WHAT IS ELECTRO PNEUMATICS?
Pneumatics just like hydraulic systems utilizes fluid power. The only difference is that in pneumatics systems, inert gases are used instead of liquids. However, to get the most of a pneumatic system, there needs to be a way to start, monitor, and stop the process.
Electro-pneumatic systems use electrical technologies to control the compressed air used as the working medium. Electrical devices such as solenoids, limits switches, valves, and relays are some of the mechanisms used.
In a typical electro-pneumatic setup, electrical power is applied to a directional control valve. The valve then regulates the air pressure to various devices connected such as cylinders. Variation in pressure causes the cylinders to either extend or retract. This movement is transformed into useful work.
In very complex systems Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are used instead of valves and relays. Auxiliary devices such as position sensors, pressure sensors, proximity switches, and flow switches are added to make it easier to monitor the process.
HOW IS THIS DISCIPLINE USED IN THE INDUSTRY?
Electro pneumatics systems have diverse applications which can be broadly categorized into two types.
LARGE SCALE APPLICATIONS
Aerospace exploration and aeronautical engineering are some of the biggest application of electro-pneumatic systems. In both applications, it is necessary to pressurize the fuselage of the aircraft whether it a rocket or a passenger plane.
The cabins are pressurized and depressurized to sea level with the help of electro-pneumatics. The sensors detect any leakages and change in altitude to make necessary adjustments.
SMALL SCALE APPLICATIONS
- Nail Gun: Nail guns are an important tool in construction. Air from a compressor is stored in a chamber within the nail gun. When the trigger is pulled, the plunger is depressed and forces the piston up ejecting the nails.
- Jackhammer: This tool is connected to an external compressor to deliver compressed air which then forces the drill up and down like an automatic hammer.
- Air Brakes: Apart from trucks and buses, air brakes are also used in other moving machines. The compressed air pressed on a piston slows down the movement of a component due to friction.
- Industrial Conveyors: Manufacturing products sometimes move from one section to the next through conveyors. To ensure proper packing, an electro-pneumatic system is used to divert containers or packages that are not properly filled