September 25, 2020
You can reduce your total laser cutting cost by making small changes in your process. For example, when it comes to your choice of laser, some (solid-state lasers, for example) do not require lasing gases, which are used to generate the laser light, and the replacement of the resonator component is a rarity. Some lasers are more energy efficient than others. Moreover, certain factors such as the replacement cost of nozzles and mirrors influence your maintenance expenses. You also have to make the right decision pertaining to the ideal power, pressure and nozzle diameter for a specific task. However, by and large, the single largest expense in running a laser cutting system is that of the assist gas. So if you’re serious about reducing your total laser cutting cost, it goes without saying that it helps to analyze your supply and use of assist gas.
If you are a metal fabricator looking for efficient production, you’re probably using nitrogen as an assist gas because of its better cutting speed and its ability to produce oxide-free, clean edges. Therefore, if want to cut down expenses significantly while maintaining production efficiency, you need to consider producing your own nitrogen on-site. Supply from a third party not only is interruptive but also involves high rental costs and evaporation/boil-off losses that add up over time. On-site nitrogen generation not only ensures uninterrupted supply but also allows you to set your own flow rate and pressure according to your laser cutting requirements. Moreover, the installation is smooth, only requiring a compressed air system to start production right away. In addition to immediate cost savings, your investment in Pneumatech’s on-site gas generation solutions can be recovered in two years or less.
But your gas requirements likely don’t end with the assist gas. You probably need a purge gas as well. The role of the purge gas is to clean the path of the laser beam from the point where it is generated to the cutting head. The purge gas prevents contaminants (dust, smoke) from making their way into the path of the laser beam. Purge gas also prevents component damage by increasing the pressure within the tubing and reduces the humidity within the laser tubing. Such contamination interferes with the laser beam’s power and efficiency. As a purge gas, nitrogen also protects the expensive mirrors and lenses within the system and prevents them from clouding.