What is a pneumatic compressor?

The typical air compressor uses a pressure gauge to shut off the compressor motor when the desired air pressure is reached inside the pressure tank.

A pneumatic compressor, or air compressor as it is also called, is a device used to compress and store air under pressure. Typically consisting of an electric or gasoline powered motor, compressor and storage tank, a pneumatic compressor is used to supply air pressure to operate air tools, supply air to fill tires and toys with air, as well as power painting tools. . The typical air compressor uses a pressure sensitive gauge to shut off the compressor motor when a desired air pressure is reached within the pressure tank. This switch prevents accidental explosion due to over-pressurization when operating correctly.

An air compressor is connected to pneumatic tools used by mechanics.

The air compressor is available in very small to very large sizes, with all sizes operating on the same principle. A pneumatic compressor operates by having a motor turn a compressor while funneling all the compressed air into a storage tank. Engine type can vary greatly, from a small electric version to a large diesel engine. Small single-stage compressors are common in household compressors, while large screw compressors are used in industrial-sized pneumatic compressor units. These larger compressors are often used in factories where a large amount of air volume is required.

Industrial pneumatic compressors power the tools used at each workstation along an assembly line.

For the home mechanic or hobbyist who also needs a higher airflow, a two-stage compressor is typically used. The dual stage, usually a reciprocating style compressor or pump, uses two cylinders to create an increase in pressure as well as a constant flow of air into the compressor unit. The first cylinder of a double stage is considered the first stage. The first stage pushes the compressed air to the second cylinder or second stage, where it is compressed further before being sent to the reservoir tank. This higher pressure gives the dual stage compressor the ability to run air tools longer and at a higher pressure than a comparable size single stage compressor.

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A modern air compressor uses a pressure sensitive switch to control the inlet of compressed air into the pressure tank. Left unchecked, the compressor could potentially pump compressed air into the pressure tank until it burst at the seams. This is a potentially deadly scenario that is kept in check by shutting down the compressor motor and pump at a predetermined point and pressure. As soon as the pressure drops below another predetermined point, the compressor starts again and resumes pumping air to the pressure tank.

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