In manufacturing, an airshaft is a device used for handling winding reels in the processing of web-fed materials, such as continuous-process printing presses.
Airshafts are used in the manufacturing processes for fitting into a core onto which materials such as paper, card and plastic film are wound. An airshaft is designed so that, on fitting into a core, it can be readily expanded, thereby achieving a quick and firm attachment, it may also be easily deflated to facilitate easy withdrawal of the shaft after winding of product is complete. Their efficient design makes them ideal for mounting onto bearing housings to enable the winding or unwinding of rolls of stock material with the minimum of equipment down time. The advantage of using an airshaft is its ability to grip the core, without damage, whilst providing a positive interface to control the web via motors & brakes. Airshafts are available as either lug type (with bladder down the centre) or strip type (bladders on the periphery of the shaft).
Air shafts are used on many converting machines. An example of one of these machines is a slitting machine or slitter rewinder which is used to cut or slit large rolls of material into smaller rollers.