Home Air compressors What a compressor is and how does it work

A compressor is a device for continuous air generation and supply. It may be used as the energy source for a wide range of mechanisms (for example, breakers, rock drills, jet engines, etc.).

The main types

1. Piston devices consist of a cylinder and a piston, have suction and discharge valves usually located in at the top of a cylinder. Most such models are equipped with a crankshaft that maintains reciprocation.

Piston tools can have one or several cylinders with vertical, horizontal, V or W shape, single or double (when the piston works on both sides) action, as well as single- or multi-stage compression.

The main advantages of such pneumatic devices: low cost, high maintainability, and the ease of production.

2. Rotary screw tools can have one or more rotors of various construction types. Rotary lamellar models are especially popular.

Devices of this type have the following pros: low power consumption, reliability, and efficiency ensured by low friction of the working elements and good heat removal.

The principle of operation

Each air compressor has two main components: an energy source (electric motor) and a compression mechanism consisting of pistons or rotating screws.

Its operation cycle is as follows:

  1. While equipment is turned on, the air is mechanically driven into the tank through the inlet valve.
  2. As the air mass is pumped, the pressure increases.
  3. When it reaches the maximum level, the relay shuts off and the air supply stops.
  4. After the pressure drops to the minimum level, the device resumes operation.

The functionality of most tools makes it is possible to control air pressure depending on the user’s needs.


All the above-mentioned pneumatic tools are widely used in industrial production, construction, and household area. The exploitation mode of such equipment should comply with its technical characteristics.

Stationary floor tools can operate continuously for a long time. They are ideal for industrial use.

Portable devices are less powerful and do not require special installation. They are suitable for domestic use (inflating mattresses and car tires, paint spraying, cleaning a yard and much more).

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