A compressed air motor is a relatively simple type of motor that is powered by pneumatic energy. Thanks to their straightforward design and working principle, they need little maintenance and are suited for a wide range of applications. They can be deployed in environments where other types of motors cannot function, including wet, hot or dusty environments. Unlike electrical or fuel-driven motors, they do not produce sparks, and can also be used in places with explosion hazard.
Additionally, pneumatic motors do not overheat and directly run on full capacity, so there is no start-up time. Air motors are widely used in different industries, machine building and offshore. Besides that, air motors are often used to power hoisting equipment.
Working principle of a pneumatic motor
It may sound obvious, but a compressed air motor runs on compressed air. This air under high pressure is made available by an air compressor. When the compressed air is released, its energy can be converted into mechanical movement. This can either be a rotating or a linear (up and down) movemement. There are various types of compressed air motors, of which several will be discussed below.
Ingersoll-Rand air motors
Because our assortment of compressed air motors is dominated by Ingersoll-Rand, we’ll focus on the air motors from this specialized compressed air brand. Ingersoll-Rand’s most used compressed air motor is the so-called multi vane motor. Thanks to its simple yet reliable construction, this rotating motor is extremely durable and virtually maintenance-free.
Moreover, this type of piston motor is smaller, lighter and less costly than its counterparts. Another frequently used motor is the radial piston motor. This motor has a similar working principle, but works at lower speeds, which makes them ideal for heavy pulling applications at low speed.
Additionally, we can make a distinction between single direction and double direction motors, and between geared and direct drive motors. In general, motors with a single rotation direction are more powerful, while double-direction air motors are more versatile. Direct drive motors have the capacity to work at higher speeds, while geared drive piston motors have a higher coupling, created by gearbox.
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