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Compressors and Machine Shops

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Why Do Machine Shops Need Air Compressors?

Cutting, shaping, drilling, and finishing, compressed air is critical for any machine shop. Shops rely heavily on the compressed air system to assist in a variety of operation processes. Commonly the parts produced are used in the machine industry, car industry or even the aircraft industry. A traditional workday in a machine shop requires the use of air compressors to generate an intermittent or continuous source of pressurized air.

What machines commonly require compressed air in the shop?

Metal Lathes: Originally designed for metal, but now available for all types of materials used in machine shops. Powered by compressed air, this machine allows the material to be rotated and cut with precision.

Milling Machines: Usually used to machine flat surfaces, but can also produce irregular surfaces. They can also be used to drill, bore, cut gears, and produce slots, all of which are powered by air.

Grinding Machines: Grinding of metal (and other materials) to eliminate imperfections after cutting is essential.

Paint Booth: Depending how big your shop is, a paint booth is required to paint the parts being manufactured. The spray gun is operated by compressed air.

Air Guns:During machining operations, material is usually removed from the work piece to accomplish the intended shape. This results in chips, dust, oil, dirt, and other contaminants becoming entrapped on the cutting tools and cutting surface. These unwanted materials can block the manufacturing process by reducing machining accuracy and can eventually cause damage to the tooling. Frequently, using a blast of dry compressed air will keep areas of concern free from contaminants.

CNC Machines: (AKA Computer numerical control) This machine processes a piece of material to meet specifications by following a coded programmed instruction and without a manual operator,all ran by compressed air.

Water Recovery Filtration: Recycling water is a huge cost saver for any shop. The filtration process requires air to operate valves and re-circulation process.

In the "Small Machine Shop" - small related to the engine and wagon shops - the components for a number of other products were made. The picture shows the interior of the shop in 1895. The man in the center is G.A.Ryd.

What is a Machine Shop?

A company where machining, a form of manufacturing, is performed. Machinists use machine tools and cutting tools to make parts, usually of metal, plastic, steel, glass or even wood. Shops can vary in size and scale depending on the industry.


Pain Points for Machine Shops (that we can help with!)

Budget: The key to avoiding a regrettable purchase is to know what the different types can offer you. Starting with the end goal in mind is how you will find the best air compressor for the money.

Condensation: During CNC machining, it is crucial that the compressed air used to clean exposed surfaces is sufficiently dry. Air that contains undesirable amounts of moisture can condense on colder surfaces, ultimately resulting in corrosion in the metal work piece and/or the tooling.

CFM Requirements: It's important to know if the compressor your purchase will drive the tool or equipment you;ll need for your project.

NOISE!: Metal hitting or sliding against metal can be loud! Typically, the more moving parts an air compressor has, the louder it will be. This is true in the motor as well.

Electrical Complicity: Understanding your power supply at your business will guide you on the air compressor choices. What is the voltage available?


Reciprocating Compressors Vs. Rotary Screw Compressor

Which one is right for your shop?

Safe and Convenient : Rotary screw air compressors are incredibly convenient, given that they deliver air continuously for the required purposes. They are also safe, and cases of accidents with the machines are almost unheard of.

Functions at extreme weather conditions: Rotary air compressors can work at high or low temperatures. The machines can also work in areas where other forms of energy are prohibited due to safety or temperature levels. To an extent.

They are designed to run tools that generate more power that typical equipment : And since their air flow rates are extremely high, rotary air compressors can power such equipment effectively.

They are easier to maintain: Many of the modern air compressors in the market have fewer parts that require maintenance. In fact, some rotary screw machines have up to 70% less parts, which in turn lowers maintenance costs dramatically.

They run quietly despite their massive air flow: Rotary screw air compressors are generally quiet performers, with many of them having noise dampening technologies. That and the fact that they are not huge in size makes them convenient to be stored anywhere and still provide a safe working environment.

They are good energy conservation : Rotary screw machines are generally energy efficient, and they generate less heat than normal air compressors.

They consume less oil than other oil flooded air compressors:In addition, they have minimum oil carryovers.

They are designed to last :Rotary screw air compressors are designed to serve you for many years, all along while having little or no capacity reduction.

CP Decibel Chart

Air Compressor Noise: Causes, Risks, & Solutions

Learn all about air compressors and the noise that goes along with them


Total Turn-Key Solution

At Chicago Pneumatic, we take the guess work out of setting up shop. Literally. From the air compressor and dryer to the piping, we have you covered. Our team will lead everything from installation, to start-up and calibration. We will work side-by-side to ensure they have the training and resources they need to move forward with your new solution.

Compressor Sizing: An inefficient air compressor results in higher energy costs, improper tool operation and even shortens the machines life. Allow our pros to size you correctly based on your tools and the shops demand.

Equipment Installation: Trained professionals to install new equipment with flexible installation scheduling to help reduce productivity loss and downtime.

Complete Air System: Your compressed air pipe can greatly affect the performance of your compressor. A pipe system should last decades if installed correctly. Leave it to us to help.

Maintenance Scheduling:Regular maintenance can help keep your operation running smoothly, as well as extend the working life of your equipment. Having scheduled maintenance of your compressor equipment is crucial. CP technicians will perform regular maintenance procedures, as well as multi-point equipment inspections to evaluate system efficiency.

First Time Buying an Air Compressor?

Using an air compressor in your shop is far more economical and efficient than running electric tools.  Air compressors can be located inside or outside of your shop. If outdoors, a separate shed should be built around it to protect it from the elements (rain, weather, dirt, etc). If located indoors, it should be placed in a location as far from the work as possible and will provide adequate ventalation. An indoor shed may also be constructed if this is not possible.

Add up all the CFM required for all the air tools you will be using at one time. For example, if you have three air polishers at 18 CFM per polisher, that's a total of 54 CFM required. Now add an additional 20%. In our example, that would be another 11 to 12 CFM. This means you will need at minimum a 70-CFM air compressor, and that does not include room for growth.

There are two types of compressors: Piston compressors and a Rotary screw compressors. I would recommend going with the screw compressor. A screw compressor produces a constant air supply and is much quieter than a Piston compressor.

Why Chicago Pneumatic?

Tips When Picking an Air Compressor:

As we wouldn't know which granite piece matches a blue backslash, picking the right compressor for your granite shop can leave anyone unsure on such a big decision.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when comparing compressors:

1. Maintenance: Select an air compressor that is easy to maintain and access. Chicago Pneumatic compressors take the guessing out of what to do. With detailed manuals to know what is required at each hour interval of your machine.

2. Replacement parts: Don't pick a machine that you have to track filters and parts down for. With a dedicated network of distibutors, it's simple to order parts and keep your machine always working at it's optimal performance.

3. Noise: Yes, noise is something to consider when selecting your compressor. No one needs a nagging employee complaining about the noise of a machine. Ask about the decibel chart and where the compressor ranks.

4. Installation: You need to be thinking about where this compressor is going to go. A quiet screw compressor (QRS) should go inside and can be right beside your employees with minimal noise. Looking to put your compressor outside? Keep in mind, not all compressors are meant for outside. Weather is a huge component to harming your compressor, so make sure you ask if they have a "weather kit".

5. Certified Tank: What's that even mean you ask? OSHA requires the tank of your compressor to be certified with ASME. The ASME certification states the pressure vesssel has been manufactured to specific standards. It should also on the tag have a NB (National Board) number stamped into it.

6. Drains: Compressed air produces moisture in your machine. Drains are essential to draining that moisture out of your machine. Make sure you ask where the drains are located, are they automatic and how often you should be manually draining.