Air compressors are often categorised by the way they generate compressed air, and reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors are examples of this.
Just like their name, rotary screw air compressors use a spinning screw to produce compressed air, while reciprocating compressors are piston-driven, meaning the two types of air compressor use quite different methods in order to actually compress the air.
But they also typically have different applications – reciprocating air compressors are often portable and used for smaller jobs at remote locations.
For similar reasons, they may also tend to get used intermittently, or for jobs where compressed air is only required over a fairly short period of time.
In contrast, rotary screw air compressors are more likely to be static and used to generate much larger volumes of compressed air.
They are more suited to long-term use, producing consistent compressed air output for high levels of sustained demand.
Each has its own applications – rotary screw air compressors might offer the greater output, but clearly a reciprocating compressor is preferable for portability and remote use.