Making the Parts
Most air conditioners are made from sheet steel or other easily formed metal or plastic. The first step in making an air conditioner is to form the metal and plastic parts. Metal parts are usually sheet stamped to give them the desired shape. Sheet stamping typically trims the metal to the required size. Large, flat plastic pieces are often vacuum formed, while smaller pieces are cast or formed using a number of different techniques, including vacuum forming. If the metal used is steel, it is then galvanized. Galvanization is the process of adding a layer of zinc to slow rust and other deterioration. Once galvanized, the steel is painted or powder coated. Powder coating is a durable form of paint that is sprayed on dry and then heated to melt and bond to the metal substrate.
Once the exterior parts are made, the air conditioner is ready for assembly. Most condensers, the devices that perform heat transfer functions, are pre-made. Most compressors, the device that compresses the gas that transfers the heat through the condensers, are also pre-built. Assembling the air conditioner is a matter of installing the compressor, the inside condenser, which cools the air being blown into the indoor area, the outside condenser, which transmits heat from inside the building to the outside air and and various electronic controls. The condensers are connected via copper pipes to the compressor, and the electronic controls are connected to an electric motor, which causes the compressor to spin.
Charging and Finishing
Once the air conditioner has been assembled, the coolant gas is placed in the compressor, condensers and pipes to a pre-determined pressure level. The air conditioner is tested for coolant leaks and the electronics are tested. If it works well, the cover is screwed in place. If the air conditioner has controls, as opposed to a remote control, control knobs and sliders are installed. Then the air conditioner is packaged for transportation to a warehouse and distribution facility.
- Photo: Michal Zacharzewski, stock.xchng