Pneumatics is the use of pressurized air for mechanical motion. It is used in different contexts.
Pneumatic transfer systems are employed in many industries to move powders and devices. Pneumatic devices are also used where electric motors cannot be used for safety reasons, such as deep in a mine where explosive dust or gases may be present.
Examples of pneumatic tools
- Pneumatic drill (jackhammer) used by road workers
- Pneumatic nailgun
- Pneumatic switches
- Pneumatic actuators
- Air compressors
- Vacuum pumps
- Barostat systems used in Neurogastroenterology and for researching
- Cable Jetting - a way to install cables in ducts
- Pneumatic mail systems
- Air brakes on buses, trains, and trucks
Comparison to Hydraulics
Both pneumatics and hydraulics are applications of fluid power. Pneumatics uses air, which is compressible, while hydraulics uses relatively incompressible liquid media such as oil or water.
Advantages of pneumatics
- The working fluid is very light in weight so supply hoses are not heavy.
- Because the working fluid is (mostly) just air, there is usually no need for a return line for the working fluid and leaks of the working fluid tend not to be messy.
- Because air is compressable, the equipment is less likely to be damaged by shock. The air in pneumatics absorbs excessive force, whereas the fluid of hydraulics directly transfers force.
Advantages of hydraulics
- Higher energy density owing to the much higher working pressures usually employed.
- The hydraulic working fluid is basically incompressible, leading to a minimum of spring action. When hydraulic fluid flow is stopped, the slightest motion of the load releases the pressure on the load; there is no need to "bleed off" pressurised air to release the pressure on the load...
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