It seems like a matter of months ago—but it’s really been years ago—that power reached an amazing 10 kW on laser cutters. Some worked better than others in those heady days. And to tell the truth, there are plenty (a majority?) of lasers sold in that 3-6 kW range that work just fine and can cut through material as never before because the systems are so much better, independent of the power rating.
However, like the length of a boat, the capacity of a hard drive, the “customs” on a Harley, we can never have enough. Lasers too? Well, unless you’re doing quaint decorative cutting, you will want more than 500 W. And as soon as you add thicker stock, you see the wisdom in wattage.
The latest power beachhead is 40 kW. Several manufacturers are actively pursuing this goal, including two of the biggest producers in China: Han’s Laser and Bodor. Other manufacturers (many from Europe) are already in production and selling 30 kW—including Poland’s Eagle Laser at the 2022 EuroBlech event.
Also at Euroblech, also already selling 30 kW systems, and assuring me that their 40 kW laser would be out by the end of 2022 is Cutlite Penta srl. Dr. Andrea Falaschi is the Export Sales Manager for the Prato, Italy-based firm, and is totally for the power wars. “In the last one and a half years,” he says, “we have developed the 30 kW laser, and the 40 kW is very close behind.
Immediate advantages are pretty clear. Falaschi says, “We can cut two and a half-inch steel with our 30 kW model.” The goal for the launch of the 40 kW laser is to cut four-inch steel. It’s a laudable goal; many things have to go right for this to happen. However, it could also be true that the lower powered lasers could do this same job with better systems around them.
Where the situation gets really interesting is that when you search for 40 kW lasers, you’ll get some of the same companies I found who are pursuing this milestone. When you switch your search to 50 kW you get something different. (I’ll pause here if you want to find out for yourself.) Yes—50 kW is where laser weaponry begins.
But does that mean 40 kW is where laser cutting ends? Probably not, but one could easily imagine a 50 kW laser being like a 50 caliber gun—quite rare and highly regulated. Or not—but one day that line will be crossed.