A distribution partnership between nitrogen filtration systems manufacturer NitraLife and cutting and bending solutions provider First Cut will see it become the exclusive distributor of NitraLife’s NitraCut nitrogen generators and allow the laser cutting machines of its Swiss principal, sheet processing manufacturer Bystronic, to operate in remote locations.
The partnership will enable First Cut to not only build on its existing footprint in the laser cutting sector but also expand further afield in the African market.
Bystronic lasers will be paired with nitrogen-producing generators from NitraLife. NitraLife sales director Tom Sowry explains that the nitrogen filtration systems provided by NitraLife can usefully filter nitrogen out of compressed air.
The atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and of 0.9% other gases. The nitrogen producer filters the atmospheric gases and provides laser cutting machines with pure laser-cutting-quality nitrogen.
Bystronic South Africa sales director at First Cut Gareth Jackson says nitrogen produces a finished edge on materials that are cut, and the so-called ‘cold cut’ does not negatively affect subsequent processes such as fabrication and powder coating. In contrast, cutting with oxygen oxidises the finish, which is problematic for welding and powder coating, because it requires costly rework to remove the oxidation before these other processes can be completed.
Sowry points out that, traditionally, laser cutting machines could operate only in areas where nitrogen and other liquefied gases were easily accessible. “With the NitraCut generator from NitraLife – used in conjunction with Bystronic’s laser machines – companies can operate anywhere – even in remote areas.”
He points out that the addition of NitraLife generators, which can be used to generate on-site, on-demand nitrogen for laser cutting, open up the market to clients that are looking for savings in a competitive industry. Nitrogen is used for laser cutting machines that require nitrogen as an assist gas to cut stainless steel and aluminium. Nitrogen can also replace oxygen and be used to cut mild steel with a cold cut.
“The main nitrogen-producing component in the nitrogen generator has a life span of about ten years, with minimal maintenance and only the filter having to be replaced every six months. The nitrogen generator is pneumatically controlled so the only electricity that is needed is for the compressor and the laser cutter,” says Sowry.
He adds that NitraLife was the first company globally to commercially inflate tyres with nitrogen, using on-site nitrogen generation. Since 1996, the company has been supplying nitrogen filtration systems to large mining operations, and to tyre retail shops and petrol stations across Southern Africa.
With regard to laser cutting using nitrogen generation, Sowry adds that, although this has been done before using different technologies, NitraLife’s approach and technology are completely unique.
Jackson concludes that the two companies will be working together indefinitely in this positive synergistic joint venture in the future.