Pneumatics is a branch of mechanics that deals with the mechanical properties of gases. It works with the study of pressurized gas that produces mechanical motion, and the application of such gases to produce motion. Systems based on pneumatics are found in factories that deal with compressed air and inert gases. Energy produced by pneumatic systems can be more flexible, less costly, more reliable and less dangerous than some actuators and electric motors.
Though most of us do not realize it, we are surrounded by systems based on pneumatics. Below are some examples.
- Air brakes on buses and trucks are formally known as compressed air brake systems. These systems use a type of friction brake in which compressed air presses on a piston, and then applies the pressure to the brake pad that stops the vehicle.
- Exercise machines can be built on pneumatic systems. A pneumatic cylinder creates resistance that can be adjusted with air pressure.
- Compressed-air engines, also called pneumatic motors, do mechanical work by expanding compressed air. Usually the compressed air is converted to mechanical action by rotary or linear motion.
- Pressure regulators are valves designed to automatically stop the flow of a liquid or gas when it reaches a certain pressure.
- Pressure sensors are used to measure the pressure of gases or liquids.
- Pipe organs produce sound by pushing pressurized air through pipes that are chosen by pressing keys on a keyboard.
- Inflatable structures, such as balloons, bouncy castles, or blow up figures are inflated with a gas – air, helium, nitrogen, or hydrogen. The pressure of the gas keeps the structure inflated.
- Cable-jetting is a technique used to put cables into ducts. Compressed air is inserted and flows through the duct and along the cable.
- Pneumatic mail systems deliver letters through pressurized air tubes. This was invented by a Scottish engineer in the 1800s.
- Gas compressors are devices that increase the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume.
- A pneumatic bladder is an inflatable bag technology that can be used to seal drains and ducts to contain chemical gases or spills, to stabilize cargo within a container, or to float an artificial coral reef. They can be used in medical research, and have other applications as well.
- Pneumatic cylinders use the power of compressed gas to produce a force.
- A vacuum pump removes gas molecules from a sealed container, leaving behind a partial vacuum. This concept was invented in 1650.
- Pressure switches close an electrical contact when a certain amount of pressure has been reached. The switch can be set up to make contact either when the pressure rises or when the pressure falls.
- Pneumatic air guns use pre-compressed air as an energy source to put a projectile in motion.
- Barostat systems maintain constant pressure in a closed chamber. They can be used for medical purposes.
- Gas-operated reloading provides energy to run firearms.
- Pneumatic tires are created with compressed air to inflate and form the body of a tire on a bike, car, or other vehicle.
- A handheld jackhammer is a tool that combines a hammer and a chisel, and is usually powered by compressed air.
- Even Legos can use pneumatics! There is a kind of Lego brick that uses air pressure to perform various actions using pneumatics concepts.
As you can see, you will likely encounter some type of pneumatic system on a regular basis in the course of your everyday life.