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YVO4 and Fiber Lasers: What's the Difference?

April, 2020

Industrial laser markers are broadly divided into five types based on the wavelength of the laser beam: CO2, YVO4, Fiber, SHG (green) and UV (ultraviolet). In general, shorter wavelengths generate more energy and have a higher ratio of absorption into objects.

Infrared lasers (YVO4 and Fiber) are the most common and versatile on the market today, but both lasers share the same wavelength. So what's the difference between the two, and do those differences change what/how you can mark?

4 Differences Between YVO4 and Fiber Lasers

1 Output Characteristics

Output characteristics of lasers vary considerably depending on the laser excitation media. For YVO4 and fiber lasers, these differences are shown through their peak power (light intensity) and pulse duration (how long illumination occurs).

YVO4 lasers are produced by an end-pumping excitation method, which creates an easily-focused, high-quality beam with high peak power and short pulses.

On the other hand, fiber laser engravers have a lower-quality beam, high output power and low peak power.

2 Laser Mediums

End-pumping YVO4 lasers are solid state systems that use YVO4 crystals as their medium. YVO4 is a yttrium vanadate crystal and is doped with Nd (neodymium).

To generate the laser, pumped light is applied at one end of the YVO4 crystal and reflects through a resonator. The resonator is composed of a pair of mirrors with the crystal and Q-switch positioned between them. The degree of amplification at the center of the crystal is large and the generated laser light is single mode, which makes it possible to output high-quality lasers.

Fiber laser engravers use doped fibers as their medium and have long-distance communication relay amplification technology to maintain consistent high output.

These optical fibers are composed of a core that propagates the light along the center of the fiber and cladding that concentrically wraps the core. Fiber lasers use this core as the laser medium to amplify the light. The core is doped with Yb (ytteribum).

YVO4 lasers (End-pumping method)

Fiber laser

3 Energy Transfer

Fiber lasers are superior for carving and deep engraving. When comparing the engraving depth on a metal target for the same marking time, a fiber laser engraved a depth of 320 μm (12.60 Mil) and a YVO4 laser engraved 210 μm (8.27 Mil).

YVO4 lasers emit high intensity laser pulses for a short time. As a result, a shallow engraved area in the surface layer of a material is heated quickly and then cools immediately. Since laser radiation stops before heat is transferred, the thermal influence on the surrounding area is small.

On the other hand, fiber lasers emit low intensity laser pulses for a long time. The temperature of the material rises slowly and a liquefied or evaporating state continues for a long time. Consequently, a fiber laser is suitable for a large amount of engraving.

KEYENCE fiber laser marker

KEYENCE YVO4 laser marker

4 Marking Quality

Compare the print quality of the YVO4 laser and the fiber laser. The YVO4 laser produces a high peak power/short pulse laser. Marking quality is stable even under difficult processing conditions (such as a focus shift or large diffraction angle) because the illumination process has ideal strength distribution and produces high laser energy in a short time.

Depth of Focus

KEYENCE fiber laser marker

KEYENCE Product YVO4 laser marker

Incident Angle Effect

KEYENCE fiber laser marker

KEYENCE Product YVO4 laser marker

YVO4 and Fiber lasers differ in a few critical areas. YVO4 lasers are better suited for high-quality applications and fiber systems are better for deep engraving or high-speed applications.

To learn more about these systems (and to see how KEYENCE developed a laser that combines the best of both) download our marking product lineup.