Fiber lasers are the newest type of laser to hit the market, but thanks to their wide ranging number of benefits and advantages, they have quickly been adopted by dozens of industries for dozens of applications and uses all around the world.
Even with the new advantages that fiber lasers bring, they are still constantly being innovated and developed almost every day, and they continue to improve rapidly to provide even further benefits to these industries.
To help show you exactly just how useful fiber lasers are for so many global industries, here are some of the industries which use fiber lasers.
What makes fiber lasers useful to so many industries?
Before we look at the industries themselves, we wanted to discuss just why industrial fiber lasers are so useful and so adaptable for such a wide variety of industries. For a start, industrial fiber lasers offer their users total control over beam intensity, duration and heat output. The fact that the user gets so much control means that they can create a resulting product to the exact specifications that they require.
This control also means that you can use one fiber laser machine setup for multiple applications and uses, unlike in the past where you would need multiple machines. For example, one fiber laser machine could be used for laser cutting, laser drilling and laser marking.
Another huge benefit that industrial fiber lasers offer to so many businesses is the fact that they can have such high levels of efficiency and power, all while keeping other costs, such as electrical costs, low. Many industries are about heavy power in quick time for efficient results, and fiber lasers help to achieve this.
Another crucial factor that businesses heavily prioritise is obviously costs and profit margins. One of the reasons that so many businesses choose a fiber laser over other types of laser, such as a gas laser, is due to their cost-effectiveness. Fiber lasers typically require no servicing as they are built with our ‘fit and forget’ technology. However, for the rare occurrence maintenance should ever be required costs are typically around 50% less than other lasers.
When you are looking at a laser that can perform at a higher power for a lower cost; well the choice is clear!
One final reason that so many industries use SPI fiber lasers is their ability to work with reflective metals and other reflective materials. Other lasers are unable to do so because their beam is reflected back into the machine itself, causing damage. SPI Fiber lasers, on the other hand, don’t suffer from this problem due to their patented back reflection design.
The main industries that our fiber lasers are used in
Now that you’ve had a brief introduction into just some of the reasons why so many industries use fiber lasers, we thought we’d cover these industries themselves. While there are dozens of these sectors, the ones below are the main ones which use our SPI fiber lasers.
Aerospace is an incredibly large industry when you factor in that it incorporates commercial airlines, military jets, private jets and transportation jets. There is over 100,000 commercial flights every single day, and the UK aerospace industry alone has sales of roughly £31.1bn a year.
Clearly, this is an industry that needs fast and efficient production times and speeds. But also, it is an industry that has to put safety at the forefront of their minds, as they are essentially putting large tin cans full of people into the air! That’s not to even mention the fact that the aerospace industry also includes spacecraft; aircraft which is venturing into the unknown. For that reason, the processes used on the ground have to be incredibly efficient and reliable; it is no surprise therefore that the use of industrial fiber lasers is widespread within the aerospace industry.
Fiber lasers are used on all jets in much the same way and for similar applications. They are used to weld together metals of all different kinds to create the different parts and features of the final aircraft. One of the big benefits of industrial fiber lasers that we didn’t touch upon above is their ability to weld together dissimilar metals; which are two or more metals that don’t possess the same qualities.
Many industries, including the aerospace industry, uses many different metals, so this is a great benefit.
One of the greatest uses for fiber lasers in the aerospace industry is for drilling thru-holes, also known as cooling holes, used to keep the various parts of the aircraft cool and to prevent overheating.
Automotive and e-mobility
The automotive industry bears many similarities to the aerospace industry in the way the production line works, albeit on a smaller scale in terms of product size. In terms of product output, the automotive industry dwarfs the aerospace one, with almost 100 million automobiles manufactured in 2016.
Again, this industry is about high production, high efficiency, and high-profit margins, all while maintaining an extremely high level of safety. You’ll find that fiber lasers are used in much the same way as above; to weld together various parts of the automobile and to create cut parts that often make up the core elements of the body.
The automotive industry also dabbles in the military industry, as does the above, which the creation of military-worth vehicles such as tanks.
Fiber lasers are also being extensively used in the eco-friendly move from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. Fiber lasers contribute in many ways such as cleaning of battery cells, 3D printing of parts, battery foil cutting, drilling of cooling holes, engraving of VIN’s (Vehicle Identification Numbers) and numerous welding applications such as dissimilar metal welding. These are just a few of the ways in which industrial fiber lasers are enabling the e-mobility initiative.
The battery industry is one that has seen monumental growth in recent years, thanks to the dramatic increase in the number of technological devices that we use. From smartphones to tablets, and laptops to wireless headphones, batteries are at the centre of all of these devices. Roughly 3 billion batteries are thrown away in America alone each year; this doesn’t include any rechargeable batteries or built in batteries used in phones or laptops.
It’s safe to say that any industry producing batteries needs their products produced in double quick time, but they also need to be safe too. Especially to avoid situations like Samsung’s exploding batteries!
The dental industry is not the largest industry to be using fiber lasers, but the fiber laser has certainly helped to revolutionise the way in which this industry operates. The biggest impact that fiber lasers have helped to have on this industry is the way in which the tools and equipment used by dental surgeries can be manufactured.
The main processes that are used in this industry are laser welding, laser marking and additive manufacturing. The first is useful in welding together different parts of dentistry tools that can also keep them sterilised.
Laser marking is a key part of the industry, making sure that all tools are appropriately marked and traceable. Finally, additive manufacturing can be used for things such as the 3D printing of teeth.
It goes without saying that the electronics industry is huge. If we look at consumer electronics specifically, it’s predicted that it will be worth $838.85 billion by 2020, a monumental figure. So, as with the above industries, you need good processes in place.
As with the battery industry, fiber lasers are very effective due to their ability to work with intricate parts and without causing any damage to the surrounding area.
Pretty much every single item that we use in our everyday lives involves electronics in some way, and so it’s safe to say that fiber lasers play a huge part in our lives too through the electronics industry!
The jewellery industry, another sizable industry that has a worth of around $70 billion, also makes heavy use of fiber lasers, for laser cutting, laser marking, laser engraving, laser ablation and laser welding. The high level of control that fiber lasers offer their user means that the small and often intricate pieces of jewellery that we see in the market can be created exactly to a user’s specifications.
Fiber lasers can be used to weld together dissimilar metals, to engrave pieces of jewellery, or to help clean jewellery with laser ablation. It is also highly useful for working with tough materials such as diamonds, helping to smooth out any rough surfaces or marks.
Increasingly we are also seeing amazingly intricate jewellery designs coming to the market as a result of Metal Additive Manufacturing; allowing designers to be more creative than ever before!
The medical industry is one that makes use of fiber lasers in much the same way as the dentistry industry; primarily focusing on the creation of safe, reliable and efficient medical tools, instruments and pieces of equipment.
In the same way that fiber lasers have revolutionised the dentistry industry, so too have they done it for the medical industry. It has helped with the creation of safe pieces of equipment extremely quickly and efficiently, while also keeping costs down.
Some of the pieces of equipment that it’s helped to create are:
- Surgical instruments such as knives, bone saws and scull drills
- Cartridges such as insulin dispensers
- Needles and
- Implants, such as stents or bone connectors
Fiber lasers are more specifically used within the printing industry for 3D printing, using the process known as additive manufacturing. While 3D printing is a process that has been around for many years, dating back to around the 1980s, it has seen a huge boost in recent years, and now it’s even possible to 3D print objects such as houses!
Additive manufacturing helps to build a product precisely and accurately layer by layer, leaving you with a high-quality finished product. This has seen the printing industry, which dips into so many other industries such as the medical sector or the electronics industry, have an increased use for fiber lasers.
Although only used for Metal Additive Manufacturing the possibilities of Fiber Lasers in 3D printing are endless and are being investigated by industries across the globe looking at everything from lightening products to allowing more complex designs to optimise the efficiency of processes such as fuelling or cooling by air/water.
Fiber lasers are quickly becoming the go-to piece of equipment for much of the scientific industry. They are used for research purposes, such as for seeing how they can be used within the military sector, but also in other ways such as for drilling rocks (currently being tested in some industries); which, it is predicted one day, may be useful for building stable bases on Mars!
A fiber laser is great for being used within a sensor, and often these sensors, which can be used in harsh and inhospitable environments, need internal equipment that is up to the task. You’ll find these sensors being used for things such as structural health monitoring or seismic sensors.
The semi-conductor industry bears many similarities to the electronics industry, and for that reason the benefits of using fiber lasers remain much the same. These benefits are that they are great at working with small parts, and they won’t cause damage to the rest of the surrounding area of the semi-conductor.
Semi-conductors, just like electronics, are used in many of our everyday products, so it’s crucial that these are created safely and reliably.
Fiber lasers are primarily used within the solar industry to help with the creation of thin-film solar cells, mostly done through silicon scribing and silicon cutting. A solar PV industry is now installed every four minutes, and so the rapid rise of the industry means that fiber lasers have seen an increased use too.
What other industries are fiber lasers used in?
As we previously mentioned, it’s not just the above industries that fiber lasers are limited to, and here are some of the other industries that you will find fiber lasers being used in:
- Universities, colleges and schools
- Offices and
- Military and defence (we touched on this above, but it is still its own industry that deserves a mention)
Do you have more questions about fiber lasers or the industries that use them?
The above has given a brief snapshot of industries that use fiber lasers, and the way in which they use them, but they have dozens of other uses, both large and small. If you have more questions relating specifically to fiber lasers, then be sure to check out our FAQs page. If you would prefer to speak to one of the team, you can call us on +44 (0)1489 779696 or contact us here. We also recommend our future updates, which will also be a mine of useful information.