What are Pneumatic Cylinders and Actuators?

The pneumatic cylinders also reflecting as pneumatic actuators. These provide linear or rotary motion, force, and motion control to automatic systems, machines, and processes. These are typically used in industrial settings.

During the ‘business end’ of pneumatics, pneumatic cylinders and actuators are driven by compressed air. This air is forced into a piston housed in the cylinder or actuator. Work is done by a piston-attached mechanism, which converts the energy created into usable energy. For example, a picking and placing system in factory automation.

Pneumatic cylinders and actuators offer a simple and effective method for exerting force. Generating linear and rotary motion, and operating in challenging environments, such as extreme temperatures. They are lightweight and require little maintenance. They produce less force and a lower speed than hydraulic or electric systems but are still a cost-effective alternative.

Actuators and cylinders are either manufactured to ‘house standards.’ Which are likely to be specific to each manufacturer. Or to widely adopted or international standards. Standard NFPA specifications for pneumatic actuators apply in North America. While ISO is the common standard in Europe.

Also known as…

Pneumatic drives are often referred to as pneumatic cylinders or actuators.

How do pneumatic cylinders and pneumatic actuators work?

An actuator’s key components are an end cap, a piston, a piston rod, a cylinder barrel, a wiper seal, and a cushion sleeve and seal. A pneumatic actuator that operates with a single action can be controlled by a button in a simple circuit. When this button is pushed, the piston rod moves outward.

Using compressed air, pneumatic systems produce mechanical motion and power that do work. The pneumatic actuator will use pneumatic air to act on a piston inside a cylinder. So that the necessary motion can be produced.  For example, clamping, or moving a load along a linear path.  End applications can range from a specific device. Such as a gripper or clamp to a vacuum cup for handling glass.

A single-acting pneumatic cylinder or actuator has one port through which air enters and pushes the piston in one direction only. This piston is then returns to its original position by a spring. The stroke length of these pneumatic cylinders is determinate. So they are suitable for slower operations. They also use less air, so their efficiency is higher and their operating costs are lower.

A double-acting pneumatic cylinder also has two ports. Through which pressure apply to pull the piston in the opposite direction to the one created by the first port. It is also learning as an instroke and an outstroke.

Generally, the larger the bore of a cylinder, the greater the output force.

How do I select a pneumatic cylinder or a pneumatic actuator?

An actuator’s characteristics and type determine by the application it will utilize for. The sizes of cylinders and actuators range from 8mm to 320mm, and they perform different functions depending on their application. They can be either single-acting or double-acting.

There are several factors to consider when selecting a pneumatic cylinder or actuator:

Type of Motion: Select a pneumatic actuator or cylinder according to whether a rotary or linear movement is necessary.

Pressure and flow requirements: Consider what you need from the pneumatic actuator or cylinder. Other components may also need to size correctly. If they are incorrectly size, their performance will concern.

Environment: With advances in corrosion resistance, pneumatic actuators and cylinders can operate at extreme temperatures. These actuators and cylinders are also available in stainless steel.

Special features: When it comes to saving energy, consider using an integrated pneumatic cylinder or actuator like IMI Norgren’s Integrated Valve & Actuator (IVAC) product. Make sure the actuator or cylinder is the correct size and appropriate for the operation.

Single acting or double acting: Pneumatic actuators or cylinders commonly fall into one of two categories. Depending on how they use, how much force or motion they need, and how accurate they should be. In general, a pneumatic actuator or cylinder contains a piston and rod.

Type dependent on application: There are several types of pneumatic actuators and cylinders, including rodless cylinders, round line cylinders, and compact cylinders.

Types of pneumatic cylinders or pneumatic actuators

Integral Valve and Actuator (IVAC): The IVAC is an integrated device that combines a linear actuator, a glandless control valve, and two reed or solid-state switches, as well as a speed controller. As energy efficiency increases, the number of parts requirements downsize. While still maintaining the ISO 15552 dimension standards.

Rotary Actuators: Rotational actuators provide angular and rotational motion. They are suitable for both rotary vane and rack & pinion applications.

Rodless Cylinders: These double-acting linear cylinders are both light and strong, and are available in eight bore sizes.

Stainless Steel Round line Actuators and Stainless Steel ISO Tie-Rod Linear Actuators: Designed for highly corrosive environments. Such as the food industry and pharmaceuticals, stainless steel ISO round line actuators meet ISO 6432.

Also Read: The Control Valves: To Control High-Pressure Fluids

Typical applications of pneumatic cylinders or pneumatic actuators

The use of pneumatic actuators and pneumatic cylinders has a wide range of applications. It is particularly common in factory automation. It includes manufacturing, materials handling, and packaging. In which components and tools are positioning or moving and ‘pick and place’ tasks performing. There are also other operations, such as clamping. The pneumatic cylinder and punching operate jaws where a workpiece holds in position. The single-acting pneumatic cylinder generates thrust which utilizes to mark an object.

In food and beverage production, the pneumatic stretch actuators and capping cylinders generally employs. For PET to perform hot and cold filling processes.

Do I need anything else to make pneumatic cylinders or pneumatic actuators work?

Mounting systems and additional detection systems help for more precise positioning. Depending on the size and type of actuator or cylinder used. The actuators and cylinders can fit in a variety of ways. Including foot mounts or neck mounts.

In addition to the pressure regulator, rigid or flexible tubing, the appropriate fittings, gauges, and sensors require. Flow regulators install at the point of use to regulate the speed of the actuator.


As we saw here the pneumatic cylinders are available in various types for various applications and usage. Airmax Pneumatics Ltd offers various types of pneumatic cylinders. Like round body pneumatic cylinders, square body pneumatic cylinders, compact size pneumatic cylinders. Also offers heavy-duty pneumatic cylinders, single-acting pneumatic cylinders, double-acting pneumatic cylinders, and small size pneumatic cylinders. Airmax Pneumatics has various industrial tools like rotary joints, which are also famous as roto seal couplings and rotary union. They offer an air filter, air regulator, and air lubricator for pneumatic air purification. They have different types of pneumatic directional control valves like poppet directional valves. Also hand lever directional valve, single solenoid valve, double solenoid valve, finger valve, and foot pedal valve.

Airmax Pneumatics Ltd offers auto drain valves. At the bottom of the air compressor or air storage tank, these drain valves take place. The manual drain valve requires to operate manually to drain collected moisture. This moisture from the tank while auto drain valves drain moisture automatically on a prior set timing. They also offer supplementary products like drain bowls and air guns. There are so many varieties in pneumatic cylinders.

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