Compressed air is very much taken for granted in the 21st century; when you have your tyres changed, that rattle is the air powered tool that takes off the wheel nuts, we repair the road with pneumatic tools and the compressor is a crucial piece of equipment for many industries. Let’s take a look at the history of using air to complete a mechanical process, which might surprise you.
Very First Air Compressor
It wasn’t a machine; rather human beings who used their lungs to fuel early metal furnaces, indeed, if we go further back in time to the Stone Age, man blew on sparks to ignite fire, which is a basic form of air compression. The Middle Ages saw the invention of the bellows, which were the first mechanical forms of air compressor, using animal skin, they created a bag that can be filled and expelled into the fire, giving the required heat to work the metal. The Pre-Industrial Revolution did see systems that forced air down deep mines, in order for the workers to extract their treasure, with early versions powered by steam.
Let’s not forget the ethnic tribes around the world that mastered the blowpipe, which delivers a deadly poisoned dart with a mere puff! This is another form of compressed air use that early humans discovered – they perfected the art of firing a projectile through a thin tube, with just the right technique to force the dart on its way through the air. They also discovered that certain frogs were highly toxic and began to use their poison to tip the darts and that enabled them to down larger prey and animals in trees. In some parts of the Amazon, blow-darts are still used by the indigenous people and it is a very effective weapon.
Woodwind Musical Instruments
There is a section of musical instruments that require compressed air; all woodwind instruments work on this principle. The player has to master the amount of air and over time, will become synched with their instrument and can create the most amazing sounds!
The Industrial Revolution
This was the time when the idea of using forced air to power machinery really took off and in the 18th century, inventors were hard at work creating machines that ran on compressed air. Some historians would say that air compression was a natural follow-on from steam and that does seem to be the case; compressing air is much easier than creating the heat required to turn water into vapour and so the concept of using compressed air to drive machinery was firmly embedded into industry.
Post War Europe
Air compressors were to be found in every engineering shop, vehicle repair garage and factory, with two main types of compressor; the piston and the rotary compressor. The piston compressor still is very popular, using a single or double piston to suck and force air into a holding chamber, ready for use on demand. This equipment has minimal components and is very easy to maintain, making it very popular, while the latest units are almost silent and are vibration-free.
Modern Air Compressors
The latest generation of compressed air filters are extremely efficient and with an air dryer from Domnick Hunter, you get higher quality air, which is often required in the industry. Choosing a compressor in this day and age is a complex issue and you should consult with an established air compressor supplier in order to make the right choices.
Small builders use compressed air to power nail-guns and some also have screwdrivers that use compressed air. In places like Alaska and Northern Canada, where remote communities have no grid electricity, you will see many that rely heavily on compressed air. Portable compressors are ideal for construction work and when compared to manual tools, the work is completed in half the time and many sectors prefer to use compressed air as opposed to any other form of energy. If you are thinking about installing solar panels in your home, click here.
Using a state-of-the-art airbrush, a skilled auto sprayer can apply the paint perfectly using compressed air and this has been the way of things for many years; spray robots may have taken over, but they are far more accurate than a human and they never get tired, repeating identical movements over and over again.
Here are details on a project in Thailand called the ESCO Project, which developed compressed air systems. There will always be a place for compressed air within industry, although the methods to produce the compressed air will likely continue to be refined and improved.
If you require air compressors, talk to a leading Thai supplier of the latest generation of air compressors and they can help you make the right choices.