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Fibre lasers enter Australian fabrication scene

Supplier News
Leading Australian and NZ sheetmetal machinery specialist, Maxitec reminds the market that fibre laser technology should be viewed no differently from any other new technology.

Fibre lasers have been on show in Europe’s larger sheetmetal machinery expos but there is limited awareness on its applicability. Fibre laser fabrication is therefore, definitely a technology on which an expert should be consulted.

The distributor for Prima Power (formerly trading as Finn Power), Maxitec explains that a fibre laser system uses an energy source provided electronically by diodes and transmitted through a fibre optic cable, instead of traditional CO2 laser sources.

This concentrated energy source becomes particularly advantageous on a combination punch/laser system, where thinner sheets can more efficiently be processed by fibre laser, and once the gauge reaches a certain threshold the turret system becomes more applicable.

Prima Power for instance, combines a fibre laser with a servo driven combination punch to create a well utilised, low-energy consumption system. Key gains include an extremely low maintenance level, low utility costs and high performance punching and laser cutting.

Fibre laser systems provide fast cutting speeds on thinner materials with lower energy consumption as its energy is derived from a system of diodes. Fibre lasers also offer greater operating efficiency compared to traditional CO2 laser systems.

However, fibre laser systems can only be operated in full enclosures as the powerfully concentrated laser can damage the retina on direct exposure to the eye. Efficiency is also impacted when the sheet gauge reaches a certain thickness.

Managing Director of Maxitec, Mr Andrew Bentrup says it is important to consult with an experienced source to ensure good performance is gained from the application. For instance, experts can advise whether the application is the right one for fibre laser fabrication and if it offers the user any advantage.

Mr Bentrup describes fibre laser as a solid-state system, allowing the resonator to be placed well away from the work piece and ensuring less space is required on the shopfloor.

The machine can send up to 4000W through a single fibre optic cable directly to the cutting head, without the use of mirrors in the laser source or in the beam-delivery path. Fibre laser is also extremely energy-efficient, providing a high level of productivity when processing difficult materials such as titanium, copper and brass.

For instance, a fibre laser powered cutter can work at 40m/min on a 1mm gauge sheet compared to a maximum of 20-25m/min achieved by a traditional CO2 laser source.

Zero maintenance, no laser gas requirement and low energy consumption as well as speed of operation are some of the benefits delivered by fibre laser machines.

A fibre laser provides more than 30% savings in electrical costs while a virtually maintenance-free operation is attainable as each diode has an estimated life of about 100,000 hours. By contrast, traditional CO2 laser sources consume high amounts of energy in their respective turbine and discharge systems while the various moving parts add more complexity.

Supplied in a modular plug-and-play design, fibre laser equipment is generally compact, rugged and very easy to install without the fine-tuning normally commanded by optics. Apart from lower general operating costs, fibre laser almost totally eliminates dependence on most consumables and requires no external delivery optics.

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