Guide to screw compressors: what, how and why

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Guide to screw compressors: what, how and why

Rendering of a MARK rotary-screw compressor and how it works

Compressors exist in all shapes and sizes. MARK offers a wide range of different compressors, fit for every task. What is a rotary-screw compressor and how does it work? What types are there? And is it the compressor I need for my business? Find out everything you need to know to choose your ideal air compressor in this article.

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What is a screw-type compressor?

A screw compressor - also known as a rotary screw compressor - uses positive displacement through rotary movement to compress air or gas. The heavy-duty machinery can handle larger amounts of air compression than the more traditional piston compressor, making it perfect for, among other things, industrial applications.

A screw compressor has a higher duty cycle which allows continuous running, compared to a piston compressor that typically needs to break in the running not to fail. So when it comes to selecting a compressor for a start-up, a growing business or a large manufacturing plant, a Mark screw compressor will meet your needs

➥ Read more about piston compressors

Working principle of a screw compressor

Simply put, the working principle of a screw compressor is that a male rotor and a female rotor rotate in the opposite direction. In doing so, the space between the rotors decreases and forces the air to compress.

Because rotary screw compressors do not have a valve system like piston compressors, they can be operated at high air flow rates.

Different types of screw air compressors

There are several types of rotary screw compressors, depending on how they are built: 

  • Belt-drive: a belt connects the motor with the compression unit.
  • Gear-drive: the connection between the compression unit and the motor uses gears, which is more efficient than the belt-drive.
  • Variable speed drive: the most efficient type of compressor. The motor and the compression element are synchronized to produce compressed air as close as possible to the application's actual need.


Features and benefits of rotary screw compressors

There is a big difference between the different types of compressors. A few benefits of rotary screw compressors:

  • Continuous airflow: rotary screw compressors have a very low internal temperature, avoiding heating issues. No need for cooling down periods or breaks.
  • High volume capacity: since screw compressors can keep running 24/7 without heating problems, they generate higher volumes of compressed air than other types of compressors.
  • Energy-efficient: the low heat generation makes screw compressors energy-efficient
  • Long lifespan: thanks to easier maintenance and low risk of overheating, screw compressors tend to last long with little to no capacity loss - even when running on full power 24/7
  • Quieter: the rotors compressing the air are not in direct contact with each other, which cuts down on noise and provides a calm work environment.

What is a rotary screw compressor used for?

For small businesses like auto repair shops and smaller factories, a screw compressor is the natural next choice when a piston compressor can no longer meet your operations’ requirement for compressed air.

Rotary-screw compressors can generally be used in the same industries as piston compressors. In many cases, they are the next step 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:

  • Food processing industry
  • Packaging industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Automated manufacturing industry


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What air compressor do I need?

If you’re still not sure what type of air compressor you need, feel free to get in touch with our experts for personal advice. We’ll assess your situation and help you find the perfect compressor.

Read more about air compressors in related articles

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