September 25, 2020
Everybody likes a clean edge. Clean, precise edges can also be life-saving. And that’s exactly why laser cutting is used in creating life-saving medical devices. Laser cutting is also essential for cutting the metal bodies of airplanes and the stainless steel used in most of the equipment you find in a catering kitchen. Such precision and clean edge would not be possible without the use of assist gas in the laser cutting process.
The choice of assist gas depends on both the cutting process and the material being cut. Assist gases can generally be classified as inert and reactive. Nitrogen is the most commonly used inert gas in laser cutting and the top choice for cutting stainless steel and aluminum where a high-quality finish is paramount. An excellent finish means that you save money in post-processing.
Oxygen is the most commonly used reactive gas for laser cutting and is preferred for the laser cutting of mild steels. While oxygen’s reactivity has the effect of speeding up the cutting process, it results in an edge that needs further processing.
It must be noted that impurities in assist gas can significantly affect the final cut quality. When using nitrogen as an assist gas, the slightest drop in quality can lead to the discoloration and dullness of the steel. In the case of both gases, impurities can lead to lens damage and inconsistencies in the metal being cut.