How to Make Your Pneumatic Press System More Efficient

how to make your pneumatic press system more efficient

Efficiency has become increasingly important across shops and factories of all sizes. Equipment with maximum efficiency not only decreases total costs of ownership, but also helps your facility reduce total energy costs. Unfortunately, many equipment manufacturers do not design with efficiency in mind. In this blog post, we’ll focus specifically on how to make your pneumatic press system more efficient.

How to Make Your Pneumatic Press System More Efficient

A few design considerations can help make your pneumatic system more efficient, while still delivering exceptional performance. Some of these considerations are ideal for those looking for a new pneumatic press, and others may be implemented as upgrades or improvements to an existing press. Whether you are optimizing the design of a new press or upgrading an existing press, making your pneumatic press system more efficient can reduce energy consumption from an estimated 20 to 35%, according to the US Department of Energy.

In this post, we’ll provide links to a few tools designed to improve the efficiency of pneumatic systems. These are only examples, and do not represent sponsorships or endorsements. Other alternatives may also be available.

Our experts design for efficiency as well as performance
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Cylinder Size

Calculating the right size for the pneumatic system’s cylinder can help to improve efficiency substantially. Both undersized and oversized components can cause excessive energy use, but several tools and calculations exist to help manufacturers and their clients find the ideal size for the machine’s cylinders.

Undersizing cylinders can cause the machine to overwork to accomplish the job, while oversizing the cylinders uses more air volume and more energy than necessary with each cycle. A good rule of thumb is to add 25% additional capacity, but no more. This will ensure you have enough force to complete the operation effectively, without expending extra energy.

Correctly sizing the cylinder on your pneumatic machine can be a complicated task. The experts at Air-Hydraulics have helped many customers get the right fit for their needs. With the right-sized cylinder, you can save money on energy costs, work faster, and produce better components. If you have questions about cylinder sizing or the overall design of your pneumatic system, contact us.

Pneumatic Tubing and Seals

Another opportunity for increased efficiency has to do with your compressed air delivery across your pneumatic system, with the first place to start being the distance between your air source and machines. The shorter the distance your compressed air has to travel to your pneumatic system, the less potential there is for loss. To optimize the path between the compressor and the actuator for reduced air loss and greatest efficiency, you want to aim for the shortest tubing possible, generally no longer than 10 ft.

Along this path, it’s also important to look for leaks. The US Department of Energy estimates that compressed air leaks waste as much as 20 to 30% of the compressor’s output. These leaks may occur along the incoming air supply to the machine, the tubing going to the cylinder itself, as well as faulty valves or seals. In particular, look for seals that have been damaged, or worn down over time. Finding the right type of seal is also important. For example, lapped spool-and-sleeve valves are better for operations where the valve shifts, while soft seals are ideal when airflow is constant. In areas with high variations in temperature and humidity, it may be helpful to use a seal that will not corrode or warp, such as Teflon or polyurethane. Keeping extra seals handy and performing more regular maintenance checks to your tubing system also helps ensure you are keeping your pneumatic system as efficient as possible.

We supply spare parts and seal kits for your tool crib to keep your pneumatic presses firing on all cylinders
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System Pressure

Regulating and optimizing the pressure to the system can also help to improve pneumatic efficiency significantly. It’s tempting to increase the supply pressure in an attempt to get more power, but this won’t be effective. Instead, use pressure regulators to adjust the pressure to the system as needed. Though these components may cost more initially to install, pressure regulation can generate up to 40% more energy savings, and increase your pneumatic system efficiency significantly.

Air Regulators come standard with all AHI pneumatic and hydropneumatic presses.

Return Stroke

Though most pneumatic presses only require substantial force application in one direction, many presses use the same amount of energy for both the active and return strokes. If pressure isn’t necessary for the return stroke, lowering the pressure can reduce substantial energy costs. Reducing the pressure on the return stroke also helps to save compressed air, and reduces wear on the system, which in turn reduces maintenance needs and costs. Regulating the air pressure on the return stroke wouldn’t be recommended if you have any end of ram tooling that exceeds a certain weight limit, as this might cause the machine to function improperly.

Our AHI designed dual regulated system can be added to the standard package for our pneumatic presses to specifically target the return stroke and turn down return air pressure to use less air if it’s not needed. This simple tool offers up to 25% air savings over conventional pneumatic air systems. We also offer an optional control package in our hydropneumatic presses that delivers dual pressure with a variable boost stroke. This power stroke controller can save up to 49% of air usage over standard pneumatic systems.

Pneumatic Energy Savings

In addition to the return stroke regulation above, a variety of energy-saving methods, tools, and modifications can help optimize your pneumatic system for compressed air use. A bridge circuit is one such modification. Use of a bridge circuit instead of a standard circuit can reduce energy consumption by up to 50% for applicable systems. An air reservoir is a common energy-saving modification which uses an air spring to recover exhaust air. The use of smart sensors at pivotal points can also regulate the system for optimal performance and energy use.

These, and other modifications, are not ideal for all systems and applications, but can substantially improve energy-efficiency on many pneumatic systems and may be worth looking into. These additional modifications may also require more upfront investment, so it’s important to consider the ratio of investment cost to savings to find the optimal configuration for your system.

There are many ways to make your pneumatic press system more efficient, but it can be difficult to know which modifications are ideal for your system specifically. When it comes to pneumatic press systems, AHI is committed to delivering the most efficient options for your pneumatic and hydropneumatic presses. Our press experts can help you find the right customizations and design an energy-efficient pneumatic press from the outset. Contact us to learn more about modifications and improvements specifically for pneumatic press systems.