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2 (b) Additional energy sources. Higher energy inputs are attractive provided they can be achieved at little additional expense. The addition of a coaxial or off axis oxygen jet, one of the first major developments of laser cutting, was first reported in by Houldcroft (1968) and has been discussed in greater detail by Adams (1970). Oxygen assisted laser cutting of materials which react exothermically with oxygen deposits additional energy into those areas which are heated above their kindling temperatures.

N. 44 Kamalu Various improvements or variations on this theme are currently being studied. These include: (i) Use of faster jets, in particular supersonic. Results here have been disappointing due to excessive cooling of the molten product and shock waves interfering with the fine focus on the laser beam. (ii) Use of multiple jets: concentric jets can increase the jet potential core and so give a higher stagnation pressure above the cut slot, thus improving slot velocities. Grumman (1976) uses an oxygen jet with a surrounding helium flow (Diels 1976).

The general set-up for a laser cutting operation is usually as shown in fig. 7. In this arrangement, cutting can be carried out in any of the following ways (Atkey 1978, Forbes 1976): a stationary laser and a moving workpiece; stationary laser, stationary workpiece, and moving optics; or moving optics and moving workpiece. RANI C T H I C K N E SS é 40 ( 0 - 0 2 5 4 m m) Fig . 6. Powe r require d for separatio n versu s thicknes s for hig h alumin a ceramic . Rat e of separatio n wa s 305 m m / m i n (Lumle y 1969).

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