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What Is A Compressed Air System?

Posted by SMC Pneumatics USA on 3/5/2020 to Manufacturing Technology
What Is A Compressed Air System?

A compressed air system is a network that generates energy from gas molecules being transported through and activating an engine or rotor. It uses natural air that is all around us, that we inhale and exhale. The system uses compressed gas molecules to create sufficient pressure, which pushes through the rest of the circuit.

A well-installed and properly maintained air compressor system will last between ten to fifteen years. The key is to know how to main each of the individual components, and when to make replacements.

Parts of A Compressor System


Operators place these filters where the air enters the machine and at relevant points during the circuit. They remove invasive contaminants that can damage or wear out parts, cause clogs in airflow, and taint any products made. Thus, filters are an essential part of your system. Some have replaceable cartridges while other

Usually, a filter has a layer of fibers that absorbs, traps or attracts the contaminants in question. These include water vapor, solid soil or dirt particles, microorganisms, and oil droplets. Each of these contaminants exists on the micron level, which is why the machine needs to remove them since they are too small for operators to see.

Air Compressor

The compressor draws the molecules into a small, enclosed space. It uses a pump to reduce the volume. This forces the air to come close together, increasing the pressure. Once a certain threshold is reached, the compressor then releases it into a storage tank and turns off.

Compressors can either be a rotary screw, reciprocating, or rotary centrifugal. Reciprocating compressors are used for smaller industrial applications. Centrifugal models are very energy-efficient with a high flow rate.

Air Receiver

The air receiver, also called a storage tank, holds air when it is not in use. It helps control the rate of pressure change by holding all of the compressed molecules in one place. The tank quickly empties when the machine is ready for operation. It has a pressure relief valve and pressure gauge respectively, to assist with monitoring the flow rate.

In addition, the receiver assists with removing water from the system, by allowing the air to cool and droplets to condense. An automatic or manual drain helps with disposing of the droplets. Thus, it is an essential part of the machine by removing contaminants while storing the vital energy source.

Air Dryer

Another type of air filter, the dryer assists by cooling the air used during the machine. This assists in removing more particles from the airflow, specifically water vapor. As mentioned, water vapor can cause damage, so this is a preventative measure. It can also trap other contaminants.

When the vapor cools, it condenses into droplets. A membrane layer or carbon fibers can trap them, ensuring that they are removed from the system. Some layers in cartridge form need to be replaced after several uses.


These valves are the devices which open or close passages within the system. Some are activated by a change in pressure, while others need to receive an external signal. They help regulate airflow and pressure when they open passages. What’s more, since the machine will only work if compressed air is actively flowing, valves determine output.

If a valve is not working, then it can have a negative impact and show inaccurate readings of pressure. The machine may work twice as hard to reach the same output. Thus, you need to check for leaks and that ports within the valves are operating properly.

How Does A Compressor System Work?

First, the compressor draws in air from the surrounding environment. It proceeds to enclose the molecules within a tight chamber; this is called air displacement. The compressor’s pump assists with that part, and in creating the necessary energy for generating the machine.

The pressure generates enough force to be released into the receiver tank, as mentioned. When the human operator starts the system, the air then goes through the designated pathways. Different signals, depending on the valve, compel them to open. They then reach the designed motor or engine and compel them to move, which generates output for the machine.

The Proper Environment For A Compressed Air System

First, you need to set up your machine in a well-ventilated area. Make sure that the temperatures are reasonable for the operations. Since it uses and expels natural air, any operators also need to breathe the gases that go in or out of the system. This ensures workplace safety by preventing anyone from getting poisoned or asphyxiated on the job.

Have a system to check for air leaks. If low air pressure is common and regulators don’t match with the amount of output, then see if any parts or not working or if the air is leaving a part of the system. That way you can stay energy-efficient and ensure that parts don’t wear out over time.

Keep humidity low as well. While certain filters will reduce the amount of water vapor that might get into your system, you want to ensure that microorganisms cannot grow in your work environment. Bacteria, mold and other parasites need water to survive, and they can contaminate your products. In addition, they can make your operators ill.

Remove as much oil as possible. Some machines require oil as a lubricant. The substance covers the cylinder’s walls and bearings. The risk with these is that oil could potentially contaminate the system.

Improve Your Compressed Air System With SMC Pneumatics

SMC Pneumatics has spent years refining pneumatic machines and systems. We work with customers to find the right parts and models for their operation. Experts at SMC conduct research to see if certain series have been discontinued, and how to add efficiency to your system. We’ll help you identify common problems and how to solve them with ease.

Contact us today to learn more. Our experts will educate you on every aspect of maintaining a pneumatic machine. We want to ensure that you know all of the basics, and how to make repairs accordingly. Let SMC Pneumatics guide you towards the right system.

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