What is a Continuous Wave (CW) Laser?

Perhaps one of the most common questions that we regularly get asked here at SPI Lasers is “what is a continuous wave laser?” Find out everything that you need to know, and more, in this section.

The quick definition of a CW laser

So that we don’t bury it in the article, here’s a quick definition if you’re just looking for a quick answer! A CW laser is a laser that emits a continuous laser beam with a controlled heat output, as beam duration and intensity.

It’s important to note that we are an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) of CW fiber lasers. This means that we create the initial laser, which is then incorporated into other setups and machines, and often sold under another brand name.

The various types of laser

Lasers can be either pulsed or continuous wave. A continuous wave, as described above, is the direct opposite of a pulsed laser, which also allows the user control over beam duration and intensity, but is emitted in pulses rather than one continuous beam.

As well as the two different ways in which a laser beam can be used, there are also three different types of laser itself that you’ll find can form a CW laser. These are crystal lasers (most often referred to as an Nd:YAG laser), gas lasers (usually from carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or helium-neon), and fiber lasers.

Here at SPI Lasers we only manufacture fiber lasers, the newest and most modern version of the three types of lasers. We have chosen to do this as it provides the most power and control to users, while also keeping maintenance and purchase costs low. In many cases, it’s only a fiber laser that is actually able to achieve a continuous laser beam.

Where will you find CW lasers being used?

CW lasers are focused more around power and high output, so you’ll most commonly see CW lasers being used in industrial settings. Some of the industries that you’ll most often find it being used in are the automotive, aerospace, electronics and semi-conductor industries, as well as the medical sector.

CW lasers are most adept at performing laser drilling, laser cutting and laser welding.

What can CW lasers work with?

CW Lasers are most often used to work with metals, but are also used to work with some types of ceramics too. Metals can include steel, copper, titanium, nickel, brass and reflective metals such as silver, gold and aluminium. It’s a particular benefit that our CW fiber lasers can work with reflective metals as other types of laser, such as gas lasers, struggle more due to the reflective nature of the metal.

What are the benefits of using CW lasers?

The biggest benefit of using a CW laser is the fact that it emits one, constant beam. If you are working with very finite materials and need very specific incisions made in complicated shapes, then perhaps a pulsed laser is best.

But for heavy industrial applications, where efficiency and speed are paramount, a CW laser that requires little to no maintenance or upkeep is the perfect solution. It allows factories and manufacturing plants to run smoothly and efficiently, dramatically increasing productivity and output.

What are the main differences between your different types of CW lasers?

The main differences between our different lasers are their power output, but each has been designed for a different function or with different benefits in mind. For more specifics on each laser and how it can improve the productivity of your business, please either follow the links on this page or find our contact details below.

Related articles

We have also produced the following two articles which you may wish to visit:

Are you looking to buy a pulsed fiber laser instead?

If you think a pulsed fiber laser is more suited to your task, application or industry, then you can visit our range here. We’ve also laid out an extensive FAQ section here, or should you have any other questions about CW lasers, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.