Too much nitrogen flow, particularly in stainless, can lead to arcing and eventually plasma cutting with the laser. “There’s actually a purplish-white arc that develops between the nozzle and the workpiece,” Hahn said, “and that gives you the ability to cut really thick stainless, though you get a rough edge.”

Sources added that plasma cutting with a laser may not be a bad thing. It goes back to weighing the options for optimal throughput. Plasma cutting with a laser may yield a rough edge, but it may be an acceptable one for certain jobs. And, depending on the type and power of lasers a shop has, cutting thick material in this fashion and then deburring and finishing it may be the fastest way to process the material.

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