The tools which utilize the energy of the air to function are known as air or pneumatic tools. The advent of air tools has revolutionized the era of tools which faced many limitations in areas such as the force applied, the time taken, and often precision required in a task. With air tools, numerous possibilities of hand tools usage have emerged. From a small drill used by a dentist to attend a patient’s rotten tooth to power drills for cutting holes in masonry in construction work, air tools are unrivaled in performance. Compressed air pipes strung from the fittings is a common sight when you visit an assembly line, factory or workshop. Even in homes, you cannot miss paint sprayers, nailers, etc., which also function with air power.
The compressed air is an essential requirement for a pneumatic tool to operate. To generate compressed air, a variety of air compressors are available in the market. There are rotary screw air compressors, good for industrial and workshop applications. Piston air compressors work on the principle of positive displacement of air and driven either by an electric motor or gas engine. The compressors come with an air tank to hold a quantity of air within a pressure range. The power of a compressor is measured by the amount of air a compressor can deliver at a particular pressure. Pressure is a crucial factor in moving of air. At higher pressures, the amount of air, measured in cubic feet per minute, will also increase. Some pneumatic tool manufacturers use a term, `scam’, which denotes standardized cfm rating at the sea level with 65-degree Fahrenheit at 36 per cent relative humidity. Usually, air tools have cfm ratings at a specific pressure.
Pneumatic Tools constitute a vast array of power tools, energized by pressurized air. A significant advantage of using an air tool is that they are light, compact and easy-to-operate. Unlike other tools which function with a bulky motor encased in the handle, the motor of air tools sits with the compressor, separated away from the tool. An air tool can operate for longer periods without getting excessively heated. Pneumatic tools are rugged for working in harsh environment, requiring less servicing with fewer moving parts than other powered tools. Air tools are much safer than electrical tools as power cables often crack at pressure points, posing a threat of an electric shock to the operator while working in wet or damp conditions. Regarding power to weight ratio, air motors score over electric motors for better performance and higher productivity.
Compressed air is fed to an air tool to produce rotary movement with the help of vanes or a piston mechanism. A flywheel with a planetary gear reduction system can maintain high torque with a lot of speed reduction. In idling, the speed is maximum, and the torque is zero. When engaged, the flywheel delivers sufficient torque for the desired application. Air tools are rated for the job according to air flow required at a defined pressure to perform its task. The air requirement specifications in some essential tools can broadly be enumerated as:
- Pneumatic Drill 3-6 cfm at 90 PSI
- Speed Saw 5- cfm at 90 PSI
- Brad Nailer 0.3 cfm at 90 PSI
- Impact Wrench 2.5 – 10 cfm at 90 PSI
- Riveter 4 cfm at 90 PSI
- Angle Grinder 5 -8 cfm at 90 PSI
- Sander 8 -12 cfm at 90 PSI
- Air Hammer 0.3 cfm at 90PSI
Air Tools may cost you a little higher up-front, but you gain substantially by saving time, ease of work, reliability and increased productivity. These tools have sufficient power for a job you intend to do.