Also known as shock absorbers, these devices are commonly installed on a variety of vibratory or oscillating industrial equipment such as conveyors and mixers, but are usually associated with vehicle suspension systems and jet or plane landing gears.
Air shocks utilize a column of air contained within an elastomeric bellows or a metallic cylinder. When a shock or bump is encountered, the force presses on this air supply that then compresses, resisting and absorbing the jolt in order to protect adjacent equipment and provide a smooth operation.
While traditional mechanical springs are available for this purpose as well, air shocks offer improved performance in a compact and clean device. Air springs and shocks also offer better control of movement as the air compresses and decompresses at a near constant rate rather than snapping back into place as is often the case with metal coils.
Additionally, the amount of air in a given shock can be independently adjusted in order to compensate for sharp cornering and imbalanced loading, or simply to raise and lower a vehicle as needed for road conditions and passenger boarding. Air shocks thus provide enhanced performance and accessibility to a number of industries and individuals. Performance specifications include absorber stroke, compressed and extended lengths, type of pressurized gas, maximum force, maximum number of cycles per minute and load capacity.
As aforementioned, air shock absorbers are available in two main body types. Cylinder type air shocks utilize the same basic mechanics as all air or hydraulic cylinders. A main body houses a piston head that divides the chamber into two compartments. A rod is attached internally to the piston head and externally to the equipment, the wheel or vehicle frame for example.
This type of shock is most often made of durable materials such as aluminum, steel, stainless steel or thermoplastics. Alternatively, bellows air shocks use an elastomeric or rubber bag that is inflated. As both of these gas spring designs efficiently absorb and dissipate shocks, the body type chosen depends largely on the intended use as both have advantages and disadvantages in specific environments.
Each configuration requires a source of compressed air that is also suited to the environmental conditions that the shock will encounter as this will have a tremendous effect. Temperature, for example, is a key consideration as increases or decreases can significantly alter the pressurization of the shock and therefore impede functionality.