If you work in the field of laser cutting metals, you might be familiar with the term named ‘Assist Gas’. You must also be aware that Oxygen and nitrogen are the two most commonly used assist gases and they are a very cost-effective option. But how do you find out if air-assist laser cutting is right for you? Given below are some useful insights on the same.
The working of air-assisted laser cutting
CO2 and fiber lasers do not just depend on light beam for cutting metals. In order to supplement the procedure, assist gas is injected through the nozzle. Thereafter, exothermic reaction occurs as a part of which energy is released through light or heat. Heat can be transferred more effectively when nitrogen, air or oxygen are injected and merged with the beam.
When the concept of air-assisted laser cutting was introduced, oxygen was the most popularly used gas. But after few years, it was observed that Nitrogen helps to provide a cleaner cut on metals as compared to oxygen. These days, the air that is used consists of 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen diluted. So whenever aesthetics and edge quality are crucial, this combination of gases helps a lot. Of course, the laser spare parts have to be of superior quality.
Benefits of air-assisted laser cutting
Air-assist cutting might be a new term for some metal fabricators but it has been around for 2 decades now. The research and development for this process started in the year 1998. When compressed air was introduced for CO2 lasers, mode quality was a problem. But over the years several changes were made. And today, air-assist is one of the most popular methods used for cutting different metals. It also offers a better return on investment for fabricators who use fiber lasers or are into cutting stainless steel. The extreme heat produced by fiber lasers when combined with injected air can create cuts without oxide formation lessening the amount of secondary cleanup operations.
Is it a good method for you?
Of course it is! But it also depends on the industry you work in or the kind of metal fabrication jobs you undertake. If good finishing and clean edge are important to your customers, make sure that the proportion of Nitrogen is 80%. It will prevent any type of oxidization or chemical reaction occurring to the metal while the cutting job is being undertaken. Also, switching your laser cutting operation to air can prove to be quite cost-effective. Analyze the kind of laser cutting machine you use, the type of laser cutting parts that are a part of it and the number of cutting jobs you do. This will give you a better idea as to if it is worth investing or not.
Investigate about the number of fabricators that have employed air-assisted laser cutting technique and try to know about its pros and cons. Also try to research about this technique to have a better idea about its implementation.