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Stainless Steel

Laser Cutting Stainless Steel

Laser cutting with nitrogen is intended for applications where oxidation is not wanted and/or may contaminate the material being processed. For example, an oxide layer can cause paint to adhere less strongly on non-alloy steel,stainless steel loses its corrosion resistance when cut with oxygen, and aluminum pieces cut with oxygen have an uneven and burred cut surface.

When nitrogen is used as the cutting gas, the laser beam melts the material, and the nitrogen blows away the molten material from the cutting groove. Since no exothermic reaction takes place, the cutting speed is much slower than when cutting with oxygen. To ensure a burr-free cut edge, the laser beam must usually be focused on the bottom surface of the plate.

The cutting gas pressure is much higher than when cutting with oxygen. The thicker the piece to be cut, the higher the nitrogen pressure needed to transport the molten metal away efficiently. When using nitrogen, the focal point is on the bottom surface of the plate, whereas when cutting with oxygen, the focal point is on the top surface. Nitrogen needs a larger nozzle than oxygen, which results in a much higher gas consumption than when using oxygen and consequently much higher costs.

When cutting stainless steel, nitrogen must be as pure as possible, since even a trace amount of oxygen in the cutting nitrogen can destroy the corrosion resistance of steel.

Even a slight discoloration on the cut surface indicates that oxygen has reacted with the cut surface. An expensive additional treatment is needed to re-establish the corrosion resistance.

Struggling to select a gas? If in doubt, please call 0191 271 4888 for specialist advice!

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