What are the main components of a pneumatic system?

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Where would we be without pneumatics systems? Operating on pressured air which is stored in a tank ready for use when required, pneumatic systems get their force and energy from this compressed air and use it for moving loads. In this article, we consider what the main components are of a pneumatic system and look at each of them in turn.

How does a pneumatic system work?

A pneumatic system uses compressed, pressurised air to create a force in order to move a load; that movement could include pushing, pulling, lifting, holding or blending. The consistency of the flow of compressed air is critical to the performance of the tool or machine that it is powering, and so even though a pneumatic system is relatively simple in terms of its design, it is important that the right set-up is selected for the required job and that the equipment is maintained and used properly.

What are the main components of a pneumatic system?

  • Compressor – this is the part of the system that converts normal air into compressed air. Usually, the compressor is powered by a diesel engine, and the pressurised air is stored at around 700-1000 kPa.
  • Air reservoir – as the name suggests, this stores the pressurised air created by the compressor.
  • Valve(s) – these control the airflow to ensure that the air released is at the right pressure level for the equipment being powered.
  • Actuator – this is the part of the pneumatic system that turns the potential energy stored in the reservoir back into kinetic energy and does the ‘work’. In a pneumatic system an actuator usually moves forward and backward (or up and down), often through the use of a piston.
  • Circuit – whilst a pneumatic system could be made up of a single valve, actuator, compressor and reservoir, these are what the main components of a pneumatic system in its most basic form would be comprised of but, more often than not, there is a whole circuit containing multiples of each, sometimes all driven off a large, central compressor. In this situation, a circuit is formed with many interconnecting parts made up of several (or many) of each of the above.

Pneumatics are used widely in transportation, construction and industrial settings as well as being found in our healthcare units. Pneumatic systems are ideal for applications where speed and cushioning are important, but accuracy isn’t a critical factor and the force doesn’t have to be extremely high. The use of compressed air as the energy force means that pneumatic systems cannot provide high-precision movements in the way that hydraulics can, however, the tools that they power can be made out of lightweight materials and, provided you have the engine power to pressurise the air remotely, the units are extremely mobile.

Now that we have covered what the main components of a pneumatic system are, if you are looking for any components for your pneumatic system, Best Pneumatic Systems are industry leaders in the design, build and installation of pneumatics systems. Why not have a look at our pneumatic actuator page for the full range of products available as well as all the supporting accessories. If you would like more information on either the accessories or what are the main components of a pneumatic system, talk to one of our experts on 01254 390555.