The Complete Professional Air Tool Guide
Also sometimes referred to as pneumatic tools, air tools are driven by air from an air compressor. The more air in the compressor, the more powerful the air tool.
Different air tool types
Aside from grinders, there are many different tools that can be powered by air compressors. Here are just some of the more common air tools on the market.
Air Impact wrenches
Also called impact guns, impactors, air guns, torque guns and rattle guns, air impact wrenches are used to loosen and tighten lug nuts and bolts in situations where a normal wrench is not up to the job. They are also often used when a screw head is stripped or has been tightened with a power tool, making it tricky to remove. Air impact wrenches remove stubborn nuts and bolts through the application of motorised twisting motion.
Benefits of using air impact wrenches
Some of the main benefits of air impact wrenches include:
- Easy removal of stubborn nuts and bolts (including corroded nuts and bolts).
- High power to weight ratio.
- Motorised twisting motion.
- Can be used to tighten nuts and bolts.
Air sanders can be used to either achieve a fine finish or get rid of burrs from a surface. Pneumatic sanders are sturdy, lightweight and high power, which makes them ideal for big jobs. In addition, they are very comfortable to use as they have low vibration and noise levels.
Benefits of using air sanders
Some of the main benefits of air sanders include:
- Engineered to withstand heavy workloads.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Precise handling and smooth operations.
- Low vibration and noise levels.
- Few moving parts (less likely to break than electric air sanders).
Used to drill holes, air drills deliver powerful rotational force. They are often used in the mining and construction industries to drill holes in surfaces such as rock or pavements. Air drills range in size with the smallest example being the dental drill. Meanwhile, one of the largest air drills is the industrial jackhammer. They are lightweight, highly versatile and tend to be easier to use and less expensive to maintain than electric drills.
Benefits of using air drills
Some of the main benefits of air drills include:
- Smaller than electric drills of the same power.
- Stands up well to prolonged use.
- Safer in hazardous environments than electric drills (do not spark).
- Fit into tight spaces.
Air grinders are equipped with abrasive cutting disks designed to cut through materials such as concrete and steel. In addition, they are often used to remove paint or for finishing jobs such as smoothing out welded metal joints. Compared to electric grinders, pneumatic grinders have a higher power to weight ratio, which means that they offer more horsepower in smaller-sized tools.
Benefits of using air grinders
Some of the main benefits of air grinders include:
- Great power to weight ratio.
- No risk of electrocution.
- Easy to service.
- Perform well in harsh environments.
Also known as pneumatic rivet guns, air riveters are used to install rivet pins to join two pieces of material such as metal. Powered through an air hose that is connected to an air compressor, air riveters are very easy to use. Simply insert a rivet pin into the riveter, place it against a hole in the materials that you want to join together and squeeze the trigger. One squeeze should be enough to propel the rivet pin into place, permanently joining the two pieces of material together. Air riveters are often used in workshop and garage situations where a large number of rivets need to be set in place in a short period of time.
Benefits of using air riveters
Some of the main benefits of air riveters include:
- Easy and quick to use.
- Lightweight for prolonged use.
- Increased productivity.
- Precise attachment of two materials (small margin of error).
Also sometimes referred to as load balancers, spring balancers, power tool assists and power tool holders, tool balancers hold tools in a set position to make them weightless during use. Tool balancers come with a reel that contains an extendable cable that can be either suspended from a fitting or an overhead line. Tool balancers feature a range of cable lengths and load capacities. Before using a tool balancer, adjust the tool’s tensioning spring to the weight of the tool with the tensioning knob. Tool balancers are commonly utilized in industrial situations where heavy tools are repeatedly used on a bench or an assembly line.
Benefits of using tool balancers
Some of the main benefits of tool balancers include:
- Weightless tool operation.
- More comfortable tool use and less fatigue.
- Better productivity (tools can be used over a longer period of time).
- Eliminate the risk of a tool being dropped and damaged.
- Simple to adjust.
Pages you may be interested in
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Visit our pages on Pneumatic & Vacuum Gauges, Filter Regulator Lubricators and Pneumatic Cylinders & Actuators for more information.
Air tools are lighter, more efficient and less likely to break down than electric or battery-operated tools. Provided that they are powered by the right compressor, air tools are also more stable when it comes to performance. In addition, air tools are also safer to use than their electric counterparts since they have no risk of causing sparks or short-circuiting. Some air tools such as nail guns offer a host of unique features such as quick firing rates.
There are many common and some specialist power tools that can be fuelled by air compressors.
- Rotary hammers
- Drills and saws
- Angle grinders
- Impact wrenches
- Nail and staple guns
- Paint spray guns
- Abrasive blasters
- Rivet guns
- Sanders and jacks
Air tools: operating pressure and airflow
There are certain things you need to keep an eye on to ensure that your pneumatic tools are operating correctly. These include:
- The operating pressure of the tool in bar or PSI.
- The required airflow in cubic feet per minute.
To ensure efficiency, it is vital that the air compressor is powerful enough to supply your workshop equipment with sufficient air. Most pneumatic tools require air compressors with at least a 50-litre tank capacity. In addition, the diameter of the air hose that connects each tool to the air compressor will have an impact on the airflow to the tool. To ensure the right corrector size, check the specific requirements of the air tool you are using.
Air compressors are powered by pumps, which compress air and force it into a tank where it is stored at a pre-set pressure range and used as energy to power air tools. The tanks come in a range of volumes. When the pre-set pressure level in the tank is reached, the pump stops. When the pressure falls below a certain pre-set level, the pump restarts to refill the tank. This predetermined pressure level is contingent on the size of the compressor and the pump, as well as any limits set by the manufacturer.
While both air and electric tools can be used to complete the same jobs, they function slightly differently. The grinder — which can be either electric or pneumatic — is a case in point. Which one you choose should depend on a number of factors. If you are looking for top performance, air grinders deliver better results than corded electric grinders. This is because they have a superior power-to-weight ratio and a longer service interval. On the other hand, electric grinders are more affordable and a good choice for workplaces without easy access to compressed air.