Pneumatics is the way for air pressure to feed and move something. Essentially, pneumatics puts compressed air into operation by moving applications such as tools and machinery used in the engineering, production and construction sectors.

How does pneumatics work?

Pneumatics is an easy and reliable way to get things moving, simply by using clean, dry air. Pneumatic systems use this compressed air to create motion and mechanical power applications to “work” in factory automation systems. Pneumatic is also present in a number of other different applications, from carousels and trucks, to medical applications and food preparation, to pneumatic tools and blow molding and packaging.

Pneumatic uses an air compressor to reduce the volume of air in order to increase its pressure. This then passes through a filter into a pneumatic tube, where it is checked by valves before reaching an actuator that does the job at the end of the process. It could be a cylinder or a device that performs a function, such as lifting, moving or gripping.

How to select a pneumatic system?

Pneumatic systems can be used as an alternative to actuators and electric motors through linear and / or rotary motion applications. They are generally used with smaller loads as pneumatic systems produce less force than hydraulic systems and, since the air is easy to compress, pneumatic can absorb excessive shock.

Thanks to the progress of production techniques, together with development of ever more performing seals, as well as increasing ability to resist corrosion, the environments in which pneumatic systems can be used have increased, with a pneumatic system that is able to offer results comparable to some automated electrical systems. Pneumatics is a very versatile technology to feed tools and machinery and it represents an important solution in many sectors.

To select a pneumatic system for industrial applications, it is important to consider what is required in terms of operating sequence. As mentioned, pneumatic operates a movement that can be linear or rotary and it is an easy way to apply a force.

When you have to choose a pneumatic system, you must consider pressure and flow requirements for the best possible performance. If incorrect components are used, pneumatic system may not function properly.

Flow and pressure are different and they should be controlled individually. Pressure regulation in compressed air systems does not precisely control the flow, which could lead to an increase in energy costs.

While pressure is a force applied to a certain area,  flow is the volume of compressed air moved at any given moment. A greater pressure on a small area can be equal to a lower pressure on a larger area. Flow control works by limiting the orifice through which air can flow – as it closes, less air can flow, at a given pressure, at a given time.

Maintaining pneumatic systems cost is generally low, but care should be taken to monitor leakage and corrosion. Application of a filtering system and the monitoring of the air supply will also ensure that pneumatic system works as it should.

Typical pneumatic applications

Pneumatic is prevalent in commercial vehicles, ranging from use in the cabin to the chassis, up to the engines; in energy sector, including oil and energy generation industries, and in food and beverage sector where pneumatic is present in everything, from blowing bottles to automation and process packaging. Pneumatic are also used in medical and global railway industry where it’s used in applications such as door and suspension control.

Pneumatic is also used in all manufacturing sectors to power industrial automation systems and it is typically used in sectors such as material handling and packaging. Since it transforms energy from compressed air into a linear or rotary movement to perform specific tasks, pneumatic can be used to perform “gripping and positioning” tasks such as holding and positioning parts by tightening or grasping, or by moving an instrument that lifts , presses, cuts, orders or stacks.

Do I need anything else to operate a pneumatic system?

Since pneumatic system uses the energy stored in compressed air to perform tasks or perform jobs, an air supply is required. Quality of compressed air should be high enough to guarantee efficient operation. Air preparation in pneumatic is therefore essential and humidity, unwanted dust particles and oils must be extracted otherwise they can congest or corrode some components such as valves and seals.

Filtration is used in pneumatic to remove moisture drops and solid particles, as well as post-chillers and drying equipment. Air supply must be filtered and constantly monitored in order to maintain the operating system efficiently and the correct functioning of the various components.

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