Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) beams are highly concentrated beams of light with high frequency. This results in a high-energy beam of light that can be focused on a small area. Whenever a laser beam is focused on a material, it rapidly heats the focused area, converting the light energy to heat energy. The heated material melts and blows away, resulting in a hole.

Laser cutting allows you to cut a wide variety of materials, ranging from a thin sheet of paper to even a thick metal plate using laser beams. However, different types of lasers can yield varying results on different materials.

Among the three main types of lasers that are available for laser cutting, the most widely used are fiber and CO2 lasers. The distinctive factor between these is the active gain medium used in them. The fiber laser uses a solid-state medium such as an optical fiber, whereas the CO2 laser uses CO2 gas.

In this article, we’ll go over the basics of the two types of lasers and discuss the differences between them. So, let’s get focused.

The main elements that are used to create a laser beam are the following:

An energy source: Energy sources such as flashlamps, electrical discharges, and arc lights are used to provide energy (photons in the light) to the laser system.
A gain medium (also active laser medium): A gain medium is the main differentiating factor among the various kinds of laser beams. In our case, a fiber laser uses a solid-state gain medium, and a CO2 laser uses a gas-state gain medium. This medium determines the different properties of the laser beams that are produced.
An optical resonator: This is an arrangement of a highly reflective set of mirrors that further amplifies the laser beam. The light beam repeatedly bounces between the mirrors through the gain medium before it exits the system. This enables the laser to possess as much energy as possible before exiting the cavity.

Now we begin to understand the acronym “laser”. Light (radiation) from the source is stimulated in a medium, which is further amplified using an optical resonator. These are just the basics of how a laser system works, and there’s no need to scratch our heads around the minute details of the tech. For now, just understanding the basics will be enough to grasp the differences between fiber and CO2 lasers.

Read more: CO2 vs Fiber Laser: The Differences