(888) 695-5364 5723 Weatherstone Way Johnsburg, IL 60051 Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm
(888) 695-5364 Milwaukee, WI Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm

How to Choose the Best Air Compressor for Manufacturing Applications

Finding the best air compressor for manufacturing applications is a critical decision for your organization. Compressed air is often referred to as the fourth utility, because of its pivotal role in the production process.

Manufacturers require a high-quality air compressor with the CFM rating to deliver either continuous or intermittent supply of clean, pressurized air. This is true, no matter what segment of manufacturing your company is in.

How Common Manufacturing Segments Use Compressed Air

  • Furniture – Compressed air is used for air piston powering, tool powering, spraying, clamping, and controls and actuators.
  • General – Compressed air has several general manufacturing applications, including tool powering and cleaning, controls and actuators, clamping and stamping.
  • Plastics – Compressed air is used for mold press powering, tool powering, clamping, forming, and injection molding.
  • Metalworking – Compressed air is used for assembly station powering, controls and actuators, injection molding, tool powering, and spraying.
  • Glass, stone and clay – Compressed air is often used for conveying, blending, mixing, glass blowing, cooling, and controls and actuators.
  • Food and Beverage – Compressed air is used in the dehydration, bottling, controls and actuators, conveying, spray coating, cleaning, and vacuum packaging processes.

These are just some of the manufacturing applications for compressed air. It can be used for any industrial application that requires continuous or intermittent air flow. Other common manufacturing segments that use compressed air include marble and granite, automotive, and electronics.

Types of Compressors to Look For

When you’re looking for the best air compressor for manufacturing, you have to keep in mind what type of compressor best fits your needs. Below are some of the types of compressors that are common in manufacturing applications.

Rotary Screw (fixed or variable speed)
Rotary Vane

Thinking About Your Compressed Air Needs

If you use air tools infrequently or maintain low horsepower requirements, reciprocating air compressors may be a better choice than rotary screw. With large horsepower requirements, rotary screw or rotary vane compressors are better suited.

The process of choosing the right compressor to fit your needs can be overwhelming. This formula can help you decide what works best for you.

Calculate Voltage and Phase Requirements

What do you use your air compressor for? It’s helpful to understand the voltage and phase usage requirements for the location where you plan on installing the compressor.

Calculate CFM Requirements

You’ll also want to know the required amount of air for your shop or application. This can be measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. This CFM determines how many tools can be run from the compressor at the same time, and how much power will be required to run them.

Add the air requirement needed for each tool that you frequently use, and divide by 35 percent, which is the utilization factor.

Calculate Pressure Needs

Examine the air pressure requirements for each tool that you will be using in your organization. The tool that has the highest air pressure needs will determine your minimum pressure needs. If that tool operates at 125 PSI, that would be the minimum need.

However, it may make more sense to go with a two-stage compressor that operates at 175 PSI. This would give you a compressor that stores more air, runs less often, and runs cooler.

It’s always a good idea to make sure that your facility can support your air pressure needs. It will be good to discuss the amperage rating, voltage requirements, and the phase. This way you can make sure that your facility is ready to support your air pressure needs.

Calculate the Cost of Ownership

To do this, you have to consider all the expenses that come with ownership. It’s critical to choose a model that delivers enough needed CFM for your organization, but not too much. Power costs, regular maintenance, and parts replacement all factor into total ownership.

There are many factors that go into finding the best air compressor for manufacturing. Here are a few to consider.


If you run multiple tools at once, you’ll need a higher CFM rating. Check the CFM requirements for your air tools to estimate what your total needs will be.


High horsepower doesn’t necessarily make for a better compressor. It may just equate to more power consumption that you don’t need. It can cost up to 8 times more to operate your compressed air system than an electrically driven device.

The only reason to buy a bigger compressor than you currently need is if you think you will grow into it. Otherwise it is money that you didn’t necessarily need to spend.

Energy Efficient

An air compressor is a significant investment for your business. You can reduce this cost by choosing a model that is energy efficient.

Maintenance Needs

An air compressor is a significant investment. The routine maintenance costs can add up. You’ll want to go with a compressor that has a reputation for being durable, with the lowest amount of maintenance needs.

Choosing the Right Air Compressor for Manufacturing

Finding the best air compressor for manufacturing can be a complex process. There are a lot of factors that go into selecting an optimal piece of equipment for your manufacturing center. The type of manufacturing work that you do can also come into play. It helps to have a basic understanding of the type of jobs that you’ll need a compressor for, as well as how to determine your needs.

If you have additional questions about your facility and your air compressor needs, contact Compressor Services today!

About the author