A pneumatic cylinder is a type of specially engineered mechanical device that transforms compressed air energy into a linear reciprocating motion. Compressed air is used to propel a piston in single or both ways, depending on the type of cylinder. Unlike hydraulic cylinders, a pneumatic cylinder’s operating fluid is merely air, preventing any leakage and further contamination to the environment.
Also called air cylinders, they come with a variety of accessories, including sensors that detect the piston's position and various mounting accessories to mount the cylinder. Pneumatic cylinders are used in a wide range of industrial sectors that require linear motion and are cost-effective as well as easy to use.
How do pneumatic cylinders work?
Pneumatic cylinders work as the power of compressed gas is used to generate a motive force in the system. With the pressing of the cylinder rod, this motive force is used to move the piston in the desired direction, either linear or rotary. When compared to hydraulic cylinders, the pneumatic ones are much quieter and cleaner and are widely preferred by engineers as there is no possibility of any leakage and contamination. They are also available as rodless cylinders, which are particularly useful when a lot of power is required in a much smaller space.
Cylinders are important components of pneumatics and hydraulics. Pneumatic cylinders are employed in major engine control systems, manufacturing, and the automotive industry. For example, in manufacturing, they are used as opening valves and rotary belts, whereas in automotive, they are used for breaks and suspension systems.
Types of pneumatic cylinders
There are different types of pneumatic cylinders you can choose from. Here, we have discussed three types of pneumatic cylinders:
Single acting pneumatic cylinder
Unlike the double acting pneumatic cylinders, single acting pneumatic cylinders only work on one end of the piston. These types of cylinders rely on an external force from a spring or a foreign load to push the piston in the opposite direction, thereby generating the motion. Single-acting pneumatic cylinders are typically found in internal engines like automobile engines, and can also be found in pumps and hydraulic rams, which can help with heavy-duty tasks like lifting big loads.
Double acting pneumatic cylinder
Double-acting pneumatic cylinders work on both sides of the piston, with one element controlling the outstroke and the other controlling the instroke. As such, they generate force from both ends of the pistons. They are commonly found in external engines such as steam engines.
Telescoping pneumatic cylinder
Also called telescopic cylinders, this type of pneumatic cylinder can be double acting as well as single acting pneumatic cylinders. They come with a piston rod that 'telescopes' as a segmented piston when triggered, allowing for a greater reach. Telescoping cylinders are frequently used where applications require only a small amount of pressure.