Air compressors are essential and capable tools that are mandatory for machine shops or factories. A lot of things have changed with them over the years. They have become smaller and compact, making them operable in many task-oriented environments. They are handy devices to have around your garage for your many hobbies, which can power your air tools.
What makes it better than the other mechanical devices is that it has a lot of power within such a compact body. It also does not require much maintenance and only needs a little oiling now and then. It is utilized as a power source for many tools that enable the usage of air pressure to its fullest capability.
Its usage is not relegated to sanders and drills only. It is also useful in inflating air in your car tires and unclogging the bathroom sink in your home.
This marvelous device is a wonder of technology and a must-have tool around your house and garage. You also have to remember that there are different compressor-types available in the market. You must understand how it works so that you can select the right one for your particular project and be able to use it efficiently.
How it Functions in the Bigger Picture
Generally, the air compressor works by pushing air into a chamber and compressing it. Then, the air is pushed further through a slit and into a where pressure develops and increases. It is similar to a balloon filled with air: energy is released once the air is let out.
The engine is powered by electricity (some models are gas-powered) and transforms it into kinetic energy. A combustion engine is functionally the same as the compressor, which utilizes a piston, crankshaft, connecting rod, head, and valve.
From these components, the device is then connected to other tools, all powered by compressed air. Many garage instruments like sanders, paint sprayers, nailers, and impact wrenches use these as an energy source.
There are many kinds of air compressors with contrasting specialties. Yet these are not glaring differences and follow the same systematic function of air displacement.
Two Air Compression Methods
Producing pressurized air can be done in two ways: either with dynamic or positive displacement. Each category has subsets, which you will read below. Each pressure created is mostly the same, but the processes in getting to completion are different.
How Dynamic Displacement Works
Compressors that employ dynamic displacement have a motorized engine that powers revolving blades to render airflow. The airflow is then pressurized, and the kinetic energy is trapped within the device.
These types are designed to be massive, which are utilized by large factories like steel factories and chemical manufacturers. You would not see these are small mechanical shops or garages.
There are two types: centrifugal and axial.
These types are also known as radial compressors. These function by delivering the airflow into the central portion through a revolving impeller blade. The flow is then pushed through a centrifugal force. A diffuser then slows down the airflow, thus generating kinetic energy.
Motors powered by electricity are used for these compressor types. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC) units use these kinds of centrifugal devices.
To generate airflow, these types have an array of turbine blades and pushed the air through a small outlet. It functions by using stationary blades to slow down the flow, thus heightening the pressure.
These types are uncommon because their functions are limited. You can only find them in airplane engines and massive air separation factories.
How Positive Displacement Works
You might be wondering if: “Do air compressors run out of air?” For compressor models that apply positive displacement, it does not.
These types operate by pushing airflow into a compartment where the volume decreases to pressurize the air.
The term “positive displacement” is usually referred to as the many air compressors that gain energy through the power of air displacement. Although the machinery among the many types is different, the way to provide power is similar.
Some of them are specially designed for industrial tasks, while others are primarily equipped for personal hobbies in the garage.
Here are the three types: reciprocating, rotary vane, and rotary screw.
Reciprocating or Piston Type
These types use a crankshaft that controls pistons to send the gas at maximum pressure. These are designed for minimal use only. Reciprocating compressors have two types: single and two-stage.
Single-stage types are inexpensive and are mostly used in mechanic shops.
Two stages are costly and are mostly found in factories.
It is similar to the rotary screw. The difference is vanes are attached to the rotating rotor instead of screws. The air is pressurized along the vane and is forced towards an exhaust opening.
These are the most user friendly and are preferred by hobbyists for personal use.
These types have two horizontal screw-like tubes on top of each other, located inside that revolve in opposite directions, which pressurizes the air.
These types are the most common found in industries that need continuous use of compressed air.
How is a Compressor Different from a Pump?
There is often confusion between the two devices. At first glance, they might seem the same but are different.
The chief purpose of a pump is to transfer liquid from one place to another. Meanwhile, a compressor compacts the gas volume and transports it to another location. Any task that has to do with liquid-like flood control uses a pump. The compressor is utilized as an energy source for mechanical chores, like sandblasting.
Knowing about the difference between the two will help you understand the necessities of your project.
Do Air Compressors Run Out of Air? The Answer
This question would not matter since the only way compressors would run out of air is when it either malfunctions or is shut down. Air is always available once it is turned on and working as it should be. So if you are a serious hobbyist, purchase one now!