Choosing the right assist gas in laser cutting: nitrogen or oxygen

When it comes to laser cutting and other industrial processes, the choice of assist gas is crucial in achieving optimal results. Nitrogen and oxygen are commonly utilized as assist gases, each with its own unique properties and applications. Understanding the characteristics of both gases, will help you to make an informed decision to ensure precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in your operations.



  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen is an inert gas, which means it does not readily react with other substances. It is ideal for applications where oxidation and chemical reactions need to be minimized.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen is highly reactive and supports combustion. It is suitable for cutting materials that require exothermic reactions, such as wood or plastics.

Cutting Speed

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen typically offers slower cutting speeds compared to oxygen. It is favoured when precision and edge quality are of utmost importance.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen provides faster cutting speeds, making it advantageous for applications where speed is a priority.

Edge Quality

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen produces clean, burr-free cuts, resulting in superior edge quality. The absence of oxidation or dross formation minimizes the need for post-cutting processing, saving time and effort.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen can introduce oxidation and dross formation, leading to rougher edges that may require additional post-processing steps.

Suitability for Different Materials

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen is well-suited for laser cutting a wide range of materials, including metals, stainless steel, and aluminium. It is preferred when precise cuts and minimal discoloration are desired.
  • Oxygen: Oxygen is suitable for cutting organic materials like wood, acrylics, and plastics. It facilitates faster cutting speeds but may introduce discoloration and increased thermal effects.

Why choose on-site gas generation?

If you need nitrogen at your plant, there is the option of delivery or on-site generation.

In case of vast distances and logistical challenges, on-site generation emerges as a practical and efficient solution that ensures a reliable nitrogen supply, minimizes transportation complexities and the associated environmental impact

Additional benefits of on-site nitrogen generation:

  • Significant cost savings by eliminating expensive nitrogen deliveries and rental fees
  • Enhanced operational efficiency and convenience with a continuous and readily available nitrogen supply
  • Greater control and flexibility over nitrogen production based on your specific requirements
  • Improved safety by eliminating risks associated with handling and moving large nitrogen cylinders
  • Elimination of storage space requirements for nitrogen cylinders

Nitrogen Generators

Producing your own nitrogen is the smart professional choice. Using an on-site nitrogen generator is more cost-efficient, dependable and sustainable than gas deliveries. Find out how an N2 generator works, and what its uses and benefits are.