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you purge all the air from inside the laser cutting machine encloure,
replacing it with inert gas such as nitrogen or argon? These methods are
used by welders and does not affect the welding process, simply
eliminates oxidisation of the material. My question is: would 1/8" ply
still cut with a laser if the oxygen was removed / displaced by a
non-reactive gas?

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JON-A-TRONBest Answer (author)2017-08-20

My understanding is that it's not necessary to replace the entire chamber for most applications. We have a machine at the workshop that uses CO2 or Nitrogen assist to cut different materials, but it's just a nozzle directed into the path of the beam, not the whole chamber.

I don't think it would cut without any oxygen in any case- it's basically just oxidizing with a concentrated beam. MIG and TIG welding are different chemical processes than what's going on with laser cutting as far as I know.

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