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Pneumatic Cylinders: Types and Uses

It may seem strange to think of compressed gas having enough force to move a piston, this is exactly what happens in a pneumatic cylinder. Pneumatic cylinders come in a varying degree of complexities allowing them to be useful in a wide variety of situations. Some types of pneumatic cylinders include:

Single-acting Cylinders: Use compressed air pressure to drive something in one direction. These are typically used for tasks which do not require much force on the part of the cylinder.

Double-acting Cylinders: Allow air in and out, in a kind of “double motion.” More force is created, but these cylinders are sometimes more volatile as a result (the rod can malfunction).

Telescoping Cylinder: True to its name, this rod can be single or double acting and allows the piston to segment through many different stages. While this cylinder can be powerful, it is often problematic in side loading.

Through Rod Air Cylinders: This type of cylinder has a longer piston rod which cuts through both sides. Because the piston itself moves through the entire cylinder, the force is also equal throughout the entire piston.

Tandem Air Cylinder: In this type of cylinder, two cylinders are used, typically one directly after the other. This provides twice as much force as a single-acting cylinder.

While most pneumatic cylinders have piston rods, not all do. In the absence of a piston rod, magnetic or mechanical means can be the catalyst for force. Whether the cylinder has rods or not, they can be constructed out of a number of materials including steel and brass. This allows the cylinders to function in a number of temperatures and environments, making them versatile for construction and use.