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The 3 functions of an FRL

February 25, 2020

Air Line Topics FRL Air line Expert Corner

How to achieve ultimate pneumatic tool performance by optimizing air line installation

FRLs – Filters, Regulators and Lubricators – guarantee the efficiency and durability of pneumatic tools. Including an FRL in your air system is vital to running an efficient air line set-up and key to achieving a good return on investment. Adding an FRL in close proximity to the power tool will ensure the required airflow pressure, as well as good air quality by reducing the risk of moisture and dust in the air line. The FRL also helps maintain your air line by providing lubrication.

Discover more in video:

An FRL system combines 3 main functions in one system: filtration, regulation and lubrication.

1. Air filtration: The filter cleans compressed air and traps solid particles (dust, dirt, rust).

Dust in an engine could block the air flow and reduce the power of the tool leading to increased maintenance costs as well as high air consumption. Any dirt and rust could also damage the engine resulting in power loss and early wear. This increases tool repair costs and the risk of incident during production.

2. Air regulation: The regulator ensures the consistency of the dynamic working pressure at 90 psi/6.3 bar.

This is important because if the pressure is lower than the one recommended by the manufacturer, the tool can’t reach its performance level and the profitability is decreasing. If the pressure is too high, the tool wears out early. It could also breakdown leading to operator injury and a risk of damage to the application.

3. Air lubrication: The lubricator adds controlled quantities of oil into a compressed air system.

Without lubrication a tool wears out and will stop reaching its maximum level of performance. This in turn leads to a loss of productivity and increased maintenance costs. The graphics below illustrate the durability and the service life of the tool’s air motor with and without lubrication maintenance:

Achieve optimum performance of your tool’s air motor with good lubrication:

Achieve optimum performance of your tool’s air motor with good lubrication.

Estimated figures based on laboratory tests carried out on pneumatic motors.
(1) Tool’s motor power output
(2) Oil quantity
(3) Tool manufacturer recommendations (available in operator/product manual)


Achieve optimum service life of your tool’s air motor with good air lubrication:

Achieve optimum service life of your tool’s air motor with good air lubrication.

Estimated figures based on laboratory tests carried out on pneumatic motors. 
(1) Tool’s motor power output 
(2) Oil quantity 
(3) Tool manufacturer recommendations (available in operator/product manual)

4 things to consider to select the appropriate FRL unit

There are many different types of FRLs, and so when specifying an FRL there are 4 key considerations:

  1. Environment 
  2. Type of FRL 
  3. Thread size
  4. Tool’s air flow requirements

Important: Make sure you always check manufacturer recommendations. Read more about how to select the right FRL here.

How to install FRLs

expert article - 3 functions FRL - air line network

Most pneumatic tool users do not achieve the best performance from their tools because of the air line setup. To maximize the benefits of using FRLs there are 4 rules to bear in mind:

  1. Always use one FRL unit per tool to ensure the best performance. If more than one tool in use is connected to the same FRL unit, the air pressure and lubrication will be diluted between the different air tools, and you will not benefit from the regulator function.
  2. Mount the FRL units as close as possible to the tool – where the tool hose is connected to the system – to ensure that the oil reaches the tool and to avoid losing pressure.
  3. Always make sure that the lubricator is topped up with oil before using the tool since lubrication maximizes the life of your tool. Read more about oil quantity in our Technical guide “Is your air tool installation right?”
  4. Make sure you maintain the inlet filters regularly: they should be free from moisture and dirt.

Tips: Refer to our check list in our “Is your air tool installation right?” Technical guide to confirm that your installation is well set-up.

Safety Tips

expert article - 3-functions-FRL - 90psi / 6.3bars

Pneumatic tools are designed and specified to work at 90 PSI (6.3 bar) dynamic air pressure and with lubrication (find all information in the tools’ operator manuals available in the Chicago Pneumatic website). A higher pressure could affect the tools lifespan, and operator safety (excessive vibration, or abrasive over-speed and burst risk). We recommend using a gauge equipped FRL with every tool to adjust pressure.


Damien Feller - expert head zoom

A clean air installation guarantees productivity and return on investment.

Damien Feller , Global Product Marketing Manager Spares and Solutions