Pneumatic Cylinders in Detail

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pneumatic cylinders

Pneumatic cylinders are a type of pneumatic actuator. These cylinders are mechanical devices that use compressed gas, typically air, to generate motion. Typically, this is linear motion; however, rotary motion can also be achieved with some varieties of cylinders.

Pneumatic cylinders consist of a cylindrical housing, a piston, and a rod. The piston is sealed within the housing and has a rod attached to one end that extends out of the housing. When compressed air is introduced into the cylinder, it pushes the piston and rod out, causing linear motion. The pneumatic cylinder market was worth US$1.23 billion in 2021, with expected growth projected to reach US$1.93 billion by 2030.


There is a wide range of industrial applications for pneumatic cylinders. The smallest pneumatic cylinders are typically used in precision machinery, such as laboratory equipment. They are also used in applications where space is limited, such as in compact machinery and portable tools.

The largest pneumatic cylinders, on the other hand, are used in heavy-duty industrial applications, such as mining, construction, and material handling. They are used in applications where high force and power are required, such as in lifting and moving heavy loads and in controlling large valves and gates. These large cylinders can also be used to drill and excavate.

One of the largest and most promising fields that use pneumatic cylinders is robotics. Pneumatic cylinders are widely used in automation and robotics for tasks such as pick-and-place operations, gripping and clamping, and linear motion control. Because these cylinders require very little maintenance and are quite precise in their motion and the amount of force delivered, these cylinders are frequently used for automation in manufacturing and on assembly lines.

Pneumatic cylinders are also frequently used along production lines. They can be used to lift, push, pull, and position various items. They are a typical part of many packaging and filling assemblies and are used for filling containers, sealing packages, and labelling products. These uses are frequently seen in food and beverage production, as well as the pharmaceutical industry; small pneumatic cylinders are sensitive enough to cap bottles, press tablets, sort fruits, and vegetables, and complete a sealed packaging process that meets these sensitive industries’ standards.

Other industries use pneumatic cylinders for various tasks. Woodworking and furniture production uses these cylinders for tasks such as sanding, sawing, and drilling, while the textile industry uses them for spinning, weaving, and cutting fabric. These industries prefer pneumatic cylinders because they are powered by compressed air; this means there is no leakage from hydraulic fluid and no sparks from electric cylinders, which could cause problems with flammable materials. Plastics production also uses these cylinders for injection moulding, extrusion, and blow moulding.

There are also uses for these cylinders that you might not expect. For example, pneumatic cylinders are frequently used in theme park attractions since compressed air is safe to use around children.


Because pneumatic cylinders have such variable uses, you can expect to find them in a vast array of sizes. Pneumatic cylinders can range from very small, with a bore (the diameter of the piston) of just a few millimetres, to very large, with a bore of several metres. The stroke length, which is the distance the cylinder can move, can also vary greatly.

The most common gas used in pneumatic cylinders is compressed air. However, other gases, such as nitrogen and argon, can also be used. Pneumatic cylinders are typically made of metal, and the most common metals used are aluminium and steel. Aluminium is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal that is commonly used in small and medium-sized cylinders.

Steel is a strong and durable metal that is commonly used in larger and heavy-duty cylinders. Stainless steel is also a popular choice due to its corrosion resistance properties, making it ideal for use in harsh environments.


Both pneumatic cylinders and hydraulic cylinders are used to generate linear motion in industrial applications. However, there are many key differences that are vitally important to consider when choosing a cylinder for an industrial application.


Pneumatic cylinders use compressed gases to generate motion. Hydraulic cylinders, on the other hand, use a fluid, typically oil, to generate linear motion. Like pneumatic cylinders, these cylinders also consist of a cylindrical housing, a piston, and a rod, but the piston is sealed with a piston seal, and the cylinder is filled with fluid. The fluid is pressurised by a pump and is introduced into one end of the cylinder, pushing the piston and rod out, creating linear motion.


Hydraulic cylinders are commonly used in heavy machinery, construction equipment, and other applications where high force and power are required. Hydraulic cylinders, like those tooled and honed at Honingcraft, are generally considered to be stronger than pneumatic cylinders as they are able to generate much higher forces and pressures.

This is due to the fact that hydraulic fluids have a much higher density than compressed air, which allows for more force to be generated in a smaller package.

However, pneumatic cylinders are often preferred over hydraulic cylinders in applications where cleanliness, low noise, and low heat generation are important. They are commonly used in packaging machinery, assembly lines, and other manufacturing processes where precise and controlled linear motion is required.


Pneumatic cylinders are often less costly than hydraulic cylinders. However, at larger scales, the strength required might cause a large pneumatic cylinder to be more expensive than a smaller hydraulic cylinder that is equally as powerful. When choosing a cylinder, the cost is often not the primary or even one of the most important deciding factors; rather, different sizes and types of cylinders can do different things for your design.


In order to choose the best pneumatic cylinder size for any project or application, it is important to understand the basic principles of how pneumatic cylinders work. You need to understand the relationship between air pressure, cylinder size, and force output to be able to choose the right cylinder for a specific application and ensure proper operation and maintenance.

Additionally, it’s important to know the specific requirements for the application, such as the size of the cylinder, the stroke length, the speed of the cylinder, the temperature, and the environment of the application. Now that you understand the basics of pneumatic cylinders, it will be easier to understand their function in your application and industry applications as a whole.


Honingcraft Group of Companies operates one of Africa’s largest shaft chroming plants, enabling them to provide any chroming requirement starting from 12mm in diameter. See our chrome bar data sheet for more information.

Pneumatic cylinders have chrome-plated piston rods. Chrome plating provides a hard, smooth surface that resists wear and extends the life of the cylinder.

Piston rods are used in harsh environments where they may be exposed to moisture, chemicals, or other corrosive substances. Chrome plating provides a protective barrier against corrosion, helping to prevent rust and other forms of corrosion.

The smooth surface of the chrome-plated piston rod in pneumatic cylinders helps to retain the seals inside the cylinder, preventing leakage and ensuring proper operation. Chrome plating also gives the cylinder a polished, professional appearance that is often desirable in industrial settings

Honingcraft is a thought leader in the hydraulic cylinder market. With knowledge that expands that of only hydraulic cylinders, Honingcraft offers many services and solutions for your cylinder needs. Reach out to Honingcraft to assist you today.