Pneumatic or electric? It’s not a new question. The merits of each have long been subject to discussion, but a fair amount of confusion continues to exist about which makes more sense for what.
For example, are you considering replacing a compressor and 200 pneumatic cylinders with electric actuators because you think you’ll save on compressor costs? Or, perhaps you are thinking about building a new machine with pneumatics because 30 electric actuators are far too expensive. Make the wrong decision in either case and you could waste tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Evaluating And Comparing Competing Technologies
The technologies underlying pneumatic and electric actuators are so different that one cannot be a drop-in replacement for the other. Considered separately, each has inherent advantages and disadvantages that must be considered in relation to performance, component costs, system costs and productivity gains.
Pneumatic actuators deliver high force and speed at low unit cost in a small footprint. In fact, pneumatic cylinders provide more force and speed per unit size than any other technology, except hydraulic.
Other important characteristics of pneumatic actuators: force and speed are independent of each other and can be easily adjusted. The typical pneumatic application employs over-sized cylinders, because pneumatic cylinders are inexpensive, making a step up to the next largest diameter feasible and practical.