Different Types of Pneumatic Cylinders

Pneumatic, or gas-driven, cylinders come in a variety of configurations for a selection of applications. From the run-of-the-mill to the highly specialized parts, these cylinders generally consist of a piston that is set into motion with the application of air or other gases. Unlike hydraulic cylinders that can pose the risk of oil leaks, pneumatic cylinders offer less risk and more reliable operation, making them ideal for sensitive uses. Let’s take a look at several of the more common types of gas-operated cylinders that are available on the market today.

  • Perhaps the most common type of air-driven device is the straight-line, single-action piston cylinder. These relatively simple units push a piston forward using air, and in most cases, an internal spring allows the piston to be automatically pulled back into its original position. Once it has a reset, the piston can be activated again with the application of the gas.
  • Then there is the double-action cylinder, a slightly more complex device but it still operates on the basic premise of the single-action cylinder. In the case of a double-action cylinder, air is used to move a piston into position as well as to reset it. This allows for seamless travel forward and backward without the need to keep gas flowing into the cylinder.
  • Telescoping cylinders are another type of pneumatic device. When these units are activated it expands in stages, much like a classic spyglass. Retracting the cylinder can be accomplished in a single or double-action manner —these devices are comparable to the satellite masts on television broadcast vans and can be raised fully or to a specific height.
  • Rodless cylinders operate similarly to the double-action cylinders, except that the cylinder travels along what could be considered the piston. These units can be single or double-action.
  • The rotary cylinder is another type of pneumatic parts in Minnesota. In the case of a rotary cylinder, the piston does not extend past the end of the cylinder, but rather rotates within it. The circular, or semi-circular, movement is a less common pneumatic device.
  • In addition to these devices, high-impact pneumatic cylinders serve as a option where consistent impacts occur. Consider these devices similar to that of a pneumatic hammer used in auto body shops.

Due to the compressible nature of the air or common gases used to operate pneumatic cylinders, these devices are not typically used to lift heavy weight because air-driven cylinders can “jerk” if over strained. This compression also protects pneumatic devices in that there is a certain amount of give allowed for a certain amount of give not found in hydraulic cylinders. Hydraulic cylinders are more often used for heavy lifts.

You don’t need to memorize all of the different types of pneumatic cylinders listed here — it can be viewed as a reference. But, if you are looking for a certain types of pneumatic parts in Minnesota and don’t know where to start, contact the experts at M&M Hydraulic Company for assistance.

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