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Types of Hydraulic Cylinders

If you have worked or currently work in construction, manufacturing, civil engineering, or mechanized agriculture, chances are you’ve worked with several types of equipment, and you are familiar with hydraulic systems. The hydraulic cylinder, also known as a hydraulic ram, is actuator of the hydraulic system. The hydraulic cylinder works on pressurized fluid, the hydraulic oil, to channel powerful force which is used for lifting, lowering, moving, loading, or locking heavy loads or items.

 Single Acting & Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinders

All hydraulic cylinders are known to create linear movement by converting fluid energy into mechanical energy. In general, hydraulic cylinders are usually single-acting or double-acting.

Single Acting Hydraulic Cylinder

The single-acting hydraulic cylinder is characterized by its limitation to move only unidirectionally, i.e., the operating stroke moves in only one specific direction and the hydraulic oil has only one point through which it can get into the cylinder. The single-acting hydraulic cylinder will return to its original position once the weight of the load is released and the cylinder is emptied of oil.

The advantage of single-acting cylinders is that they are more economical in their ease of maintenance and considering their usually compact sizes and designs, they have great pressure and force potential.

Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinders

The double-acting hydraulic cylinder is the more common type of hydraulic cylinder and they have two ports located on either side of the piston through which the hydraulic fluid can get in the cylinder. While one port works to extend the plunger, the other retracts it.

Double acting hydraulic are more rugged, need less hydraulic fluid, the acceleration is more controllable, they save energy, and are more precise. They are more suited for large-scale engines such as lift shafts, digging machines, ship motors, and industrial furnaces.

Tie Rod & Welded Body Hydraulic Cylinders

Hydraulic cylinders can also be tie rod or welded body cylinders. Below is more information:

Tie Rod Hydraulic Cylinder

These cylinders, which are the most common in manufacturing industries, hold the two end caps which prevent oil leakage to the cylinder barrel using durable threaded steel rods. The tie rods can be between 4 and 20 inches depending on the intended use of the cylinder. One advantage of tie rod hydraulic cylinders is that they are rather easy to assemble. They are also easy to repair and maintain.

Welded Body Hydraulic Cylinders

Welded body cylinders have slender bodies and are short, which allows them to fit in the spaces of tight machinery. The end caps of these hydraulic cylinders are welded directly to barrels and have no tie rod. However, unlike tie rod hydraulic cylinders, welded body hydraulic cylinders are difficult to disassemble and assemble, they have advantages over tie rods as they are customizable and generally do not fail due to tie rod issues. These types of hydraulic cylinders are commonly used in the construction industry in excavators and bulldozers, as well as in mining and material handling equipment such as forklifts, oil rigs, and cranes.

Tang, Cross Tube, and Loader Hydraulic cylinders are types of welded, Double Acting Hydraulic Cylinder applications.

Other types of hydraulic cylinders include the telescopic hydraulic cylinder, which could be single or double-acting and has 5 stages (tubings nested in each other), tandem hydraulic cylinder, which has 2 cylinders to generate greater force, plunger hydraulic cylinder which has no seals, clevis hydraulic cylinder and jack cylinders, which are mobile cylinders which usually have no mount and are used on the floor.

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