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Avoiding mistakes when choosing pneumatic cylinders with API Pneumatic UK

In this informative article, PIF speaks with API Pneumatic UK to discuss how businesses within the process industry can better improve their pneumatic cylinder selection process. As a UK specialist cylinder manufacturer and supplier, API UK has years of industry knowledge and expertise when it comes to helping customers choose pneumatic cylinders to match their precise requirements. Here, they share mistakes which should be avoided when making your pneumatic cylinder selection.

Key considerations for improving pneumatic cylinder selection

Pneumatic cylinders are used in a variety of applications and industries. They come in thousands of variations and feature an even wider range of components. Each pneumatic cylinder type has unique specifications and can be manufactured from different materials to suit different working environments. “With all this in mind, it can sometimes be difficult to know which pneumatic cylinder type works best for your application,'' says Tim Swift, Managing Director of API Pneumatic UK. “Although there aren’t an industry recognised criteria for selecting the right pneumatic cylinder, there are several key considerations which should help better inform the decision for manufacturers, engineers and businesses alike."

“Typically, these cover a range of factors such as the mass of the item to be actuated, the available air pressure, the distance the object has to move and the envelope within which the cylinder is to operate. Additionally, you should consider if there any possible side loading or mounting options, as well as the speed of actuation, required. It’s also beneficial to factor in the environment which the cylinder will operate within as well as whether the travel of the cylinder might be disrupted by external factors such as mechanical stops or rely on end caps for positioning”.

Single-acting or double-acting pneumatic cylinders?

Once you’ve factored in all key considerations, you’ll have a better understanding of what you need from a pneumatic cylinder. Begin your search by deciding on which pneumatic cylinder design you’ll require. The most standard available on the market is the rod-style pneumatic cylinder. These come as either single-acting or double-acting pneumatic cylinders. “Single-acting pneumatic cylinders deliver motion in one direction, whereas double-acting cylinders can provide both forward and backward motions,'' continues Tim. “Which of these is most beneficial to you should be the first decision you make when choosing a pneumatic cylinder".

Next step of your pneumatic cylinder selection process should be to narrow down what type of rod-style cylinder is best for your requirements. “There several different rod-style pneumatic cylinders to choose from, so it’s important to know which will be best suited for your application,'' explains Tim. “For example, repairable pneumatic cylinders are generally better equipped with heavy-duty applications due to the ability to replace seals and internal components. Whereas light-duty applications might benefit from a disposable cylinder, as they cost less to make but need replacing more often."

"For smaller space with short stroke requirements, compact pneumatic cylinders might be the way to go. Additionally, guided cylinders are best for applications with sizeable offset loads or loads that need precise direction. Rotary pneumatic cylinders are also often found within the process industry, due to their suitability for operating quarter-turn valves”. While rod-style cylinders might be the dominating design on the market, rodless cylinders are also present for applications which require either long strokes or high load movements.

Know your pneumatic cylinder performance

After you have decided preference for your pneumatic cylinder choice, you’ll want to consider it’s performance. Each pneumatic cylinder type is capable of different levels of performances and capabilities, so you’ll need to align these qualities with your application requirements. “The three things to measure when assessing the performance of pneumatic cylinders is force output, speed and air consumption,'' says Tim. “Force output can be determined from the air pressure and bore size of a pneumatic cylinder. When examining force output, any force generated by the cylinder should be twice as much as the load. Stroking speed of pneumatic cylinders is determined by dividing airflow in standard cubic feet per minute by piston area."

"While for air consumption, there are two factors which need to be analysed. The first is the volume of air displaced by the piston of the cylinder during operation. The second is the volume of contaminated air which passes through valves, ports, tubing and cavities of a cylinder. It is important to remember that even in a worst-case scenario, a pneumatic cylinder should always be able to supply air. Optimal cylinder performance should be guaranteed for your chosen application”.

Additional considerations

Design and performance might be the primary considerations for pneumatic cylinder selection, however, there are additional factors which should influence your decision. Pay close attention to these factors to help avoid mistakes in your pneumatic cylinder selection:

Work environments

“The environment of your application should play a huge factor in which pneumatic cylinder type you choose.”resumes Tim. “For example, if you are choosing pneumatic cylinders for process applications with strict hygienic process requirements, it makes sense to opt for stainless steel pneumatic cylinders as they will perform better due to the materials they have been constructed from. Pay attention to the materials used for both the cylinder type, as well as their seals”.

Mounting options

“Mounting configurations refer to how your chosen cylinder type attaches to adjacent equipment,'' explains Tim. “To give an example, standard mountings traditionally ensure that pneumatic cylinders execute specific movements which your application requires”.

Position feedback and cushioning

“Both position feedback and cushioning can influence the levels of performance which a pneumatic cylinder can deliver” continues Tim. “Magnetic cylinders are capable of different types of position feedback to non-magnetic cylinders. While cylinders with cushioning can prevent damage from metal-to-metal contact. This would normally result in potential mechanical damage if left unprotected”.

Buy pneumatic cylinders from API Pneumatic UK

API Pneumatic UK has one of the most extensive portfolios of pneumatic cylinders, accessories and components available anywhere on the market. Based in Stoke-on-Trent, API UK can match the right pneumatic cylinder type with your desired application or process. Visit API Pneumatic UK’s website to browse their extensive selection of pneumatic cylinders.

Company Profile

API Pneumatic UK

API Pneumatic UK is a manufacturer of high-quality pneumatic cylinders, valves, airline equipment and bespoke control panels.

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