Ideal Applications For Pneumatic Actuators

Pneumatic automation system

Pneumatic actuators are used in many industries utilizing automation systems such as manufacturing, packaging, food and beverage, and automation. These actuators that draw their power from compressed air come in a wide array of sizes and configurations operating at high speeds while offering flexibility. In addition, pneumatic actuators offer both rotational and linear movement allowing them to be used in many different applications requiring automated motion.

Pneumatic actuators are generally considered inexpensive, which is why they are often preferred for many applications over electric or hydraulic actuators. There are other key advantages for using pneumatic actuators including:

  • High force and speed
  • Simplicity of operation
  • Sophisticated transfer mechanisms not required
  • Tolerance to overloads, up to a full stop
  • High reliability of work
  • Explosion and fire safety
  • Ease of assembly
  • Force and speed easily adjustable

It may come as no surprise that each type of pneumatic actuator is best suited for different applications. Below are several applications that pneumatic actuators are ideally used for and different types of actuators applied.

Pick-and-Place & Packaging

Each pick-and-place application is unique, and therefore pneumatic actuators are often used along with other automation technologies to engineer a custom solution. Linear and rotary motion can be dually needed, and so both actuator designs may be implemented in one pick-and-place application.

Mounting linear and rotary actuators together may offer motion similar to the likes of what an electric actuator is capable of. This powerful combination of actuators is often used for packaging applications due to their flexibility. Grippers also offer flexibility for pick-and-place applications.

Clamping & Stamping

Pneumatic actuators are used in clamping and stamping applications to operate jaws holding products or marking an object. Pneumatic actuators offer a great deal of control which is necessary in clamping and stamping applications.

Hazardous Applications

Pneumatic actuators are often used to open and close valves, therefore controlling the flow of liquids such as chemicals. (For this reason, pneumatic actuators can also be used in manufacturing applications requiring control over the flow of liquids.) With safety and reliability among the benefits of using pneumatic actuators, hazardous environments like chemical plants will often use these actuators due to their durability.

Food & Beverage Applications

As mentioned above, pneumatic actuators are durable. Unlike hydraulic systems, pneumatic systems aren’t as prone to leaking. For this reason, they are considered advantageous for applications where contamination is a concern. As such, food handling applications may deploy pneumatic actuators over other varieties.

Furthermore, pneumatic actuators are used for food and beverage production in addition to packaging applications. This is in part due to the efficiency linear actuators provide allowing machines and applications to keep up with product demand. Pneumatic actuators can also be used within washdown applications and meat separators.

Robotic Applications

Robotic applications utilize actuators to create motion in wheels, clamps, and robot appendages.Grippers offer angular motion making them ideal for robotic arm applications. The duality of pneumatic actuators and robot arms are commonly seen in many manufacturing applications and offer a range of flexibility and safety.

Your Automation Application

There are nearly endless applications that pneumatic actuators can be utilized in. Material handling, palletizing, and conveying are only a few more applications pneumatic actuators are commonly seen in. If you have questions on whether a pneumatic actuator is ideal for your application, just reach out to one of our specialists.

Selecting a Pneumatic Actuator for Your Application

If you’re reading this article, you may be in the process of choosing an actuator for your particular application needs. There are a few considerations you should take into account prior to choosing a pneumatic actuator:

What direction of force your application requires, and how much force is needed.

The type of actuator you will require changes based on the amount of force your application needs and the direction of force. For example, single-acting actuators are powered by air moving in one direction and may utilize springs to move it in the other direction.

Multiply an actuator’s bore area by pressure applied for a simple force calculation:

F = PxA

Properly identifying the force necessary for your application will ultimately aid you in getting the most efficiency out of your automation system.

The environment your application is in.  

It is worthwhile to consider the environment your application is in. Pneumatic actuators have a small footprint generally, however, each type of pneumatic actuator will differ in configuration. In addition, pneumatic actuators are generally considered safe for hazardous environments. Even still, knowing the standards of your industry or particular application can help you select the correct actuator.

For more advice on selecting the right actuator for your application, visit this blog post.

Contact Us to Find the Right Pneumatic Actuator for You

Identifying the right pneumatic actuator for your application can be difficult. Whether you need a linear or rotary pneumatic actuator, finding the right fit and specs will be an important task for increasing efficiency within your system. If you require help finding the right actuator for your application, contact our automation specialists. They can help you select the right technology for your needs.