Pneumatic cylinders present a cost-effective solution for motion provision in multiple industrial environments. In instances where less maintenance and lightweight are a priority, they present a better alternative to the electronic and even hydraulic counterparts. From automation to packaging and transportation, their uses are manifold.
Pneumatic cylinders usually come in two major variations, single-acting and double-acting siłowniki pneumatyczne. This article highlights some of the main uses of these two variations.
Uses of single-acting pneumatic cylinders
In single-acting pneumatic cylinders, compressed air enters through one port and forces one side of the piston rod to move in one direction. The movement can be used to perform tasks such as lifting objects or pressing one object into the other. There is a spring that returns the piston rod to its original position.
Single-acting pneumatic cylinders are usually smaller in size and are hence suitable for applications with space restraints. The various tasks they can be used to perform include clamping, marking or stamping, positioning and assemblies with lighter parts.
Some of the areas where they are used include bottling machinery, kitchen equipment, commercial laundry, analytical and diagnostic equipment and instrumentation etc. You may find them usually in automation settings in factories, where they are utilized for performing various tasks such as packaging and material handling. They can assist in positioning parts and pieces by picking and placing and other activities like clamping, punching, etc.
Single-acting cylinders can also be found in specialized pumps for facilitating tasks such as lifting and lowering and pushing or pulling heavy items.
Uses of double-acting pneumatic cylinders
In double-acting pneumatic cylinders, pressurized air retracts the piston rod in its original position instead of a spring that is used in single-acting. They have two ports that supply compressed air to push and retract the piston rod.
Most industrial applications use double-acting pneumatic cylinders as they have more functionality than single-acting cylinders. They are more durable and faster than single-acting and use less energy as well. However, they are more expensive too.
In instances where speed and strength are a priority for the application, double-acting cylinders are a better option. In industrial settings, double-acting cylinders are used to open and close valves or doors, pick or place things on the conveyer belt etc. They are being used in space for opening and closing the shuttle doors.
Double-acting cylinders have also found their way into the robotics industry. Take the McKibben artificial muscles, for instance. The design includes rubber tubes encased in a metal mesh. When the rubber tubes inflate, the metal mesh expands, its diameter increases, and its length becomes shorter. The action pulls the arm.
The two sets of muscles in the arms work in unison, so the movements must be coordinated. The double-acting cylinders are hence useful in this instance as they can provide the required pressure simultaneously to help the muscles work together, like the muscles in real arms.
Double-acting cylinders are also used in the automotive industry, particularly in airplane landing gear suspension. Since they enable more force, they are used for heavy-duty work like drilling, log splitting, elevators, forklifts and trash compactors. They are also used in the healthcare system, for instance, the power ventilators etc.