Lightweight Pneumatic Components

In the ongoing hunt to save weight, I’d love to hear what components teams have found that help save weight while still getting the job done.

Plastic air tanks have been a large improvement from the old clippard metal ones.
Miniature pressure regulators and pressure gauges from Automation Direct have saved us a good chunk of weight.

Have any teams found plastic cylinders? Lightweight solenoid valves, pressure releif valves, or vent valves?

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If you want to beat the AD regulator and gauge on weight and flow rate, and don’t mind metric tube sizes, I just posted this thread on Festo’s lightweight regulator this morning.

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We’ve found that this manifold (MRP-2CB) works well to hold the pressure relief valve and a gauge, while weighing very little.



I can’t find a good source, but we found a festo gauge that’s very lightweight (Festo 162836)

It’s got a 240psi range, so it’s a bit hard to read for after the regulator
The PN 8088991 gauge listed here by @Josh_Fox is much cheaper and likely lighter

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If you need alot of air, going to a big aluminum tanks can be useful.

this 2.5 gallon aluminum tank replaces sixteen clippards volume-wise
(577 cu vs. 35 cu) and the aluminum tank weighs 3.2 lbs. Clippards are about 0.7 each, so if you were planning five clippards, this is lighter. But takes a long time to fill first match. Then don’t let the air out of it and you’ll have no problem filling it between matches. Find all of your leaky pneumatic parts too.
Don’t want to be compressing the whole time between matches.

I’d be concerned about heat that close to the compressor and polypropylene.

??

We ran it all last season with a pneumatic-heavy robot and did not run into any issues. This year we’re getting some with an extra port for more options. Make sure you bring the datasheet to inspection, as some RI’s may not expect it to be rated for the pressure.

Nitra offeres some compact gauges, regulators, and valves. We’ve used these for all of last year as well
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Nitra Push-to-connect fittings
They have compact U bends available that are prebent and smaller than the kink minimum with FRC tubing.

I have not used these yet, but McMaster has these small parts as well. We ordered one of the relief valves for this year
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McM#: 38105k51
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McM#: 48435k71

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+1. We ran the Nitra gauges, regulators and valves. One thing to note is that we had a couple inspectors that weren’t huge fans of our regulator and gauge since it was hard to tell exactly what line it was on. It’s most likely partially our fault since the post-regulator gauge wasn’t super easy to see.

Depending how much air you need, it may be wise to run one single metal tank. We ran an ARB tank last year, which allowed us to attach the pressure switch directly on one end with hard fittings, and we added an analog sensor too, eliminating the need for a metal block just to add those in the system. The tank is NOT steel as the listing says, it is indeed aluminum.
I want to say this was a better volume to weight ratio than clippards, although it is still heavy. We also wanted to eliminate possible sources of leaking by running the least amount of fittings possible since that is where a lot of leaks occur. We also ran a solenoid manifold which may have been heavier than individual solenoids but also helped prevent leaks, and we thought was worth the weight.

AndyMark recently came out with a line of miniature pneumatic gauges and regulators to help teams save weight and space. We especially like the all in one options that eliminate additional leak points from your system.
They can be found at the top of this page: https://www.andymark.com/categories/pneumatics-fittings

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Nathan, do you all have CAD files for these you can post? We are looking at moving to these this season but we need the step files.

Also, our Spectrum Advanced Pneumatics Guide has some tips on making a pneumatics setup smaller and lighter.

Unfortunately not at this time, but we are working on it. In the meantime I can grab any specific dimensions you may be looking for.

Robot inspector here: it doesn’t matter if we dislike something if its legal. Some RIs get carried away with their duties.

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The weight you mention for the tank is what you weighed? Your info should be much more accurate than the product listing which has 4.9 lbs.

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I would love to see a brushless air compressor available that would have a built in motor controller that runs as soon as it receives power and stops when power is cut. Then we could use it with the PCM. Also would be powerful like the 1.2 CFM or something compressor but lower power draw and smaller/lighter.

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Can you explain what this is referring to?
“This is an all in one in-line pressure regulator and low pressure side gauge perfect for lightweight pneumatic systems where you need to mount a regulator somewhere downstream in the system.”
Can this be used as the main regulator (one that goes from 120 to 60)?

Yes, this can be the “main” regulator on your robot.

“low pressure side gauge” is referring to the fact that the gauge is measuring the pressure on the output of the regulator, not the input.
“downstream in the system” is referring to the fact that am-4118 has push to connects on both ends as compared to am-4119 where the input is threaded and can be used at the very beginning of your system on the hard fittings.

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