Recap: CO2 vs. fiber laser shootout by Cincinnati Incorporated

In case you missed today’s CO2-vs.-fiber shootout by Cincinnati Incorporated using its 4,000-watt CL440 CO2 and CL940 fiber lasers to cut identical parts side by side, here’s a quick rundown.

Performed at the company’s Customer Productivity Center in Harrison, Ohio, about 20 miles west of Cincinnati, this demonstration by the longtime LIA exhibitor used their machines to fashion parts out of 20-gauge mild steel, 1/2-inch mild steel and 1/8-inch aluminum. Both systems have identical drive systems.

In broad terms, of course, fiber lasers — which have been carving out more and more market share — cut thinner materials faster, while CO2 performs better with materials thicker than 10 gauge.

The results:

Cincinnati Incorporated pits its CL440 CO2 laser against its CL940 fiber laser.
Cincinnati Incorporated pits its CL940 fiber laser against its CL440 CO2 laser.

• 20-gauge mild steel (assisted by shop air): Fiber laser cut the part at 27 seconds at a rate of 2,160 inches per minute vs. 31 seconds for the CO2 laser run at 850 inches per minute. Estimated cost of the process is $6.90 per hour for fiber vs. $9.88 for CO2.
• ½-inch mild steel (oxygen): CO2 cut the part at about 79 seconds at a rate of 60 inches per minute vs. about 99 seconds for fiber run at 45 inches per minute. Estimated hourly operating cost is $6.52 for fiber vs. $10.33 for CO2.
• 1/8-inch aluminum (piercing with nitrogen, cutting with oxygen): Fiber cut the material at 56 seconds at 950 inches per minute (vs. 500 inches per minute if cutting with nitrogen).

Audience polling during the demonstration yielded an interesting look into laser purchasing habits:

• 32 percent said they had two to five lasers in their facility; 30 percent said one, 30 percent said none and 9 percent said more than five.
• 82 percent said they had not purchased a new laser within the past three years.
• 45 percent said they might consider automation with their next laser purchase, 40 percent said yes and 15 percent said no.
• 51 percent said they would be more likely to purchase a fiber laser, 30 percent a CO2 laser, 19 percent unsure.

The presentation is scheduled to be made available at Cincinnati’s website.

— Geoff Giordano