Low Friction Air Cylinders

What type of application are you or your engineering team planning for one of Airpot’s low friction air cylinders?
actuate with air or vacuum

Over the years, Airpot products have been used by innovative engineers like yourself for many purposes outside of the normal functions our low friction air cylinders were designed to perform. Our components have been used by creative engineers as bearings, vacuum pickups, rate-of-climb indicators, earthquake sensors, spool valves, flow meters, pressure sensors, and many other uses that fall outside the normal scope of the specific device.

From the creation of our first low friction air cylinder – the Airpel in 1994 – when we were responding to requests by customers to make a device that would focus on accurate force pneumatic actuation, to the four versions of low friction air cylinders that we make today, the technological advancements of our products only continues to grow.

When we started making the Airpel, the word is derived from the Latin “pellere” that means to push or drive, the goal was to manufacture a product that had the capability to extend under pressure and vacuum actuate if that was the function desired.

The manufacturing success of the Aipel has led to the creation of three additional low friction air cylinders, each one responding to a higher level of contemporary technological demands than its predecessor. All employ the same combination of a borosilicate glass cylinder and either a graphite or specially shaped stainless steel piston and have impressive performance properties with respect to friction, cleanliness, and temperature range.

The Airpel was followed by the Airpot Self-Aligning Actuator. The two share the ability to extend under pressure and vacuum actuate if desired. They differ in that the Airpel comes in double acting configurations that can actuate from both ends, has a stainless steel outer case, is available in double rod models, and the cylinder can pivot.

The Self-Aligning Actuator offers lower friction, the lowest pressure response, runs slightly cleaner, and is the most compact, featuring the lowest moving mass and overall weight. It can also be used for pumping small volumes of air

The Airpel Plus was designed to produce less than 25% of the friction of the Airpel and Self-Aligning Actuator and can be pressurized in the extension direction only. The final member of the family is the Airpel-AB, which offers the ultimate in accurate force control, responsiveness, cleanliness, and extended life.

The performance properties of all four low friction air cylinders is superior to other conventional cylinders and are ideal for applying a precise force, a repeatable motive or counterbalancing force, applying a gentle or precise holding or squeezing force (as low as a few grams), and for actuation with uniform motion.

Here’s additional information about each cylinder.

Models also are available with one way pressurization and spring retraction, are unaffected by extreme temperature variations, run clean, and do not contaminate surrounding components.

This category was designed for space savings and low mass and includes compact mini air cylinder configurations.

This hybrid design uses the same mounting construction and some of the same internal design elements of the more advanced Airpel-AB, but is more reasonably priced to satisfy demanding applications that require lower friction and more accurate force control but do not need the zero friction capability of the Airpel-AB.

This actuator offers the ultimate in accurate force control, responsiveness, cleanliness, and long life. It uses a specially shaped steel piston that becomes an air bearing when the cylinder is pressurized to provide pneumatic actuation. The air bearing technology keeps the piston from touching the cylinder walls as long as the required minimum operating pressure is maintained. This means there is essentially zero friction in the piston’s motion.

In addition, the piston and cylinder never wear out and never create contaminants. It generates the smoothest motion, greatest force accuracy, and longest life of any low friction air cylinder on the market. Even though it is limited to applying friction-free force only in the extension direction, it is ideal for counterbalancing, tension control, and applications requiring extremely accurate applied forces with high resolution and repeatability, even to within 0.5 of a gram.

Make Your Own Low Friction Device

Do you have an idea for a product that could benefit from a combination of any of these properties?

Engineers are always on the lookout for ways to enhance a design by adapting a standard component to produce a non-standard result.

  • No lubrication
  • Thermal stability over an extreme temperature range
  • No seals
  • Extremely low mass
  • Friction of less than a gram
  • Clean operation
  • The ability to run at ultra-high speeds
  • The ability to move linearly and rotationally at the same time
  • The ability to respond to exceedingly low forces and pressures
  • A cycle life that can range into the billions
  • No deterioration of change in performance because of age or non-use

Here is data that we have identified as important if an engineer is trying to identify an Aipot component to suit a non-standard need.

We encourage engineers to adapt any of our products to meet the requirements your idea demands. We’re happy to help with subassembly services as well. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you think one of our components could help you make a product that could advance the efficiency of your business.

  • Load on piston
  • Maximum input pressure
  • Maximum output pressure
  • Minimum pressure differential
  • Lowest input force likely
  • Highest input force likely
  • Output force required
  • Stroke

Test it yourself!

Get a free sample

If you’re not convinced that one of our low friction air cylinders can help your company, we’re willing to send you a free sample of our Airpel air cylinder so you can check it out yourself. All you have to do is go here, select the Airpel sample, and complete the form. Your sample will be mailed immediately.

The best part?

There is no obligation and you won’t receive an annoying follow-up sales call.If you think our Airpel air cylinder can help your business produce a better product, give us a call. While you’re ordering your free sample, take a look at the other six Airpot products that are available as samples. Maybe one of our dashpots, subbers or piston/cylinders sets can improve the manufacturing capability of your business.

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