Fiber vs CO2 Laser Marking Machine: Which One Should You Buy?

The main difference between fiber and co2 laser marking machine is the marking materials.

  • Fiber laser marking machine: metal materials.
  • CO2 laser marking machine: non-metallic materials.

There are more differences between them, Bytelaser is here to give you the most comprehensive guidance.

Now laser markimg machine is more and more widely used in industry and hobbyists, because it is practical, flexible and effective.

The most common in the laser market are Co2 and fiber laser marking machines, each of which has specific functions and features. How to choose the right laser machine for different usage? Well, to find out the answer, you need to learn the major differences between co2 and fiber laser machine clearly.

Firstly, Bytelaser will give you a brief introduction about what is co2 and fiber laser machine.

What is a fiber laser marking machine?

Fiber laser marking machines use fiber lasers to generate laser to mark the surface of materials.

Fiber laser is also called Solid State Laser (SSL). A fiber laser is a laser in which the active gain medium is an optical fiber doped with rare-earth elements such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, dysprosium, praseodymium, thulium and holmium.

There are two types of fiber lasers:

  • Q-Switch laser: This is the most common and used type of laser source. This laser is affordable and can fulfill most of the laser marking needs.
  • MOPA laser: MOPA can be said to be an upgraded version of Q-Switch laser, it has the function of color marking. This type of laser marking machine will also be more expensive.

Fiber laser marking machine adopts a compact design to combine the fiber laser with other parts. It has the characteristics of much more practical, flexible and effective.

What is a co2 laser marking machine?

CO2 laser marking machine uses CO2 Resonator to generate laser to mark or engrave materials.

The carbon dioxide laser (CO2 laser) was one of the earliest gas lasers to be developed. The active laser medium (laser gain/amplification medium) is a gas discharge which is air- or water-cooled, depending on the power being applied.

CO2 lasers include RF and glass tubes:

RF Laser Source

Pros Cons
Small volume Laser-power generally below 100w
Maintenance-free More expensive than Glass tube laser
Air cooling Small marking area
Low cost of use  
High quality laser  
Stable laser  
Long life (20,000 hours)  

Glass Tube Laser

Pros Cons
Cheap price Large size
High power Short life (6000 hours)
Can deep engraving and cutting Water cooling
Large working area Poor stability
  Long startup time

Difference between CO2 and fiber laser marking machine

Materials and applications

  • Fiber laser marking machine: Fiber laser marking machine is the first choice for part marking and engraving, especially metal marking. It is ideal for permanent marking of serial numbers, barcodes and data matrices on metals. Fiber lasers are widely used in product traceability and identification applications.
  • CO2 laser marking machine: CO2 laser marking is very suitable for a variety of non-metallic materials, including plastics, textiles, glass, acrylic, wood, and even stone.
    CO2 laser engraving machine is very suitable for organic materials such as rubber, wood, paper, glass and ceramics. It is also the first choice for cutting acrylic and other plastics.
Wood Marble Wood Veneer
Acrylic Matte Board Fiberglass
Brick Melamine Painted Metals
Fabric Paper Tile
Delrin Mylar Plastic
Cloth Pressboard Cork
Leather Rubber Corian
Aluminum Carbon fiber
Tungsten Nickel
Carbide Plastics
Non-semiconductor ceramics Polymers
Chrome Rubber
Coated and Painted Metal Silver
Fiberglass Gold
Stainless Steel

Laser wavelength

The wavelength of the laser determines the type of material that laser can mark, because different materials can absorb different wavelengths.

The wavelength of fiber lasers is usually 1,060 nm, while the wavelength of CO2 lasers is 10,600 nm.

Thickness of the material:

Laser marking only leaves a permanent mark on the surface of the material, so materials of any thickness can be marked.

High-power fiber laser marking machine (100w) can cut metal less than 5cm, but the higher the power, the more expensive it is, so if you want to cut metal, a laser cutting machine is better.

High-power CO2 laser marking machine can also cut non-metallic materials. This kind of marking machine generally uses a glass tube light source and can cut metal materials less than 20mm.

Marking speed:

With the same power laser marking machine, the fiber laser marking machine has the fastest speed. As the laser power increases, the marking speed will be faster.

  • CO2 Laser marking speed: ≤7000mm/s
  • Fiber Laser marking speed: ≤12000mm/s

Working area

Fiber laser marking machine is mainly used for traceability, so the working area is generally less than 300mm*300mm.

For CO2 laser marker, RF laser marking machine is used for fine marking, so the working area is generally 300*300mm. For large-area marking or engraving of non-metallic materials, we recommend the a glass tube laser engraving machine, working area can reach 600mm*900mm or larger.

Accuracy

The smaller the laser spot size, the higher the marking accuracy. The accuracy of fiber laser marking machine is higher than that of CO2. This is a detailed comparison:

  • CO2 Laser Marking Minimum Characters: 0.3mm
  • Fiber Laser Marking Minimum Characters: 0.05mm

Purchase cost

The cost of a laser system will vary greatly depending on your application. It depends on the material you want to mark or other requirements, such as color marking, you need to buy a mopa laser source. The cost of CO2 lasers is often lower than that of fiber lasers. You can refer to the Bytelaser price:

  • CO2 laser marking machine: $635 – 3699
  • Fiber laser marking machine: $1280 – 8759

Maintenance cost

CO2 laser marking machine use significantly higher power than fiber lasers, leading to higher operating costs. For example, a high-power CO2 laser will consume approximately 70 kW. A fiber laser of similar power consumes approximately 18 kW.

The additional cost savings not only come from the laser, but also from the cooling device. The high-power glass tube CO2 requires a chiller to cool down, but the fiber laser marking machine does not require cooling equipment.

The parts of the co2 laser marking machine also need to be replaced frequently, such as the most important laser, which needs to be replaced every six months. The fiber laser marking machine is maintenance-free, and the laser has a service life of up to 200,000 hours.

Safety

The safety of laser machine is the most important. Both types of machine are safe for users.

All of our laser marking machines are Class 1 devices, meaning no laser radiation escapes the enclosure during normal operating conditions. This is the recommended category of laser device for schools and education.

Which one should you choose?

A clue to the answer is the realization that most manufacturers offer BOTH CO2 and Fiber Laser Technologies in their machinery product offering. They do so as they have seen there is a marked difference in the technologies, capabilities and more importantly their performance in certain materials, thicknesses and special applications. Ultimately it comes down to the material you are cutting type and thickness of it. so, your operational requirements determine this.

If you want to engrave and mark non-metals, such as acrylic, wood, cards, leather and fabrics, CO2 laser machine is the perfect choice. Its excellent accuracy allows the most detailed marking and even the reproduction of photographic images. You may own a few items that these machines have made (maybe you don’t even know).

Fiber laser marking machine is a very powerful device, more suitable for metal marking that CO2 laser cannot provide. If you need a machine to print logo for trace, then a fiber laser is your ideal choice. It is good at processing harder materials, so it can be used in the aerospace and automotive industries.

If you are still not sure which is best for your needs or want more information, please feel free to contact us.

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