What Is Pneumatic Tube

The pneumatic tube is a system of pipelines or network of tubes that are used to transport items such as money and paperwork within a short distance. It is also known as the PTT, or Lamson tube vacuum system. This system gained popularity among establishments in the late 19th and early 29th century. 

Originally used for transporting mail in London in the 1800s, it became increasingly popular in cities like New York and Paris. The pneumatic tube system became part of the building infrastructures in these big cities.

Invented by William Murdoch (1) in the year 1799 and was first utilized by the Victorians to send telegrams to another building. Later on, it was developed further by Josiah Latimer Clark and patented to what it is today. He created a 220-yard pneumatic system both in London Stock Exchange and the Electric Telegraph Company. 

Interestingly, despite the different technologies available today, a pneumatic tube is still being used because it still provides efficiency and practicality. Although on a small scale, there are hospitals, logistic companies, casinos, theaters, retailers, and banks that are still using this type of transport because of the benefits.

Pneumatic Tube System: The advantages

The pneumatic tube system is still one of the simplest yet safest ways to transport small items within or across a building. It can easily move up and down or left and right. It saves a lot of time and manpower in transporting essential yet small items. Because the carriers contain a soft cushion, people do not worry when transporting fragile packages. PTT also offers a network of secure pathways, thus making it a perfect method of moving cash from one department to another. It reduces the risk of theft and loss. 

The only disadvantage of this system is it needs to be part of the building infrastructure early on; it has a limit to how complex a PT system can be. 

Hospitals often used this system to transport blood samples, vials, medications, and other sensitive materials, while warehouses, casinos, or retailers use it to move their cash, checks, and documents safely.

Parts of a Pneumatic Tube System 

Here are the basics parts of the pneumatic tube system:


This refers to the capsules where the item will be placed. Once the item is inside the carrier, it will travel from point A to B. Carriers come in different sizes and features depending on the industry’s need. For example, a hospital or laboratory will need a small yet leak-proof carrier to transport samples safely. In general, carriers are a transparent tube with a cushion on the end part of the tube to allow for smooth transport.


Commonly used in complex tube systems, diverters act as a branching path in the intersection. It changes the path of the carrier as they move.


As mentioned previously, stations are the port for releasing and receiving the capsules. There is an interface that enables them to send it to the desired port. A system can consist of two or more stations.


This is responsible for movement in the tubes. The different air pressure between two stations and the suction or blowing of air created by the blower generates the carrier’s movement to the desired destination.

How do Pneumatic Tubes Work

The system has two stations; the sending and the receiving station. In between these two stations is the linking tube, usually made from PVC or aluminum. To send an item, a person placed an item on a box which is the sending station. On the other hand, the receiving station is where the airpower comes from. The mechanism is similar to a vacuum, where it suction air, thus creating movement from the sending station to the receiving station. 

For example, to send cash, a person simply loads it in a tube or canister, puts it in the sending station, and closes the door. Once loaded and sealed, the air compressor will create the vacuum and suck the air until the cash reaches the receiving station. Moreover, to send the canister in the opposite direction, the air compressor will blow air into the tube again. Both stations may contain passwords or PIN to ensure safety. 

Pneumatic tubes may no longer be a popular choice for item transportation nowadays, but it still provides efficiency and practicality for many industries. It is definitely not forgotten because there is still a small-scale usage of pneumatic type.

References: 1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Murdoch#Mechanical_improvements_and_inventions