The advantages of the pneumatic actuators come from their unique simplicity. Most pneumatic aluminum actuators have a maximum pressure rating of one hundred and fifty psi with bore sizes ranging from ½ to 8 in., which translate into approximately thirty to seven thousand five hundred lb. of force. While, steel actuators have a maximum pressure rating of two hundred and fifty psi with bore sizes ranging from ½ to 14 in., and they generate forces ranging from fifty to 38,465 lbf. Pneumatic actuators generate precise linear motion by providing accuracy, for example, within 0.1 inches and repeatability within .001 inches.
Pneumatic actuators typical applications involve areas of extreme temperatures. A typical temperature range is -40°F to 250°F. In terms of safety and inspection, by using air, pneumatic actuators avoid using hazardous materials. They meet all explosion shield and machine safety requirements because they create no magnetic interference due to their lack of motors.
In the last few years, pneumatics has seen many advances in miniaturization, materials, and integration with electronics and condition monitoring. The cost of pneumatic actuators is low compared to other actuators. Pneumatic actuators are also lightweight, require minimal maintenance, and have durable components that make pneumatics a cost-effective method of linear motion.
Pressure losses and air’s compressibility make pneumatics less capable than other linear-motion methods. Compressor and air delivery restrictions mean that operations at lower pressures will have lower forces and slower speeds. A compressor must run continually operating pressure even if nothing is moving.
To be the most efficient, pneumatic actuators must be sized for a specific job. Consequently, they cannot be used for other applications. Accurate control and efficiency requires proportional regulators and valves, but this raises the costs and complexity.
Even though the air is easily available, it can be contaminated by oil or lubrication, leading to downtime and maintenance. Corporate companies still have to pay for compressed air, making it a consumable, and the compressor and lines are another maintenance issue.
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