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The importance of lubrication for your pneumatic equipment

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Pneumatic systems use compressed gas or air to control and power the movement of their mechanical parts. They are utilised in a wide variety of applications, including manufacturing, transportation, automation, as well as construction.

When compressed air or gas is released from the equipment’s storage tank, it travels through several pipes to power the pneumatic components. The air pressure can then be controlled through regulating the airflow through valves and adjusting a pressure regulator.

The pneumatic system components effectively convert compressed air’s energy into mechanical action. For instance, a pneumatic cylinder utilises a piston that then moves in a cylinder. These motions are driven by the compressed air.

Benefits of pneumatic systems have seen them selected to power equipment and applications in a diverse range of operating environments and industries. Some of the key advantages that pneumatic systems offer include efficiency, flexibility, dependability, safety, and cost-effectiveness.

However, without the correct application of lubricant, pneumatic equipment will experience worn parts which can’t move properly, causing work rates to slow and, in worst cases, grind to a halt completely. When this happens machine downtime is inevitable and whether stoppages are mere minutes or hours, the costs to enterprises can be considerable. Improper lubrication is regarded as a key cause of pneumatic equipment failure, but fortunately it is among the easiest issues to remedy. Below, we highlight the reasons why using the correct lubricant and applying it properly are of prime importance.

Reducing friction

High-quality lubricants can minimise harm to moving parts in machinery by mitigating friction. Lubricants for pneumatic systems provides protect internal workings of pneumatic tools and their components like actuating cylinders, motors, and valves. Specially formulated pneumatic tool oils are designed to ensure equipment performs at the optimum at all times.

Without effective lubrication, operations are putting pneumatic equipment at severe risk of excessive damage caused by friction. It is essential that users always select a product of high-quality as inferior brands may fail to provide a sufficient barrier against friction and result in unwanted wear as parts grind against each other.

Preventing rust

Lubricants designed for pneumatic equipment are often formulated with anti-rust additives which enhance their protection from iron oxide. Often subject to moisture issues due to the use of compressed air, pneumatic equipment’s metal components need extra protection and built-for-purpose lubricants deliver. As lubricants are injected into systems, they coat components and parts sealing them against corrosive forces like rust stopping them from taking root.

Equipment allowed to rust can be dangerous to operate. Iron oxide renders iron alloys like steel brittle, making it easier to break making rusted pneumatic tools hazardous to use and a health and safety risk.

In the long term, equipment allowed to become contaminated by rust will have a shorter active lifespan and active service life. When equipment requires replacing due to neglect companies experience unnecessary financial losses.

Lubricants for pneumatic tools

Like many other lubrication solutions, pneumatic equipment oils are available as either synthetic or mineral-based products but differ in many ways from other types of oil. Pneumatic oil has a low viscosity and is easily atomised and transferred throughout the equipment using compressed air. As the pneumatic oil can have either synthetic or a mineral-base, it doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue common to many petroleum-based lubricating oils.

While both synthetic and mineral-based oils are appropriate for the lubrication of pneumatic systems, it can sometimes be worth utilising one option over the other to suit a specific application. For instance, mineral-based oils are most employed in smaller residential applications, while synthetic oils are chosen for industrial use.

Mineral-based pneumatic oil

The most common and standard oil type is a product with a mineral-base. However, it’s worth noting that it is a volatile lubricant which means that it will evaporate at a more rapid rate than other lubricants. The obvious downside of this solution is that it increases the total volume of oil necessary for lubrication. The other concern regarding mineral-based pneumatic oils is that they are considered more reactive. They tend to react when they make with contact other materials, causing clumping. This undesirable characteristic can cause shortening of tool’s overall active service life.

Synthetic-based pneumatic oils

As an alternative, synthetic-based oils offer considerable advantages for pneumatic systems enduing heavy use which requires top performance. It allows the air-powered equipment to last close to 50 per cent longer just by effectively reducing friction. Furthermore, it does not gum up inside equipment in the way that a mineral-based oil behaves. The only downside of using a synthetic-based pneumatic oil is that it is a far more expensive product than mineral oil-based products.

Regardless, pneumatic equipment requires careful maintenance and user should proactively lubricate tools as required to guarantee high levels of performance and protection.v

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