Compressed air cylinders are pneumatic tools that use the force of compressed air to move things. Air cylinders are used in an extensive variety of contexts for many purposes. Large trucks are equipped with air cylinders as part of their air brake systems. They can be used to open and close large doors, move parts in equipment and facilitate the movement of many other kinds of objects in the contexts of industry, commerce and even in some consumer products contexts.
The automotive manufacturing and supply industries, food processing, electronics, mining, packaging and many other industries make use of air cylinders for the movement of products and in the operation of equipment. Air cylinders can be configured in many ways, and their configuration depends on their intended application. Standard, rod-equipped cylinders are among the simplest and most common cylinder varieties.
They can be as large as 1,000 mm in diameter, or, as in the case of miniature air cylinders, as small as 2.5 mm in diameter. Rod-equipped cylinders allow lateral movement, but other configurations can also allow other kinds of movement; rotary cylinders, for example, allow for rotational movement.
Compressed air cylinders work by converting the potential energy of compressed gasses into mechanical energy. Every air cylinder features a cylinder, a piston and at least one inlet. Compressed air, when it is directed into the cylinder through the inlet, forces the piston to move. Valves control the flow of compressed air to the cylinder.
The two basic types of compressed air cylinders are single acting and double acting. The single acting cylinder is able to perform an operating motion in only one direction. A single acting air cylinder has air pressure on one side of a piston flange, supplying force and motion, and a spring supplying the return force after pressure release. Single acting cylinders require approximately half the amount of air used by a double acting cylinder for a single operating cycle.
A double acting pneumatic cylinder has powered motion in two directions, with pressure on both sides. When a cylinder is pushed out in one direction, compressed air moves it back in the other direction. Air lines running into both ends of the cylinder supply the compressed air. The flow of compressed air is controlled with valves for both single and double acting cylinders.