The difference between Hydraulics and Pneumatics

The difference between Hydraulics and PneumaticsBoth hydraulic and pneumatic systems are similar in various ways, but often the difference between the two is not well known. Deciding on which system would work best for your application starts with knowing the difference between the two systems and what you require it to do.

What is pneumatic power?

Pneumatics makes use of pressurised gas or air to dictate mechanical motion based on fluid dynamics and pressure. Pneumatics was once only used in smaller handheld devices, but has now branched into larger equipment.

A pneumatic system consists of interconnected components which includes a gas compressor, transition lines, air tanks, hoses, standard cylinders and gas. The compressed air is supplied through the compressor and transported through a series of hoses. This air flow can be regulated manually or through automatic solenoid valves. The pneumatic cylinder then coverts the energy provided by the compressed gas to mechanical energy. Electrically powered compressors power cylinders, air motors and other pneumatic devices using this energy.

Pneumatic systems are mostly used in construction, robotics, food manufacturing and distribution, conveying of materials, medical applications such as in dentistry, pharmaceutical and biotech, mining, mills in buildings and tools in factories. They are used primarily for shock absorption applications as the gas is compressible and will allow the equipment to be less susceptible to shock damage.

What is hydraulic power?

Hydraulics makes use of pressurised liquids for the generation, control and transmission of power. Hydraulic systems use a pump and like a pneumatic system, uses valves to control the force and velocity of the actuators. For a hydraulic system to work it requires hydraulic fluid, a cylinder, piston, pumps and valves that control the direction of flow, which is always in one direction. Hydraulic systems are larger and a little more complex than pneumatic systems due to a container being needed to hold fluid that flows through the system. Due to the larger size, more pressure is required which does make it a little more expensive