The different types of air compressors are not limited to the working principle of piston compressors or that of rotary screw compressors. There is also a difference between oil-free and oil-lubricated air compression, no matter what the compressor type. In this article, you’ll find out what that difference is and what you need.
In oil-lubricated air compressors, oil is used to keep everything running smoothly and prevent overheating. This, however, has a few disadvantages:
Because of these reasons, oil-lubricated air compressors are often used in industrial settings.They also offer a few advantages:
Oil-free air compressors use other means of lubrication, for instance pre-lubricated cylinders and an intercooler. An oil-free air compressor does technically contain oil, but that won’t come into contact with the compressor. The oil-free air compressor has a few disadvantages:
Oil-free air compressors are especially suitable in non-industrial settings like dentistry or smaller workshops where contamination is an issue. They are also particularly useful for home or DIY-applications. The advantages of an oil-free compressor:
Once again, the one is not better than the other - it solely depends on what you need.
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: