In mechanical engineering, pneumatics – sometimes called compressors or air rams – is the use of air pressure to create motion or some form of mechanical force. Pneumatics is mainly used in industries and factories where compressed air is a necessity. The compressed air is stored in one location and distributed through valves (hence the term pneumatic valves). Pneumatics is a cheaper solution to using actuators or electric motors because of the cheap availability of air. Compressed air can be stored and used even when there is a power outage.
The design for anything that uses pneumatics is so simple and straightforward that it only utilises cylinders and pistons for moving parts.
First pneumatic tool in history
The first pneumatic tool in history was probably after metals were forged into weapons by blacksmiths who used bellows. The first modern air compressor was designed in the 1800s and was used in department stores. These compressors were also used on boats and barges; they had to be hand-operated, which needed four men to keep it going. Air pumps were also invented in the 1800s to supply air to divers using cumbersome diving suits that were not pressurised. Pneumatic steam engines also began to replace ships that used canvas sails.
Pneumatics in construction history
By the 19th century, pneumatics in the form of air compressors were widely used in heavy construction. Air compressors were used to dig the foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge. Compressors were also used in the building of bridges and dams in the 1920s and 30s when large volumes of water needed to be kept out.
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