Pneumatics is a fluid power technology that transmits force through a pressurized medium to create useful work. In the simplest explanation, air will compress to half its volume when subjected to double the pressure.

Compressibility is an asset for pneumatic systems, allowing for extremely high acceleration and inherent shock absorption. As compressed air moves from high pressure to one of lower pressure, the expansion accelerates the air. The acceleration occurs at the loads of the actuators to provide the snappy movement pneumatic systems are known for. But, of course, the compressibility of air prevents it from being the first choice for load-holding applications. Still, air-over-oil systems provide a versatile solution when hydraulic power units are unavailable. 

Pneumatics Classroom Sponsored by:

Pneumatics eBook:Practical Guide to Pneumatics

This eBook is for users who wish to advance their pneumatic knowledge. It covers a wide range of topics such as circuit symbols, component capability, integrating pneumatics with controls as well as improving pneumatic efficiency.

Pneumatic Control and Actuation Explained

What are pneumatic actuators?

What are pneumatic rotary actuators? 

Pneumatic valves: How do they work?

How do air motors work?

Pneumatic actuators take advantage of compressed air to provide your machine with quick and powerful actuation of nearly infinite possible functions.  

A motor is any device designed to convert one form of energy into rotational mechanical force. For example, an electric motor converts electrical potential into mechanical torque, and a hydraulic motor converts hydraulic energy from pressure and flow into mechanical torque.

Compressed air pneumatic systems require methods of safe and precise control of the actuators unique to their accoutrement. Although the medium is fluid, just as hydraulic or process water systems, the execution of control is different in many ways than with a liquid. 

Rotary actuators are devices used to transmit torque through a limited rotational arc. Rather than pneumatic motors, which rotate continuously, pneumatic rotary actuators move a load through a limited range of motion. 

All About Pneumatic Cylinders

What are pneumatic cylinders?

What are compact pneumatic cylinders?

What are rodless pneumatic cylinders/slides?

What are single-acting pneumatic cylinders?

Many industrial applications require linear motion during their operating sequence. One of the simplest and most cost effective ways to accomplish this is with a pneumatic actuator, often referred to as an air cylinder.  

Pneumatic cylinder slides or rodless cylinders, are designed to provide power and linear motion while supporting a load. Standalone pneumatic cylinders are suitable for providing power and motion, but are not designed to provide support for a load. 

Pneumatic cylinders, also called air cylinders, pneumatic actuators, or pneumatic drives, are relatively simple mechanical devices that use the energy of compressed air and turn it into linear motion. 

Compact cylinders have been shortened relative to standard pneumatic cylinders. They may take up to 50% less space than the normal, while still maintaining the capacity to exert the same force as their larger counterparts. 


How to Size a Pneumatic Cylinder

Pneumatic in Depth: Air Cylinders

Pneumatic cylinders are mechanical devices that use compressed air acting on a piston inside a cylinder to move a load along a linear path. There are many styles of pneumatic actuators: diaphragm cylinders, rodless cylinders, telescoping cylinders and through-rod cylinders.

Need help sizing your Cylinders? This online calculator will help you calculate your cylinder size and cylinder force.

Specifying and Using Pneumatic Cylinders

How do you specify pneumatic cylinders?

How do you mount/install a compact pneumatic cylinder? 

How do pneumatic rodless cylinders/slides work?

Where are single-acting pneumatic cylinders used?

When specifying pneumatic cylinders, you may think that the most important information needed is the bore size and stroke. While these details are certainly important, the application’s requirements are more critical. 

One of the benefits in choosing a compact cylinder is getting effective motion in a small footprint. These short-stroke, low-profile, air cylinders are designed to fit into tight spaces and are available in a variety of mounting options.

In a rodless air cylinder — also called a rodless slide — motion is transmitted through the body length by an internal piston moving with the cylinder, driven by compressed air.

Pneumatic cylinders are a clean and cost-effective option for achieving reliable linear motion in many industrial environments. 

Automation At Work

What are pneumatic grippers?

Where are pneumatic grippers used?

How do you size a vacuum cup?

Vacuum cups: Key uses

Pneumatically operated industrial grippers have been commercially available for only a few decades. Prior to this, most gripping mechanisms were designed and built by machine builders employing a combination of pneumatic cylinders and external tooling for each individual application. 

Vacuum cups, or suction cups, are often used as grippers in manual or automated handling applications. They can secure and help move a wide range of products—everything from bottles and bags to bricks and wooden boards, and sheet metal, pipes and glass windows.

Vacuum cups grip a workpiece by evacuating air from the space inside the cup, creating a partial vacuum at a pressure below ambient. In simple terms one can size a vacuum cup based on the load, available vacuum and cup area.

Pneumatic grippers are used in many pneumatic systems, as a means of grasping or holding parts; grippers may move, insert, stack or orient the parts to achieve a desired step in a manufacturing process.

Improving Pneumatic Energy Efficiency

Reducing energy consumption is a priority in manufacturing plants and other industrial facilities as electricity bills continue to rise due to green power and other government mandates. No company can afford to waste money by using machines or processes that consume too much energy. Since pneumatic systems are ubiquitous throughout manufacturing and can consume a large share of a plant’s power costs, ensuring they consume only the air required is extremely important.

Clean and Controlled Designs

How do you control pressure in a pneumatic circuit?

What is a Filter Regulator Lubricator – FRL?

What is a pneumatic muffler?

What are air dryers?

Pneumatic mufflers, also called silencers, safely and quietly vent pressurized air to atmosphere. They are commonly installed on air valves, cylinders, manifolds and fittings. Without a muffler, air exhausting from many types of pneumatic-powered equipment can be so loud as to be detrimental to the surrounding environment and potentially harm workers.

Compressed air pneumatic systems require methods of safe and precise control of the actuators unique to their accoutrement. Although the medium is fluid, just as hydraulic or process water systems, the execution of control is different in many ways than with a liquid. 

Pressure regulators, as the name indicates, control the pressure in a pneumatic circuit. Setting and maintaining pressure in a system is important for safety and energy efficiency of individual actuators, tools and instruments as well as for the complete circuit.

Air leaving a compressor is hot, dirty, and wet—which can damage and shorten the life of downstream equipment, such as valves and cylinders. Before air can be used it needs to be filtered, regulated and lubricated. 

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