Simple air assist for Laser work is surprisingly effective:

I’ve been playing with the $100 2.8 watt laser as conceived by Leo69 (Hereafter Leo’s Laser) and have been struggling to get clean cuts and to burn through material. I’d been reading about how the big cats in the field use a fine jet of air to clear smoke, char and ash from the cut and cool the surrounding areas to prevent excessive burning.

Found some basketball inflating needles, some clear poly hose that tightly fit the threads of the needle (3/16" ID, I think.) So, I cut of the end of the needle where it has a spare hole, and crushed it flat to limit the air flow and speed up the air that would be coming through. This flattening makes a high speed ‘blade’ of air come from the needle. If you have 3d printer nozzles or welding tips, these might work for you.

Applied teflon tape, screwed it into the poly hose, and put on a tiny hose clamp, then put on my goggles and removed my lasers shield. I wound a large amount of copper on the poly to help me aim the flexible hose. Zip-tied this to the laser assembly and Z tower, turned the laser on low, and made sure I directed the air ahead of the spot, and left a good 8 mm for cutting moves to bring the needle closer to the work. 10 PSI out of my pancake compressor is working great, to the point that I think I may need to invest in a cheap harbor freight airbrush compressor that would likely do this job well with much less noise.

That’s enough - proof is in the pics. Quality of burns and cuts is way, way up. Little to no smoke blocks the beam path. I highly recommend giving it a try.


Wow that is actually pretty drastic. Did you mess around with lower pressures, like absolute minimum to achieve such good cuts or is that as low as your regulator goes?

That’s as low as my regulator reliably goes, that’s another reason I would like to have a baby compressor. The pancake is crazy loud, although I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get a lot done with what is in a full tank with the power off. Maybe I could add a little needle valve in the line and get more efficient.

Most all professional laser cutters/engravers have air assist. It’s usually in line with the laser though, so the laser shoots through the high pressure air stream. Really helps keep your lenses clean as well. Probably wouldn’t be too hard to 3d print a nozzle for the end of your laser with an air fitting on it.

Yeah, I gave that a few days of thought, and decided to go cheap and fast and see how much the concept helps - I was worried about making the air nozzle small enough for high air velocities at low pressure as well as being able to aim the laser through that orifice reliably. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m more interested in a co-linear air nozzle, but this mess is going to have to take me through to my next vacation from teaching - maybe someone will design something better for me by then!

I’ve been trying to make these 123d:Make projects since I got the laser, success at last! Got the cheap harbor freight airbrush compressor, it’s great, extremely quiet, and will let me experiment with much lower pressures and their effects on cut quality. Had an adapter to hook up to regular air tools, which was a relief.

Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year!

Cool. I am still making my way to set up my laser (since last November or so…) and this is quite interesting.
I wonder if a fan will do the trick.

The unit I bough has a fan on top to cool the laser and the aluminium housing has holes that run all the way through to make a downwards movement of air ending up (hopefully) blowing the smoke away. It just a matter of this airflow having enough pressure or not.

Hope to be able to put it all together soon and see how it goes. But in case it needs more pressure, now I know what to do!!