CNC Laser and Lasers for 3D printers
State of the Market
CNC laser has a very wide range of applications as engraving lasers and cutting lasers, which directly affects a wide range of target groups. The analysis of the target market should be presented structurally in terms of direct laser head recipients, as well as specific industries where the blue diode technology for cutting and engraving can find its measurable application.
It should first be pointed out that the high-power diode laser can be used in laser processing. It is a modern processing method with similar dimensional parameters as classic mechanical processing. The basic difference lies in the cutting medium used, which in the case of laser cutting is a condensed high power optical beam. The devices can be installed in all kinds of processing machines (including lathes, milling machines, machining centers, plotters, 3D printers, and various types of devices and CNC lasers).
In the world, about 450 thousand CNC machines are sold annually with a value of about 70 billion dollars, of which only Chinese manufacturers have produced nearly 283 thousand CNC machine tools (data for: "Global CNC Machine Tools Market 2017-2021" and Grand View Research, Inc.). This group includes milling machines, turning machines, laser machines (about 20%), grinders, welding machines, coiling machines, and other equipment.
CNC Laser for Cutting Machines
It is assumed that currently about 60% of used CNC machines can be equipped with CNC laser - laser cutting and engraving heads. With the advent of new processing tools (lasers) and structural and technological innovations, the new machine models are compact and require less space compared to conventional machines. Reducing the maintenance costs of these machines is a key challenge for manufacturers who are also looking for small size laser head components. Laser heads based on blue laser diodes have small dimensions and a low, competitive price and therefore have a large number of customers among CNC machine manufacturers and users. Laser heads find their direct recipients also among manufacturers of 3D printers due to small dimensions (compactness of the casing and high electrical efficiency, high power of the head, and compatibility with available software).
CNC Laser for 3D printers
In 2015, 220,000 3D printers worth $1.6 billion were sold worldwide. By 2020, up to 8 million units of this equipment may find buyers (data based on Deloitte's research report: "Development of the 3D printers market in Poland and worldwide", November 2016). 3D printers are devices technologically adapted to the use of laser technology - the extruder head is replaced by the laser head, while the entire cutting process takes place using the device's work table. A great advantage of using compact CNC laser lasers is the ease of assembly to the 3D printer, no additional cooling of the laser head, and no need for high-strength structures. Thanks to the laser heads it will be possible to cut and engrave in many materials, including those used directly for 3D printing. Also, the use of blue diodes will allow to engrave on bright surfaces with high speed and resolution up to 0.1 mm. In addition to the standard functionalities of the new head, a small laser dot will allow for the exposure of laminate plates covered with a photosensitive layer, which allows for very fast prototyping (and thus the realization of the basic functionality of 3D printers).
Future Applications in Industry
The market shows a trend towards the use of CNC laser in an increasingly wide range of equipment. Many types of compact CNC machines such as X-Carve, Workbee Shapeoko, and Stepcraft have been developed in recent years. These are small machines offering a wide range of possibilities. Their main customers are small and medium-sized enterprises related to the processing of wood and other machinable materials. The advent of CNC copier lasers in the form of laser engraving heads allows us to further expand the possibilities of these machines. Market awareness of the possibility to add a laser engraver to any CNC machine is constantly growing and CNC laser are becoming increasingly popular. CNC laser is now offered by Starcraft and Snapmaker as well as the CNC Shark. Competition from CNC machine manufacturers will force them to expand the capabilities of their products just by adding a laser to their standard equipment. Opt lasers offers exactly such solutions in high quality and provides service and support.