CW Lasers Glossary of Terms

Whether you are an expert in all things fiber optics and CW lasers, or you are a newcomer to the industry, there is one thing we can all agree upon; there are quite a few different terminologies involved in the world of lasers! To help make things a little easier for you, we have highlighted some of the most important terms that relate specifically to CW lasers below.

CW Lasers

Perhaps the most important term of all, ‘CW’ simply refers to ‘continuous wave’, meaning that these laser machines emit a constant stream of laser. This is in direct comparison to our pulsed range of fiber lasers, which is emitted in pulsed bursts.

Laser cutting

Laser cutting is one of the three processes that CW lasers are used to perform, and simply involves the cutting of a material. A continuous wave helps to deliver a clean, straight cut.

Laser welding

Laser welding is used to weld two pieces of material together, most commonly used for similar or dissimilar metals.

Laser drilling

Laser drilling, the final process that CW lasers are most often used for, shares many similarities with laser cutting, but is used to drill holes in a material. These holes don’t necessarily have a thru-point, instead creating more of a ‘dent’.


W, the abbreviation for watt, is a unit of power. It is equivalent to one joule p/second.


kW, the abbreviation for kilowatt, is also a unit of power, equal to one thousand watts.

Fit & Forget Technology

You will often see this term being used for our fiber lasers throughout the SPI lasers website, and it’s a key part of all of our lasers. It means that when the laser is fitted within a machine you can simply forget about them! Our lasers are designed to be maintenance free and hassle free.

Plug and Play Technology

Our CW lasers are delivered in a ‘plug and play’ format, meaning that all you have to do is plug them in and then they are ready to go. This, alongside the fit and forget technology, makes our lasers completely hassle free and highly efficient, while also being extremely cost-effective.


This stands for original equipment manufacturer, and refers to a company, such as our own, who create initial products which are then incorporated into other products and sold under a different name or brand.

Reflective metals

These are metals that are reflective in nature, such as aluminium. Many lasers have problems working with these types of metal as the beam is reflected back into the cutting head causing irreparable damage to the laser; our fiber CW lasers are built to withstand this ‘back reflection’ therefore avoiding any loss of production time or expenditure through unwanted repair.

Dissimilar metals

These are two or more metals which are different in nature but could be connected using an appropriate welding application.


An electron is a subatomic particle that has a negative charge of electricity. You’ll find electrons in all atoms, and it is the main carrier of electricity in any solids, meaning you’ll also regularly find them in laser beams too.

Micro machining

This is the removing of tiny amounts of a material by something other than a sharp tool. Our medium power single mode CW fiber lasers are perfect at micro machining tasks.


A composite is a material which has been made from two or more materials. These materials need to have significantly different physical or chemical properties, enough so that when combined it produces a final material with very different characteristics to each of the individual components.

Looking for further answers?

If there are other terminologies or questions that you have regarding CW lasers, you can read more on our CW Lasers FAQs page. We have also produced a historical guide to CW lasers.