A laser is one of the cleanest, and most efficient ways to cut through metal, and other substances. Lasers work well because they do not have to remove much stock while they are cutting, nor do they create a lot of debris. For example, a metal saw blade will cut through metal, but it will remove the metal along the width of the blade. That means you’ll lose a few millimeters on either side of the blade. Such a cut could throw off the measurements if the part you are milling has very low tolerances. Furthermore, it creates a large amount of metal scraps. A laser, on the other hand, only removes the width of a laser beam. It’s very precise. An expert can laser machine a part to a very high level of precision.
Gas lasers are some of the earliest types of lasers. They work by emitting a stream of gas. A high-powered electrical current is then passed through the gas. The gas helps the electrical current cohere into a visible light laser. The type of gas, and the power of the electricity determines the strength of the laser. Carbon dioxide lasers, or CO2 lasers, are some of the oldest types of lasers available.
As the name suggests, an expert with a CO2 laser will use carbon dioxide gas to laser machine metal parts. The carbon dioxide is typically mixed with nitrogen, xenon,, and helium.
Nitrogen, and CO2
Nitrogen is used in a carbon dioxide laser because nitrogen atoms form molecules with other nitrogen atoms. Since they are homonuclear molecules (molecules of a single element), they cannot lose their energy through photon emission. That means nitrogen stabilizes the laser, and allows a machinist to laser machine with added stability.
The combination of nitrogen, and carbon dioxide helps to create the most powerful gas laser you will find.