What is a Pneumatic Actuator? Types & Applications

February 10

Valves are essential for controlling processes, and actuators are special devices that operate and move them remotely. Actuators come in three types: Electric, Hydraulic, and Pneumatic. This article provides an overview of pneumatic actuators. These actuators are essential in various industries and have numerous uses. Familiarizing oneself with the fundamentals of pneumatic cylinders is crucial for understanding their application. Aira Euro Automation is Ahmedabad, India’s most prominent Pneumatic Actuator manufacturer.

What is a Pneumatic Actuator?

Pneumatic actuators are reliable, efficient, and safe motion control systems used in industrial applications like valves in chemical and process industries. They convert energy from pressurized air or gas into rotary, and valves or ports, and can convert energy into linear or rotary mechanical motions. Linear actuators are suitable for high-temperature and steam applications, while pneumatic rotary actuators are better suited for quarter-turn valves. They are commonly used in chemical and process industries, where electricity can cause fire or ignition hazards.

How does a Pneumatic Actuator work

Pneumatic actuators are mechanical devices that use pressurized gas, typically compresses air, to increase pressure in a chamber. When this pressure exceeds, a device such as a piston or gear endures directed energetic movement that can be instructed in either a straight line or in a circular motion. Pneumatic actuators are useful in a variety of sectors due to their highly controlled and reliable conversion of compressed gas into energy.

Common applications include combustion engines, air compressors, packaging and manufacturing machines, railway applications, and aviation. Pneumatic actuators are highly controlled, dependable, and repeatable, making them a popular choice for a wide range of applications across industries, the subsequent movement can be directed in either a straight line or a straight line.

Types of Pneumatic Actuators:

There are different pneumatic actuators like pistons, rotary & springs, or diaphragm.

Single-Acting Pneumatic Actuator

A single-acting pneumatic actuator, or a spring-return actuator, operates by opening the valve with air and closing it with a mechanical spring (or springs). The actuator can alternatively be arranged conversely, with air closing the valve and the spring opening it, this is known as a normally open version. Aira Euro is widely recognized for manufacturing Pneumatic Rotary Single Actuators.  

The most common reason single-acting actuators are used is due to their dependable fail-safe design. This implies that if power or air pressure is absent, the valve will rapidly return to its usual position. This is important in applications where the valve may remain open (or closed) when power and/ or air pressure are absent, which might have significant repercussions.

Double Acting Pneumatic Actuator

This is the most common type of pneumatic valve actuator. Double-acting actuators are preferred for their reduced cost and longer lifespan since the lack of mechanical springs in most variants eliminates the actuator’s least durable component. It is not unusual for high-quality double-acting actuators to go millions of cycles before failing. Aira is well-known for manufacturing the best quality 180ºC Double double acting actuator and also offers a Pneumatic Rotary Double double acting actuator

Rotary Pneumatic Actuator

The rotary gear type pneumatic actuator operates similarly to a piston pneumatic actuator, with two pressured chambers. This actuator’s housing is formed like a pie wedge, than a cylinder. A paddle with an output shaft simply separates the two pressure chambers. Changing the degree of difference across the paddle causes the output shaft to move accordingly across its 90-degree range of motion. Aira presents the best quality of Pneumatic Rotary 3 Piston Actuator. 

Spring/ Diaphragm Pneumatic Actuator

This type of pneumatic actuator uses compressed air to thrust a diaphragm against a plate that is opposed by a spring. Once the pressure is decreased, the spring will pull the diaphragm back. So, by adjusting the force, the position can be attained. This type of actuator can fail to open/fail to close when the spring breaks air force and returns the actuator to the break position. 

This type of pneumatic actuator uses a piston within a cylinder. The piston movement can be caused by simply applying less or more power to one side of the piston. 

Piston Pneumatic Actuator

This type of pneumatic actuator employs a piston within a cylinder. The piston movement can be caused by simply applying less or more power to one side of the piston-style pneumatic actuator applying air pressure to both sides of the piston. The piston’s linear motion can be used directly to actuate linear motion or converted to rotational motion using a pinion and rack or a similar mechanical arrangement. These actuators can be identified simply by the diameter of the cylinder and the length of the stroke. A pneumatic actuator with a larger cylinder is capable of exerting more force.

Advantages of Pneumatic Actuator

The advantages of Pneumatic Actuators include the following: 

  • Pneumatic actuators provide tremendous force and quick movement rates when used in linear motion control applications. 
  • These actuators are quite durable. 
  • They are quite reliable. 
  • These are the ideal devices for applications requiring high cleanliness standards. 
  • Cost-Effective
  • These are extremely easy to maintain and install.
  • These are incredibly durable and can reduce the costs associated with maintaining their functionality. 
  • These actuators have a wide temperature range of 0 to 200’C. 
  • These are explosion and fireproof. 
  • Pneumatic Actuators have a lower weight.

Applications of Pneumatic Actuator:

Applications of Pneumatic Actuators include the following: 

  • Pneumatic actuators have several industry uses, including air compressors.
  • Aviation.
  • Railway application.
  • Packaging and manufacturing machinery 
  • Combustible car engines. 
  • These actuators are often found in the pistons and ignition chambers of gasoline-powered automobiles. So they use air ignition and gasoline to produce pressured energy, which finally drives the piston and transfers energy to the car’s crankshaft. However, these actuators generally rely on pressurized gas with no ignition to provide the desired mechanical force. 
  • These sorts of actuators are required for packaging and manufacturing machinery, air compressors, postal tubes, and transportation systems such as airplane and train applications. 


A pneumatic actuator is a reliable and secure motion control technology that converts energy into linear or rotary motion. They are ideal for frequent valve openings and industrial applications where electricity may cause actuators, and offer equipment from leading manufacturers, and excellent technical support. In this comprehensive guide, the pneumatic technology is explained. 

Trust Aira Euro, we are the leading Industrial Valve Manufacturer in India.  Contact Aira Euro Automation for product descriptions, selection guidance, and more.