Properly Adjusted Air Cushion Solution Improves Actuator Productivity, Machine Reliability and Saves Money – Part Three

“A common goal throughout the business world is to increase productivity while reducing costs. This certainly applies to machine design, which means achieving the fastest possible cycle times. For pneumatic systems, this often requires running actuators as fast as possible without introducing excessive shock loads to the system.” This is the third post in series of blogs from Michael Guelker, product manager – pneumatic actuators, with Festo USA. 

Adjustable cushioning (right picture)Adjustable cushinioning

The throttling port (2) is adjustable, but constant along the whole length of the cushioning piston and has to be adjusted in accordance to the cylinder speed (1). For all different adjustments the cushioning length is constant.

Self-adjusting cushioning (top picture)

The throttle cross section (3) diminishes along the cushioning piston. The cushioning piston begins to work if the throttle cross section at the cushioning piston is smaller than the throttle cross section (1) at the speed control valve. That means that the effective cushioning length depends on the cylinder speed. Higher speed means higher kinetic energy and a longer cushioning length.

Principle of Self-Adjusting Air Cushion (left picture)

self adjusting air cushionThe throttle cross section at the beginning (1) defines the maximum allowable speed of the cylinder. It has to be as big as possible.   Because the cushioning pistons are very thin, rectangular cross sections are the best solution. They reach a big volume with a small depth.  The throttle cross section at the end of the cushioning (2) defines the minimum allowable speed where a cushioning effect can be reached. This throttle cross section has to be as small as possible. Cross sections with the shape of a V are the best solution, because they can be manufactured deeper.

In next week’s blog Mr. Guelker will finish his discussion and summarize the advantages and disadvantages of using air cushions.

If you would like to see more articles like the ones appearing in this series please email me at


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

My company is a…

Recent Posts

The 2023 Annual Conference – Topical and Timely for Members and Guests

2023 NFPA Annual ConferenceFebruary 14-16, 2023Ojai, CARegistration Now Open The 2023 Annual Conference offers a wide-variety of expert speakers that relate to both industry professionals and their spouse/guest. This year we have some exciting new faces like Lifetime Channels’ communication and relatability expert, Rachel DeAlto, who’s media reel can be viewed on her website. However,…

Read More

Track Your Markets with NFPA’s Econ and Market Indicators (EMI) Report

NFPA’s Customer Market File and Trends in Capacity Utilization reports have been combined to create Econ and Market Indicators (EMI). This report contains public data in the forms of shipments, orders, industrial production, capacity utilization, and producer price indexes for a variety of popular fluid power customer markets. The EMI can be downloaded as an…

Read More

Murray State University is Officially an NFPA Power Partner

NFPA’s Power Partner Program showcases universities that provide a high level of fluid power education as well as those who participate in each of our Fluid Power Programs. Our Power Partner universities prepare their students to graduate with the necessary skills and experience ready to join the fluid power industry. To officially welcome Murray State…

Read More