Pneumatics is the transmission of energy using a gas. One property of gasses is that they equalize. They want to go from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure until they disperse evenly. This property of gasses, allows us to use them to do work performing many light-duty, mechanical functions. Brown Engineering can help you find the right pneumatic part to keep your pneumatic system at peak performance, or help you design a system that best fits your needs. A typical pneumatic system involves the following components:

  • Air Preparation Equipment/FRL’s
  • Air Preparation Equipment Photo Air leaving a compressor is hot, dirty, and wet—which can damage and shorten the life of downstream equipment, such as valves and cylinders. Before air can be used it needs to be filtered, regulated and lubricated. The staff at Brown Engineering has the knowledge and the experience to help you to select the perfect FRL for your system!

    An air line filter cleans compressed air. It strains the air and traps solid particles (dust, dirt, rust) and separates liquids (water, oil) entrained in the compressed air. Filters are installed in the air line upstream of regulators, lubricators, directional control valves, and air driven devices such as cylinders and air motors.

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    Filters remove contaminants from pneumatic systems, preventing damage to equipment and reducing production losses due to contaminant related downtime. Downtime in an industrial plant is expensive; often it is the result of a contaminated and poorly maintained compressed air system. Selecting the proper size of filter for any application should be done by determining the maximum allowable pressure drop, which can be caused by the filter. The pressure drop can be determined by referring to flow curves provided by the manufacturer.

    3 Types of Filters:

    • General purpose-removes water and particles
    • Coalescing-removes oil
    • Vapor removal -removes oil vapor and odors

    Regulators reduce and control fluid pressure in compressed air systems. Regulators are also frequently referred to as PRVs (pressure reducing valves). Optimally, a pressure regulator maintains a constant output pressure regardless of variations in the input pressure and downstream flow requirements. In practice, output pressure is influenced to some degree by variations in primary pressure and flow. Pressure regulators are used to control pressure to: air tools, impact wrenches, blow guns, air gauging equipment, air cylinders, air bearings, air motors, spraying devices, fluidic systems, air logic valves, aerosol lubrication systems and most other fluid power applications.

    Regulators have a control spring which acts on a diaphragm to regulate the air pressure. The rating of this control spring determines the pressure adjustment range of the regulator. General purpose regulators are available in relieving or non-relieving types. Relieving regulators can be adjusted from a high pressure to a low pressure. Even in a dead end situation, relieving regulators will allow the excess downstream pressure to be exhausted. This causes a loud hissing sound which is perfectly normal. Non-relieving regulators, when similarly adjusted, will not allow the downstream pressure to escape. The trapped air will need to be released in some other way, e.g. by operating a downstream valve.

    Downstream equipment flow and pressure requirements must be determined to properly size the correct regulator for the application. Manufacturers offer flow characteristics charts on their products to help chose the correct regulator.

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    Lubricators add controlled quantities of oil into a compressed air system to reduce the friction of moving components. Most air tools, cylinders, valves, air motors, and other air driven equipment require lubrication to extend their useful life. The use of an airline lubricator solves the problems of too much or too little lubrication that arise with conventional lubrication methods such as a grease gun or oil. Once the lubricator is adjusted, an accurately metered quantity of lubricant is supplied to the air operated equipment and the only maintenance required is a periodic refill of the lubricator reservoir. Adding lubrication to a system also “washes away” compressor oils that travel through the system in vapor form. Mineral oils added to the system prevent synthetic compressor oil build-up on system components. When lubricators are not used in a system, a coalescing filter should be installed to remove compressor oil aerosols.

    Two types of airline lubricator:

    • Oil-Fog for heavy applications such as single tools, cylinders and valves
    • Micro-Fog for multiple applications, several cylinders or valves

    Lubricators are sized by downstream flow requirements. An analysis of air flow use must be made. After determining how much air flow is needed, a lubricator can be chosen. Manufacturers’ curves will be similar to the one shown in the example above.

  • Pneumatic Valves
  • valve photoUsing the right pneumatic valves is essential for any project if you want to make it completely functioning. Pneumatic valves are metal hollows that are filled with compressed air. They are the one component that is responsible for controlling pressure, rate and the amount of air when it passes through the pneumatic system. Valves control the flow of air through the system and also regulate the amount and direction of the air pressure and air. Here are some tips on how to select the right valve…

    • First decide if you want to regulate the flow direction or flow speed. If you want to control the flow of direction you need a directional control valve that controls the air flow direction or inhibits the flow altogether. Whereas, if you need to regulate the speed, you need a proportional valve that controls the flow rate at which air flows down a given path.
    • Check out how many inputs and outputs that your directional valves have. Make a total of them that gives you an idea of how many openings you need to have. Normally there are three openings in common directional valves one for input and two for outputs. One side would extend the piston the other would contract it.
    • You may have an application that needs more switching positions (other than expanding and contracting the piston) but don’t forget the number of switching positions only controls the number of options available for paths the air can travel, it does not control the flow. For controlling the flow, you will then need another valve.
    • In case you need more switching valves, you would select the valve that could handle the flow control in another way.
    • Determine the valve’s inside pressure and make sure the selected valve can handle the pressure correctly. A valve that cannot handle the pressure will break quickly and may become an expensive mistake.
  • Actuators & Cylinders
  • actuators & cylinders photo

    Many industrial applications require linear motion during their operating sequence. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to accomplish this is with a pneumatic actuator, often referred to as an air cylinder. An actuator is a device that translates a source of static power into a useful output motion. It can also be used to apply a force. Actuators are typically mechanical devices that take energy and converts it into some kind of motion. That motion can be in any form, such as blocking, clamping, or ejecting.

    There are many styles of pneumatic actuators including diaphragm cylinders, rodless cylinders, telescoping cylinders and through-rod cylinders.

    The most popular style of pneumatic actuator consists of a piston and rod moving inside a closed cylinder. This actuator style can be sub-divided into two types based on the operating principle: single acting and double acting.

    Single-acting cylinders use one air port to allow compressed air to enter the cylinder to move the piston to the desired position, as well as an internal spring to return the piston to the home position when the air pressure is removed.

    Double-acting cylinders have an air port at each end and move the piston forward and back by alternating the port that receives the high pressure air.

    In a typical application, the actuator body is connected to a support frame and the end of the rod is connected to a machine element that is to be moved. An on-off control valve is used to direct compressed air into the Extend port while opening the Retract port to atmosphere. The difference in pressure on the two sides of the piston results in a force equal to the pressure differential multiplied by the surface area of the piston.

    When selecting an air cylinder, it is important to properly match the cylinder to the application, particularly in terms of required force. The theoretical force available in the actuator is the piston surface area multiplied by the supplied air pressure. Spring force must be subtracted from this value for single acting cylinders. The actual force applied to the load will be 3 to 20% less due to pressure losses in the system.

  • Tube, Fittings & Accessories
  • tubing & fittings photoBrown Engineering provides a perfectly fitting and cost-efficient installation solution for every task We offers many lines of couplers, hoses, tubes, and fittings that either meet or exceed industrial specified requirements. Let our experts help you select the right one for your needs.


    tubing & fittings photoSeals

    Mechanical devices used in static or dynamic applications to separate two liquids or gasses or prevent the ingress of contamination.

  • Vacuum Products
  • Brown Engineering can provide you with access to many pneumatic vacuum product lines. We provide customers with a comprehensive range of vacuum components for all types of markets and applications. The product range includes a large selection of vacuum generators (ejector & venturi and electric vacuum pumps), suction cups, mounting elements, spring plungers, sensors & switches, filters, and various accessories.

    Roller Coaster PhotoFun Fact

    Ctesibius of Alexandria was a Greek physicist and inventor. The discovery of the elasticity of air is attributed to him, as is the invention of several devices using compressed air, including force pumps and an air-powered catapult. Ctesibius’ writings have not survived, and his inventions are known only from references to them by Vitruvius and Hero of Alexandria, but he laid the foundations for the engineering tradition and is considered the father of pneumatics. Compress-air catapults are used in many applications today, for example this Japanese roller coaster uses one to launch the coaster up this steep incline in the track!


    Hydraulics PhotoHydraulics deals with the mechanical properties of liquids or fluids. At a very basic level, hydraulics is the liquid version of pneumatics. In fluid power, hydraulics are used for the generation, control, and transmission of power by the use of pressurized liquids. From the hydraulic fluids themselves to all the parts of hydraulic systems, Brown Engineering has everything necessary to create or repair the system you need. Some common applications of hydraulics used by our customers include: machine tools, automation, meat-processing machinery, rolling mill machinery, material handling, agricultural equipment, paper mill machinery, industrial processing, and construction equipment.

    Roman Aqueduct Photo

      FUN FACT!

    Did you know that in Ancient Rome, many different hydraulic applications were developed, including public water supplies? Innumerable aqueducts were powered using watermills and hydraulic mining. The Romans were also among the first to make use of the siphon to carry water across valleys.

  • Hose, Fittings & Accessories
  • Selecting the right hose and fittings combination usually belongs to the last steps in the design of a hydraulic system and its importance is often overlooked and underestimated. The right hose and fitting combination is however, vital for the overall functionality and long term service life of the complete system. Find all the hose, fittings, and accessories you need at Brown Engineering.


    Hydraulic Hose, Fittings & Accessories PhotoThe combination of a hose and hose fitting(s) to make a hose assembly, is a critical process that needs to be carried out by professionally trained personnel who follow strict assembly instructions. Improperly assembled hose fittings can separate from the hose and may cause serious injury or property damage from whipping hose, or from fire or explosion of vapor expelled from the hose. The hose assembly must be operated within specific limits to maximize a safe and long term service life.

    Some things to take into account when compiling a hose assembly

    • Working Pressure- Hose and fitting selection must be made so that the published maximum recommended working pressure of the Hose and fitting are equal to, or greater than the maximum system pressure.
    • Surge pressures or peak transient pressures in the system must be below the maximum working pressure of the hose assembly. Surge pressures and peak pressures can usually only be determined by sensitive electrical instrumentation that measures and indicates pressures at millisecond intervals
    • Mechanical pressure gauges indicate only average pressures and cannot be used to determine surge pressures or peak transient pressures. Published burst pressure ratings for hose are for manufacturing test purposes only – burst pressure should never play a role in the selection of a hose
    • Fluid Compatibility: The hose assembly (hose inner tube, hose outer cover and hose fittings) must be chemically compatible to both the fluid being conveyed by the hose as well as the medium surrounding it. (the chemical resistance table contained in the catalogue, indicates only the resistance of the hose inner tube to the respective fluid)
    • Temperature Range: In order not to negatively affect the properties of the rubber hoses it should be made certain that fluid and ambient temperatures, both steady and transient, do not exceed the limitations of the hose. Temperatures below and above the recommended limit will degrade the hose and failure may occur and release fluid. The mechanical properties of the hose are also influenced by low or high temperatures and should be considered when designing the system
  • Hydraulic Cylinders
  • Hydraulic Cylinder PhotoA Hydraulic cylinder (also called a linear hydraulic motor) is a mechanical actuator that is used to give a unidirectional force through a unidirectional stroke. In other words, a hydraulic cylinder converts the energy stored in the hydraulic fluid into a force used to move the cylinder in a linear direction. It has many applications, notably in construction equipment, vehicles, and manufacturing machinery. There are various components that form hydraulic cylinders. These include the cylinder bottom, cylinder bottom connection, cylinder barrel, cylinder head, piston, piston rod, and the piston rod connection. Some of hydraulic cylinders may also have feet used to mount the barrels.

    Here’s some things to consider to help you select the right cylinder for your project:

    • Bore Diameter: It is the diameter of the cylinder bore.
    • Maximum operating pressure: The maximum working pressure a cylinder can carry is known as maximum operating pressure.
    • Rod Diameter: It is the diameter of the piston or the rod that are used in hydraulic cylinders.
    • Stroke: The distance traveled by a piston in a hydraulic cylinder is known as stroke. The length of a stroke could be several feet, or a fraction of an inch.
    • Type Of Cylinder: The different types of cylinders are tie-rod cylinder, ram cylinder and welded cylinder.

    Tie-rod cylinder: These types of hydraulic cylinders make use of a single or multiple tie-rods to provide extra stability to the cylinder.   The tie-rods are mostly installed on the exterior diameter of the cylinder. The tie-rods carry most of the load in this type of hydraulic cylinder.

    Welded cylinder: There are heavy-duty welded cylinders used to balance the cylinder. The welded cylinders are smooth hydraulic cylinders.

    Ram cylinders: As the name suggests, this cylinder acts as a ram.   The cross-section of the moving components is half of the cross-section area of the piston rod. These hydraulic ram cylinders are not used to push and are mostly used to pull. The ram cylinder is a hydraulic cylinder that is used in applications of high pressure.


    • Single Acting Cylinders: In single acting cylinders the fluid is pressurized from only one side of the cylinder during both the expansion as well as the retraction process. A spring or an external load is used to return the cylinder top to its original position when pressure of the fluid is cut off.
    • Double Acting Cylinders: In double acting cylinders, the pressure from the fluid is applied in both the directions. Single cylinders that consist of springs are not used in large stroke applications because there are inherent mechanical problems associated with the spring. The double acting rods could be of two types:  Single rod ended AND Double rod ended.


    • Plunger Cylinders-These cylinders are also known as Ram cylinders. These types of hydraulic cylinders are placed in an upright position. This is done so that once the supply of the fluid is stopped, the weight on the cylinder will make it return to its original position. The cylinders used in automobile service centers are a good example of the plunger cylinders.
    • Telescoping Cylinders-Telescopic cylinders are also known as multistage hydraulic cylinders. These cylinders have at the most six stages. These are specially used in applications where there is less area. Telescopic cylinders can either be single action or double action. The stroke of these cylinders is long and is used in applications such as cranes and forklifts, etc.
    • Cable Cylinders-The cable cylinders can either be hydraulic or pneumatic powered cylinders that are of the double acting type. These cylinders have long strokes and produce moderate force. The cable cylinders can be operated in limited space.
    • Diaphragm Cylinders-Diaphragm cylinders are of two types i.e. flat diaphragm and rolling diaphragm. These cylinders have zero leak around the piston.
  • Power Units
  • Hydraulic Power Unit PhotoHydraulic Power Units are the main driving components of hydraulic systems. Consisting mainly of a motor, a reservoir and a hydraulic pump, these units can generate a tremendous amount of power to drive most any kind of hydraulic ram. Hydraulic Power Units are based on Pascal’s law of physics, drawing their power from ratios of area and pressure. Hydraulic Power Units can generally be used in any application that requires heavy and systematic lifting or other requirements for the repeated use of powerful and directional force.


    Selection of the proper components for a hydraulic system is quite simple when you use the accompanying table and chart. Here is an example to illustrate their use. Assume your requirements are 20,000 bls. Of force, 28” stroke, and 7.5 seconds for full cylinder extension.

    • The table below shows a 3: diameter cylinder will develop 21,204 lbs. of force with 3000 psi pressure
    • A line has been drawn on the chart from 3” diameter through 28” stroke
    • By continuing this line, it intersects 200 cubic inch displacement
    • Another line drawn from 200 cubic inches through 7.5 seconds intersects 7 GPM

    So, using this example, the chart and table show that your components should be a 3” diameter 3000 psi cylinder and a hydraulic power unit with approximately 7 GPM and 3000 psi rating.

    Theoretical horsepower for these values would be 12.25 hp. However, since most applications usually require maximum GPM and pressure for only a very short portion of each cycle, the electric motor of the hydraulic power unit will usually be considerably smaller (one half or less.)

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  • Hydraulic Valves
  • Hydraulic Valve PhotoA hydraulic valve properly directs the flow of a liquid medium, usually oil, through your hydraulic system. The direction of the oil flow is determined by the position of a spool. A hydraulic system can only function – as per requirements – by using valves. Basic valve types include manually operated, air or solenoid operated and pilot operated.


    Here’s how to select the right valve for your project:


    STEP 1

    Select the hydraulic cylinder that best suits the application.

    STEP 2

    Select the series of hydraulic pump with adequate oil output and reservoir capacity to power cylinder.

    STEP 3

    Select pump within series with the valve option that best matches cylinder, pump and application.


    • Will the valve be used with single or double-acting cylinder?
    • Will the valve be mounted on the pump, away from the pump or directly into the hydraulic lines?
    • Will the valve be manually operated?
    • Is independent control of multiple cylinders, or hydraulic tools preferred?
    • What directional control and pressure control valve functions are needed for the application?


    • Load Lowering Valve – Provides precision metering for controlled return of the cylinder piston.
    • Sequence Valve – Used when a cylinder in a multiple cylinder application must advance before any other.
    • Pressure Reducing Valve – Permits independent pressure control to two or more clamping systems operated by a single power source.
    • Check Valve – Permits flow of hydraulic oil in one direction only.
    • Pressure Relief Valve – Used at remote location in a hydraulic circuit where maximum pressure requirements are less than the setting of the basic overload valve in the pump. Protects a hydraulic system against over pressurization.
    • Metering Valve – Restricts surges by restricting flow to a certain level; when flow subsides, valve reopens automatically. For systems using large cylinders or extended lengths of hose.
    • Pressure Regulator Valve – Permits external adjustment of operating pressures at various values below the internal relief valve setting of the pump.
  • Pumps
  • Hydraulic Pump PhotoA hydraulic pump is a mechanical device that is used to convert mechanical power into hydraulic energy. The load that is responsible for the pressure is overcome with this device by creating sufficient power and generating a flow. A hydraulic pump has two functions to perform during operation: allowing atmospheric pressure to push liquid into the inlet line from the reservoir to the pump by the mechanical action creating vacuum at the pump, and supplying liquid to the pump outlet and then forcing it into the hydraulic system.

    A hydraulic pump is one of the main components used in manufacturing, construction, and machining equipment. It affects the machineries precision, productivity, efficiency and basically the overall system performance.


    • Positive-displacement
    • Non-positive-displacement

    When considering operational specifications for pumps, there are two that are most important, the pump type, and the pump stage. The types of hydraulic pumps range from radial piston, axial piston, gears- internal or external, and vane. Let the experts at Brown Engineering help you find the perfect pump for your hydraulic system!