Hydraulic cylinders are linear actuators engineered to create pushing or pulling forces in a straight line. They’re used for various purposes, including lifting, jacking, making, pressing, holding, and lowering.
The type of cylinder you select will depend on the specific application. To find the best cylinder for your equipment, consider the following factors:
Know Your Load
Just like “measure twice, cut once” is the mantra for carpenters, precise measurements are paramount in hydraulics. Inaccuracies can result in costly mistakes, unnecessary wear and tear, and system inefficiencies.
The key to accurate measurements is cleanliness. Dirt and grease can skew results, potentially resulting in misfit parts or systems. They can also damage delicate measuring tools such as calipers or micrometers.
In addition to ensuring that all components are clean, keeping track of your specific measurements is essential. This allows you to quickly refer back to them in the future and provide clarity and interpretation.
For example, if you compare a single-rod cylinder with a double-rod cylinder, it helps to label each measurement to identify them later on. This will help you quickly reference the differences between these two cylinders when selecting a replacement. Having this information handy can also reduce downtime during maintenance sessions.
Know Your Cylinder
There are many signs that cylinders may need repair or replacement. Visible damage, such as dents, scratches, cracks, and warping, can affect the structural integrity of the cylinders and make them dangerous for continued use. Taking quick action when such damages are detected will reduce the chances of accidents and equipment failure.
Other factors that play a role in the performance of hydraulic cylinders include cylinder head and base materials, rod bearings, and piston seals. Cylinders constructed with more vital metals, such as 65-45-12 ductile iron for heads and bases, can deliver significant performance advantages in demanding environments and applications.
Cylinder size can also significantly impact performance. It’s important to size the cylinder and avoid exceeding its capacity accurately, or it could suffer from unexpected and potentially damaging internal pressure. To prevent oversizing, it’s best to only go up to 80% of the manufacturer’s listed limit. This allows for more stability and safety while providing the optimum level of precision and control.
Know Your Valve
There is a carpentry saying that goes, “Measure twice, cut once.” The same principle can be applied to choosing the correct hydraulic products for your application. It saves time and money if you know the size of your load and calculate the correct size cylinder for the job. Otherwise, you may have to go back and get a larger cylinder, which can disrupt your workflow.
Another consideration is the cylinder’s stroke length. This can be important for jobs in confined spaces where you must quickly move a lot of material. There are also specialized cylinders that offer short stroke lengths, such as low-height cylinders, which can be helpful for jobs in tight spaces.
Finally, it’s essential to consider the cylinder’s operating pressure and bore size. Engineers can choose a large bore for force production or a small bore to reduce system pressure requirements, which leads to lower costs by requiring smaller pumps, lines, and valves.
Know Your Hydraulic Fluid
Hydraulic cylinders are essential components of hydraulic systems. Understanding their mechanics, materials, and maintenance is vital for ensuring optimal performance and longevity.
Depending on the application, there are a variety of different cylinder options available. Some are designed for high-pressure lifting and pulling applications, while others are more appropriate for manufacturing applications that require moderate to low forces.
Cylinder size also matters and affects how much force the cylinder can generate. In addition, the operating environment can impact cylinder performance. For example, if the cylinder is exposed to abrasive or corrosive substances, it can negatively impact the system’s seals and other components.
Regular preventative maintenance activities can also help improve cylinder performance and reduce downtime. These include regularly replacing the hydraulic fluid, ensuring the rod end is not twisted, and checking for oil leaks.