Oxygen Concentrators and Glass Blowing/Beadmaking

by Justin LaClair September 21, 2020 5 min read

Oxygen Concentrators and Glass Blowing/Beadmaking

OxygenPlus has been helping those in need in the glass industry ever since we opened our doors way back in 1993! Whether you have a Mini torch and need a basic 5LPM concentrator, or you have a large Red Max torch and need a high volume system, we have been here to help!!

Many glass artists start with a small torch like a Nortel Minor. This torch is great for hobbyists and  can run off a small propane tank, and a 5LPM oxygen concentrator. If you run a large set up or a production facility you may have multiple stations, multiple torches, and having oxygen set up at each station may not be feasible. In a situation like this, you may run off of a few large "K Tanks" or welding tanks of Oxygen. Many people rent these tanks from local air gas companies, and incur weekly delivery fees, plus the cost to purchase the oxygen. This can get expensive, not to mention cumbersome from having to move those tanks all the time.

Oxygen Concentrators are an excellent choice to use with your glass blowing set up. They require very little maintenance (just a filter change once a year) and can easily be stored under your work space, out of your way. Simply plug the machine in to a power outlet, run the Oxygen line from the machine to your torch, and you are done! All you need to do is turn the concentrator on when you are ready to start, and shut the concentrator off when you are done. The Oxygen Concentrators job is to pull in ambient air from the room around it, filter out the nitrogen, and pass the high purity oxygen to your torch. They will typically run pretty reliably for about 9,000 to 15,000 hours (depending on model) before needing a major overhaul.

When hooking a Concentrator up for the first time, there is a specific way to do so, to ensure that you are not running your concentrator over the maximum LPM it is designed to deliver. All too often we see machines come in with the flow meters turned all of the way open which will always lead to very bad Oxygen Purity, a machine that is alarming, and a customer that thinks something is broken. To alleviate all these issues, please follow these steps:

  1. Open Oxygen Valve on torch
  2. Close Fuel Valve on torch
  3. Turn on Oxygen Concentrator, set to maximum LPM
  4. Let the concentrator run 15 minutes to achieve maximum purity
  5. Turn off Oxygen Valve on torch
  6. Open Fuel Valve on torch, and light
  7. Open Oxygen Valve on torch until you achieve desired flame

Thats it, you're done! Now, if you look at the Oxygen Concentrator, the flow meter is likely at a much lower setting now. Probably 2 or 3LPM. THIS IS NORMAL, DO NOT READJUST! You are now effectively controlling your Oxygen Concentrator flow meter with your torch. If you need more oxygen, just open your torch valve. This will ensure that your never run your Oxygen Concentrator over the maximum LPM it was designed to run at. This means you will always have peak Oxygen Purity, and the longest operating life of your machine. If you still don't have enough oxygen, then one machine is not enough, and you should look in to adding a second Oxygen Concentrator to your setup. You can safely do so with a "Y Connector" for your oxygen tubing. Keep in mind that when you daisy chain multiple Oxygen Concentrators, you always add the total amount of LPM between all the machines, but the PSI will only be the same as this most powerful Oxygen Concentrator. For instance, if you have a 5LPM 5PSI machine, and a 5LPM 9PSI machine, hook them together, you will NOT have 10LPM 14PSI, you will have 10LPM 9PSI. It is always best to daisy chaing the same makes and models together to ensure compatibility, and also it is a good idea to use 1 way check valves in like before the Y connector to make sure that there is no oxygen back flow into the other machines that may cause an alarm. Flashback arrestors and Oxygen Regulators are NOT NEEDED when using an Oxygen Concentrator. Adding these will only drop the quality and pressure of the oxygen you receive from your Oxygen Concentrator.

5 Liter Per Minute Oxygen Concentrator

A 5 Liter Per Minute (LPM) Oxygen Concentrator is a good starting point for entry level glass blowers. 5LPM Oxygen Concentrators typically put out about 5 or 6 PSI of Oxygen, while some like the machines made by DeVilbiss put out 9PSI for a little extra "oomph". The DeVilbiss 525 model is a powerful, compact machine rated at 5LPM and 9PSI. It will typically run around 10,000 hours of use between reconditioning cycles. Maintenance consists of annual filter changes.

10 Liter Per Minute Oxygen Concentrator

A 10LPM Oxygen Concentrator is a good choice for larger torches, and also is a stepping stone to get in to larger oxygen production. When choosing a machine like the Invacare Platinum 10LPM, not only does it give you the most volume out of a single Oxygen Concentrator at 10LPM and 9PSI, but it also is compatible with the Invacare Homefill system so you can fill your own oxygen tanks at home!  We will touch base on this a little later. These machines are very robust and can last 12,000 to a whopping 15,000 hours of use between reconditioning cycles. Maintenance consists of annual filter changes.

Invacare Homefill System
A Homefill system can fit dual - duty. Powered by either a 5 or 10LPM Invacare brand oxygen concentrator, you can both run your torch off of just the concentrator if you choose, or you can turn on the Compressor Filler and adapt it to your existing tanks and fill your own K tanks! Just keep in mind you cannot do both tasks at the same time.

The Oxygen Concentrator makes the oxygen, and provides it to the compressor on top. The compressor then slowly and dutifully squeezes it into your K tank by way of a custom adapter, or some call it a "whip". We offer these Stainless Steel adapters "a la carte" as an off menu item, so please email us and ask! Once the compressor runs constant for about 24-36 hours, your tank will be full, with about 2000 PSI of oxygen! Many glassblowers use a pressure gauge in line in their whip so they know how many PSI is in their tank, and they can tell how full it is. Since the compressor will be running many many hours, a majority of glass blowers will turn the system off at about 1,000 tank PSI as this seems to greatly increase compressor life specifically when it is being used in this method.

No more delivery fees, no more lugging around tanks! Just leave it all hooked up, and fill your tanks whenever you want to!

We hope you enjoyed this blog. If you have any questions not covered in this blog, feel free to email us at OxygenPlusMedical@Gmail.com or you can call us directly at 1-540-297-3257 and we would be more than happy to help!
Justin LaClair
Justin LaClair

Justin has been working with OxygenPlus since their storefront start in 1993. In 2002 he earned the title of CEO and has been operating OxygenPlus ever since. Most of the time if you call, Justin will answer the phone. He tries to be extremely hands on with most every transaction that takes place. Raised with a very high quality standard, any work must meet his satisfaction before it is approved. He is a classic car enthusiast, loves traveling either for work or pleasure, and is a renewable energy advocate. As of 2015, he saw to it that his personal home, and OxygenPlus Medical run 100% off of solar power.

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