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The general mechanism of an air compressor is a piston or Water Lubricated Air Compressor rotary element (e.g. rotary screw or vane) that draws in air, which is compressed into a storage container. Naturally, because the piston or rotary element needs to move consistently and smoothly because of this to function, it generally needs to be lubricated.

In a lubricated air compressor, there is lubricating oil which keeps the piston or rotary component running smoothly without damaging the mechanism. The lubricant also helps to dissipate warmth and keep maintaining air compression efficiency.

Oil-free of charge air compressors also use a piston or rotary element, but they get around the lubrication problem by coating the compression element with a pre-lubricating material like Teflon. Some oil-free compressors could also use water in place of essential oil for the lubricating and cooling procedure. These alternate materials safeguard the pump and allow the mechanism to go smoothly with no need for any oil-centered or synthetic lubrication.