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How Do Air Compressors Work?

Air compressors are an invaluable tool for both industrial work and DIY at home, and there are several different types to choose from depending on the job you need doing. Air compressors have a number of uses, such as to fill gas cylinders for industrial purposes and scuba diving, to create the power needed to run pneumatic tools and spray guns, for pumping up automotive tyres, and within heating and air conditioning systems.

As we’ve touched on here, there are myriad uses for screw air compressor both in commercial and domestic environments. Within the category of air guns, there are several types, each of which is suitable for a different job. We’ve compiled a guide to all the major types of air compressor, how they work and how they differentiate from one another.

Whether you’re an engineering manager or in charge of facilities for your company, being informed about how air compressors function and what they’re used for is handy and can help you make the proper decisions for your business and industry.

Get all the information you need to know about air compressors, complete with the infographic below, with our comprehensive guide. We’ll address the benefits of using premium air compressors in your industry, as well as the questions of ‘what are compressors?’ and ‘how does a compressor work?’, covering all the essentials in one convenient place.

The infographic below shows how a Hydrovane series rotary sliding vane air compressor works

Since their invention in the 19th Century, mechanical, automated air compressors have continued to be one of the most widely used tools in industrial settings. Air compressors provide a continuous stream of power that is safer and cooler than many other forms of energy. For many industries, such as metal work and mining environments, air compressors are an absolutely essential tool. After the basic utilities of water, gas and electric, compressed air is actually considered to be the fourth utility.

Air compressors are also an affordable choice of tool for many manufacturing jobs, as they are durable, and high quality types require minimal maintenance and repairs.

Between the two main categories of compressor – the scroll (piston) compressor and the rotary screw (reciprocating) compressor, you have a tool for every type of industrial and commercial setting, as well as various domestic uses.

The most common types of regular screw air compressor are single and dual phase, both of which operate in the same fundamental way, only dual phase has one more step involved in the compression process. In a single phase compressor, there is one chamber and the air is compressed a single time; in a dual phase, there are two chambers and the air is put through compression twice.

Another way to compare variable frequency air compressor is to look at whether they use oil or not – there are oil-free and oil-based / lubricated compressors and both are suited to slightly different jobs. For the air to be drawn into the chamber safely and effectively, the piston needs to be in top working order. To work properly, the piston must be lubricated with oil.

Within an industrial or commercial setting, there are numerous uses for oil-based PM screw air compressor, including:

Scroll compressors are a type of piston compressor, and are also called reciprocating compressors. These are the most common type of two stage air compressor, due to affordability and general availability. But how does a reciprocating air compressor work? The piston system works by having a piston travel downwards, decreasing the pressure inside its internal cylinder through the creation of a vacuum. The sudden change in pressure causes the door of the cylinder to be forced open, and draw air in. When the piston travels up again, the air is forced out of the cylinder at a much higher pressure point. This continues in a reciprocating, ‘scroll’ pattern, hence its name.

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