Air compressors convert one type of power, such as electricity or diesel, into stored power (compressed air) that can then be used by tools or devices. They are used by a variety of industries, including home DIY, building and construction, and small businesses such as carpenters and in manufacturing.
This compressed air can be used to pump up car or bike tyres, tools such as nail guns, power tools, and machines such as concrete breakers. All of these objects can be referred to as being pneumatic, as they are powered by compressed air.
In this article, we explore how air compressors work, the different types, and how to use one safely.
How Does An Air Compressor Work?
Within most air compressors, the air is forced into a fixed size. The more air that fills this fixed space, the more it is compressed. Eventually, the air pressure in the tank reaches its maximum limit and the compressor shuts off. This is referred to as positive displacement.
The three most common air compressors are:
Reciprocating air compressors are used in small businesses, including garages and can also be used at home. They are not suitable for continuous use.
These compressors have many moving parts which are lubricated with oil for smooth movement. A piston compresses inside a tank, which compresses and displaces the air from the tank to build pressure.
2. Rotary screw
Rotary screw compressors are probably the easiest type of air compressors to take care of. They have an internal cooling system and don’t require too much maintenance.
Rotary screw air compressors generate energy via two internal rotors that turn in opposite directions. The air gets trapped between the two opposing rotors, and builds up pressure within the housing. Because of the internal cooling system, these air compressors are designed for continuous use such as at construction sites.
Centrifugal air compressors are used in large scale manufacturing plants and require less maintenance than reciprocating and rotary screw compressors.
They slow and cool incoming air through a diffuser to build up potential energy. Because of the multi-phase compression process, centrifugal compressors are able to produce a high amount of energy in a relatively small machine.
Safety Features Of An Air Compressor
As with any powerful machine, they can be dangerous if not used correctly.
When using an air compressor, you will be working with a machine full of compressed air. If the machine is punctured there is a real danger that it could explode.
Always wear protective clothing when using an air compressor, such as goggles and gloves. Ensure the power switch is off when not in use and always turn the pressure off before disconnecting or connecting the machine.
Always operate any tool you are powering with the machine at the correct pressure.
If you would like any advice, including the best air compressor to choose for a project or your business, please get in touch. We’re here to help.