The Pneumatic System: Pneumatic Valves, Actuators and More Parts

pneumatic valvesThe word “pneumatic” comes from a Greek word Pneuma, which means air. Pneumatics work by means of collecting gases and using it as a medium to create a workforce that can operate heavy machinery and other systems that uses linear or rotational energy. Pneumatic valves are used to control the flow of compressed air into the system. It plays a vital role in receiving and sending off air to regulate the unit.

Although the whole mechanism may seem complicated, the science of a pneumatic system is straightforward. Dependent on air and some oils, the process starts from a machine called a compressor that extracts air from its vicinity and stores the compressed air into a reservoir that is then passed into the actuator via circuit pipes and valves. The actuator is used in order for the air to be converted into a force. To better understand the whole system, here is a short description of each vital component that runs the pneumatic system.

Compression Unit

The first phase of the pneumatic system process is the compressor machine. It is an engine run by electric or diesel power. A compressor machine reduces the volume of gas by pressurising it. The process compresses gas which is then stored in a tank or receiver to be passed further into the unit. A compressor has two categories: dynamic and positive displacement:

Piston, screw, and scroll compressors are common types of a positive displacement compressor. It works through a reciprocation process, where the air is absorbed into the piston via linear movement and the decreased volume of air is relieved by moving in the opposite side. Positive displacement compressors are ideal to operate machines that require small amounts of gas that create a high level of pressure.

On the other hand, a dynamic compressor works by rotational movement. Commonly known as the turbo compressor, flow is regulated through the blades in a high velocity created by an axial movement. Dynamic compressors are better used for continual operations.

Pneumatic Valves

Before the compressed air is delivered into the actuator, it is relayed into a tank or cylinder where pneumatic valves are located. The reason why the valve is essential is that it acts as a door: it opens to let the compressed gas in, and as it closes, the other door opens, serving as a passage outlet to complete the cycle of pneumatics. The valves are used to keep the system safe for they regulate the flow of air.


The final process of pneumatics involves an actuator. It is a device that moves back and forth (a linear movement), which converts compressed air into kinetic energy that is used to operate bigger machines. It can be used for pneumatic, hydraulic, and even electronic systems.

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