The Most Popular Oil-Free Air Compressor Myth Debunked

oil-free medical compressor applications

For oil-free compressed air, you need an oil-free compressor. Oil-free compressors work in much the same way that oil-injected ones do. However, as the name suggests, there is no oil injected during compression. Often, oil-free compressors are the best option in most applications.

Before you decide on a compressor, you should understand the three main types of compressors. Each type of compressor has their own benefits. A few include high power levels, portability, and maintenance of consistent pressure. See the different types below:

Oil-Free Reciprocating Compressors 

Reciprocating air compressors use positive displacement. In other words, it generates air pressure by using two sides that provide either suction or discharge. Positive displacement is suitable for compressing small amounts of air at high pressure, and can quickly dissipate the heat from compression.

Reciprocating compressors tend to have lower output than others, but they can achieve relatively high pressures. Oil-free reciprocating compressors will typically use a Teflon piston ring instead of oil. The Teflon ring means there’s no need for lubrication for the pistons, rings and cylinders because the material reduces wear. To improve life, these units also tend to opt for aluminum pieces in place of cast iron. Teflon rings require replacement regularly, but they present little contamination risk to the compressor.

Oil-Free Scroll Compressors

Scroll technology is an advanced air compression system which includes one mobile and one stationary spiral which work together to bring air into the chamber for compression. A decrease in air volume compresses the air in the spiral. Air then travels to the center of the compressor for cooling.

There is no residual friction or wear on the system because the spirals never come in contact with each other. In many cases, these compressors also work smoother, with a different movement from other compressors. Some may require lubricant, but there are many common models that operate with an oil-free design. 

Oil-Free Rotary Screw Compressors

Rotary screw air compressors also use displacement. They generate the air compression by running a system of interlocking screws that draw in air. It is then pressurized in a small area.

Oil-free rotary screw compressors opt for no-contact carbon ring seals to aid their cooling. These seals prevent any ability of oil entering the air stream inside of the air compression unit. Sectioned off coolant is used and kept on the other side of the seal for easy cooling.

Oil-free rotary screws can see heat buildup over time, since they typically lack the ability to throttle the inlet, which will see those with large demands opt for the flooded models.

What Industries Utilize Oil-Free Compressors?

  • Automotive – Used for high quality paint finishes, smooth maintenance, and better health
  • Electronics – Used for uninterrupted maintenance of the ultra-clean conditions essential for high product quality
  • Food & Beverage – Used for healthy, better tasting high-quality end products
  • Oil & Gas – Used for trouble-free control systems and processes, upgraded safety, security and a higher quality end product
  • Textiles – Used for more efficient production, reduced repair and maintenance costs, improved textile quality, less wastage
  • Chemical – Used for increased product purity, better processes, less waste, and increased safety
  • Medical – Used for pure products, more efficient processes, reducing contamination risks, and decreased waste

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