Evaluating On-demand or High-pressure Systems for Laser Cutting Applications

Nitrogen generation systems provide laser cutting operators with the ability to generate a tailored supply of laser-grade nitrogen at their facility – reliably and at a significantly lower cost than purchasing nitrogen from a third party. Most standard pressure PSA and membrane nitrogen generation systems have upper-end pressure limitations around 200 psig, which is typically less than the pressure requirements of a laser. When designing a nitrogen generation system for most laser cutting applications, the nitrogen pressure is increased downstream of the gas separation process using a nitrogen compressor, which will boost the pressure to meet the needs of the laser.

When designing nitrogen gas generation systems for laser cutting, there are two design philosophies to consider; mid-pressure on-demand systems and high-pressure storage systems. Both design philosophies are equal in quality of construction and reliability, with distinct advantages for specific users. The question is, which is the best design philosophy your laser cutting needs?

The sizing of the nitrogen generation system is dictated by three variables: nitrogen gas purity (aka oxygen content), pressure and the volumetric flow rate. The three bits of information aren’t always readily available so we can always assist in determining them.

Who Should Use On-demand Systems?

On-demand nitrogen generation systems typically operate at 450 psig and generate laser-grade nitrogen as the laser requires it. The generation capacity is equivalent to the peak laser demand for nitrogen, based on nozzle size and cutting pressure. On-demand systems do not incorporate any meaningful amount of storage, as the nitrogen is generated and delivered to the laser on an as-needed basis. On-demand systems typically require larger air compressors, nitrogen generators and ancillary equipment to meet the peak demand.

These systems are often designed and most cost-effective for facilities that:

  • Operate their laser(s) for more than 12 hours per day
  • Use over 100,000 m3 of nitrogen per year

Mid-pressure Nitrogen Generation System

Who Should Use High-pressure Storage Systems?

High-pressure storage systems generate laser-grade nitrogen during low or no laser demand. The generation portion of the system will meet the average hourly flow rate, and the design incorporates a high-pressure 4,500 psig nitrogen compressor that fills high-pressure nitrogen cylinders. This system stores nitrogen that the laser can consume as quickly or as slowly as the laser requires it. The operator can quickly and easily expand storage by adding additional high-pressure cylinders to the filling system. High-pressure storage systems will use smaller air compressors, nitrogen generators and ancillary equipment because the stored nitrogen will satisfy peak production periods.

These systems are often designed and most cost-effective for facilities that:

  • Operate their laser(s) for less than 12 hours per day

  • Use under 100,000 m3 per year


High-pressure Nitrogen Generation System

Which Design Philosophy Is Most Suitable for Your Application?

Our user recommendations in this article are reliable guidelines. Our preference in design philosophy is objectively based on each facility’s assessment details and varying factors. We always suggest a formal consultation with a payback analysis to identify and address any limiting factors or areas for optimization, as there are always circumstances of exception.

For these reasons, Purity Gas unbiasedly offers both on-demand and high-pressure storage systems. Our laser line of NITROCENTER® nitrogen gas generation systems is explicitly engineered for the laser cutting industry to reduce costs, simplify operations and reduce carbon footprint.

Each Nitrocenter® Design Philosophy Provides the Following Core Benefits:

  • Laser-grade nitrogen at the lowest possible price
  • Gain complete control of your nitrogen supply
  • No restrictive and long-term gas contracts
  • No frequent and ongoing price increases
  • No missed deliveries and production losses
  • No expensive boil-off and cylinder waste
  • Environmentally friendly, safe, and reliable
  • Easily expandable and scalable designs
  • Flexible installation and packaging options

Our in-house Engineering and Project Management teams are always available to ensure you receive the optimum solution for your laser cutting needs. Contact us to learn more about how nitrogen gas generation can contribute to your financial, operational and sustainability initiatives.