What is a MOPA Laser and What is it Used For?

Fiber laser markers, be it pulsed or continuous wave, have prevailed in nearly all industries for marking products permanently and in high quality. The fiber lasers that are used for industrial part marking usually are either Q-switch or MOPA lasers. As of today, Q-switch lasers are more common because they have already existed on the market for a longer time. That is why they are sometimes called “standard laser”. But due to their high flexibility, MOPA lasers like the FOBA Y.0201 and Y.0201-DN, are an interesting alternative for many applications.

What does the term MOPA mean?

The term MOPA is an abbreviation for Master Oscillator Power Amplifier. The master oscillator produces the beam while the optical amplifier is used for boosting the output power.

What are the advantages of a MOPA laser?

The light of marking lasers is generated in pulses. Generally, the pulse duration is non-adjustable. What is special about a MOPA laser is that its pulse duration is variable: Long or short pulses can be adjusted in steps between 4 and 200 ns.

Additionally, the laser parameters pulse duration, pulse frequency and pulse energy can be adjusted nearly independently of one another what results in high flexibility.

Furthermore, there is a difference regarding the pulse frequency itself: While the range of the pulse frequency of a so-called standard laser lies between 1,6 and 200 kHz, it lies between 1,6 kHz and 1 MHz for a MOPA laser.

Summarizing, the MOPA laser offers more flexibility regarding the adjustment of laser parameters. Thus, the MOPA laser is extremely versatile and can be adapted to the material very accurately if needed.

What are typical applications for a MOPA laser?

MOPA lasers (like Y.0201) are optimally suited for marking naturally and colored anodized aluminum to create black markings without damaging the surface. They are also used for high-contrast marking of various other metals (e.g. nickel alloys, steels, titanium). For example, a MOPA laser creates a wide range of reproducible annealing colors on stainless steel

Annealing colors on stainless steel, laser marked with FOBA Y.0201.
Laser marked anodized aluminum.

Furthermore, MOPA lasers provide advantages regarding the durability of the mark after reprocessing: With the possibility of flexibly adjusting the laser parameters, high-quality markings that are resistant against multiple passivation and sterilization cycles can be achieved. That is why the MOPA laser is often used for marking medical products.

Laser marked dental mirror (marking laser: Y.0201).
Wound retractor, laser marked with a MOPA laser (Y.0201).

You can also achieve better results with the MOPA laser for some plastics than with a “standard” fiber laser, for example regarding the contrast on black polyamide, black PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) or polypropylene.

Due to the possibility of adjusting the pulse duration, MOPA lasers like the FOBA Y.0201-DN are optimally suited for high-quality laser ablation or paint removal, e.g. for day/night markings in the automotive industries.

Controls in day-night-design, laser marked with Y.0201-DN.
The marking appears brilliantly in daylight and is backlit in the dark.

More information

Fiber laser marker Y.0201 (MOPA laser)
Fiber laser marker Y.0201-DN (MOPA laser for day/night design)
Laser marking of metal
Laser marking of plastics
Application case study day and night design with a MOPA marking laser