Oct 8, 2015 Off Comments in Laser Cutting by

When you think about it, assist gas isn’t the best name for something so central to laser cutting. It’s more partner than assistant, working in tandem with the laser beam.

Assist gas sounds straightforward enough: It aids cutting via an exothermic reaction (with oxygen) and evacuates molten material. It’s so straightforward that, according to sources, many new operators don’t think to adjust it when they get a bad cut. They might simply slow the feed rate, which solves the problem, but it does increase cycle time and can negate the reason your shop invested in a laser in the first place: to cut a lot of parts extraordinarily quickly. The problem could have to do with assist gas pressure, which an operator can change easily at the controller; or flow rate, which depends on the nozzle orifice diameter. Or it could be that the focal point needs adjustment. Or the beam may not be centered in the nozzle. Or it could be a combination of everything.

“Assist gas is one of the prime movers and shakers of laser cutting parameters,” said Mark Mercurio, applications and technical support manager for Mazak Optonics Corp., Elgin, Ill.

Read more: Cleveland Ohio Laser Cutting: Gas gives the big assist in laser cutting