It is colourless, odourless and tasteless and is invisible to the human eye. And yet compressed nitrogen is set to bring about a major advance in the professional spray painting industry.
“The key factor with compressed nitrogen is that it is inert, absolutely clean and devoid of moisture and contaminants,” explains the Managing Director of NitraLife Tom Sowry.
Since 1996, NitraLife has been manufacturing and marketing nitrogen generators. The primary target market has been the tyre inflation market (in mining, long-haul transport and the retail sector). Then, some 3 years ago, in 2016, NitraLife developed the NitraCut generator to supply the owners of steel fibre lasers with nitrogen.
Even more recently, the company developed the NitraSpray nitrogen generator, which is specifically designed for professional spray painting as well as other industrial uses.
“Compressed air has been the transport medium for spray painting since the inception of the technique. However, air has some disadvantages in that it often contains particulate matter, traces of oil and, most importantly, moisture. These three factors affect the quality of the paint finish and result in commonly occurring blemishes such as ‘fish eyes’ and pinholes,” Sowry says.
He adds that, while most panel-beating shops have sophisticated filtration systems in their air-lines, the level of purity these filters achieve comes nowhere close to the cleanliness and purity of compressed nitrogen.
“The NitraSpray effectively filters output down to 0.01 micron, this level of purity being absolutely consistent,” continues Sowry.
Importantly, when spray painters use compressed nitrogen, they are able to spray at a lower pressure, which results in significantly reduced paint consumption.
Reports from NitraLife’s NitraSpray customers feature paint savings which are in the order of 10%. However, NitraLife recently installed a NitraSpray at a leading vehicle canopy manufacturer. When this installation was carried out, NitraLife undertook careful digital measurements and the data collected proved paint savings of 15%.
In addition, with a NitraSpray, being able to spray at a lower pressure has the benefit that overspray is dramatically reduced. Factors such as overspray and paint blemishes are a major cause of rework, extra cost and lost time. “With the use of NitraSpray nitrogen, a spray painter can significantly improve productivity,” he adds.
Although the NitraSpray generator is a recent development, NitraLife has 20 years of experience in the use of nitrogen as a spray painting medium.
NitraLife has been supplying nitrogen generators to many of South Africa’s heavy transport companies since its founding in 1996. While these generators were primarily intended for tyre inflation, when these companies needed to paint either truck bodies or rims, they would often use this convenient source of compressed gas for spray painting. This is where the advantages of compressed nitrogen in spray painting first became fully evident.
“The major advantage that the NitraSpray generators have is that they employ a basic principle of physics to extract pure nitrogen from the air. Our generators have no moving parts, which makes them extremely reliable and simple, and wonderfully low-maintenance,” asserts Sowry.
While NitraLife has been targeting the panel-beating industry with its NitraSpray generators, these could well be used very successfully by other industries such as automotive OEMs and aircraft manufacturers; and even by such companies such as powder coating businesses and manufacturers of white goods. Particularly, for a manufacturer spray painting very large volumes of inventory with a single colour, the use of the NitraSpray generator could be highly beneficial, he explains.
In addition, although a company such as an automotive manufacturer would require large volumes of nitrogen, NitraLife manufactures its own generators and would have no problem providing the larger nitrogen volumes required.
A further advantage for South African spray painters is that, as NitraLife is a wholly South African based company, it can manufacture generators which will be precisely suited to particular customer requirements, and also meeting local procurement requirements.
“Support from NitraLife is a phone call away and customers in South Africa will have the advantage of not having to pay euros or dollars for an imported, and possibly unsupported, generator,” he continues.
“The introduction of our recently developed NitraSpray generator promises to be the new standard for improved quality and significantly reduced costs in the professional spray painting field,” says Sowry.
“We look forward to supplying our many spray-painting customers with a proven and successful means to reduce paint costs, improve productivity and ultimately, to put a much better colour on their profit margins in future,” he concludes.
NitraLife was founded in 1996 as a local, pioneering supplier and manufacturer of nitrogen generation equipment. The company was the first internationally to use a membrane separation process to generate high-purity nitrogen for commercial tyre inflation.
With this innovative flagship product, NitraLife was also the first to actively promote the use of nitrogen inflation in heavy transportation and latterly passenger vehicle tyres; and subsequently also in large off-the-road (OTR) mine vehicle tyres.
In 2016, NitraLife diversified into supplying nitrogen generators to the industrial sector with the development of the NitraCut generator, a product, which, today, is mainly used by the laser cutting and fabrication industries. In 2018, the company expanded their offerings with the development of the NitraSpray generator, for superior finish spray painting wherever this application is required in the manufacturing, panel beating and other industrial sectors.
Kendal Hunt Communications PR and Media Liaison Agency
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