Air compressors can be used in a wide range of industries and applications. In this article we want to show you the different types of (industrial) air compressors that MARK has to offer, and their specific properties. That way you have an idea of which type of compressor might be best suited for your specific situation.
Take a look at our guide to piston compressors if you want to discover more!
The piston air compressor (or reciprocating compressor) is the oldest and most common type of compressor. The mechanism works as follows:
Essentially, a piston compressor contains a valve system and two valve discs. When the piston moves down, it draws air into the cylinder. One of the valve discs folds downward, allowing the air to pass. When the piston moves upward, the large disc folds upward also, and closes. The compressed air is then delivered to the end process. Essentially, the mechanism is that of a - small - combustion engine, like the ones that are used in cars.
Piston compressors are available in different configurations. For instance, there’s a difference between oil-free and oil-lubricated compressors. Read more about this difference at the end of this article. There are also single-stage, two-stage and multi-stage piston compressors. This last type of piston compressor contains an extra step where the air is compressed a second, third or even fourth time.
Although piston compressors are available in lots of different configurations, they are most commonly used in:
Generally, a piston compressor offers the following advantages:
Read more about screw compressors in our guide to screw compressors!
Instead of a valve system, this air compressor uses rotors to compress air. Male and female rotors turn in opposite directions, thus trapping the air between them. This causes the volume of the air to be reduced. The compressed air can then immediately be used in different kinds of applications. The rotary-screw compressor does not have a valve system: therefore the risk of mechanical unbalance is reduced. This type of air compressor can be operated at high air flow rates.
Rotary-screw compressors can be used in the same industries as piston compressors. In many cases, they replace them because of their higher capacity and the fact that they can deliver a constant air flow. Some industries specifically require a constant air flow, like the:
Both the piston compressor and rotary-screw compressor come in an oil-free and oil-lubricated version. In the latter, oil is mostly used to lubricate, seal and cool the compressed air. In oil-free air compressors, the same is achieved through different means, for instance pre-lubricated cylinders and an intercooler.
It is important to first figure out the exact process the air compressor will be used for. In some applications, even the slightest risk of contamination is not to be taken. For instance:
In these industries, oil-free air compressors offer an elegant solution. They weigh less and there is obviously no contamination risk.
However, in some - smaller - processes, oil contamination is not an immediate issue. It might be wise to make use of an oil-lubricated air compressor, since they have less maintenance requirements, have a longer life span and produce less noise or heat.