What is Air Assist for a Laser Cutter?
When you are just exposed to the laser cutting machine, it is better to install built-in hardware - air assist in the laser cutting machine to help you. It is a concentrated air source located on the laser head, between the laser beam and the material you need to cut or carve. Does "cooling" the laser beam seem counterintuitive? Let's explore the function of air assist and why it is mainly included in high-quality laser cutting and engraving machines.
What is the actual function of air assistance of laser cutting machines?
The air auxiliary function comes from the air compressor. Its power is similar to that of a can of compressed air, but it is more controlled and specially used for laser engraving projects. This air will blow through the material during the whole process of laser cutting or engraving. Constant airflow forms a cooling barrier between the laser beam and your material to keep the laser at a safe operating temperature. In some use scenarios, if there is no air assistance, the laser may be heated to the extent of causing a fire. Therefore, a key purpose behind the air assist function of the laser cutting machine is safety. Most CO2 laser cutting machines with higher performance and quality will be equipped with air assistance.
Open diode laser systems are usually not strong enough for deep cutting or engraving, so they usually do not require this type of feature or this type of laser cooling.
How does the air keep the laser cool enough?
The air assist works with the water cooling system. The water will flow through the closed channel in the laser tube and prevent the glass from breaking.
What Else Can Air Assist Help With?
In addition to being a safety function, the integration of powerful air assistance functions can also help reduce the warping or carbonization of materials by high-power lasers. We have a more in-depth explanation of how to avoid carbonization when comparing power and current, but the key topic is to use the minimum power setting required to complete the work. Sometimes higher power is required to achieve clean cutting, and the air assist function can help ensure that the cutting will not be blocked by deeply burnt edges or burn marks.
What happens if I turn off the air assist? Does it always have to be opened?
The air assist can be turned on and off depending on the software and the degree of control that the laser company provides you as an end user. Some manufacturers will choose to disable this feature or not provide it at first. You can choose to turn air assist on or off at any time, but it is recommended that you keep it on for most jobs. Air assist is particularly useful for cutting paper because it blows the paper out from under the laser head.
The fully functional air assist device helps ensure your investment is not affected by waste materials caused by damaged laser tubes or scorched designs. For your air assist device to function fully, the user should follow routine maintenance procedures, including cleaning the lens and mirror with a lens wiping cloth (isopropyl alcohol), keeping the laser bed free of piles of debris, and blowing out any smoke exhaust system filters.