Every material has a characteristic absorption spectrum—that is, there are certain wavelengths of light that a given material absorbs more readily than others. Why does this matter? Lasers produce light at very specific wavelengths. By pairing that wavelength to a material that easily absorbs it, the application results are of higher quality and the processing itself is faster.
One of the defining characteristics of different laser types (including CO2, Fiber, YAG, UV, and many others) is their wavelength. CO2 lasers have long wavelengths, around 9.3 – 10.6 µm, with 10.6 µm as the most common. These wavelengths pair nicely with the absorption spectrum from polymers, ceramics, textiles, natural materials like paper or wood, and certain metals. By contrast, the shorter wavelength YAG or Fiber lasers tend to have better absorption in metals.
Once the type of laser has been chosen, there are options to optimize the alternative wavelengths for a specific material. CO2 lasers are typically available in three wavelengths: 9.3 µm, 10.2 µm, and 10.6 µm.
Note that while the 10.2 and 9.3 µm wavelengths excel in processing certain materials, they are also
capable of processing more common materials as well. If you plan to process a variety of materials, an
Applications Engineer can help select the optimal wavelength for your needs