Pneumatic control valves and pressure regulators work together to control the amount of air that passes through a pneumatic system. They influence the flow rate of pressurized gas, which in turn influences the speed at which an actuator operates. This elegant system is used in a variety of industries, from mining and construction to aeronautics and automotive.

Controlling the flow of pressurized gases, such as air or nitrogen, provides a source of energy that is more efficient than relying upon an electrical motor. Below, we'll describe how a pneumatic system works, the components found in such a system, and the role of a pneumatic control valve in its operation. We'll also discuss where pneumatic systems, along with control valves and pressure regulators, are used.

How A Simple Pneumatic System Works

A pneumatic system works by compressing gas into a limited space. The compression doesn't alter the amount of energy contained in the gas. It merely constricts its volume, resulting in increased pressure. The more constricted the volume, the greater the pressure found in the gas. This single principle makes possible the operation of myriad tools and other applications.

It's important to note that the act of compressing gas and creating pressure is not enough. It's the controlled release of the compressed gas that powers the aforementioned tools and applications. When the gas is allowed to escape, it's used to exert force against a solid object, moving that object in some way.

The challenge is optimizing the flow rate of the gas to ensure that minimal energy is wasted. That's the job of pneumatic control valves and pressure regulators, both of which we'll discuss in more detail in a few moments.

Also worth noting is the fact that pneumatic systems produce a relatively small footprint compared to other energy sources. The use of compressed gas - essentially air - generates little in the way of hazardous waste or contaminants. Moreover, the widespread availability of air makes it an infinitely affordable source of energy. In addition, compared to hydraulic systems, pneumatics are safer, more reliable, and simpler in design.


Parts That Are Found In A Pneumatic System

We noted above that the basic design of a pneumatic system is simple. That simplicity is evident in the small number of parts found in it. A basic assembly includes a compressor, storage tank, actuator, one or more feed lines, pressure gauges, and a number of valves, including safety, check, and control valves.

Despite the device's underlying simplicity, there are numerous configurations designed to meet specific needs. For example, some pneumatics are designed to be used in mechanical tools, air guns, exercise equipment, and the brake systems found in motor vehicles. Others are employed in cable jetting, vacuum pumps, pipe organs, and a broad range of robotics. These systems are used in countless applications that affect companies and consumers on a daily basis.


Operation Of A Pneumatic Control Valve

Recall that the operation of a pneumatic system is based on airflow - specifically, the flow of pressurized air. When it is released, the air exerts force on an object, moving or powering it. The job of a pneumatic control valve is to inhibit the flow of air, and when appropriate, direct it to its destination.

Pneumatic control valves facilitate airflow in only one direction. Multiple valves are used to create flow patterns that accommodate the needs of the application.

In order for compressed air to exert the proper amount of force upon an object, it must contain the right amount of pressure. Too little or too much pressure will cause the pneumatic system to operate at a subpar level of performance. A pressure regulator is used to ensure that the level of pressure stays within a specified range. Slight variations in the level are acceptable as long as the range remains unbroken.


Examples Of Pneumatic Systems In Use

Few consumers would be able to specify places in which they've seen pneumatic systems in use. However, most people have seen them, even if they didn't realize it at the time. For example, anyone who has taken his or her vehicle to an auto repair shop will have witnessed pneumatics being used. Likewise, anyone who has sat in a dentist's chair will have observed pneumatic systems in use. From research labs to road construction sites, there are countless applications that rely on them.

For companies that need to streamline processes that rely on compressed air, the right pneumatic system offers an affordable, efficient means of flow optimization. They're reliable, durable, and can be employed in a broad range of industrial applications.