In the field of laser cutting, fibre lasers currently represent the leading edge in terms of innovation, offering unmatched performance in terms of high production output.

With a fibre laser, the laser beam is generated in an active optical fibre. It is then guided to the cutting head of the machine through a transport fibre cable. Fibre lasers are best suited when using nitrogen as an assist cutting gas for thin and medium sheet thicknesses, up to 12mm, and non-ferrous materials such as copper and brass. New higher-powered fibre modules allow thicker materials, including mild streel and stainless steel, to be cut with comparable CO2 cut quality and speeds. For thicknesses below 6mm when cutting using nitrogen as the assist gas, fibre lasers are up to five times faster than CO2. To cut mild steel with oxygen the fibre laser beam is defocused to the same diameter as the CO2 kerf width, so the exothermic reaction can take place, the same as oxy fuel gas cutting.

Fibre lasers are more compact than CO2 lasers but deliver more than double the power output, with the same input power supply. The comparative wavelength of the fibre laser beam with that of the CO2 laser is 1.064 micrometres and 10.6 micrometres respectively; this means the fibre laser beam is 10 times smaller. Therefore the focal diameter of a fibre laser has an intensity 100 times higher than a CO2. For this reason, the fibre laser requires a much higher level of safety precautions because the laser reflections emitted can cause damage to the eyesight. Fibre lasers should not be used without CE-approved interlocked guarding.

The great efficiency of fibre lasers ensures greatly reduced energy consumption. Fibre lasers are approximately 86% more energy-efficient than CO2 lasers. Due to their energy efficiency, and not requiring resonator gases, the operating costs of fibre lasers are much lower than CO2 lasers. CO2 lasers generally require two different focal length lenses – 5.0 inches and 7.5 inches – which must be changed depending on the material and the thickness being cut. These lenses have a lifecycle of about 1,000 hours. In comparison, the fibre laser cutter only uses one lens which has a lifecycle of 4,000 to 5,000 hours.

TCI Cutting signs up with DDM Laser

TCI Cutting, a Spanish-headquartered manufacturer of high-quality laser and waterjet cutting machines, has announced that DDM Laser has been appointed as its exclusive sales and service agent for Australia and New Zealand. According to René Swagerman, Distribution Manager at TCI, the choice of DDM was a perfect fit for his company.

“Their experience is invaluable,” said Swagerman. “As a manufacturer, it is great that we can rely on DDM Laser to not just sell our machines – they can install, warranty, service and maintain them. After looking after 100 machines for over 16 years, there is not much DDM Laser hasn’t seen. TCI is excited about entering this new market and with our new co-operation with DDM Laser. We look forward to providing customers in Australia and New Zealand with alternative, progressive and high-quality laser cutting machines.”

Previously DDM (formerly known as LMC Laser) served for 16 years as the agents for Bystronic, during which time they installed and serviced more than 100 machines. After the Bystronic agreement was concluded, DDM researched laser machine manufacturers from around the world before settling on TCI.

“As soon as we visited the TCI Cutting factory we knew we had found a company we would like to partner with,” says John Douglass, Sales Manager at DDM. “The machines are built with quality being the major factor.”

This was confirmed during the latest installation of a TCI machine in Melbourne, Douglass adds: “The newly installed Smartline 6.0kW looks and works fantastic. Its clever design allows a small footprint without losing any efficiency.”

So far, all of DDM’s installed TCI machines have a cutting area of 3m x 1.5m, but larger formats are available. While the most common fibre power is 6.0kW, 8.0kW machines are now beginning to be installed, and machines with 15kW resonators are available. The higher power permits faster thin sheet cutting, though the speeds for thicker materials is not greatly increased. TCI Cutting has ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification.

“Having installed several TCI fibre laser cutting systems, we can confirm both the power savings and the cutting speeds and quality,” Douglass added. “Using world-leading components, including IPG fibre modules, II-VI Highyag cutting heads and Fanuc industrial CNC controls, the TCI cutting systems are first-class and built to exacting standards.”