What is pneumatic pressure?

Pneumatic pressure is used all around us, every day, in a wide variety of objects and applications. It’s an incredibly useful tool that helps make mechanical objects function effectively. But, what is pneumatic pressure? Continue reading this helpful article from API UK to find out everything you need to know about pneumatic pressure.


Pneumatic pressure explained

Pneumatic pressure is a pressure that is exerted by a pressurised gas. There are many types of gases that can be used to create pneumatic pressure. One of the most commonly used ones is compressed air. The pneumatic pressure of compressed air is used in a wide variety of applications, such as providing cabin pressure on an aircraft, operating doors on a bus, and even creating the shape of a plastic bottle.

Pneumatic pressure can also be created by inert gases. Inert gases, which are also known as noble gases, are odourless, colourless and have low chemical reactivity. There are six noble gases, which are: helium, argon, neon, radon, xenon, and krypton.


How is pneumatic pressure used?

You may actually be quite surprised to hear about how often pneumatic pressure is used in everyday life. In fact, here is a list of ways in which pneumatic pressure is used:

  • Heavy vehicle brakes – Regular brakes are not enough to slow down heavy vehicles like trucks and buses. Thus, air brakes use pneumatic pressure to apply more force.
  • Vacuum pumps – Espresso machines use vacuum pumps. These are found in coffee shops all over.
  • Fire extinguishers – Some fire extinguishers use argon mixed with carbon dioxide to aid in putting out fires.
  • Exercise equipment – Some stationary bikes and treadmills in gyms up and down the country make use of pneumatic pressure.
  • Pressure cookers – Pressure cookers use pneumatic pressure with the use of two valves. They regulate and relieve the pressure accordingly so that the cooker doesn’t explode.
  • Mail tube systems – Tube systems are not as common as they used to be. However, pneumatic mail tubes were a common occurrence in many buildings. They were used to transfer letters and parcels quickly between rooms within large buildings.
  • Jackhammers – Jackhammers are used to dig up groundwork, and the driving force behind them is usually compressed air through the use of pneumatic pressure.

Pneumatic pressure regulators

How do pneumatics compare to hydraulics?

As you’re now well aware, pneumatic pressure is widely used in many applications. For this reason, it’s clear to see that it has many advantages, but how does it compare to hydraulics in specific categories?

  • Strength
  • Hygiene
  • Speed
  • Safety
  • Maintenance


In terms of strength, hydraulics are better utilised because the liquids used in their application are of higher density and are largely compressible. In comparison, pneumatic fluids have low density and are easily compressible.


Pneumatics are favoured over hydraulics systems, in terms of hygiene, because the only thing that can leak from the system is air. Pneumatic systems are also favoured by environmentally-conscious companies.


Pneumatics also win over hydraulics in terms of speed. Compressed air has a high flow rate because of its lower density. This enables the quick release of energy and high-speed motion of moving parts. Hydraulic oil and water, on the other hand, have much greater resistance than air so are slower in motion.


Similar to hygiene, pneumatics are favoured over hydraulics for their safety. The worst thing that can leak from a pneumatic system is air, whereas a corrosive or poisonous liquid could leak from a hydraulic system. 


In terms of maintenance, pneumatic systems are again favoured to hydraulics systems. This is because they’re easier to clean and repair because the medium used is compressed air. Within hydraulic systems, there is a risk of corrosion due to the medium in use.


Pneumatics at API UK

Here at API UK, we offer a wide range of pneumatic cylinders and accessories, including mounting accessories and mounting brackets.

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