In this article we describe the difference between fiber and CO2 laser for laser engraving metals. Both solutions work with different wavelengths, resulting in different results. Here we take a closer look at the possibilities of fiber and CO2 laser for laser engraving of metals.
Fiber lasers are used for metal laser engraving
In this blog, we will discuss in more detail the difference between fiber laser and CO2 laser for laser engraving of metals because we are regularly asked which laser you can use to engrave or mark metals. In principle this is only possible with a fiber laser. This has a wavelength that is 10x smaller than the CO2 and is therefore suitable for engraving most metals. Aluminum, steel, stainless steel, titanium, gold, silver, brass and other alloys consisting of these materials can be directly lasered with a fiber.
Metal laser engraving with a CO2 laser machine
However, if you treat the metals, you can “laser” a metal with a CO2 laser to a certain extent. The metal itself will not actually change in color or texture, but the applied surface layer can be removed. Examples of this are painted and anodised materials. Aluminum is available in many anodized colors. It is possible to remove the anodising layer, but the released aluminum will not become shiny but a dull gray.
Difference in result fiber laser and CO2 laser machine
The photos clearly show the result of engraving with a fiber laser or with a CO2 laser. The CO2 can darken a white anodising layer a bit, but not much, but paint or anodising layers can be removed well. A fiber laser can apply finer details (higher resolution), making lines thinner and it is also possible to apply data matrix and QR codes. A fiber laser is also faster. For this example, the fiber laser needs a time of about 80 seconds while the CO2 laser needs a good 20 minutes.
Conclusion - fiber laser for quality and speed
In short, you cannot engrave metals with CO2, but you can remove surface layers of metals. If the details need to be small and time for marking is critical, MetaQuip recommends that you come and test a fiber laser. MetaQuip offers fiber lasers as standalone machines but also customer-specific solutions, from source to complete mechanization. We will work with you to find a suitable machine that fits your problem, the challenge for us and a solution for you.
Difference fiber laser and CO2 laser on anodised aluminum
Left fiber laser, right CO2 laser - higher contrast with fiber laser
Left fiber laser, right CO2 laser - higher resolution with fiber laser
Difference fiber laser and CO2 laser on painted aluminum
Difference fiber laser and CO2 laser on bright aluminum - result CO2 laser
Difference fiber laser and CO2 laser on bright aluminum - fiber laser result