Kaishan USA | June 05, 2018 | Air Compressor Information
In our modern world, we use air compressors to power a vast range of machinery, processes and tools. The most obvious examples lie in construction, in the case of tools such as nail guns and welding kits. However, compressed air is more universal than you might have imagined; it is also the driving force behind several diverse industries and has shaped the modern world to an unexpected degree.
The most familiar image that comes to mind is the squat, pot-bellied, little red tank that sits alongside those doing construction work; however, air compressors come in a wide range of sizes. They perform the same basic functions regardless of size, and are responsible for most of our greatest construction feats in the last century.
In this article, we will discuss what an air compressor is, what it does, and how it is engineered to perform its job. Additionally, we will take a look at the different parts and components of an air compressor. You will gain an idea of what ownership of an industrial air compressor looks like and what maintenance may be required for it over time. We will end with some examples of different air compressors and what you should look for when purchasing one.
An air compressor takes air from the surrounding atmosphere and, unsurprisingly, compresses it. It does so, using a motor and a series of parts. This air collects in the storage tank where it waits for tools to use it. In some cases, an air compressor provides air that does work directly, such as blowing metal shavings off a workstation or filling a tire. But more typically, it drives a hammer or performs some other mechanical work, which changes its role to that of a power source.
Visualizing an air compressor as a source of power is useful to understand its popularity in mechanical applications. As an example, consider an automated arm in a car factory that is used to punch holes in sheet metal. The arm itself is operated electrically, but the hole-puncher at its end needs to employ a great deal of torque within a short period of time. Whereas it might require a cumbersome motor to perform this function via electricity, compressed air can provide tremendous power using very few components. A hose carrying compressed gas simply travels through the arm to the punching device, where it delivers the required power to drive the hammer downwards.
Compressed air was, at one point, a candidate for powering our infrastructure—picture power lines full of compressed gas instead of electric cables—but the idea failed to catch on. Regardless, compressed air is of undeniable use across several mechanical applications. Its ability to cleanly transfer energy to different tools has made it invaluable to construction and factory work. In fact, many argue that compressed air is the key driver of the modern, automated factory assembly line. It is still the most elegant form of power available for performing high-impact operations requiring quick reloading.
It is critical to lay a foundation for understanding air compressors by first understanding how they work. Fortunately, the design of air compressors is mercifully simple. Before we dive into the applications and industries which employ them, let us take a look at how they operate.
Air compressors operate under the same basic mechanical principles as most other engines, but they are not as complex. A compressor motor has a streamlined and efficient design. Some models utilize impellors to increase air pressure, but the most common air compressor model uses a reciprocating piston. This piston makes use of the principle that if a constant mass of air is compressed into a smaller volume, its pressure will naturally increase. The reciprocating piston is a perfect tool for this job, as it continually creates alternating high- and low-pressure environments within its chamber.
The rest of the motor is reminiscent of the internal combustion engine. It consists of cylinders, a crankshaft, and a piston, which is linked to the crankshaft via a connecting rod. The crankshaft delivers power to the rest of the motor, and is powered by electricity or gasoline. The mechanics of the air compression system begin to reveal themselves within the cylinder—on the top of it lies a valve head, which has both air intake and outlet valves. These are simple discs of metal that allow air in and out of the cylinder.
The downward movement of the piston creates low pressure in the chamber above it. In response, air naturally flows in through the intake valve and fills the chamber, thereby creating standard atmospheric pressure above the piston as it comes to a stop at the end of its cycle.
When the piston reverses its direction, this process gets reversed. The pocket of air at atmospheric pressure suddenly grows hotter and denser, thus increasing in pressure and firmly pressing the intake valve. The outlet valve, which opens under the increasing pressure from the rising piston, subsequently lets the air escape into the holding tank.
The most elegant form of air compressor is the rotary screw compressor. Instead of using pistons, this model uses a set of large, helical screws with interlocking threads to move air downward into a high-pressure holding tank. As the pockets of air are forced downward, the pressure in the holding tank increases.
This type of compressor is more complex than a piston compressor. The tolerances that must be achieved to make the interlocking threads airtight require extremely precise machining. As a result, these compressors tend to be more expensive. The tradeoff, however, is a quieter compressor that provides continuous air output at full power.
Its design makes the rotary compressor useful for tools like jackhammers, as well as other equipment requiring higher levels of continuous air outputs.
As the reciprocating piston or rotary screws continue compressing air within the cylinder, this air escapes through the outlet valve and enters the holding tank. If the holding tank is unpressurized, the compressed air will quickly disperse to fill it—no great amount of pressure is necessary for it to do so. With each subsequent cycle of the piston or rotary screws, more pressurized air is forced into the tank.
It is when the pressure within the tank increases to a high level that the effectiveness of the machine becomes truly evident. At this point, the air within the holding tank is under high pressure and ready for any opportunity to escape. The tightness of the rotary screw threads ensures that air continues to move into the tank and not out of it. The pressure within the threads is still sufficient to move air, even as the tank pressure increases dramatically.
Tanks are preset to hold a certain amount of pressure before shutting off. This setting gives the motor a chance to cool down and ensures that the tank is never over-pressurized—although, if the pressure switch fails for some reason, a built-in emergency escape valve ensures that the tank does not rupture. Additionally, an unloader valve is typically present to relieve the tank of its pressure after the compressor is switched off.
The main pressure switch is typically set to a limit of around 125 PSI for several air compressors. However, tools often do not require this much pressure. A pressure regulator, located on the hose itself, allows users to dial in the pressure level in order to accommodate the tools they are using. Two gauges, preceding and following the regulator, monitor the air pressure in the tank and the air pressure being transmitted to the specific tool.
As with motors, air compressors typically display a horsepower (HP) rating, which refers to the power of the motor itself. In reality, it is not the most useful metric—much more useful is knowing how many cubic feet per minute (CFM) an air compressor can deliver into its tank at a certain pressure.
Atmospheric pressure plays a major role in how fast air can enter a tank. Atmospheric pressure determines how much force is applied to the tank and how much air is available to compress. Hence, manufacturers have agreed to use standardized atmospheric pressure criteria as a common reference base. Manufacturers calculate their CFM rates at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with 36 percent humidity and air pressure at sea level. They refer to this rating as Standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM).
Another rating is the pounds per square inch (PSI) that an air compressor can sustain within its tank. This measure indicates the kind of tools the machine can power.
Additionally, a rating called displacement cubic feet per minute is used, which is the result of the motor rotations per minute and the displacement of the cylinder multiplied together. Displacement cubic feet per minute is a useful measure of motor efficiency.
Air compressors are, as we have seen, relatively simple devices. Let us take a look at themaincomponents you will be dealing with, in using them:
As mentioned earlier, air compressors have quietly—or perhaps not so quietly—revolutionized modern manufacturing. Their ability to produce usable, easily transferable energy makes them useful across a growing number of fields. Here are some of the industries that utilize them most often:
Kaishan has the air compressor that is right for your business. But choosing the appropriate compressor depends on what tools you will be driving, how rapidly it will need to refill, and what capacity you require. Here are some of the key qualities to look for when deciding on an air compressor to buy.
If a piece of machinery has to compress gas and ferry it through different moving parts without losing any of its pressure, you can be certain you will notice changes in quality. High-precision engineering ensures that your air compressor will not develop leaks, cracks, or other deformities affecting its efficiency.
Leaks can also pose a danger to those working near the compressor, as leaks lead to ruptures. A low-quality air compressor will cost much more in the long run; a single, small leak can cost thousands of dollars per year in energy expenses itself. Make sure to invest in a machine that will operate for a long time and allow you to get the most out of your investment.
Your compressor should include software and a user interface for tracking analytics and performance. This will allow you to stay ahead of any problems that may occur over time, and you will be able to optimize production, increase efficiency, and address malfunctions.
If you purchase an industrial air compressor, you should be certain that the company you get it from provides timely, helpful technical support to get you back on track in case of any trouble. They should view themselves as your business partner for as long as you own the compressor, helping you with repairs and maximizing the performance of the device.
Compressed air generates a higher torque than electricity, offers better safety, and creates a system that is highly interchangeable between tools. Here are some of Kaishan’s industrial-grade products to choose from.
KRSP2: Two-Stage High-Efficiency Air Compressor 100–500 HP
This extremely efficient compressor offers a five-year main components warranty and a lifetime air end warranty for standard air pressures. It includes a wye-delta starter, TEFC Marathon motors and low-sound enclosures, as well as a slow-speed-drive air end with triplex bearings. This equipment guarantees a life expectancy of 300,000 hours.
This single-pass enclosed cooling system has a centrifugal cooling fan for high efficiency and low noise. Note that the KRSP2 has the best specific power in the industry, averaging 15 kW per 100 CFM. It comes with a two-stage 150 HP pump that operates at 890 CFM. Its password-protected touchscreen controller sequences 16 different machines and it runs maintenance schedules, history ,and a fault alarm.
KRSP: Single-Stage High-Efficiency Air Compressor 20–500 HP
The KRSP also includes a lifetime air end warranty—which covers standard pressures—as well as a five-year main components warranty. It comes with premium efficiency motors, a low-sound enclosure and a wye-delta starter. This unit has a 150,000-hour life expectancy.
Like the KRSP2, the KRSP has a single-pass enclosed cooling system with centrifugal cooling fans. It has one of the lowest specific powers available in the industry—as low as 16KW per 100 CFM. This unit includes a password-protected touchscreen controller that sequences 16 machines, maintenance schedules, and history.
KRSD: Single-Stage Direct Drive Air Compressor 30–200 HP
This unit uses a direct drive system, which means no gears—but it does so with a reasonable price tag. It includes a five-year air end warranty in place for standard pressures.
TEFC motors, a wye-delta starter, and low-sound enclosures are standard components of this device. The standard KRSD also comes with modulation and optional VSD. This system is cooled by a single-pass enclosed system with axial cooling fans. It is also equipped with a password-protected touchscreen controller that sequences 16 machines, a fault alarm, maintenance schedules, and history.
KRSB: Single-Stage Belt Drive Air Compressor 10–50 HP
KRSB is a reliable and economical air compressor offering 10 to 50 HP in a single-stage system. It comes with a two-year air end warranty for standard pressures, as well as TEFC motors, a wye-delta starter, and low-sound enclosure. Its single-pass enclosed cooling system comes with axial cooling fans.
This compressor’s air end design is both dependable and efficient, and its standard version comes with a belt guard and automatic belt tensioning system. It also has a password-protected touchscreen controller that sequences 16 machines, a fault alarm, maintenance schedules, and history.
KRST: Single-Stage Belt Drive Tank-Mounted Air Compressor 7.5–20 HP
This 7.5 to 20 HP range, single-stage rotary screw air compressor is compact, reliable, and efficient. Its five-year air end warranty covers operations involving standard air pressures. The compressor is tank-mounted and includes an optional oversized integrated dryer and air filter. It has a digital control panel, a large, slow-running air end, TEFC motors, and a direct or wye-delta starter. This compressor is also quiet, with noise levels of 67-68 dB(A). It is cooled using an integrated aftercooler and cooling fan.
Kaishan compressors have a proven track record of leaving competition behind when it comes to the value, efficiency, reliability, and range of our available products. Our air compressors are world-class and come with the comfort of knowing that technical support is always available. We pride ourselves on providing reliable compressed air while being a market leader in pricing. We are an engineering-based company with large investments in research and development. We have been in business for 60 years and sell our products across 60 different countries. We have vertically integrated production and make our own enclosures, air ends, tanks, frames, castings, and coolers.
Take a look at our selection of products, which serve operations of all sizes and fit a range of budgets. Whatever air compressor you choose from us, you can be sure that it will be reliable, efficient, and fully supported. We believe in engineering the future, and each one of our air compressors is a testament to this mission.
In our modern world, we use air compressors to power a huge range of machinery,
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