The anatomy and mechanics of pneumatic cylinders

Pneumatic systems use compressed air to generate motions and mechanical applications in automation systems in factory settings and other areas. You may observe pneumatics in various applications you see in your daily life, including lifts and elevators, trucks, food processing, medical equipment and packaging etc.

Pneumatics and pneumatic cylinders

The process of pneumatic systems entails the reduction of air volume to increase pressure through an air compressor. The air passes through tubes and is checked by valves from where it reaches an actuator or a cylindrical device that uses the compressed air to perform a specified function such as gripping, pulling or lifting and moving etc. The cylindrical device is the pneumatic cylinder which we will discuss further in detail.

How do pneumatic cylinders work?

As the name implies, Pneumatic cylinders are cylindrical devices that use the pressure of compressed air and convert it into mechanical energy. As we earlier suggested, siłowniki pneumatyczne constitute the last and final component of the pneumatic set up in an automated system. The generated energy causes the piston inside the barrel of the cylinder to move and perform the “work.” Depending on the type of application, the motion can be linear or rotary.

The application device at the end of the cylinder is also according to the function that the application is designed to perform. For instance, it could be a clamp, gripper or puncher, a vacuum cup etc.

The design of the pneumatic cylinder itself is contingent on the type of motion, the amount of pressure or force required and the environmental conditions under which the cylinder will be performing.

Hence, it is critical to ensure that the right kind of cylinder is installed to ensure the application’s durability and longevity.

Pneumatic cylinders types

Pneumatic cylinders are of two types, single and double-acting pneumatic cylinders. The single-acting have a single port and rely on a mechanical spring for the retraction move. While the double-acting has two openings on each end, and the cylinder relies on compressed air for push and pull movement of the piston rod.


Most industrial applications rely on double-acting cylinders to offer more force and durability. This is how they work.

Let’s look at a generic application. The cylinder’s body is linked to a support frame, and the piston rod’s end is connected to a machine component that moves to perform the function. A control valve directs the compressed air into one port and opens the retracting port into the surroundings. As a result of the pressure difference between the two piston sides, the resultant force is equivalent to the pressure difference multiplied by the piston’s surface area.

The force causes the piston rod to extend and move the machine component. Once the action is performed, the valve is reversed, and the flow of compressed air causes the rod to move back in its original position.

Applicability of pneumatic cylinders

The applicability of pneumatic cylinders extends from the generic systems to the complex and intricate applications where their use had not been comprehended. From the assembly line in the manufacturing industry, they have now strengthened their place in the likes of the automotive and robotics industry.

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