When Do You Need an Oil-Free Compressor?

Food industry production line automated by compressed air

Compressors are so durable and reliable, replacing them in a manufacturing situation is a relatively rare event. However, while your old compressor has been working away diligently, advancements in the industry continue to be made. Even though your company may not have considered the purchase of a new compressor in decades, the options available to you have been moving on ahead.

Today, as previously, there are multiple types of compressors available for a variety of purposes and industries. Modern compressor choices however, are becoming more efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly. Selecting the appropriate compressor for your specific application is critical. The need for cleaner air in production is becoming increasingly important. Oil-free compressors are leading the way. Oil free or oil-less compressors are clean, cost-effective, efficient and less bulky than traditional oiled compressors, making them an attractive option. Should you consider an oil free compressor?

What is an Oil Free Compressor

Despite its name, an oil free compressor does, in fact use oil. It, however, only uses oil to lubricate outside moving parts and to keep it operating at cooler temperatures. What is meant by “oil free” is that an oil-free compressor is one that doesn’t use oil to lubricate its cylinder walls. Instead, they use self-lubricating materials to allow cylinders to slide smoothly along with grease in sealed bearings. Its design prevents oil from coming in contact with compressed air. Since oil does not contaminate the compressed air, it is said to be “oil free”. Like all machinery, it is important to properly maintain this type of compressor to make sure its seals remain intact to continue to produce air that is not contaminated by oil.

The Benefits of Using Oil-Free Compressors

Oil-free compressors provide the highest quality, cleanest compressed air for manufacturers. In the process, manufacturers can significantly reduce their negative impact on the environment. Natural resources are conserved with the reduction and elimination of harmful emissions, while at the same time providing an exceptionally clean and cost-effective source of clean air. This has benefits in the manufacturing process.

Applications Where an Oil Free Compressor is Most Valuable

Oil free compressors are either required or critical in the production of a variety of products and components. If the products you produce could possibly be contaminated by oil in compressed air, an oil free compressor is the best choice. Even if you just wish to provide higher quality products, oil free compressors can contribute to the quality of products you produce. Here are just some examples.

The Food Industry

Air compressors are often used in a variety of processes involved in the preparation and production of food products, and oil-free compressors can help protect against unnecessary contaminants. This category is extensive, ranging from farming and dairy to processed food and candy and confections. An issue with a traditional compressor in processing food products can create costly losses and delays.


Like the food industry, beverages must be produced in exceptionally clean environments. This is a related industry where an oil-free compressor is vital.

Drugs and Pharmaceuticals

Drug and pharmaceutical production is strictly regulated, including restrictions on manufacturing them in clean environments. Certainly oil free compressors are not the only element in clean production but an important part of the equation.


Even the most minute amount of oil or impurities in compressed air used in the production of electronics can create issues. Unwanted oil can impact the performance of electronic components, and equally important, the finished products they are used in.

Medical Equipment

Precision and purity is critical is the production of medical equipment and its components. Oil free compressors help ensure the cleanest air possible in the manufacturing of medical related devices and tools.

Medical Offices/Hospitals

Oil free or oil-less compressors are the choice of many medical offices, practitioners and hospitals due to the pure, high-quality air that is provided. Dentistry is a prime example where the cleanest air possible is desired.

Taking Full Advantage of Using Oil-Free Compressed Air

When the use of cleaner, compressed air may be required, an oil-free compressor is the obvious choice. But today, there are more reasons than ever to step up to oil free compressors.

First, oil free compressors provide greater control of production by eliminating unwanted impurities in their production. This can have a significant impact on the quality of the products your company produces.

In addition, the use of oil-free compressors demonstrates your company is environmentally aware. This not only is the right thing to do, but can be of value when marketing your products, services or processes to potential customers.

Compressed Air Specialists

The team at JH Foster are compressed air specialists. We understand the nuances of the variety of solutions available to fit your precise needs. Whether you are in a start-up position, looking to replace a non-performing compressor or proactively upgrading, we are here to help. When you are ready for your next compressor, we invite you to connect with us.