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How Can Air Assist Improve Laser Cutting?

Air Assist Improve Laser Cutting

Yufan Sun |

Nowadays, people begin to realize the importance of installing air assist device on laser cutting machine, because it is easy to install and can save money in the long run! Yes, even beginners should learn air assist. Air assist is used for all types of laser cutting and laser engraving tasks. This is an effective way to cut and engrave various materials, which can save you time, money and materials. Air assist can make laser engraving and cutting safer. Let's learn more about air assist in this article, how it is implemented, and the advantages of this technology in laser cutting and engraving.

What is laser air assist?

Air assist is the act of blowing high-pressure are onto your workpiece. The air assist of CO2 laser engraving machine is used for blowing air to prevent the material from being burned during laser cutting.

Air assist

When laser cutting some materials, sparks will burn or melt the materials. To solve this problem, each Monport laser engraving machine is equipped with an air pump, which delivers compressed air to the laser head and blows it directly onto the material. This compressed air can reduce material combustion and melting. In addition, it helps to blow away the cutting dust on the laser head, avoid polluting the focusing lens, and maintain the durability of the lens on the laser cutting machine.

Air assist for laser cutters helps the machine achieve better engraving or laser cutting results by minimizing heat around the laser head, dissipating heat where the laser contacts the workpiece, removing debris from around the contact point, and preventing the workpiece from burning. 

How does laser air assist work?

1998 was the year when air-assisted laser engraving was first used, but as early as that year, CO2 laser was used. The workers found that the CO2 laser worked more efficiently with the air assist system.             

When air is introduced, an exothermic reaction occurs. This is a chemical reaction that uses heat or light to produce energy. More efficient heat transfer can be achieved using gas or compressed air than using only a laser beam. Therefore, the air assisted technology of laser cutting machine makes the cutting and engraving tasks cleaner, smoother and faster.             

Oxygen was initially the ideal gas for laser engraving, but soon nitrogen became a better choice because it cooled the workpiece and created cleaner, seamless edges. Nitrogen is an industrial choice that needs more beautiful and requires high-quality parts. However, nitrogen is very expensive, which is why compressed air has become a standard economical air auxiliary option. 

The benefits of laser air assist

The flow of gases (air, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.) plays an extremely important role in laser material processing. They can be used to avoid surface contamination by removing dust and debris, or to manage complex chemical interactions that occur during laser material processing. Monport uses air assisted and optical protection technology to:

  • Improve the processing quality of laser materials

Air assisted processing is very advantageous in almost any material. Air assisted processing is very advantageous in almost any material. Although compressed air is not the best gas for all laser cutting purposes, it does also help to improve the edge quality of laser cutting. The edge quality produced by air assisted laser engraving is more satisfactory than that of most powder coatings, wood, acrylic resin and other materials.   

  • Reduce operating costs

With the help of the treatment gas, the treatment speed can be significantly improved. With the help of the treatment gas, the treatment speed can be significantly improved. Installing an air assist system for laser cutting is a more cost-effective way to expand laser cutting capacity, increase maximum cutting thickness, achieve cleaner cutting and less coke.

  • Improve the safety of laser system

Air assist allows safe handling of combustible materials and materials that produce combustible by-products.The use of laser air assist can also reduce the risk of fire caused by debris, as possible combustible materials will be quickly blown away from the laser beam and its waste heat.

  • Reduce maintenance

Air assist helps to maintain a clean working environment in the housing and reduce contamination of optical surfaces and moving parts. 

Possible risks for not using an air assist 

What if laser cutting is performed without air assist? When your laser cuts, it produces debris and smoke. Although it seems harmless, it can become very dangerous. When laser cutting, debris may cause sparks, which poses a risk of fire. Smoke has three negative effects:            

  1. Smoke in the laser path interferes with the beam energy, reduces the total power, and leads to inconsistency.       
  1. Large amounts of smoke can accumulate residues anywhere around the laser optics (very bad) and the laser cutter.          
  1. Residues, chemicals and discoloration may appear on the workpiece. 

Maintenance of air assisted laser cutting machine:

The following technologies will help you maintain the air assisted laser cutter or laser air assisted kit for longer service life.            

  • Clean the fan unit regularly

Most materials (such as wood, MDF and acrylic resin) release smoke, residues and oil, which affect the performance of the cutter. Before cleaning, disconnect the power supply and remove all debris from the suction fan.             

  • Check for obstructions on the filter components of the auxiliary air compressor

Remove any debris from the laser air assist compressor, filter components, air assist nozzles and laser air assist pump as these may affect normal function. An appropriate amount of air must pass through the nozzle. Insufficient air will affect the air auxiliary function and may increase the risk of fire. Check whether the auxiliary air nozzle is separated.

  • Clean the optical elements at least every 10 to 40 hours of use

Dirty and turbid optical elements will affect the overall beam intensity. Clean the optical elements regularly to avoid damaging the lens and materials. Clean with IPA solution, or use acetone and some cotton swabs.

Air assisted laser cutting and engraving machines have many advantages. It enhances security, improves efficiency, and saves you money, time, and materials. Air assist will protect the user from burns and prevent smoke from clouding the lens and affecting the quality of the workpiece. Finally, learning how to take care of your air assisted laser cutting machine and engraving machine will give you years of laser cutting efficiency and convenience. In any case, this technology is adopted by most companies and is the manufacturing standard. 

If you are reading this article, first, you have read the last! Secondly, you may be a beginner or have a laser cutting machine for the first time, so in this case, all this seems a little overwhelming! But for our experienced readers, we know how important it is to install some form of air assist before you cut several times as soon as possible!             

Although it may cost you some extra money and more time to set up, the benefits and protection it provides make it absolutely necessary. If you know someone using a laser cutter without air assist, please make sure to let them know immediately and let us know at any time what type of air assist you decide to use!