Air assist is a “must have” feature with a LASER engraver. The LASER works without the air assist but so much better with the air in use. Dense smoke is eliminated and the cuts are so much cleaner.
I am certain there will be reasons for not using the air assist. It must be a feature that can be added or removed as the user desires. Not having the air option doesn’t stop the show. It’s one of those features, that once you experience it, you don’t want to do without.
Low power low end LASER machines will not include the extra cost of the air assist. That’s understandable. As I have shown, with a little inventive effort it can be added. It’s worth the effort.
I have read some comments about how the air should be directed at the burn spot. My air comes in as a stream from one side. I thought concentric air around the LASER beam would be desirable. (More difficult to add-on design) I have read negative comments about concentric delivery. But there is ALWAYS someone who will take a negative view.
My design narrows the high velocity air stream and quickly moves out from under the LASER beam. Perhaps better for keeping the LASER lens cleaner than a low velocity mushroom shaped down flow around the LASER beam.
I am no expert on LASER air design. What I have done is working for me. If your joy is tinkering with hardware, perhaps air delivery can be an area for experimentation. My case: If it works I don’t need to fix it.
Related but different issue is the removal of the smoke and odor from the general working area. A definite advantage is the enclosed working area with built in exhaust fans. Ducting air to the outside is highly desirable.
With an open machine design as mine, I must work in a highly ventilated area. An open garage and two air circulating fans is my method. This works but has many disadvantages. The entire shop becomes contaminated with the fumes. No worse than many workshop activities. The shop has never been a “pure air” working environment and I do not attempt to make it one other than open garage doors and fans.
This does permit critters and bugs to enter the working area. Especially at night with the lights on.
My advice for a serious LASER engraver is a closed case ventilated system that can work within a closed shop area. The equally important benefit of a closed case system is superior stray LASER light control. A subject for another article.
Winter operation is always an issue with my “open door” ventilation system. Again getting a bit astray from the LASER topic of this blog. In a perfect world I would operate in a separate, totally HVAC environment for all my shop work. Nuff said…
My present advice and my M.O. (Modus Operandi) is an open frame LASER engraver is an inexpensive (hobby) way to experience a fully functional diode LASER engraver system. It is not (NOT) my recommendation for a production system for business use in an environment used for other activities. Especially not for use in a living space or office area.
Two major issues are air quality control and LASER radiation control. There are many other details that I will certainly expand upon in other posts.