The answer is blowing in the wind
Air assist is a very handy feature on any laser cutter. In fact, you almost NEED it to do any decent job. Why? read on …
Lasers cut with heat and when you heat up things, you can overheat.
If you try to cut wood with a non-air-assisted cutter, you essentially burn into wood. This results in smoke and that smoke tends to go upwards because of heat.
As a result, this smoke is going to pollute your laser lens. This leaves residue on your lens which can further destroy your lens because the laser beam also heats it up.
The smoke on your workpiece also blocks a part of your laser beam, so you get less powerful beam to cut. What a waste of energy.
And one of the most important reasons is because of the risk to get a nice fire in your machine.
When you use air assist, you actually blow air through the nozzle downwards to your workpiece. A small air compressor is enough (preferably with a device to remove as much as possible water out of the compressed air).
The air then exits the nozzle and by doing that, you make sure that no smoke ever reaches the lens. (1 – 0 for the air assist). You also blow away all smoke which would otherwise block the beam and make it weaker before it hits your workpiece (2 – 0 for air assist)
Without air assist you run the risk that your wood catches fire, but air assist makes sure potential flames don’t get a chance (3 – 0 for air assist).
Lastly, for some materials, cut quality can drastically improve when using air assist. (4 – 0 for air assist)
If this was an election, the winner would be very obvious.
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