How do I select a pneumatics system?

Pneumatic systems can be used as an alternative to electric actuators and motors by driving linear and rotary motion applications. It is generally used with smaller loads as pneumatic systems produce less force than hydraulic systems and as air is easy to compress, pneumatics can absorb excessive shock.

As manufacturing makes advances, and with developments in seals such as corrosion resistance,  the environments in which pneumatic systems can be used has increased, with pneumatics comparable to some electric automated systems. Pneumatics is such a versatile way to power tools and machinery, it remains an important technology in a number of sectors.

To select a pneumatics system for industrial applications, consider what you require in terms of your operating sequence. Pneumatics works in linear and rotary motion and is a simple way to actuate an output motion or apply a force.

When choosing a pneumatics system, you must consider the pressure and flow requirements for the best possible performance. If incorrect components are used, the pneumatics system may not perform properly.

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

Whereas pressure is a force applied across a given area, the flow is the volume of compressed air moved in a given time. Greater pressure over a small area can be the same as lower pressure over a larger area. Flow control works by restricting the orifice through which air can flow – as it closes, less air can flow, at a given pressure, in a given time.

The cost of maintaining pneumatics and pneumatics systems is generally low, but care should be taken to monitor leaks and corrosion. Applying a filtration system and monitoring the air supply will also ensure the pneumatics system works as it should.

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