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Advantages & Disadvantages of Pneumatic Systems

Updated February 21, 2017

Pneumatic systems use pressurised gas, typically air, to physically power aspects of mechanical machines. They are often chosen in place of hydraulic systems, which use compressed liquid. Pneumatic systems have both advantages and disadvantages.

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The initial cost of a pneumatic system is very low because these systems are cheap to make and have a simple design composed of inexpensive materials like plastic, zinc or aluminium. However, the long-term operating cost of these systems can be high because it takes a good deal of power to compress enough gas to allow the system to exert a proper amount of pressure.


Pneumatic systems are very safe. Since the majority of these systems use air, a leak will not cause contamination in the way that hydraulic systems leaking oil would, for example. These systems also pose no risk of fire or explosion.

Speed and Control

Since air is compressible, unlike the liquid or electricity used in electrical and hydraulic systems, it can be difficult to control the speed and precision of a pneumatic system. When very specific speeds and positioning are needed, additional systems may need to be constructed and put into place to offer additional control, which can be a costly solution.

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