price points available
  • Mirrors for beam transmission need to be kept clean and aligned
  • Low energy efficiency
  • Shorter lifespan due to vacuum tube technology
  • Typically has larger spot size
Fiber Lasers
Fiber lasers are a newer technology, specialized for cutting and engraving of metals, rubbers, and plastics. The materials are more limited because the fiber laser wavelength, typically around 1um, is readily absorbed by metals, compared with a CO2 wavelength that is absorbed by many common materials. The better absorption of metals means that they heat up very quickly, leading to a more efficient laser process. This means that if you’re looking to cut or engrave metal - difficult to do with a CO2 lower than 450W - a fiber laser is an excellent choice. Currently, fiber laser technology is usually seen in smaller engraving machines or large industrial machines used for high-volume production. 3D Fab Light aims to bridge this gap with our compact fiber laser cutting and engraving machine, with the goal of making this efficient and powerful technology more accessible.
  • Long-term stability - longest operational lifespan on the market today
  • Excellent energy efficiency
  • The beam is fully enclosed within a delivery fiber, so it does not require any maintenance
  • Some models be run in a pulsed mode for higher peak power output with the same energy usage
  • Excellent for cutting and engraving metal, can also engrave certain rubbers and plastics
  • Small beam diameter
  • Higher cost
  • Low-end market does not exist due to the newness of the technology
  • The delivery fiber is not removable from the source, replacements can be difficult
Looking to Cut and Engrave Metal?

If you are looking to cut and engrave metal, a fiber laser is an excellent choice due to efficiency, long-term stability, and low maintenance. Here at 3D Fab Light our goal is to expand access to this technology with our cost-effective fiber laser system for cutting and engraving sheet metal and tubes. The efficiency of the technology means we are able to generate a peak power of 4.5kW using just a standard 110V/20A wall outlet, but also cut steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, and more.

If you still have questions about what laser technology is right for your application, please contact us and we will get back to you with more information.

About 3D FabLight

3D FabLight was founded in 2015 with a mission to break down the barriers to advanced flexible manufacturing using lasers and software. Our team has decades' worth of experience designing laser cutters and machine tool software.

With 3D FabLight, you get the best of both worlds. Not only do you receive our remarkable laser cutting technology guaranteed to meet your cutting needs, but you also get access to our team of dedicated professionals. We provide every customer with top-notch service, answering questions and helping them to personalize their needs. In addition, our team is available for software support. To watch a webinar, click here.

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Fiber laser vs CO2 laser: What's the difference?
If you’re looking to cut, engrave, or mark parts, there are two main types of lasers to consider: CO2 lasers and fiber lasers. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.
Read to find out which system is best for your application