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AKV Enterprises
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Air Cylinders (2 Pistons)
Air cylinders are the final component in a pneumatic or compressed air control or power system. Air cylinders, or pneumatic cylinders, are devices that convert compressed air power into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy produces linear or rotary motion. In this way, the air cylinder functions as the actuator in the pneumatic system, so it is also known as a pneumatic linear actuator. The air cylinder consists of a steel or stainless steel piston, a piston rod, a cylinder barrel and end covers. As compressed air moves into a cylinder, it pushes the piston along the length of the cylinder. Compressed air or a spring, located at the rod end of the cylinder, pushes the piston back. Valves control the flow of compressed air to the cylinder. The choices for cylinder housing styles include the following: tie-rod, smooth body, pancake, rectangular, multiple bore, stainless steel, rodless, compact, miniature/microcylinder, clean profile and twin-rod cylinder. Air cylinder manufacturers produce two basic types of air cylinders: single acting and double acting. The single acting cylinder is able to perform an operating motion in only one direction. A single acting air cylinder has air pressure on one side of a piston flange, supplying force and motion, and a spring supplying the return force after pressure release. Single acting cylinders require approximately half the amount of air used by a double acting cylinder for a single operating cycle. A double acting pneumatic cylinder has powered motion in two directions, with pressure on both sides. When a cylinder is pushed out in one direction, compressed air moves it back in the other direction. Air lines running into both ends of the cylinder supply the compressed air. The flow of compressed air is controlled with valves for both single and double acting cylinders. Other types of cylinders include rotary cylinders, impact cylinders and multiple- position, or opposed-thrust, cylinders. Pneumatic systems produce large linear movement and consist of an input, a process and an output. The input is compressed air from the compressor or hand pump. The process is a valve that directs the air to the rod end or base of the cylinder, and the output is an extending or retracting piston rod. Use of pneumatic systems is advantageous because they can be connected with hoses, pipe or tubing without difficulty. Air is inexpensive and plentiful and can be easily compressed and stored in tanks. Exhaust air is relatively environmentally friendly and can be returned to the atmosphere. Pneumatic systems are used to push, pull, lift and open/close doors in material handling and processing. They can also hold, remove and position materials or pieces for manufacturing. Air cylinder manufacturers produce many different cylinder designs for a variety of applications in different industries. Choosing an air cylinder for a pneumatic system can be a daunting task. Air cylinder manufacturers can customize units with a special stroke, a custom mounting style or unusual seal material. Although custom air cylinders have the advantage of exactly suiting the application, it is recommended to look for an off-the-shelf solution first, as standard air cylinders cost less and are available for quick delivery. In sizing cylinders, focus on the load, velocity and air pressure. The cylinder should be sized to move the greatest load at the lowest acceptable velocity with the minimum available pressure. Determine the stroke length, the spring force (for a single-acting cylinder) and the overall dimensions of the cylinder. The mounting style - the options for which include nose, block, universal, pivot and trunnion - is determined by the size, force and function of the cylinder. Optional components that help to improve cylinder performance or prevent problems include cushions, bumpers, stop tubes, dual pistons, flow controls, position-sensing switches and position feedback sensors. Environmental factors have a huge impact on cylinder operation, so choose seals, beatings, lubricants, materials and finishes that will help counteract any negative effects.