Understanding the different types of Pneumatic Cylinders

Pneumatic cylinders are mechanical devices that are used to compress air to produce rotary or linear motion and are essential components in a wide range of industrial applications. When the device compresses air, the energy converted goes into mechanical work. One of the reasons why they’re so commonly used in various industries is because they’re easy to install, cost-effective, and efficient in automation processes. 

Here at API Pneumatics, we are a leading manufacturer of pneumatic components, all of which are designed to meet specific needs and applications. In this article, we will explore the different types of pneumatic cylinders that we can provide, and the different industries they can be applied to. 

What are pneumatic cylinders?

Pneumatic cylinders, which are sometimes referred to as air actuators or air cylinders, are mechanical devices that compress air to produce motion. When compressed air is directed into one of the ports in the cylinder, it enters the chamber and creates pressure. 

This high pressure behind the piston then forces it to move in a direction away from the pressure that has been applied. Meanwhile, the air is vented on the other side of the piston, which allows it to escape from the cylinder. 

By controlling the direction and timing of the airflow into the cylinder ports, the motion of the piston can be controlled precisely. 

Different types of pneumatic cylinders

At API Pneumatics, we have a range of different types of high-quality and high-performing single-acting pneumatic cylinders and double-acting pneumatic cylinders. Made from different materials and created to meet your specific needs, our pneumatic cylinders are suitable for heavy-duty operation and hygienic applications. This is due to their clean lines which enable SIP and CIP wash-downs. 


ISO cylinders

Here at API, we offer high-quality ISO cylinders that conform to both ISO 15552 and ISO 6432 standards. As a part of our wider pneumatic cylinder range, our ISO cylinders are manufactured with attention to detail to create modern and streamlined devices to ensure maximum performance. 

Some of the key features of the ISO 15552 pneumatic cylinders include: 

  • Stroke length of 10 to 2500mm
  • Bore of 32 to  320mm
  • Pressure 1 – 10 bar 
  • Diverse temperature ranges for each version

As these cylinders come in an array of stroke and bore sizes, they are much more versatile and adaptable than those made by other providers. ISO pneumatic cylinders are often used in automotive, manufacturing and packaging tasks where precision and repeatable linear motion is required. 


Roundline cylinders

As you would imagine from the name, our roundline cylinders are made from a cylindrical outer casing. With a unique design, our roundline cylinders are robust, durable and capable of being used in high-pressure applications. They’re available as both double-acting and double-acting magnetic versions with a bore range of 32mm to 50mm, making them versatile for an array of settings. 

Some of the most common settings for roundline cylinders are construction equipment, heavy machinery, and material handling systems where reliability is essential. 


Short stroke cylinders

Another type of high-quality pneumatic cylinder that we can provide at API Pneumatics is short stroke pneumatic cylinders. These offer a compact design which makes them great for applications with limited space. They’re designed with an extruded barrel to enable reed switches to be housed within the cylinder with no brackets required. 

All of the short stroke cylinders created by API conform to ISO 15524 and offer male-to-female piston rod options. Key applications for these types of pneumatic cylinders include: 

  • Electronics: often employed in semiconductor manufacturing equipment for wafer handling and positioning. 
  • Medical equipment: used for controlled movements in medical devices such as surgical instruments and hospital beds. 
  • Robotics: used in grippers and robotic arms for precise and delicate movements. 


Rodless cylinders

As you would expect from the name, rodless cylinders do not have exposed rods extending from the cylinder. Instead, the piston moves along the length of the cylinder as it is connected to an internal carriage. This kind of design offers advantages such as a longer stroke length to reduce the risk of contamination. 

As standard, the rodless cylinders we create here are magnetic which makes them suitable for reed switch counting. They also feature a low-profile carriage to reduce the overall length by 50% compared to cylinders with piston rods. 

Key applications for rodless cylinders include:

  • Factory automation – used in situations where long strokes are needed but space is limited. 
  • Material transfer – used in conveyor systems to move items smoothly and efficiently. 


What makes API unique?

At API Pneumatic, we provide a full range of pneumatic cylinders and have been supplying high-quality products since 1996. We also stock a variety of pneumatic accessories. They’re built from the highest grade 316 stainless steel to offer the highest level of corrosion resistance, making them perfect for the marine, food, oil and pharmaceutical gas industries. 

One of the best things about API is our 90-minute same-day build service. We offer same-day builds on a range of bespoke pneumatic cylinders, which means you can get the parts you need, made to a high quality, without having a long wait time. 

If you require a bespoke cylinder, speak to API Pneumatic today for more information about our premium service at a competitive rate.