Part of the challenge of deciding which pneumatic valve to use in an application is simply sifting through all the available options at your disposal. Each valve comes with its own benefits and detractors – so it’s important to understand those differences and select the best possible valve for your application.
To help you find which ‘type’ is for you, we’ve put together a mini-roadmap of considerations to take into account as you make your decision. Hopefully, the answers to your question become more clearly defined as a result.
What kind of media?
The obvious first question is what kind of gas or liquid is this valve going to be dealing with and what kind of pressure will it be managing it at? Will it be compressed air or negative pressure? Will it be a gas or liquid? Are there any addition factors unique to this particular application? These questions need to be answered in order to find a valve that will work.
Method of valve actuation
There are a bunch of ways to open or close a valve – of which you’ll have to choose. There’s Solenoid, Manually operated, mechanically operated or remote air. All of these work differently, and it’s up to the configuration of your application as to what will work the best.
What’s the configuration?
Most pneumatic directional valves are either 2, 3 or 4 ways valves. 2 ways have inlet and outlets ports. 3 ways add a third port for venting. 4 ways add a second outlet and a second exhaust port to the 3-way function.
Otherwise known as flow capacity – it’s the fourth factor you’ll have to address when selecting a valve. Undersized valves will slow down fill time and cause inefficiency in a system and can sometimes become a liability to the overall productivity of the system. Getting the size correct is essential. Most suppliers will be able to provide you with the information on a valve’s flow capacity and should have plenty of reference material that can assist you.
Long story, short – don’t be afraid to work with your vendors to find the right sized valve – even if the sizing is unique to a specific application.
Once you’ve used these four tips, you should be left with a solid short list of applications that will work and the choice will be much easier. From there, it’s not a bad idea to let your vendor take the lead and help you cross your t’s and dot your I’s to make sure you have exactly what you’re looking for. Good luck and we’ll see you next month!