Cutting with Air assist
One of the main functions of the Air Assist is to help prevent the ignition of fire while cutting, especially if you are cutting easily flammable materials such as paper, cardboard, acrylic, fabric and many more. The air assist will blow the flames that may ignite on the surface but not onto the back of the material. Even though the air assist is a key component to prevent the ignition of fire it will never replace the supervision of a trained operator.
The Airflow will create different effects on the material being cut some of them may be desired while some may be unwanted so let examine what are those effects and how to cause/prevent them on acrylic, paper, and wood.
Acrylic: A lot of air will create a white edge (especially on the top) instead of a polished shiny edge, this is because when the material is vaporized (while cutting) the air pushes this gas back to the material, in which edges are still in a semi-melted state bonding it and creates a frosted effect on the edge, this is more noticeable with thicker materials (1/4” and above). To solve this, regulate the flow and lower it but not completely off. Supervision is required at all times while the machine is cutting.
Paper: Paper is very fun to cut, in most cases, and with regular paper, you will have to use a lot of air so the smoke does not stick to the edges, but nowadays with all the different types of paper that go from reflective to wood-like paper and other varieties the best thing is to trial and error until you find the setting is right for you.
Wood: A lot of air is also recommended with this material, but be careful when cutting thick material especially if it does not cut all the way through, wood may turn into coal and air will stir it up; low air create a smoky effect that a lot of people like and the common: “that’s how you know it has been lasered” is what they say.
Depending on the needs of your clients you can show them options or play with the settings but having the capacity to regulate the air flow on your laser machine is something you will definitely need to tune up your results.