When Should Air be Used as an Assist Gas in Laser Cutting application?
Most fabricators know that Laser cutting with nitrogen as an assist gas is still the No. 1 choice for applications in which cutting edge quality is critical.
Normally some thin gauge materials ,thin SS below 2mm is suitable for cutting by fiber laser with the clean air. In a word ,air is a cost-effective alternative to those gases-N2,O2.
People generally use air to cut thin material, most stainless parts, especially those used in assemblies, are candidates for air-assist laser cutting. Air can deliver measurable cost and productivity improvements
Air produces a laser-cut edge quality that is at least comparable to parts cut with oxygen or nitrogen. Air-assist edge quality is more than satisfactory for most powder coatings to adhere to, eliminating the need for secondary cleaning operations.
Still there are times when nitrogen remains the best gas choice of assist gas. Nitrogen produces a cleaner cut, and those serving customers throughout the food processing and aerospace industries should continue their use of the gas.
Additionally, some cosmetic parts ,food containers cannot show any blemish whatsoever. Again, these types of parts would not be candidates for air-assist cutting.
So is air the best choice for your laser cutting operation? It all depends on the industries you serve and how important edge quality is to you and your customers.
The bottom line is that when edge quality is absolutely critical, nitrogen remains the best option. It produces cooler cuts and is an inert gas, meaning that there is no chemical reaction when cutting stainless steel. This prevents oxidization from occurring, leaving a clean, shiny edge that eliminates secondary descaling operations.