Both CO2 and fiber lasers rely on an assist gas to support the cutting process. Injected at the nozzle, the gas initiates a chemical reaction that releases energy by light or heat. This process is known as an exothermic reaction.
Popular assist gasses include nitrogen, oxygen, and shop air. There are several variables to consider when selecting an assist gas for laser cutting. Two important considerations are the type of metal being processed and secondary processes those cut parts may require. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of nitrogen.
As an inert gas, nitrogen produces a high-energy and very focused laser beam resulting in a high quality and precise cut with very clean edges. As a result, this gas is often used when processing stainless steel or aluminum parts for such industries with tight tolerance or cosmetic requirements – such as aerospace, medical, household appliances, and others.
On the downside, nitrogen is a costly gas. When compared to less expensive gasses. For example, a fabricator may use 5 to 10 times more nitrogen as opposed to running that same job using oxygen as an assist gas. In many instances the cost of the gas alone can run as high as 90% of the total operating cost.
Maximizing your Investment
Regardless of type or size, lasers are a significant investment for any company. SecturaSOFT helps fabricators keep these costly machines running at full capacity by winning more jobs – and ensuring that each quote will be profitable. Contact SecturaSOFT to learn more.