There are many advantages of using air tools, also know as pneumatic tools, in manufacturing environments. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons as to why air powered tools are so popular.
Cost. They have less moving parts. Less parts means lower cost. You can also normally buy a more powerful air tool, than you can an electric tool, for the same price. And with fewer moving parts, they will normally last longer. This longer life saves money on replacement costs.
Durable. Air tools are normally made from steel and aluminum, as opposed to plastic for many electric tools. Given their industrial environment, they are actually designed to be very rugged. They also have very few moving parts to wear out. Using real metal, and having fewer parts, results in lower repair costs. Many times when one fails, it just needs a few new parts that cost practically nothing to buy, and any maintenance employee can install.
Power. They have an adjustable power range. Compare a single speed drill to an air powered drill. The single speed electric drill is either on, or off. Most pneumatic drills are variable speed, but even a single speed air powered drill, can be throttled by simply adjusting the air valve to slightly restrict the air-flow.
And while a 3 to 6 HP electric tool would require 240 volts, a 3 to 6 HP air motor could be powered by a compressor using 120 volts AC. This savings alone make it worthwhile to use pneumatics in an industrial setting.
Easier on Operators. Air tools are significantly lighter than their electric cousins are. Electric motors have steel shafts with iron fields and copper winding. All of the weight of these items adds up quickly.
Simplicity. They have a steel shaft attached to a disc on one end. The other end of the shaft is attached to your drill chuck, or whatever. This disc has slots cut around it’s perimeter. These slots hold movable veins. These veins have springs behind them to keep them tight against the walls of the chamber surrounding the disc. The air enters the chamber and pushes on one of the veins. This rotates the disc, and the shaft, so that the next vein is then pressed on. This happens again, and again, at a very fast rate. This is how a basic air motor works.
Easier to Use. Pneumatic tools can easily be used in areas where there is no electricity. Through the use of a portable air compressor air tools can be used anywhere. While it is possible to use electric tools with a generator, it would be cost prohibitive to run any large tools using a generator due to the extreme power demands. For example for approximately $400 you can buy a portable compressor that will run a 3 HP air tool. That same $300 would not even touch the generator needed to run a 3 HP electric tool. That same air compressor would run several tools, while even a more expensive generator would be seriously limited as to how many electric tools it will run. This is a great advantage in rural environments, and large construction areas.
Safety. You can safely use pneumatic tools in a damp environment. Imagine for some reason that you were in a flooded basement, trying to drill out a frozen drain. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone dumb enough to climb into a flooded basement carrying a hot electrical cord.
Do your own research. You will see that air tools cost less to buy, you can use them in damp environments, they last a very long time, and even if they do break down, they are very easy to rebuild. There are good reasons why they are used in manufacturing plants around the world.