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Dave Rawlings
10-22-2010, 3:05 PM
Hi everyone,

I am looking at buying a ULS machine. VLS4.60 or 6.60 (still deciding on size).

I am hoping some of you out there could give some advice on the air assist option.

I intend on lasering mostly acrylic material (raster/vector cut) and some anodized aluminum (raster only/vector marking). The salesperson I have been talking to has told me that air assist is more often used on 'messy' materials such as rubber stamp material, or when vector cutting material that has been 'printed' prior. And when lasering acrylic or anodized aluminum, I generally wouldn't use air assist (even if it were installed).

Does this sound correct?

Since it is an optional extra, I don't want to have it unless I definitely need it.

Also, are these types of laser systems capable of 'deep' etching into acrylic (in addition to simple surface engraving)?

Thanks everyone.

Dave.

Dan Hintz
10-22-2010, 3:09 PM
Engraving either doesn't require air... cutting acrylic does. If you only intend to engrave, well, it's your choice.

Lee DeRaud
10-22-2010, 4:21 PM
The cost of that option (i.e. the ULS parts) is relatively low IIRC, like 1%-2% of the cost of laser. You still need to buy a compressor to drive it, but again, not a budget-breaker.

Whether you need it or not is debatable. It's probably worth it if you're going to be cutting a lot of thicker (>1/4") acrylic, but it's not like you can't live without it: I've done without for over five years now, including a lot of acrylic vector cutting, admittedly mostly thinner clear stuff, with no problems. (Or at least none attributable to a lack of air assist.:p)

About the "deep engraving", if you're talking about the things where a shape is engraved inside a big chunk of acrylic, that requires a completely different technology than a CO2 laser.

Dave Rawlings
10-22-2010, 4:30 PM
With the deep engraving, I didn't mean the 3D images inside a block of acrylic, I meant deep carving out. For example text that is engraved 2-3mm deep into the surface of the acrylic - Something that perhaps a rotary engraver would normally achieve. Could these CO2 lasers achieve this?

Thanks,

Dave.




The cost of that option (i.e. the ULS parts) is relatively low IIRC, like 1%-2% of the cost of laser. You still need to buy a compressor to drive it, but again, not a budget-breaker.

Whether you need it or not is debatable. It's probably worth it if you're going to be cutting a lot of thicker (>1/4") acrylic, but it's not like you can't live without it: I've done without for over five years now, including a lot of acrylic vector cutting, admittedly mostly thinner clear stuff, with no problems. (Or at least none attributable to a lack of air assist.:p)

About the "deep engraving", if you're talking about the things where a shape is engraved inside a big chunk of acrylic, that requires a completely different technology than a CO2 laser.

David Fairfield
10-22-2010, 4:43 PM
I'd get it.

The tool is so useful, you never know when you'll be using the laser to cut stuff you didn't plan for originally.

With highly flame prone materials like corrugated cardboard or sheet acrylic, the air assist acts as a flame damper (but you still have to watch over it for flame ups). I think it also helps to keep smoke moving away from the lens.

Doug Griffith
10-22-2010, 5:09 PM
Without it, you are limiting the abilities of your laser. I would definitely get that option. Besides slowing down flare ups, it can also help blow slag from the kerf of some plastics.

Jakob Franz
10-23-2010, 8:04 PM
With the deep engraving, I didn't mean the 3D images inside a block of acrylic, I meant deep carving out. For example text that is engraved 2-3mm deep into the surface of the acrylic - Something that perhaps a rotary engraver would normally achieve. Could these CO2 lasers achieve this?

Thanks,

Dave.

Ive engraved deep text into wood. Often have to run the same job several times (on my 60 watt) to get it deep enough. I just copy paste the job on my corel draw page and the laser repeats the process however many times it's pasted >.>.
If you are wanting the text or image to be 3 dimensional looking, you can use gradients or layers to layer it up slowly so the result is a rounded finish much like I assume a router would do.

Again this is all on wood. I'd be curious to know whether this would be possible on acrylic.

Mike Null
10-24-2010, 7:06 AM
I would opt for air assist even though I don't use it for rastering. It is such a great advantage when cutting acrylic or wood that I would not be without it.