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Atlas Copco Automan piston compressor being used in bicycle workshop application

Piston compressors

Explore our complete range of piston air compressors for every application and benefit from our team's knowledge in setting up your compressor installation.

We sell piston compressors for every application

Our piston air compressor range is designed to deliver a reliable source of compressed air for every user. Our portfolio of reciprocating piston air compressors ranges from 1.5 kW belt driven, handyman compressors to large industrial, cast iron, direct drive piston air compressor products. We also have a large range of oil-free piston air compressors for specialised requirements such as dental surgeries, laboratories, PET bottle blowing and CNG.

Explore the different piston ranges ⮯

industrial high pressure piston compressorIndustrial piston compressor & booster - High pressure ≥15 bar

industrial low pressure piston compressor
Industrial piston compressor & booster - Low pressure <15 bar

professional piston compressor
Professional piston compressor


Why should I buy a piston compressor?

Ghost image of LZ oil-free piston compressor with integrated refrigerant dryer certified for Class 0, zero oil residue in the compressed air output
Of the most popular air compressors technologies available, the most economical and relatively inexpensive type of air compressor is the piston or reciprocating machine. It is a mistake to think of small piston compressors as tired, noisy relics clattering away in a auto-garage tyre bay. Nothing could be further away from this reality than the contribution today’s modern reciprocating compressor technology is making to industrial productivity. The majority of small-to-medium piston compressors, which commonly range from 0.55 to 15 kW and can be either oil-lubricated or oil-free machines, are available in a number of product variants to match the exact needs of a wide range of end users. They can be supplied either as standard base units, trolley or receiver mounted, or as a complete compressed air station that includes a refrigerant air dryer as well as pre-wired starting and regulation equipment. The range of larger piston compressors is usually dedicated to special applications, such as compressed natural gas usage and can go up to 560 kW.

What are the advantages of buying a piston compressor?

Reciprocating compressor technology is cheaper

Atlas Copco PET bottle blowing compressor

Atlas Copco high pressure PET bottle blowing compressor

Piston technology compressors are the oldest types of compressor. They are also the simplest, using very basic physics principles to function. For these reasons, revolutionary changes and improvements in this field are unlikely. But that also means the technology is well understood by all its manufacturers, at least in its most common industrial usage.

With little to no research and development cost, as well as simple and well-understood technology, the cost of production is lower. That means a wider range of manufacturers are willing to take on the product or license it under their own label. As such, the buyer benefits from a competitive market which makes for a lower cost of purchase.

Maintenance technicians are easier to find (and cheaper)

Service technician doing maintenance on an air compressor

Service technician doing maintenance on an air compressor

The age and simplicity of the technology, as well as the research plateau, impacts maintenance in the same way it affects production. For its most common industrial usage, there is no continuous learning process to stay on top of changes in piston compressors. Once a technician understands the basic principles, their skills can only improve. This means piston compressor maintenance is easier to master because the technology is accessible to any technician.

What does this mean for you, as a buyer? First of all, you have access to a larger pool of technicians experienced in this technology. Most of the time, the competitive nature of this pool of resources also means a lower cost of maintenance.

Exceptions apply in the case of specialised applications, such as the compression of natural gas, nitrogen or oxygen. However, the cost comes from the demands of the industry application, rather than the technology itself.

Piston compressor spare parts are readily available

Technician with compressor spare parts

The availability of spare parts goes hand in hand with the maintenance of your piston compressor. Simple technology results in a high availability of spare parts and maintenance kits. This is especially relevant in light of the many compressors produced under private labels by the same manufacturer.

For the everyday hobbyist compressor spares, the buying alternatives are as varied as there are ways to buy the compressor itself. You can speak with authorised dealers, you can visit your nearest DIY shop, or go for e-commerce sites. Whichever you choose, chances are high that you will find all the spare parts your compressor needs. Or you will find suitable alternatives with the help of the online community.

Again, certain industry applications do not follow this tendency. But the needs of a compressor which handles tyre inflation and pneumatic tools in a auto garage are one thing. The needs of a compressor working in explosive atmospheres are another thing entirely. For the latter, the risk factor that these spares and maintenance kits need to mitigate affects availability.

What are the disadvantages of buying a piston compressor?

Piston compressors are loud

Operator putting on ear defenders to prevent hearing damage due to loud working environments

Operator wearing ear defenders to prevent hearing damage in loud workplaces

Many of the businesses where a piston compressor is ideal have small premises, which makes noise a major concern. Noise levels on a reciprocating compressor can be as low as 65 dB in the case of recent, upper end machines. But the most common piston compressors, especially old ones, will hover at 80 dB and above.

It is important to remember that the principal focus of reciprocating technology is a low investment cost. Managing the side effects such as noise and heat are not as high up on the list of priorities. By comparison, rotary screw compressors cut or drastically reduce these side-effects.

As a result, considering a piston compressor also requires mitigating the noise problem. The most common solution is to place the machine outside of the workplace, in a good sound-proofing enclosure. Spending a bit more money at the outset can buy an upper end compressor. Designed to modern standards, the noise levels of such machines allow placing them closer to the point of use.

What variants of piston compressor are there?

Oil-lubricated piston compressors

Atlas Copco piston compressor with compressed air tank
Compact single-stage oil-lubricated, v-configuration, reciprocating compressors in the 10-bar 1.5 to 15kW range are best suited for applications with limited space requirements. In these designs, a lightweight compressor block, directly coupled to the motor provides excellent cooling characteristics and smooth integration in small spaces.

Oil-free piston compressors

Oil-injected compression, even with filtration, cannot guarantee that all oil vapours and aerosols are removed from the compressed air. For this reason, many leading compressor manufacturers offer oil-free air technology, employing sealed for life bearings and PTFE or carbon piston rings to remove any risk of contamination, which should ideally be designed to meet the certified ISO 8573-1 Class 0 standard in air quality.

What type of compressor suits what application?

Belt driven air compressors

Piston air compressor from Atlas Copco

Piston air compressor from Atlas Copco

Our Atlas Copco Automan series is the perfect piston air compressor for the handyman, serious DIY and with large capacity also suitable for industrial settings. The Automan AB aluminium range is perfect when you need a reliable source of compressed air and mobility in one. The Automan AT series is our cast iron piston compressor, a reliable workhorse that will deliver high volume of compressed air when you need it.

Industrial direct drive piston air compressors

Piston air compressor from Atlas Copco

Industrial direct drive piston air compressor

Atlas Copco introduced the first piston air compressor in 1904. Since then, we have continuously advanced the technology. Today our LE and LT range of reciprocating air compressor products are the pinnacle of direct drive compressors in the market. These machines are built for heavy duty industrial applications, where piston technology is better suited than screw compressors. The LE and LT range is the direct drive piston compressor that you can rely upon over and over.

Dental air compressor products

Dental air compressor from Atlas Copco

We can supply the perfect dental air compressor for your surgery. Our dental compressors are certified Class 0 – 100% oil-free air. We are the only air compressor company with this certification for dental air compressor products. Our 100% oil-free dental air compressor is the perfect option for any dental practices looking for the dental air solutions. Explore our range of oil-free dental air compressor today to learn how using our reliable compressor will bring you peace of mind.

PET blowing compressor installations

PET blowing high pressure compressor from Atlas Copco

PET blowing high-pressure air compressor from Atlas Copco

Our PET blowing high pressure compressor range is Class 0 certified, according to the most rigorous TÜV standards – resulting in 100% oil-free air. Capable of delivering outlet pressure from 20 to 45 bar, our compressors come with the benefit of an extensive global service network to maintain them in top shape. Explore our full range of oil-free PET air compressors and services to learn how we can help you to safeguard your PET bottle production.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) compressor installations

CNG high pressure compressor from Atlas Copco

CNG high pressure compressor from Atlas Copco

Whether you are a compressed natural gas (CNG) fuelling station owner, developing a natural gas vehicle (NGV) fuelling solution for a mass transportation or setting up a virtual pipeline system to power a remote industrial process, Atlas Copco has the right CNG/NGV solution for the job. Our compressors integrate smart, energy-efficient technology. They are equipped with a zero-leakage pressured crankcase, direct drive and they utilise thoroughly referenced and tested technology. Efficiency, safety and reliability are crucial factors for every CNG/NGV installation. They are also the cornerstones of our entire natural gas product line. Our compressors are loaded with features that deliver benefits at every step of the CNG/NGV delivery cycle. Find out more about our range of high-pressure piston compressors for CNG and NGV suited compressor installations.

Why should I buy a piston compressor from Atlas Copco?

The Atlas Copco range of piston compressors is one of the most extensive you will find on the market. Our machines are available in oil-free and oil-lubricated technology, have pressure variants available for requirements as high as 450 bar, and applicable for gasses other than air. With crosshead and trunk build up and with applications up to 1MW, we are sure to have a solution for your needs, whatever those may be. If you could not find the right compressor for your application on this page, speak to one of our experts for specific assistance.