Air compressors have their origin back in 1799 when George Methurdist devised the first motor-powered one. Since then, compressors have found a series of applications from our homes to commercial centers. They are completely easy to handle and of great usefulness for duties. Let’s go through the fundamentals you must know before operating one.

An example of a commercial compressor is shown below,

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The working principle

Compression means squeezing. Compressed air sets its particles under pressure {due to reduced volume} in a containment. This forms potential energy, which is then stored in a cylinder or tank and awaits application. As more air is drawn into the storage tank, more pressure is generated and kept. This is the simplest explanation for easier understanding of air compressors.

What are the basic types of air compressors?

The two main divisions of compressors are,

  1. Dynamic compressors – the main operational part is the impeller, which rotates to elevate the velocity of air particles in a stream which when directed to a diffuser, generates pressure.

Dynamic compressors are subdivided into the mixed flow, axial and radial/centrifugal types.

  1. Positive displacement compressors – work by decreasing the volume of trapped air hence creating pressure. The types under this are reciprocating and rotary compressors.

    Important factors to consider while purchasing an air compressor

Have you ever experienced buying the wrong item? The possible reason could be you were left with no choice or you had no idea of what you wanted. Check out these compressors from before acquiring one:

  1. Intended work to be performed. The performance capability of the tool must match the capacity of the work. For light jobs, consider small air compressors unlike in commercial duties that will require heavy-duty compressors.

  2. Portability – some applications such as CNC milling are stationary while others like farm sprays will require mobile ones for ease of movement.

  3. Power source – gasoline, electrical supply, and mechanical inputs are the main sources. Your device will not work with the wrong power supply, be very cautious about this, to get things right.

  4. Compatibility – modern technology has resulted in a variety of designs depending on user needs. Some use a dual controller for start/stop while others use a systematic controller. The choice will depend on the layout of the work to be performed.

  5. Cost – for economic reasons, consider a device that will optimally work for you but quoted a lower price than its alternatives.

    Where do air compressors find an application?

Tire center – to inflate tube tires
Pressure cleaning – in road construction for marble removal and carwash.
Manufacturing – for changing tool magazine in CNC milling, for power drills and hammers.
Air conditioning – for cooling and heating of air
Painting – spray paint have recently overcome hand brushes
Agriculture – crop conveyors, sprayers and pumps work on the principle of compressed air.

Reasons for the wide use of air compressors

Reading through the user’s manual will get you ready to handle a compressor. It doesn’t require skills; it is economical and reliable for production and performance. However, the heavy-duty ones require high input power which may be costly.

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