In an oil-free compressor, the air is compressed entirely through the action of the screws, without the assistance of an oil seal. They usually have lower maximum discharge pressure capability as a result. However, multi-stage oil-free compressors, where the air is compressed by several sets of screws, can achieve pressures of over 150 psig, and output volume of over 2000 cubic feet (56.634 cubic meters) per minute (measured at 60 °C and atmospheric pressure).
Oil-free compressors are used in applications where entrained oil carry-over is not acceptable, such as medical research and semiconductor manufacturing. However, this does not preclude the need for filtration as hydrocarbons and other contaminants ingested from the ambient air must also be removed prior to the point-of-use. Subsequently, air treatment identical to that used for an oil-flooded screw compressor is frequently still required to ensure a given quality of compressed air.