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Air Assist

What is Air Assist and why do you need it?

Air Assist directs a constant stream of compressed air onto the material being cut or engraved, and provides 3 advantages.

Some materials will flame up or scorch when using the laser. Applying compressed air onto the artwork will minimize the burning and scorching of the material. The compressed air also removes previously cut material, making the cutting process more efficient.

The compressed air is fed into the cone section on the end of the lens enclosure. This creates positive pressure in the lens enclosure which stops smoke and dust from accumulating on the lens. The lens is used to focus the laser beam onto your artwork, and a clean lens will provide a cleanly focused beam, whereas a dirty lens can result in bad focusing and beam splitting.

Where does the compressed air come from?

Air Assist is also sometimes referred to as "Air Assist Ready". This means that the laser has the plumbing in place and only requires a source of compressed air. It is up to the user to provide the air. A source of compressed air generally consists of a compressor, with air filter and regulator. Some facilities may already have a source of compressed air (shop air used for other tools/equipment) to use, while others get a small compressor to provide the source of air. The compress air should be free of moisture and oil - generally by using water/oil filters with the air compressor.

How much air is needed?

The amount of air really depends upon the material being cut - as some materials are more prone to flaming and scorching than others. Typically an air source and regulator than can provide from 2psi to 20psi should be sufficient. It is good to have an air regulator so that you can adust the amount of air because some materials - like paper and stickers - need very little air and too much air can blow the cut-outs in the path of the cutting laser, while other materials - like fiber-glass reinforced sublimation plastic - needs more air (about 20psi) to avoid scorching. Experimentation will determine the best setting for your needs.

Engraving with NO Air Assist

Above: Picture Showing Engraving some material with NO Air Assist. Note the large flame pattern which is not in the next picture.

Engraving - YES with Air Assist

Above: Picture of laser cutting into wood with Air Assist! Note the small white dot of the laser cutting the wood.

Note: The previous two pictures look cloudy not because of smoke, but because the picture is taken with the laser's top lid down and at a camera angle that makes the overhead lighting give this effect.