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Hydraulics use fluid power. Pneumatics use compressible gas
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Pneumatic & Hydraulic

Hydraulics use fluid power. Pneumatics use compressible gas

Pneumatics provides fluid power by means of pressurised air or gases. Hydraulics provides fluid power by means of pressurised liquids, such as oil or water. In choosing one of the two, cost-effectiveness, materials to be moved, availability of resources and space are all factors to be considered.

The biggest difference between the two systems is what substance you use to operate them. Pneumatics uses gases, and hydraulics uses liquids. Both have many practical applications, and it is up to the design team and engineers making the machines as to which system is will be best.

Hydraulics and pneumatics are both examples of fluid power. The difference lies in the fluid used and how those fluids are used. Only fluid power systems are capable of providing constant force or torque despite speed changes.

What does a hydraulic system do?

Instead of air, machines that use hydraulics rely on mostly incompressible liquid material under pressure to lift, hold and move goods. Examples include hydraulic or mineral oil, or water, just to name a few.


  • Moves heavier loads with greater force than mechanical, electrical or pneumatic fluid power systems
  • Ease and accuracy of controlling the system by levers and push buttons
  • Generates large amounts of power
  • Uses fewer moving parts than some mechanical and electrical systems, which makes it more durable and less prone to break down

What does a pneumatic system do?

Pneumatic machinery and equipment use pressurised gasses, such as air, for moving and cooling applications. Pneumatic fluid power systems compress air, so movement is not instantaneous, as it is with hydraulics.


  • More cost effective than hydraulics – air is free
  • Pneumatic safety – system can be used in inflammable environments and does not
  • More power in a smaller and lighter unit compared to most other technology systems
  • Cleaner technology
  • Fluid used absorbs excessive force, which means fewer threats of damage to equipment

Essentially, pneumatics puts compressed air to practical use by moving applications like the tools and machinery used in the engineering, manufacturing and construction industries. Using energy made from the controlled release of compressed air and turning it into movement.

Pneumatic device, any of various tools and instruments that generate and utilize compressed air. Examples include rock drills, pavement breakers, riveters, forging presses, paint sprayers, blast cleaners, and atomizers. Compressed-air power is flexible, economic, and safe.

Equipment such as cranes, forklifts, jacks, pumps and fall arrest safety harnesses use hydraulics to lift and lower objects. Airplanes. They use hydraulic mechanisms to operate their control panels.

There are numerous applications for hydraulics systems. Hydraulics are used extensively in the automotive industry for everything from braking systems to power steering. However, they are also used in construction equipment, manufacturing machinery and aircraft.

Pneumatics are cheaper than hydraulic systems because air is inexpensive, plentiful, easy to obtain, and store. Pneumatic systems generally have long operating lives and require little maintenance because gas is compressible, and the equipment is less subject to shock damage

Pneumatic systems are used in all types of assembly and fabrication applications. They can be installed to move items on assembly lines and in maintenance facilities to move items. Pneumatics can also be used with heavy machinery like drills, due to the repetitive action that pneumatics supply.

Examples of pneumatic systems and components

  • Air brakes on buses and trucks.
  • Air brakes on trains.
  • Air compressors.
  • Air engines for pneumatically powered vehicles.
  • Barostat systems used in neurogastroenterology and for researching electricity.
  • Cable jetting, a way to install cables in ducts.
  • Dental drill.