Nitralife’s innovative NitraCut NC300 has CO2 laser owners ‘beaming’!

As a local pioneer in the manufacture and supply of nitrogen generation equipment since 1996, to a wide variety of industries – both locally and internationally – Nitralife also provides high-purity nitrogen gas for the fabrication sector, which forms an essential element of plasma and fibre laser cutting.

Nitralife’s entry into the laser market was through their first nitrogen generator for cutting stainless steel, aluminium and mild steel, the innovative Nitracut. This was developed as an on-site nitrogen gas generator to make nitrogen-assist gas in high volumes, custom-built to provide a continuous, reliable ‘on-site-and-on-demand’ supply of the gas for the fabrication sector.

Nitralife has recently introduced a further new addition to its successful Nitracut portfolio: the Nitracut NC300 generator, for specific use in a beam tube guidance application, delivering the right amount of nitrogen, at the right pressure, consistently.

Tom Sowry, Managing Director of Nitralife, explains that while there is an industry move towards the newer fibre laser technology, CO2 lasers definitely have a place in the laser market and are still  a commonly-used laser in the South African fabrication market.

Consequently, even after the emergence of fibre laser technology, many fabricators, specifically those working with mild steel  continue to primarily use  CO2 lasers,” he says.

Sowry realised that there was, therefore, an excellent opportunity for Nitralife here, as a substantial portion of the market that continues to use CO2 lasers, ranging from 4kW upwards.

“Many CO2 laser customers used the Nitracut system to supply nitrogen assist-gas to cut their steel; as well as for the high-purity nitrogen required for beam tube guidance. It was here that we saw the opportunity to develop a smaller Nitracut model, specifically aimed at the beam tube guidance application, which is exactly what we then went on to do,” he says.

Enter the Nitracut NC300, built specifically for beam tube guidance laser-cutting niche application.

The agile Nitracut NC300 produces a small volume of nitrogen, at a constant pressure, tailored with smaller fabrication shops in mind, which require smaller volumes and a lower pressure of 5-6 bar.

Sowry explains why this is so innovative – and the important role which nitrogen plays in beam tube guidance laser cutting: “Nitrogen is an inert gas, which means it is chemically inactive and is an exceptionally clean, pure, drying gas. In beam tube guidance, the beam tube component needs particle and contaminant-free gas to prevent the beam from distorting – and to maintain its power and intensity,” he points out. A good number of CO2 lasers in the market currently require a continuous flow of nitrogen gas to keep this beam path contaminant free, and this comes at perpetual monthly cost.

Compared to the high-pressure Nitracut, which supplies cutting gas as well as beam tube guiding gas – and comes with its own high-pressure compressor – the Nitracut NC300 is a  smaller, more compact unit which runs off the client’s compressor, delivering an on-site, on-demand, 24/7 high-purity nitrogen supply.

“The nitrogen consumption on beam tube guidance is continuous, as the gas is consistently required to flush through the beam’s path to keep it contaminant-free. Even when the laser is not cutting, nitrogen is still being used at about 20ltr/per minute. Once the laser is in operation, the nitrogen use equates to about 50ltr/per minute, running almost 24 hours a day in many factories; and averaging about 2-3 tonnes of nitrogen consumed per month — amounting to a significant bill at the end of the day,” he elaborates.

Typically, the client would supply the gas from a liquid bulk tank or from cylinder bundles, at a (heavy) perpetual consumption and cost-per-kilogram, Sowry notes. Depending on nitrogen supply — cylinders, which cost more, or liquid bulk — he advises that this cost can be anything upward from R10 000 per month, per laser.

“Whereas our Nitracut NC300 reduces this cost dramatically, delivering an excellent value-for-money, on-demand and on-site supply of high-purity nitrogen, 24/7. Furthermore, the cost of the generator can easily be amortised within a year, if not sooner,” he says.

“While we supply a variety of nitrogen generation equipment into a broad industry base – from mining to transportation and fabrication – we specialise in customisation. We are seeing traction in the industry for the Nitracut NC300, our latest Nitralife nitrogen innovation. We are extremely optimistic that it will lead to us servicing an ever increasing client base,” Sowry concludes.