What is a Hydraulic Cylinder?

A hydraulic cylinder is a common type of actuator, which is itself a kind of machine that causes other machines to work. Hydraulic cylinders can be found everywhere from civil engineering to construction equipment and manufacturing. Read on for more information about how these relatively simple devices work, and how they’re put together.

How They Work

Hydraulic cylinders aren’t just actuators: they’re linear actuators. That means that they create force in a straight line. Rotary actuators are another common type of actuators, but we won’t get into those here. When hydraulic cylinders create force, they do so in a way that either pushes or pulls. These devices create hydrostatic energy, which is a combination of fluid that’s been pressurized, and the intensity of that fluid’s movement. This energy is created, or converted, with the hydraulic pump.

Single acting cylinders are the most efficient, and typically utilize the simplest designs. They only have a port at one end. Double acting cylinders, on the other hand, are supplied with ports at either end of the piston.

How They’re Put Together

There are about seven main hydraulic cylinder parts, with a number of other, smaller parts. The main parts of a hydraulic cylinder are the base or cap; the piston rod and the piston; the seal gland and the seals; the cylinder head; and the cylinder barrel. The barrel, which is made of honed tubes, holds pressure. The head and the base of the cylinder (the base is sometimes referred to as the cap) work by holding the pressure in at either end of the device. The piston, which is inside the barrel, works by separating the different pressure zones inside the barrel.

Hydraulic cylinders might seem like complicated devices, but they’re actually quite simple. With a bit of information and instruction, they’re more than manageable.

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