There are instances when waterjet or plasma are better options than laser cutting. Lasers are negatively affected by a number of factors including material thickness and quality, alloy type, heat conductivity, metallurgy, and even part geometry. Waterjet is better in some cases simply because it does not emit the high temperatures associated with lasers. Conversely, plasma or oxy-fuel is a better choice for thick parts where edge quality and taper are less important.
With various power levels and technologies available, it’s key during the due diligence phase of a new fiber laser purchase to research and understand the differences and features of the cutting head when considering resonator wattage. When choosing a CO2 machine, a cutting head capable of manipulating the beam product parameter, known as the Gaussian Mode pattern, can simplify and improve your results in thick plate cutting of mild steel.