What Are Pneumatic Control Valves?

Posted by OCPneunmatics on Jul 6th 2020

Take a moment to look at your current compressed air-driven machinery and see if you can tell whether or not you’re using the right pneumatic control valves on it. Are you? Even the slightest mismatch can cause big problems and even a loss of pressure, which can drastically reduce the efficiency of the system that you’re working with, which is why you need pneumatic control valves.

Over time, that can increase the risk of certain types of failures. Worst of all, you might not be able to take advantage of important automation features that you’d otherwise be able to deploy to make your staff’s lives much easier. Browse some of the following ones and think about which might work best for your own company.

Looking At Different Types Of Pneumatic Control Valves

Directional control valves are among the most important tools you have to construct almost any type of pneumatic circuit. They direct or block airflow, which in turn controls the speed and even the sequence of operations that are performed. These are vital if you plan to select between different outputs or want to do anything involving the sort of automation that countless small business owners rely on to help them reduce costs and focus their efforts on something other than manual manipulations of their compressed air-driven systems.

Considering just how ubiquitous they are, you might imagine that they’re conceptually quite simple. You’d be quite right, because these control valves are often seen as little more than switches that control the flow of air in much the same manner that electrical ones control the flow of current through a circuit.

While there are any number of configurations offered, this basic principle remains true for each individual type of configuration you’re likely to find. Chances are that you’re already familiar with two-way two-position valves, which consist of nothing more than a pair of ports connected to a single passage. This passageway can be opened or shut, which enables operators to control the flow of pressure that passes to either of the ports. In most circumstances, you’re likely to find an electrically activated solenoid or another similar type of equipment helping to control these systems.

In spite of this electrical design, directional control pneumatic solenoid valves don’t use much in the way of power. Companies that have to move equipment around or avoid using too much current because of certain limitations won’t have to worry about drawing too much. They do offer impressively high flow rates and quick response times, so you can be sure they’ll work in almost any situation you could think of deploying them in as long as the rest of your pneumatic gear is up to the task.

Eventually, you’ll also want to take a look at three-way two-position valves. These include a set of three different ports that are all connected to passageways inside of a single valve body. Over the time they operate, the valves will pressurize and exhaust an outlet port to control single-acting cylinders.

You could also use this configuration to pilot another different valve assembly that you have attached to your circuit in series with the initial three-way two-position module that you had installed inline. Three-way valves will also direct pressurized air over to the cap end of your cylinder. Whenever the spool shifts to the other extreme, it will block flow and pressure to the actuator. An actuator would be connected to the exhaust passage itself, which means that a spring or the force of gravity would have to be used to return the rod to an initial neutral position that it more than likely started out in.

Engineers have developed a number of other valves as well, and they’re always working on new ones. You’ll want to consider check valves if you’re looking to add an additional level of control to your pneumatic layout.

The Ins & Outs of Pneumatic Check Valves

Those who are trying to design more sophisticated compressed air-driven systems are likely to also come across pneumatic check valves, which allow air to flow in only one agreed upon direction while ensuring that compressed air doesn’t flow back through it. This helps to keep certain parts of your installation pressurized while ensuring that other areas are not.

Speed controllers make use of a related technology, which come with some advanced features that might please those working in certain niche use cases. For instance, the AKH style comes with a one-touch fitting that makes it easy to install in pipelines. You’ll also find that the male connector types will mount directly onto equipment, thus making them all the more simpler to work with.

You’ll also come across bushing style AKB units that would make their way into applications that require considerations related to coolant splatter and other industrial manufacturing workflow hazards that make it hard to work with other types of technology in the same setting. While you might think of your manufacturing workflows as hopelessly corrosive, there are even special air hoses and other accouterments that can help.

Some designers have come up with far more esoteric assemblies. Chances are that you won’t need this kind of technology, but those who do will find that they can be quite a life saver. Four-way three-position valves, for instance, could help with some situations where you’d need to occasionally block all ports or redirect them all to a single exhaust center. These two extreme positions are essentially the powered positions of the original valve, which of course control the movement of an attached actuator module.

Users are always free to switch back to that center position so that they can lock the actuator up or simply let it float. It all depends on how you want to design the system to work. Flexibility has always been very important when deploying switches and control valves, so there have always been a large number of choices for pneumatic technicians looking to put together a rather complex build.

Add Pneumatic Control Valves From SMC Pneumatics To Your Installation

Fortunately, SMC Pneumatics has made sure to stock plenty of options for anyone who is deploying compressed air-driven tools in their own workplace. While you might have many choices, there’s only one place you’ll need to look to get the kind of parts you need.

Contact SMC Pneumatics online today or whenever you’re ready to learn more about what kinds of pneumatic control valves are available on the market. We work with suppliers and design team members so you can be sure you’re always getting the latest material no matter whether you represent a large organization or own your own small business.

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