Industrial Air Compressor Types

Which compressor type is best for your application?

AIRPLUS Industrial design, build & sell or leases compressed air systems using screw, piston or scroll types of compressors. Learn about the capabilities & drawbacks of each.

Industrial Air Compressor Types

Air compressors have a variety of uses in the industrial sector. Facilities all over the world have long relied on it for safe, energy-efficient, and effective outputs.

Custom compressed air system | AIRPLUS Industrial
Custom built compressed air system

Industrial air compressors are made in several different types with variations available with each type. 

Customized Systems

AIRPLUS Industrial can design and build a compressed air system to meet your unique application’s requirements.

Purchase or Lease

We offer these systems for outright purchase for clients who require their own system for continuous use or we customize and lease systems to clients who need specifications for a single project for a limited time.

Learn more about leasing a compressor system here

Types of Air Compressors We Use

We can design and build industrial compressed air systems around 3 main types of air compressors. Those being:

  • Screw type Compressors
  • Piston type compressors
  • Scroll type compressors
  • Oil-less (Oil-free) compressors

Air Compressor Service

AIRPLUS Industrial services virtually all brands and types of air compressors.

Industrial Air Compressor Types

Screw Compressors

Screw compressors provide the solution when a constant demand for air is required. Using a rotary screw element, air is efficiently compressed in a stable flow. We offer two types: variable speed drive and fixed speed drive screw compressors.

Screw type air compressor | AIRPLUS Industrial
Screw type air compressor

Many factories and industries rely on air compressors for material handling, for spray painting and for use with machine tools. Rotary screw air compressors are the most popular type for these jobs; mainly because they can provide the following benefits:

  • Safe and Convenient – Rotary screw air compressors are incredibly convenient, given that they deliver air continuously for the required purposes. They are also safe, and cases of accidents rare.
  • Functions at extreme weather conditions – Rotary screw compressors can work at high or temperature conditions.
  • They are designed to run heavy equipment and tools  – with high air flow rates these compressors can power such equipment effectively.
  • Easily maintained – with fewer parts that require maintenance, some rotary screw compressors have up to 70% fewer parts, which in turn lowers maintenance costs.
  • They run quietly despite their massive air flow – Rotary screw compressors are generally quiet performers, with many of them having noise dampening technologies. 
  • Energy efficient and generate less heat than other air compressors.
  • Consume less oil than other oil flooded air compressors. In addition, they have minimum oil carryovers.
  • Long lasting – designed to serve for many years, with little or no capacity reduction.

Screw Compressor Brands We Offer

Piston Compressors

Piston compressors, also known as reciprocating compressors, are often found in workshops and small factories where the air-demand is not too high or needed continuously. It will just start automatically when the pressure drops below the set point and will stop again when the pressure reaches its maximum set point.

DV Systems heavy-duty piston air compressor | AIRPLUS Industrial
Heavy-duty piston air compressor

A reciprocating air compressor has more moving parts than a rotary screw compressor, and these parts are usually lubricated with oil for smoother movement.

These types of air compressors work via a piston inside a cylinder, which compresses and displaces the air to build pressure. Reciprocating compressors can come in single or multi-stage variations, which affects the pressure ranges they can achieve.

The advantages of Piston Compressors are:

  • Relatively Low Maintenance Cost
  • Ability to have high pressure and high power
  • Can be located close to point‐of‐use avoiding lengthy piping runs and pressure drops
  • Durable, efficient and affordable
  • Significant product life

Piston Compressor Brands We Offer

Everyday Applications
Heavy Duty Applications
High-Pressure Applications

Scroll Compressors

Scroll compressors, also known as a spiral compressors or a scroll pumps, are a type of positive-displacement compressor that works by internal compression of air or gas. Scroll compressors can be oil-lubricated or oil-free, the latter being best suited for applications where there is a need for clean, dry air quality without any oil contamination in the compression chamber.

Powerex scroll STS air compressor | AIRPLUS Industrial
Scroll STS air compressor

A scroll compressor consists of two spiral-shaped scroll elements that are bolted together: a stationary scroll and an orbiting scroll driven by a motor. The scrolls oscillate in continuous motion without any metal-to-metal contact while the air is compressed into increasingly smaller volumes in crescent-shaped air pockets. 

Choosing a Scroll Compressor

Choosing a scroll compressor ultimately depends on the size, flow and quality requirements of your application. Before choosing any type of compressor, it is important to figure out the correct size and technology for your compressed air needs, starting with whether you need an oil-free or lubricated compressor. For higher capacity and flow, it is possible to choose units with two or four scroll compressor elements in one housing. However, it may be more economical in some cases to go for a single large compressor rather than teaming up several scroll compressors to produce sufficient flow. 

Advantages of a Scroll Compressor

The scroll compressor has many advantages due to its simplified yet efficient design.

  • fewer components than reciprocating compressors
  • high level of operational reliability
  • meets all the basic requirements of a general-purpose compressor.
  • can be oil-free

Scroll Compressor Brands We Offer

Oil-less (Oil-Free) Compressors

Oil-free air is used in all kinds of industries where air quality is paramount for the production process and end product. These applications include:

  • food and beverage processing
  • pharmaceutical industry (manufacturing and packaging)
  • waste-water treatment
  • chemical and petrochemical processing
  • semiconductor and electronics manufacturing
  • the medical sector
  • automotive paint spraying
  • textile manufacturing 

Contamination by even the smallest quantities of oil can result in costly production downtime and product spoilage.. Therefore, for compressed air applications within these industries, a technology excluding any risk of contamination is an absolute requirement. Their point of reference is the ISO 8573-1 (2010) certification, in which Class Zero represents the best air quality possible. It is the only way to ensure oil-free air for your critical processes and with it, peace of mind.

Compressor Types

Oil-less compressors come in 2 varieties:

  • Reciprocating Piston compressor
  • Scroll compressor


Chicago Pneumatics SPR 20 oil-free scroll compressor | AIRPLUS Industrial
Chicago Pneumatics SPR 20 oil-free scroll compressor

Both types of oil-less air compressors share the same benefits:

  • Air quality and peace of mind
  • Compactness
  • Easy handling & service access
  • Very quiet less than 70dB(A)
  • Efficiency and reduced energy cost

Learn More About Industrial Air Compressors

Choosing the proper air compressor for your application is dependent upon many factors. AIRPLUS Industrial has 30+ years of experience in designing, sourcing, installing and maintaining these systems — we can help you choose the right system for your facility.