Cost is No Longer a Show Stopper for Fiber Laser Cutting 

There is significant competition in the market between different cutting technologies, whether they are intended for sheet metal, tubes or profiles. There are those that use methods of mechanical cutting by abrasion and others that prefer thermal methods.   

However, with recent breakthroughs in technology and with cost per diode dropping exponentially, fiber laser cutting is replacing high-definition plasma, CO2 laser, and other thermal cutting techniques for many applications.   Fiber Laser was once considered too expensive even though it could do the job best.  Now that it is more economical, the decision criteria should be focused on accuracy, thickness, geometry and material requirements.  Here are some cutting technologies that offer value based on these requirements. 

Water Jet 

This is a valuable technology for all those materials that might be affected by heat when performing cold cutting, such as plastics, coatings, or cement panels. To increase the power of the cut, an abrasive material may be used that is suitable for working with steel measuring greater than 300 mm. It can be very useful in this manner for hard materials such as ceramics, stone or glass. 


Although laser has gained popularity over punching machines for certain types of cuts, there is still a place for punch due to the fact that the cost of the machine is much lower, as well as its speed and its ability to perform form tool and tapping operations that are not possible with laser technology. 


This technology is the most suitable for carbon steel of greater thicknesses (75mm). However, it is not effective for stainless steel and aluminum. It offers a high degree of portability, since it does not require a special electrical connection, and initial investment is low. 


High-definition plasma is close to laser in quality for greater thicknesses.  Traditionally, it has enjoyed a lower purchase cost that offsets the expensive operational costs versus the fiber laser which has traditionally had a much higher purchase cost and very low operational costs.  Unlike fiber laser, plasma often requires post-cut machining/grinding to clean up the part and that contributes to a higher operational cost.   Now that fiber laser purchase prices are dropping, the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for Fiber Laser can be less than Plasma.  Even so, Plasma is the most suitable from 5mm, and is practically unbeatable from 30mm, where the laser is not able to reach, with the capacity to reach up to 90mm in thickness in carbon steel, and 160mm in stainless steel. Without a doubt, it is a good option for bevel cutting. It can be used with ferrous and non-ferrous, as well as oxidized, painted, or grid materials.   

CO2 Laser 

Generally speaking, the laser offers a more precise cutting capability. This is especially the case with lesser thicknesses and when machining small holes. CO2 is suitable for thicknesses between 5mm and 30mm.  It does have a lot of consumables and energy that makes its operational cost higher than fiber laser.  

Fiber Laser 

Fiber laser technology is quickly gaining popularity due to its speed and quality that rivals traditional CO2 laser cutting. It is also more cost-effective and energy-efficient, resulting in lower investment, maintenance, and operation costs. As the price of fiber laser machines continues to decrease, it becomes an increasingly attractive option compared to plasma & certainly CO2 laser cutting.  Additionally, fiber laser technology also performs better with reflective materials such as copper and brass. In summary, fiber laser technology is emerging as a top choice for manufacturers due to its performance, cost-effectiveness (TCO), and ecological benefits. 

While there may be instances where only one specific cutting technology is suitable for a particular part, fiber laser technology is now more accessible and applicable to a wider range of applications due to its decreasing cost. When considering fiber laser technology, cost is no longer the major factor why manufacturers object. Instead, factors such as the material, thickness, desired quality, and internal hole diameters should be taken into account when deciding on the right cutting solution. It is important to analyze the physical and geometric properties of the part to determine the most suitable machine for its production.  Fiber laser is proving to be the cutting solution of choice for the stricter cutting requirements in today’s products.