How Do Air Compressors Work?

Written by ezmeralda lee
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Used by skilled trades of all types, the air compressor is a vital tool for many industrial uses that are determined by the project and the tools used. Air compressors are able to run air-driven tools and equipment to more efficiently do the work at hand. Depending on the type of work involved, air compressors are used to store and build internal air pressure within a storage tank to be used when needed to operate equipment or tools. For the craftsman who depends on this type of equipment to complete a skilled craft, an air compressor that works well with certain types of equipment must meet the specifications of creating the right air pressure to be used when needed. Most air compressors have a motorised action which allows air to be pressurised within a storage tank.

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How Air Compressors Work

Air compressors collect and store air in a pressurised tank, and use pistons and valves to achieve the appropriate pressure levels within an air storage tank that is attached to the motorised unit. There are a few different types of piston compressors that can deliver even air pressures to the user. Automotive compressors are combustion engine compressors that use the up-and-down stroke of the piston to allow air in and pressurise the air within the storage tank. Other piston compressors utilise a diaphragm, oil-free piston. These pull air in, and pressurise it by not allowing air to escape during the collection period. These are the most common types of air compressors that are used today by skilled workers and craftsmen. Before the day of motorised engines, air compressors were not what they are today. Unable to store pressurised air, a type of antique air compressor may be found in the blacksmith's foundry bellows. Now the air compressor is capable of building extreme pressures in storage tanks capable of storing enormous amounts of pressurised gases for industrial use.

Different Types of Air Compressors

When today's air compressors are operated by electricity, gasoline, steam or manpower, they are making it possible for the user to have this resource available to them when needed. Gasoline air compressors operate on the combustion engine platform. By filling with fuel and starting, the engine of the air compressor will work the intake valves on every downstroke of the piston. As the piston moves up, it allows an inlet in the storage tank to open, and the piston forces the air into the tank at a higher pressure than the natural static atmosphere inside the storage tank. Electric motor air compressors have pistons and valves that are different than the combustion engine air compressor. These models use diaphragms and articulating piston rings which allow air in, and pressurise the storage tank at higher levels than the static atmosphere within the storage tank. Once the tank has pressurised the correct amount of air within the storage tank, a pressurised switch stops the engine of the air compressor from building too much pressure. When enough air is used, this switch will also turn the motor on to create more air pressure within the tank.

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