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Pneumatic sanders versus electric roto-orbital sanders: advantages and disadvantages

Pneumatic sanders versus electric roto-orbital sanders: advantages and disadvantages


The final result of our work and the quality of sanding is what defines us as professionals. The precision, dedication and delicacy with which we perform makes us achieve better or worse finishes, but the type of tools we use, also greatly influence. 

The advances of the sector have developed sanders so precise, light, manageable and of quality, that sometimes it can be difficult to know which one to choose. One of the main choices, which can condition our work, is that of pneumatic or electric roto-orbital sanders.

From Abracom we want to advise you so that you know which one is the most suitable for you. So, then, we will explain everything you need to know about pneumatic and electric roto-orbital sanders.

What characteristics do pneumatic roto-orbital sanders have?

These types of sanders are very common for professional sanding of wood, car body, metals, composites, and many other sectors.

Among its main features, it should be noted that:

  • They are tools designed for industrial and professional use.

  • In general, its price is lower than that of electric sanders.

  • For its use, a well-sized compressed air installation is required, which takes into account the demand of the other machines connected to the network.

  • A stable air flow is required to prevent the sander from varying its power and speed due to a drop in the air supply.

  • They are of a compact and light size, which makes working with them easier.

  • They are usually noisier sanders, but they heat up less.

  • For proper operation they require a drip oil lubrication system, and the absence of water droplets in the compromised air supply.

  • They require greater consumption, by consuming a significant flow of liters of air per minute.

  • The work environment is safer because it does not require electrical power installations.

> Related reading: Everything you need to know about the pneumatic roto-orbital sander

Advantages of a pneumatic sander

Pneumatic sanders are, without a doubt, a fantastic choice. Its benefits in industrial sanding processes are important, since they are more resistant machines designed to withstand greater workloads.

On the other hand its size is compact and lightweight, which allows a smooth and precise handling essential to develop a perfect sanding.

Finally, they generate safer work environments, without chips or possible short circuits, especially in work areas where varnished pieces are sanded or subjected to a chemical finishing process.

What characteristics do electric roto-orbital sanders have?

Electric sanders are those that need to be powered by electric current in order to perform their function.

They provide a very stable working speed.

Special features of this type of tools

Within the different types of electric sanders, we can highlight some advantages to consider. They can be connected in any place where there is an electrical outlet, which facilitates its use in work abroad or where sanding works are to be carried out.

They are the most used to carry out DIY work and crafts for individuals.

> You may be interested: Wood treatment tips: sanding, varnishing and polishing

  • In general, its price is higher than that of pneumatic sanders.

  • They are of a larger size, heavier which becomes an inconvenience for air sanding work on vertical surfaces.

  • They are less noisy sanders, but they heat up more quickly releasing heat to the operator.

  • The energy consumption is lower and unlike the pneumatic ones, the feeding system does not require maintenance.

  • On the contrary, the work environment is less safe by needing electrical power installations.

Why choose a pneumatic sander over electric sandpaper

Although both types have their advantages, if we operate in industrial sectors, the ideal is that we opt for a pneumatic sander rather than an electric sander.

The reasons are many, but then we summarize the most important:

  • Its design is very simple and therefore has much less moving parts subject to wear, which also implies a lower cost in its repair.

  • They give off less heat which means greater comfort for the person who drives it. They can, therefore, be used in extreme temperature conditions without affecting their performance.

  • In terms of safety there is no danger of fire or electric shock, or generation interference by magnetic field. They are the safest option for the treatment of hazardous materials.

  • They are much less heavy, so the worker gets less tired and, in addition, the time for finishing is shorter.

  • They are designed to work in a more demanding environment, so their lifespan is longer resulting in a more profitable option.

The pneumatic sanders are less heavy, give off less heat and their maintenance is less expensive than the electric ones, which makes them perfect for working in very demanding environments

How to choose an industrial sander

In order to choose the sander that meets all our needs, we must be clear about the use that will be given. For this, it is essential to know the different options that exist:

Belt sander

This type of tool is used to carry out coarse sanding work and always maintaining a sanding direction in a single direction: forward and backward.

A belt sander is ideal for parquets, beams, timbers ... They are faster and quick cut, perfect for removing paint and varnish, and for smoothing rough wood.

Its design is very simple, since it consists of two parallel rollers on which an abrasive paper band is added.

It can be very loud, but at the same time it is very powerful, forcing both hands to be able to control them.

The belt sander is very fast and fast cutting. A very powerful machine perfect for smoothing rough wood

Orbital Sanders

They usually have a square or rectangular shape, so it is perfect for small surfaces and with angles or lateral edges.

They have an oscillating base plate where the abrasive material is placed. There are two ways to anchor the abrasive to the base, by means of a velcro fastening system or by means of a clamp system that allows the sanding sheet to be attached to the base of the sander.

Orbital sanders are perfect for small surfaces, drawer fronts and interior gaps

Eccentric sander

They are ideal for work with curved shapes or for semi-finished and finished. Eccentric sanders have circular plates as a base, which revolve around their axis.

It is a good option for flat surfaces and its results are really satisfactory. It is very flexible in all aspects and is suitable for wood or metal surfaces.

Professionals usually end up opting for eccentric compressed air sanders for long-term jobs.

Eccentric sanders are very flexible, suitable for finishing work

Roto-orbital sander

These sanders combine a radial rotary movement with an eccentric movement that improves their result. Its base is a circular plate generally with anchor for abrasive discs with velcro, although there are also smooth vinyl bases for self-adhesive discs.

Your pass is more random, so avoid repetition and, therefore, leave sanding marks.

They are ideal for any type of work and on virtually any type of surface: wood, varnish, metal, composites, solid surface, ...

In recent years, these sanders have evolved very rapidly, especially in everything related to the suction of sanding dust, creating cleaner and less harmful working environments for the operator.

There is currently a wide range of this type of sander on the market.

The pneumatic roto-orbital sanders are very versatile, they are suitable for any type of work and surface

What you should consider when choosing your pneumatic sander

But, in addition to the types, there are other very important factors to consider when choosing an industrial sander:

  • Suctioning. The dust that is breathed is very harmful to health, so a sander that incorporates it is a wise choice.

  • Power is another fundamental criterion. Higher power is recommended for more aggressive sanding, in which coarse grains are used for surface roughing.

  • The possibility of adjusting the speed must be another decisive factor, since at a lower speed more precision and delicacy. Therefore, it is convenient that the sander has a regulator that allows the speed to be adapted to the type of work to be performed.

  • Anti-vibration: to achieve a homogeneous sanding, it is necessary to control the level of vibration. Do not forget that all the products we use are of the highest quality and also fix the abrasive correctly. The base or sanding plate used is a decisive element to avoid vibrations and allow a uniform sanding. It is recommended to use perfectly balanced plates and bases, with fixed anchor bolts.

  • The type of sanding plate is essential to achieve efficient sanding. Thin and hard plates are recommended for roughing work and thick and semi-soft plates for finishing work.

  • The size of the orbit determines the level of finish and the performance of the abrasives. An orbit diameter of 5 mm is generally recommended for most jobs. We will use a larger orbit, 8 or 10 mm, for the heaviest and coarsest jobs, and a smaller orbit, 2.5 or 3 mm, for the finishing works.

The factors that must be taken into account when choosing an industrial sander are: the suction, the power, the possibility of adjusting the speed, the anti-vibration, the type of sanding plate and the size of the orbit

Now that you know the benefits of pneumatic sanders and why you should choose them for your professional and industrial works, download our catalog to know all the tools and accessories we have available in Abracom or contact us for more information. We will be happy to help you.

-- Isabel VeillardAccount Assistant, Connext 961 227 584    [email protected]