In laser cutting, nitrogen’s role is not limited to that of an assist gas that prevents the accumulation of material around the kerf. It also blocks oxidation and helps in heat dissipation, ensuring the cut edge cools down faster. Notably, nitrogen also purges the path of the laser beam as it makes its way through the plenum. Keeping the air along the beam path free of contaminants such as vapor, oil and dust, it ensures that mirrors and lenses remain clean, thus maintaining the intensity of the laser beam and ensuring an efficient cutting process.
One may wonder why a laser beam purge is required in the first place. That’s because regular air carries a good dose of contaminants. Contaminant-free beam delivery ensures that the beam remains distortion free and the optics clean, requiring less time to be spent on cleaning them and maintaining operations at an optimal level. Moreover, it cuts down on the downtime and any service and replacement costs that may arise. Thereby, nitrogen takes care of the job of purging.
Further, using an on-site nitrogen generator, we can check costs further. Pneumatech’s nitrogen generators, for example, produce a moisture-free supply of nitrogen. It requires lesser supervision as compared to supplied nitrogen, and as a metal fabricator, you are spared the hidden costs of third-party nitrogen supply by way of maintenance, price fluctuations, taxes, delivery charges and, not to mention, evaporation and boil-off losses. These savings are no surprise, as the assist gas in steel fabrication operations is a major factor in the overall expenses, accounting for as much as 60% of total running costs.