Pneumatics & Hydraulics


SMC´s FRL unit: compressed air filtration since 1961

January 2022 Pneumatics & Hydraulics

In pneumatics, the FRL unit is a key element as it ensures the proper functioning of the pneumatic equipment, thereby increasing the operating life. At SMC, the FRL unit is not just key, it is the first pneumatics solution the company developed.

1604 – this was the name of the first model with the body in die-cast zinc and the bowl material in AS resin. The sight glass was introduced in 1968 enabling more visible oil dropping within the lubricator. Already in the sixties, SMC’s engineers started addressing the reduction of pressure loss by introducing an auto variable throttle within the lubricator.

Milestones

Over 40 years ago, the inner bowl material was launched and it is still in use today: polycarbonate, bringing with it improved impact, chemical and temperature resistance. Back then and until 2012, it was used for the inner bowl and then protected by a metal bowl guard.

A development launched in 1981 made every maintenance department’s day. Customers were frustrated by the time needed to remove the bowl as it required specific tools. One touch fitting in the filter bowl was the solution provided by SMC’s engineers.

Then, in 1983 the first modular units that removed the need for threaded connections between units were launched. This reduced the overall length of the products and allowed the integration of piping modules such as T and X spacers.

In 2012, the double layer design was introduced to the market. The usage of a transparent polycarbonate bowl guard provides 360° visibility, weight reduction and better resistance to rust or corrosion. All subsequent models have benefited from this.

The modularity developed over the years made it possible that today standard FRL units can easily integrate digital pressure and flow sensors to monitor machine performance and pressure relief valves to add safety measures. With this the overall capabilities of the FRL unit go far beyond pure air treatment.

The latest solution – the AC-D series of modular FRL – hit the market in 2021. These units bring a modern appearance to SMC’s line of air preparation equipment, while maintaining the high performance of previous models. The performance of the filters has been measured according to ISO 12500 and the air purity class expressed according to ISO 8573-1:2010 allowing use in a broad range of applications.


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