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Understanding Air Assist

Air Assist

Understanding Air Assist

  • While an upgraded air assist is recommended for your initial setup of your OMTech laser, it is not required. This should however, be considered an item to upgrade at a later date.

  • What is air assist?

    • Air assist is the act of blowing a gas (most commonly compressed air) out of the laser tube nozzle onto the material.​

  • What is the purpose of air assist?

    • Blows burnt material/debris away from the cut point​

    • Cools the top surface keeping it stable (ex. helps cool acrylic surface so it doesn't melt back to itself)

    • Transfers heat down into the material to make a more efficient cut

    • Helps prevent (blows out) flames on the workpiece

    • Cools the lens/laser head

    • Helps keep smoke out of the cut path and off the lens, reducing buildup on the lens allowing the laser to work more effectively.​​

  • Benefits of air assist

    • Increases the thickness of material which can be cut

    • Faster cutting and engraving

    • Achieves cleaner cuts with less char, giving better quality parts

    • Clears the laser path by blowing smoke and debris out of the the way

    • ​Safer due to blowing away debris and helping to blow out flames

    • Speeds up your processing time by reducing cleanup afterwards​ 

Compressor Consideratios

Adding a Compressor

  • First you will need to determine the location(s) of both your laser (don't forget exhaust plays a part in this) and air compressor.

    • Do you already have a compressor?

    • How much noise can your environment withstand from your compressor​​?
       

  • Consider if you need to purchase a compressor.

    • Do you already have a compressor?​

    • Are you able to plumb compressed air to your laser from an existing compressor?

    • Is an existing compressor to loud for the location you have selected?

    • Is an existing compressor to large for the location you have selected?
       

  • If you need to purchase a compressor you will want to consider not only the footprint but also the amount of noise you can withstand in the environment in which the laser will be located. Below is a decibel (dB) chart to compare typical levels of noise.​

Compressor Noise Levels
Levels-Of-Noise-In-Decibels.jpg
  • Most compressors are loud. They typically hover around the 90 dB range. Obviously we would prefer not to have that constant or even intermittent amount of noise in our work area, especially if it's in the house.  Below are several compressors that are considered to be "ultra quiet" and operate in the 60 dB to 70 dB range.  Check out the videos below each compressor to hear the difference in a typical compressor vs the "ultra quiet" compressors.

    • it is said that for every 10 dB increase of noise, to the human ear the sounds doubles in volume. So 80 dB would sound twice as loud as 70dB​

  • When choosing the size of the compressor take into consideration what you plan to do with your laser and your threshold for noise

    • engraving requires a lower air flow as it really only needs to blow away smoke, flames, and light debris.​

    • cutting requires a higher air flow since it is doing the same as engraving plus dissipating the heat and cooling the surface.

  • If you will be doing mostly cutting you may want to consider a larger compressor. 

  • If you will be doing mostly engraving, any of the options below are more than enough

Buy an Air Compressor
Build YourOwn Air Assit

Build Your Own Air Assist

  • I have created a parts list and instructions based on how I installed my air assist.​ If you don't currently have any of the items below you should purchase all of the items in the list. However, if you have some of the items laying around by all means save a few dollars and use them.
     

  • My version has two (2) solenoids which allow Lightburn settings to control air flow for both high pressure (laser cutting) and low pressure (laser engraving). The user does not have to turn the air off when not in use because the second solenoid is turning it on and off based on your Lightburn settings.

  • This setup only blows air when the laser is firing. It blows low pressure if "air assist" is turned off for the layer being ran in Lightburn (ex. an engraving layer). It blows higher pressure (I set mine to 25 psi) when "air assist" is turned on for the layer being ran in Lightburn (ex. a cutting layer).
     

  • While this installation is not difficult, I do recommend that you read the instructions and watch the video before ordering anything. Be sure you have and understanding of what is involved and the confidence to create your own air assist setup before moving forward with this setup. Please also be sure the configuration works for your needs  

Parts List

The items below may not be needed depending on your machine and the solenoid(s) you receive. To be safe, verify the items below can be returned before ordering

Terminal Block

*as needed

1x

 

Pneumatic Diagram

Air Assits Diagram.PNG

These are the same items as the pictures/links above. This list is for identification on the pneumatic diagram
 

  1. 1x - Compressor Quick Connect

  2. 1x - 6mm OD Pneumatic Tubing Kit

  3. 1x - Air Filter with Regulator (1/4" NPT)

  4. 1x - Push to Connect Fittings (1/4 Inch OD x 1/4 Inch NPT)

  5. 2x - Solenoid - 1/4" Normally Closed

  6. 1x - 18 Ga Wire Kit

  7. 1x - 6mm Flow Control Valve

  8. 1x - Wire Nuts - Gray

    The following items may be needed depending on your machine and the solenoid valve(s) you receive, please purchase those items first to see if the following are required. Or you can purchase the below and return if not needed

  9. 1x - Terminal Block

  10. 1x - Diode - 1 amp, 50 volt

Wiring Diagram

Air Assist - Electrical Schematic.png

Build Your Own Air Assist Video Instructions

  • Part 1 - Controller Setting Changes

    • Requires Lightburn & RDWorks

  • Part 2 - Air Assist Installation

Disclaimers:

I do not make any warranties, neither expressed nor implied, about the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information contained in this website. The above information is provided based upon the best of my knowledge. Any use of the information on this web site is strictly at your own risk. I will not, nor cannot, be held liable for any damages or otherwise in connection with the use of the information contained on this web site . Use of this web site indicates understanding and acceptance of this statement and releases me from any and all liability. The information above is subject to change at any time.

 

As an Amazon Associate I earn a commission from each qualifying purchase. As an affiliate for OMTech, SpetTols, Microjig and other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from each qualified purchase.(C) 2021-2022  M. Arnio. All rights reserved. No parts of the content of this website may be reproduced or distributed in any way, without prior written permission. All trademarks, service marks, images, and company names are the property of their respective owners.

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