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SMC Valves: An Empire

An article looking at both the guiding principles and benefits of pneumatic valves, and at the incredible expansion of SMC Valves, an industry leader in contromatics research and development.

SMC valves – they’re among the better priced air valves on the market, and yet they’re not met with the kind of sneering disregard by engineers that products in their price range might be. Indeed, SMC valves are actually widely viewed as being of exceptional sophistication and quality.

With the company’s latest forays into such challenging fields as ultra-high vacuum technology, high-speed solenoids and advanced valve-seal technology (the kind you might expect to find in the latest aerospace-proof creations at NASA) has come an equally wide-ranging geographical expansion.

Originally established in Japan in the 1950s, SMC Valves is now a massive corporation that is in every possible sense truly multinational. SMC Canada came into being some time after the 1977 establishment of the SMC Valves North American headquarters, but it now spans through most of Canada’s major cities, including Vancouver, Kingston, Toronto, Windston and Montreal.

Just as well-developed is the company’s presence in the UK, where SMC Valves has had offices since 1978. The corporation began its UK insurgence from a tiny 1-room apartment, and now employs over 400 staff members, all of whom labor constantly to keep the company up to ISO-9001 standards in terms of safety, while still being competitive R&D champions, constantly breaking new ground in an ever-evolving market.

Indeed, pneumatics (systems incorporating air valves) and hydraulics (systems incorporating fluid valves) have come a very long way over the course of the last century, since Bill Denison junior pioneered the first hydraulic machine, a device tasked to push carts of clay through a kiln, a task that had required endless attention from clay firing houses in the past. The most basic definition of pneumatics is ‘the use of controlled internal air pressure transference to bring about the motion of a machine or device.’ Naturally, what with modern trends towards automation and the ‘robotification’ of the whole world, air valves are unquestionably experiencing their heyday, being vigorously put to use in every industry from music production and medical procedures to agriculture and heavy construction.

Pneumatics has a great many advantages over purely electromechanical devices, chiefly in terms of the force pneumatic machines can output relative to the amount of power required to activate them. This is an advantage that gas and air-powered machines share with fluid-powered machines, but there are a number of disadvantages to hydraulics that makes pneumatics preferable in many situations.

You see, when a piston is moved by compressed air or fluid, the piston will move straight from one default position to the other, with only a very short time spent traveling between positions. In the case of hydraulic machines, the force feedback gets directly transmitted into the body of the machine, as force travels through relatively-incompressible fluid much as it does through solid-state matter.

Air valves and pneumatic machines, on the other hand, can absorb much of that force due to gas being so innately compressible. This means that machines utilizing pneumatic systems pick up less wear and tear, and will ultimately last longer, while also not delivering the deafening noise, known as ‘fluid hammer’, that the motion of liquids through hydraulic machines can make. Fluid hammer is a constant stressor on industrial laborers who have to work around itFree Reprint Articles, and can be so loud as to bring on tinnitus even in young factory workers.

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Gavin Cruise was born in New York, his father was a wealthy business man in real estate. Gavin had the privilege of traveling extensively with his father learning about a wide variety of subjects. He attended Harvard where he majored in English and from the age of 26 Gavin supported himself by freelance writing. If you would like to read more articles about Gavin Cruise, please visit

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