The Differences Between CO2, MOPA Fiber and UV Lasers

Laser Education News

When companies and hobbyists turn to laser marking for their engraving needs, they usually have specific applications in mind. Whether they need a system to engrave a company logo, add serial numbers and other traceability codes, or personalize a product for a customer, laser marking is the answer, supplying diverse functionalities and providing repeatable solutions.

Those new to laser marking, or those only familiar with one type, may be unaware of the various forms the process takes when it comes to both the laser and its marking capabilities. In this post, we’ll take a look at MOPA fiber lasers vs. UV lasers vs. CO2 lasers, examining the differences and similarities between the options.

A Look at MOPA Fiber Lasers, CO2 Lasers and UV Lasers

In the laser marking field, MOPA fiber lasers have become standard due to the power, versatility, and precision that they provide for users, but CO2 lasers and UV lasers have some key functionalities that set themselves apart.

MOPA Fiber Lasers

“MOPA” stands for “master oscillator power amplifier” and denotes a system comprised of a master laser and an optical amplifier used to strengthen output power. The “fiber” aspect of this laser type’s name refers to fiber optics, which is the delivery system for the laser, and one which results in nearly zero energy loss.

MOPA fiber lasers produce high pulse repetition for the laser beam, lasting only billionths of a second, and outperform basic q-switched fiber laser systems. With these pulse durations, MOPA fiber lasers are able to supply highly precise and contrasting marks for a wide variety of materials.

Fiber lasers often utilize a wavelength of 1.06 μm, which is ideal for being absorbed into many materials, with only a minor percentage of the laser’s rays reflected. While this wavelength is not suited for more fragile materials, such as wood and glass, it is ideal for:

  • Steel
  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Aluminum
  • Brass and copper
  • ABS plastic
  • Polyethylene

CO2 Lasers

CO2 lasers are an older form of marking technology, becoming popular in the 1960s compared to fiber lasers’ emergence in the 1990s. These lasers operate via a glass tube that is filled with carbon dioxide, helium, hydrogen, and nitrogen. As electricity is sent through this tube and into the gas, the atoms within become excited, producing a high-intensity light that is reflected via mirrors to its destination.

When looking at CO2 lasers vs. MOPA fiber lasers, one of the biggest differences is found in the wavelengths. CO2 lasers are offered in wavelengths of 9.3 µm, 10.2 µm, and 10.6 µm. At these higher wavelengths, more robust materials are not well suited for marking (unless less standard, higher-powered CO2 lasers are used), but more delicate materials fare quite well.

CO2 lasers are ideal for marking or engraving:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Carboard
  • Paper
  • Stone
  • Leather
  • Plastics
  • Rubber

Other applications include vaporization and ablation of painted, anodized, and other coatings without affecting the underlying metals. Cutting and drilling of foil, cardboard, paper, leather, and other materials is also possible as well. Meanwhile, the medical field has even used CO2 lasers for certain skin treatments and surgeries.

UV Lasers

Ultraviolet or UV lasers operate by passing a standard wavelength laser of 1064 nm through a non-linear crystal, which drops the wavelength to 532 nm. After passing through a second crystal, the wavelength is reduced once more.

UV lasers utilize a very short wavelength for a laser, typically falling between 200 nm and 389 nm, with 355 nm being particularly common. This wavelength is highly absorptive, giving UV lasers the ability to offer what is referred to as “cold marking.” The process of cold marking prevents excess heat stress from being applied to materials, especially highly reflective ones like silver, gold, and copper.

These types of lasers are ideal for:

  • Polyethylene marking
  • Silicon marking
  • Black annealing
  • Electronic chip marking
  • Glass scribing
  • Various other applications

As you can see, there are key differences between CO2, MOPA fiber and UV lasers, and depending on your application needs one type of system may be more preferable than another.

Our Laser Systems

At TYKMA Electrox, we want our customers to be able to find exactly they need for their applications, which is why we supply diverse systems of different sizes and functionalities, including freestanding, desktop, and integration systems. We also offer options when it comes to the lasers our systems utilize, with various models using MOPA fiber lasers, CO2 lasers, or UV lasers. Check out our handy guide below:

MOPA Fiber Laser Systems

UV Laser Systems

CO2 Laser Systems

Variable Systems

Some of our laser marking systems are designed to accommodate either MOPA fiber lasers, UV lasers, or CO2 lasers, based on customer preference. These systems include:

Along with the system designs and laser options, our units are also able to provide diverse marking capabilities, which include laser marking, laser engraving, laser etching, and laser ablation. For a full breakdown on these types and what they each offer, check out our laser marking differences post.

Benefits of Working with TYKMA Electrox

When you choose us as your partner, you receive advantages such as:

  • High-powered CO2, UV, and MOPA fiber laser systems
  • Air-cooled, solid-state, maintenance-free designs
  • Industry-leading warranties
  • No lamps, water cooling, or alignments required
  • Zero calibrations required
  • Compact machine footprints
  • Production-ready laser marking workstations delivered fully assembled, requiring minimal setup
  • Advanced marking capabilities that are designed to exacting quality standards
  • 24/7/365 customer support

Contact Us Today!

If you think your facility could benefit from a MOPA fiber laser, CO2 laser, or UV laser system, reach out to our team today. We can assess you needs and find you the best equipment for the job!

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