High-power Fiber Lasers
The industrial market is now the largest market for fiber lasers; much of the action right now is at the kilowatt-class power level. Particularly interesting is their use in automotive work. The automotive industry is moving to high-strength steel to produce cars that meet durability requirements but are relatively light for better fuel economy; the problem is how to cut the high-strength steel. And that’s where they turn to fiber lasers. It’s very difficult, for example, for conventional machine tools to punch holes in this kind of steel; however, fiber lasers (and other types of lasers as well) can easily cut these holes.
Fiber lasers have some advantages over other lasers for materials processing. For example, the near-IR wavelengths of fiber lasers are absorbed well by metals. The beam can also be delivered by fiber, which allows a robot to easily move the beam focus around for cutting and drilling.