Designing a better laser nozzle using 3D printing #3dThursday #3dPrinting @nervous_system
The nervous system blog posts the secret to clean laser cutting using a 3D printed laser nozzle.
An important thing for a good laser cutter to have is a coaxial air assist, meaning the laser beam and the air stream point in the same direction, rather than having the air blow from the side. However that’s not all; it turns out the quality of your air can vary greatly. It’s not about how hard you blow, but how smooth the air is. You want the air to be very efficient otherwise it can be like blowing on a fire. Rather than removing smoke, you end up stoking the burn making cuts worse rather than better. This quality is called laminar flow (as opposed to turbulent flow).
To improve our air assist, we have developed a custom 3D printed nozzle for our laser cutter. There isn’t much information out there for designing air nozzles, except for spray guns which have a very different application. However, there are a lot of resources for designing DIY laminar flow nozzles for water, and that’s for one reason: super soakers. I found a great resource with lots of patents for nozzles called Super Soaker Central. There were 2 main takeaways I got from this: you want the exit of the nozzle to be very sharp and you can use thin channels in the nozzle to columnate the air and remove turbulence.
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