Low Pressure Air Reservoir for improved cutting.


Being a Hackaday fan and a laser cutter fan, I've been recommended this article about improved laser cutting many times over already. The idea is simple enough, laminar flow from the cutting nozzle appears to improve cutting performance. They don't provide a 3D model and I'm super busy so I employed my newly retired Dad to create one for me. It's a work in progress and I haven't printed it yet, we did find something very interesting along the way though.

My laser cutter has a typically large aquarium pump, it's a bit of a 'puffer' and you can hear the air rushing out of the end of it in puffs, not ideal for laminar flow. Dad suggested a low pressure air reservoir to smooth some of the airflow before it goes into the laser. This really doesn't have to be very complicated and a 2L plastic bottle makes a perfect candidate. I drilled a hole through the cap and the bottom (the two thickest parts of plastic) and wedged the silicon tube into the gaps. The holes are snug and the thing is air tight, a 5 minute hack. The air now coming out of the cone has consistent air flow, and is a great starting point for some laminar flow testing.



I tried cutting some of my dirtiest/smokiest material to see if there was a significant difference. I turned up some power on 2mm Ceiba Plywood (something I've always struggled to cut cleanly) and compared the two results. I've got to admit I can't see much difference yet.




In conclusion, I'm not convinced the air reservoir alone helps to make a better cut. It does however make a significant audible difference, the noise coming from the cutting head is much more constant and certainly quieter. Considering it only took 5 mins to make and cost absolutely nothing to implement it's a worthy addition that's going to live on my cutter from now on.



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