How do pneumatic cylinders work- what you need to know

How do pneumatic cylinders work- what you need to know

Pneumatic cylinders transform air pressure into motion. Derived from Greek, the word pneumatics means air, which is most commonly used in pneumatic cylinders. Some forms of pneumatic cylinders also use inert gases, but those are customized designs intended to cater to specific applications. Pneumatic cylinders constitute the final part of mechanic devices that rely on compressed air control.

In this article, we take a look at how pneumatic cylinders work.

The concept of pneumatics

Taking you back in time, the concept of using steam and wind for power was first presented in Greece. Hero of Alexandria, a famous Greek mathematician, observed air and considered it to have particles known as molecules today.

According to him, if a space or a vacuum is created, the air particles or molecules would fill it up quickly, as soon as they are let in, and the resulting force or pressure could be applied to any object in front to push it.

Much later, Otto Guericke, a German physicist, took the concept further and developed a vacuum pump. A vessel would provide air to the pump, and the pump would produce energy from that air. Today, the basic mechanism has been integrated into intricate machinery for use in multiple applications.

How does a pneumatic cylinder work

Pneumatic cylinders are also referred to as actuators. Since air is the primary driving force, siłowniki pneumatyczne convert the air force into mechanical energy, which in turn causes motion. The motion caused by the resulting mechanical energy can be linear or rotary.

Pneumatic cylinders have a piston inside the barrel, which receives the compressed air pressure to generate motion. To understand it better, consider the example of an automobile. The internal mechanism causes the gas in the cylinder to combust and provides fuel to the engine for mobility. Instead of gas, compressed air causes motion in the pneumatic cylinder. The compressor air thus converts the heat energy into mechanical energy through the piston.

Types of pneumatic cylinders

Pneumatic cylinders have two different types.

The first one is a single-acting pneumatic cylinder. It has a single port, a piston rod and a spring. The compressed air causes the piston rod to extend and provide linear motion. Once the function is performed, and air pressure is removed, the spring pulls the piston rod back in its position or base.

The second is a double-acting cylinder that has two ports. Both ports receive pressure, and the compressed air causes the piston rod to move in two directions. While the air applies pressure on one end and causes it to extend, a vacuum is created on the other end, and it pulls back the rod, causing it to resume its original position.

While both types are used in multiple instances, double-acting pneumatic cylinders are considered more utility due to their higher strength and force.