Those who use laser cutters for a living are undoubtedly familiar with assist gases. While oxygen and nitrogen are the most commonly used gases, air provides a cost-efficient alternative. Below are a few things to know about air-assist as it pertains to laser cutting operations.
How the Process Works
Neither CO2 nor fiber lasers rely only on light beams to cut metal. Rather, the cutting process is supplemented with assist gases. When the light beam and gas come together, an exothermic reaction is induced and heat is transferred more efficiently. While nitrogen is the most prevalent gas used in laser cutting, oxygen is a cost-efficient and effective alternative for many users.
The Benefits of Air-Assisted Laser Cutting
While it’s new to some users, air-assisted cutting has been done for almost 20 years. Since then, the usage of air as an assist gas has become more popular among users of CO2 and fiber lasers. Today, air assist is a popular and effective way to cut a range of materials, including aluminum and stainless steel.
When Air Should be Used as an Assist Gas
Today’s businesses are looking for ways to reduce costs without sacrificing productivity. For fabrication shops, this means a complete re-evaluation of all processes. Air can deliver significant improvements in both of these areas. While it’s usually used to cut thin materials, stainless parts are great candidates for air-assisted laser cutting.
Air Assist Produces Results Comparable to Nitrogen and Oxygen
While it’s not right for every application, air assist produces laser-cut edges that are comparable in quality to those cut with nitrogen or oxygen. The edge quality on air assist pieces is more than adequate for powder coat adhesion, which eliminates the need for secondary cleaning.
When Nitrogen is the Right Choice
Despite the benefits of air assist cutting, there are still times when nitrogen is the right choice. Nitrogen assisted cuts are cleaner, and they’re best for users in the aerospace and food processing industries.
Is Air Assist Laser Cutting Right for All Businesses?
Is air the right choice for the company’s laser cutting operations? The answer to that question depends on the industries the company serves, and the importance of edge quality to customers. When edge quality is paramount, nitrogen is the appropriate option. Follow Boss Lasers on Twitter for more details.