Ask the Expert: Pneumatic or Electric Actuation: Which is Better?

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Compressed Air and Actuation Technologies

Bryan Kilgore, ERS, for Zondits

Pneumatic actuators have had widespread use in the industrial space, particularly the food packaging industry. Pneumatic actuators offer low upfront costs for mechanical actuation. Electric actuators, however, are more energy efficient and are often seen as the more economical option when considering long-term energy costs.

The increasing energy costs with pneumatic actuation should not be solely placed on the actuator technology itself. Instead, leaks in the compressed air piping throughout a facility could be leading to the poor utilization of the compressed air generated. That is not to say pneumatic actuation is the right choice for every situation; there are pros and cons to each technology.

Pneumatic Actuators

actuation technology

Electric Actuators

actuation technology

More information on pneumatic and electric actuation technologies can be found here.

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