How is Nitrogen Used in the Laser Cutting Process?

June 25, 2019

Nitrogen gas is essential in the preservation of snack foods, bottling, packaging, electronics soldering and a number of other applications. It is also crucial during laser cutting and accounts for 60% of the total operational cost of a laser cutting machine used for cutting different types of metals. But what exactly is the nitrogen gas used for?

Oxidation Prevention

Nitrogen and other inert gases prevent surface oxidation of mild steel, stainless steel, titanium and aluminum. Oxidation occurs when oxygen and moisture chemically react with the metal, causing corrosion. By using nitrogen in the cutting process, this pushes out any surrounding oxygen from reacting with the metal and helps to prevent any additional heat generation. Higher pressures of nitrogen are used depending on the thickness and strength of the metal that is being cut. Preventing oxidation of the metal produces a higher-quality finish and reduces the preparation time for welding and surface treatment after the cutting.

Laser Beam Purging

A clean laser beam stream is necessary for the laser cutting process to prevent any irregularities in the cut. To prevent any contamination to the laser beam, nitrogen is used to purge the tube that the laser beam travels through. This also pushes out oxygen and any contaminates in the air that would otherwise affect the laser. If nitrogen is not used in this process, periods of downtown to repair the optics on the cutting machine can become frequent. This helps ensure burr-free cutting and increased productivity through a higher, cleaner cutting speed.

Using nitrogen for laser cutting over other gases has become the standard in the metal industry because of its' oxygen reducing benefits. Because the cost of nitrogen is the majority of the expense in laser cutting, having an on-site nitrogen generator will not only reduce your operating costs, but will also provide a constant flow of nitrogen gas when downtime can be catastrophic. Pneumatech provides multiple nitrogen solutions for laser cutting through the PPNG gas generator range that can reach purities of up to 99.999%. You can browse the full PPNG range HERE.


PPNG 300