Chances are, you’ve probably heard about oil-free air compressors over the last couple of years as they’ve become a staple in the pharmaceutical, laboratory, and electronic industries. There are tangible benefits that oil-free compressors offer over traditional systems, and they are incredibly useful for sensitive applications where contaminates must be kept to a minimum.
However, a lot of false information is spread, leading people to believe that oil-free compressors are the solution to every single problem within their industry. In this article, we’ll examine the differences between traditional and oil-free compressors, the benefits of oil-free compressors, and some common myths.
Lubricated Systems vs. Oil-Free
For air compressors to do their job, an internal piston draws in air from the inside which is then compressed inside the storage tank. For the piston to move and efficiently compress the chamber, it needs some form of lubrication.
This is the primary distinction between the two compressor types; oil air compressors will need to lubricated periodically and maintained to ensure oil-levels are optimal. Oil-free compressors come from the manufacturer pre-lubricated, commonly with a Teflon coating on the cylinder.
Benefits of Oil-Free Compressors
Because lubrication is not necessary for the internal chamber, users will spend less time maintaining the compressor over time although some other functions of the compressor may need to be addressed periodically.
Most commonly, air is contaminated by either water or oil. By removing the oil from the internal compression tank, the chances of contamination drop significantly. Oil-free compressors can’t eliminate all contaminants, and a purification system is still advised.
Savings on Oil and Energy
While not 100% environmentally-friendly, oil-free compressors are generally more economical that lubricated systems because the user doesn’t need to fill the unit with oil as often. Less oil use will result in cost-saving benefits along with an eco-friendlier approach.
They Don’t Use Any Oil
The name may seem misleading, but oil-free compressors still use oil as lubrication for most of the moving parts and to cool down the unit. “Oil-free” refers specifically to the compression chamber, not the entire system.
The Air is 100% Contaminant-Free
While oil-free compressors will significantly reduce the number of contaminants in the air supply, there are still ways for the air to become contaminated. This occurs most often from the atmospheric air drawn into the intake that is already contaminated by dust and oil vapors floating around.
Hopefully, that clears up some of your questions and the common misconceptions floating around about oil-free air compressors. They are excellent systems, and if used in the right setting, can provide tremendous benefits for your operation.