Pneumatic cylinders, or pneumatic actuators, provide linear or rotary motion and force to automated systems, processes and machines. Compressed air is forced into the cylinder to move a piston that is attached to a mechanism, which carries out functional tasks. Pneumatic cylinders are lightweight, maintenance free and provide a cost-effective alternative to hydraulic and electric systems where lower force and speeds are required.


Pneumatic cylinders use compressed air to act on a piston and create motion. For instance, this could be moving a load linearly or clamping. Key components of a pneumatic actuator include a piston, piston rod, cylinder barrel, wiper seal, cushion sleeve, seal and end cap. Depending on your requirements, your choice of pneumatic cylinder will either be a single-acting or double-acting pneumatic cylinder.

Single-acting pneumatic cylinders

Single-acting pneumatic cylinders have one port for the air to enter. This pushes the piston in one direction and a spring returns it to its original position. Single-acting pneumatic cylinders are simple, compact, reduce valve and piping costs, and use half as much air as a double-acting pneumatic cylinder.

Available with standard stroke lengths of 10mm to 50mm, our single-acting pneumatic cylinders are characterised by their perfect tightening and nitrile rubber cushioning. API Pneumatic UK can provide a variety of spring return, single-acting pneumatic cylinders to suit a wide array of applications, including sanitary environments.

Double-acting pneumatic cylinders

Double-acting pneumatic cylinders have two ports to create force and motion on the instroke and outstroke. These cylinders generally give you more options in terms of bore and stroke size, as well as ISO standard models.

Our cost-effective double-acting pneumatic cylinders include our marquee same-day build ISO double-acting cylinders, ISO 6432 cylinders and stainless steel cylinders. Many of our double-acting pneumatic cylinders are ideally suited to hygienic food and medical applications or corrosive environments in the oil and gas sector.


The parameters of your application will determine the type of pneumatic cylinder you need. Pneumatic cylinders can perform a range of different functions and come in a variety of sizes, from 8mm to 320mm. The following criteria should be considered when specifying a pneumatic cylinder for your specific industrial application.

  • Single or double-acting: How much force, motion and control do you need?
  • Pressure and flow: What do you want your pneumatic cylinder to do?
  • Type of motion: Do you need rotary or linear motion?
  • Sizing: Is your cylinder correctly sized for the operation?
  • Environment: Do you need a stainless steel pneumatic cylinder?
  • Type of cylinder: Do you know what specific type of cylinder you need?


Here at API Pneumatic UK, we manufacture and supply a range of different types of pneumatic cylinders, including the following:

Compact cylinders

Our one-piece compact cylinders boast low, flat profiles for mounting in confined spaces. They also feature integrated guide shafts, which means no direct loading on seals and prolonged seal life. We have oil-less bearing options available for heavy load applications or spherical bearing options for speed applications.

ISO cylinders

Our streamlined ISO cylinders are built to ISO 15552 and ISO 6432 standards. Clean lines facilitate effective CIP/SIP wash-downs for hygienic applications, while pneumatic and mechanical cushioning prolongs service life. Life-long lubrication makes our ISO cylinders ideal for non-lubricated pneumatic fluid power systems.

Rotary actuators

Our double-acting pneumatic rotary actuators come in bore sizes from 4 mm to 125 mm. Magnetic as standard for easy mounting, our rotary actuators feature adjustable cushioning for high cycle times and good end of stroke shock protection. API actuators are pre-lubricated for use in non-lubricated compressed air systems.

Short stroke cylinders

Our compact, space-saving short stroke cylinders feature an extruded barrel design with integrated slots and conform to ISO 15524. With a high force to length ratio, API short stroke pneumatic cylinders are suitable for applications where ISO 15552 cylinders are not female threaded or where through body mounting is needed.

Cartridge cylinders

Available in 6 mm, 10 mm or 16 mm bore lengths, API cartridge cylinders feature a threaded body. This allows for easy adjustment of the end position of the stroke and bulkhead mounting. The miniscule dimensions of our cartridge microcylinders makes them an adaptable and space-saving addition to many machine applications.

Rodless cylinders

Our magnetic rodless cylinders feature a low-profile carriage, reducing overall length by 50% compared to cylinders with piston rods. API rodless cylinders also feature a grooved profile barrel, which means no more brackets. Their high resistance to deflection makes rodless cylinders ideal for heavy-duty applications.

Roundline cylinders

API roundline cylinders are available as double-acting and double-acting magnetic versions in bore sizes of 32 mm to 50 mm. These pneumatic cylinders feature an anodised aluminium head and tube, a chrome-plated steel rod and NBR (Polyurethane) seals. Perfect for compressed air applications, with or without lubrication.


Pneumatic cylinders are suitable for a wide range of applications, especially in factory automation systems. Pneumatic cylinders are often used in manufacturing, packaging and materials applications for clamping, moving and ‘pick and place’ tasks. They are generally employed across a wide range of industries, including the food and beverage, medical, process, and oil and gas sectors.


Here at API Pneumatic UK, we can offer a wide selection of pneumatic cylinder accessories, including mounting accessories, mounting brackets, and other pneumatic cylinder accessories. API Pneumatic UK has everything you need to accessorise your pneumatic cylinder, from mechanical grippers, to mountings, switches and brackets.


For more information about our full range of pneumatic cylinders, or to discuss your application requirements in more detail, talk to the technical team at API Pneumatic UK today. Call us on 01782 206 995 or email [email protected].