Why You Should Pay Attention to the Assist Gas Used during Metal Laser Cutting
The assist gas used during a laser-cutting operation has several implications on the final cost and performance of the product. It is, therefore, necessary for you to take a keen interest in knowing which assist gas will be used when cutting the metals to be used to make your products. Below are several ways by which the assist gas can affect your products:
The edge quality
The neatness of the cut edge is often affected by the specific assist gas used. For example, nitrogen produces the best edge quality during laser cutting. Ordinary air produces cut edges that are lower in quality than those obtained when nitrogen is used. You can insist that nitrogen is used as an assist gas in case appearance is an important consideration in the products that you have ordered.
Potential for contamination
The assist gas that is used can also affect how clean the fabricated products will be. For instance, nitrogen is inert and will produce contaminant-free cuts. This is in contrast to oxygen that can react with the surface of metals during the cutting process. Such reactions can allow oxidation to occur resulting in rust formation. Products that are going to be used in sensitive processes, such as in the food industry, should therefore not be cut using oxygen as an assist gas. Nitrogen would be a better gas for such situations.
The assist gas used also affects the overall cost of the fabrication project. For instance, the high cost of nitrogen will ultimately raise the cost of fabricating your products. Ordinary air is a cheaper option. Consult with your selected fabricator so that the most cost-effective assist gas is used to avoid unnecessary expenses.
The turnaround times
The assist gas that is used during laser cutting can also affect how soon your products will be ready for delivery. This is because some assist gases can necessitate post-cut processing to deal with the effects of using that gas. A clear example is the cleaning that is required to remove the oxide layer that is formed on the cut edges when oxygen is used as an assist gas. That extra step can delay product delivery. It is, therefore, better to select an assist gas with less post-cut processing when you need the finished products urgently.
Take time to discuss the blend of gases to be used with your selected fabricator. The professional will then choose the most appropriate gas based on your particular application.