Fiber lasers are competing with the traditional CO2 Laser, Plasma, Water Jet and Press Punch technology. This paper
concentrates on the drivers behind the progress that ≤500W CW fiber lasers have made in the thin metal cutting and welding market. Thin metal cutting in this case is defined as below 4mm and the dominant technology has been the Press Punch for higher quality, large volume components and Plasma for lower quality, small quantities. Up until the fiber lasers were commercially available many machine manufacturers were deterred from incorporating lasers due to the technical barriers posed by the lasers available at that time. In particular fiber laser requires no maintenance does not necessitate a beam path to be aligned and kept free of contaminant so have encouraged many traditionally non-laser machine builders to integrate fiber sources into a variety of applications and push the performance envelope. All of the components to build a fibre laser cutting or welding system are now available “off-the shelf” which is even allowing end users to design and build their own systems directly in production environments.