Hydraulic cylinders are used across a variety of industries and in a variety of applications, particularly in construction, manufacturing, engineering and other heavy industry.
They provide unidirectional force through a unidirectional stroke and are integral components in a range of machinery and equipment.
How do hydraulic cylinders work?
Hydraulic cylinders use pressurised hydraulic fluid, usually oil, to create powerful unidirectional motion. They consist of a cylindrical barrel, capped at either end with a piston inside and a rod sticking out one end of the barrel.
The piston works by separating out the internal rod from the internal cap. As the hydraulic fluid is forced through the cylinder it pushes or pulls the piston rod, creating the powerful linear motion.
The piston rod is attached to the part of the machinery requiring force. This may be a plate on a hydraulic press or an arm on an excavator. The force created is harnessed and used for a variety of purposes, like lifting, pressing and moving. No other method of linear motion is as powerful and efficient as that generated by a hydraulic cylinder. They can extend with force ranging up to thousands of tonnes.
Cylinders can function in a variety of different ways. The two most common are single acting cylinders and double acting cylinders. In single acting cylinders, the fluid is pressurised from only one side during both expansion and retraction, with a spring or external load used to return the cylinder top to its original position.
In double acting cylinders, the pressure from the fluid is applied in both directions, allowing for force in two directions.
What are hydraulic cylinders used for?
Hydraulic cylinders are used in a range of applications including dump trucks, garbage trucks, tow trucks, excavators, loaders, bulldozers, drill rigs and more. They are used across a range of industries including building and construction, demolition, transport and logistics, manufacturing, fire fighting and emergency services, mining, agriculture, and many more.
Some of the most common applications include:
- Operating heavy machinery, ensuring that tools such as excavators, loads, graders, and dozers can all work to do their job
- Pushing and pulling lift loads of any kind of size or description
- Pressing and compacting, such as metal compactors in wrecking yards
- Manufacturing and fabricating where linear motion must be repeatable and consistent
- Working industrial machinery, giving them the power to press, compact, mould etc.
- Creating motion, such as in flight simulators or amusement park rides to simulate real motion
- Gate controls for water flow including weirs, locks and hydroelectric dams
- Agricultural machinery including harvesters, loaders, tractors and wood splitters
- Feeding devices for production lines like plastic forming
- Small hydraulic cylinders can be used for more delicate applications like robotics
As you can see, hydraulic cylinders have many varied uses. This allows them to be put to good work in various ways, ensuring that the work can be done in a manner that allows for simpler operation of otherwise complex and confusing machinery.