Air Assist Preferences?

Hi folks,

I’m curious to hear what you all are using for air assist, and also how that relates to what machines you have.

For example, I have several K40’s including a K40D. I have been using the K40D for a lot of my production work for the better part of a year now. I also have a larger “50w blue and white” that I got secondhand and fixed up last fall and still need to install the HVAC ducting for exhaust.

The K40D came with a bigger air pump that kept overheating because it was only allowed to push very little air compared to what it could/ was meant to do. I had a small DC air pump that I put in place that worked well, but I got a bit tired of the noise and having to plug it in and out every time (and sometimes forget to).

A number of my friends with bigger lasers were talking about how good and quiet certain compressors were so I just got a California Air Tools 8010 and am working on the air setup to have it drive 2 (or more) lasers air assist. It’s a pretty quiet unit and the consistency of airflow is supposed to lead to unbelievable cut edge quality. I’ll have to see for myself.

Anyways, in this case with a compressor, I’m going to need a solenoid valve per laser, driven by the laser controllers, but if I was sticking with an air pump, then I’d need a relay to drive it from the controller, and AC/ DC would depend on whether the pump was 12/24v or AC driven from 110v/220v.

I am curious what you all have. These are all good details to know, and pictures are always a plus :slight_smile:

My laser is a completely custom build. I’m using shop air from my big compressor with a mini regulator/filter and solenoid air valve. Since I already had the valve and it was 12V I’m running it directly from the LaserBoard, which I am also running at 12V because I’m using external drivers. I would have preferred to run at 24V with the supplied PSU but I don’t need to be spending money for stuff I already have! I haven’t found a consensus on pressure vs. flow rate, so I’m just running it at 30psi which seems to work OK. I’m still in the build process so I might change this a little, but I’ll be sticking with this basic principle since I put air in my shop for anything that needs it. :slight_smile:

(I also have a second three-way valve so I’m toying with the idea of introducing gas assist at some point. :smiley: )

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While somewhat complex, at Milwaukee Makerspace we’ve got an air assist system that uses compressed air that is used throughout the building served from a huge compressor that is nowhere near the lasers. One of the issues we had was moisture in the line, and you probably don’t want any water coming out with the air in your system. Here’s a link that does a good job of explaining the components.