The Basics of Pneumatic Systems

In mechanical work, pneumatics is an important technology. It is also useful in automation. A pneumatic system is similar to a hydraulic system. However, instead of using hydraulic fluid, it uses compressed air instead. To learn more about pneumatics and pneumatic components, continue reading this article.


What is Pneumatics?


Pneumatics is a system that can send and control energy through compressed air. Therefore, a continuous supply of compressed air is needed. An air compressor provides the needed supply of compressed air. It takes in air from the atmosphere and places it in a receiver which is a tank containing high pressure. From the receiver, the compressed air travels to different valves and pipes to make pneumatics work. Many industries utilize this kind of system.


Components of Pneumatic Systems


  • Rotary Actuators, Air Motors, and Pneumatic Cylinders – to hold, move, form, and process materials, these components provide force and movement for most of the pneumatics. Other pneumatic components such as air service units are needed to use and control the actuators. These will help in controlling the flow, pressure, and movement of the actuators.


  • Intake Filter – people also call this an air filter. It removes or filters the contaminants from the air obtained from the atmosphere.

  • Air Compressor – this is a very important component since it changes mechanical energy from a motor into the energy gained from compressed air. There are many kinds of air compressors for a pneumatic system. Choosing a compressor depends on the delivery pressure desired and the flow rate required.

  • Electric Motor – transforming electrical energy into mechanical is possible through the electric motor which drives the air compressor.


  • Air Receiver – an air receiver stores the air from the compressor. It is also helpful in smoothing the pulsating flow coming from the compressor. In addition, it cools the air and condenses the moisture that is present in it.

It should be big enough to store all the air. The system operating pressure is lower than the pressure from the receiver. This is done in order to make up for the pressure lost in the pipes. A big surfacer size will help spread heat from the compressed air.


  • Air Filter – in order for the pneumatic system to function properly, the compressed air must be dried and cleaned. These are the main functions of an air filter. Smoke, humidity, and dust contaminate the air from the atmosphere. Particles from these contaminants can damage the pneumatic system. Corrosion may occur due to the presence of moisture. Therefore, filtering the air is important to remove these contaminants – a job that is handled by the filter.

  • Cooler – the temperature of the air increases during compression. Thus, a cooler is needed to lower the temperature of the compressed air. Meanwhile, a separator or air dryer separates the vapor or moisture from the air.




There are many uses for pneumatics. Some of its many uses are for the operation of air, water, or chemical system valves, spray painting, and operation of equipment for processing. By understanding the fundamentals, you can easily figure out its practical applications and use it in systems that require or involve pneumatics.