Understanding Air Hydraulic Cylinders

Posted on May 27, 2021

Air Hydraulic Cylinder

An air hydraulic cylinder combines the working mechanism of both hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders. When an air hydraulic cylinder operates, the force is transmitted through the air and liquid medium within the cylinder. Featuring the characteristics of these two mechanisms, the air hydraulic cylinders are not only powerful but also efficient.

In this article, we will talk about air hydraulic cylinders, covering the working principles, features, and applications. Before diving into this subject, we will take some time introducing pneumatic cylinders and hydraulic cylinders so that you can get more idea of how these seemingly similar devices are different from each other. So now let's begin!

Pneumatic (Air) Cylinder Basics

Pneumatic cylinders (air cylinders) use pressurized air (or other gases) to transmit a force. As the force exerts to the piston rod inside the cylinder, the rod is pushed out of the barrel and initiates a linear movement. The rod will go back to its original position when another force from the opposite direction exerts against it. The travel distance of the rod is called the stroke. The piston rod plays as the agent to control the movement of a load.

Hydraulic Cylinder Basics

Hydraulic cylinders give a unidirectional force through a stroke. They use fluid (usually oil) inside the cylinder as the medium to transmit force. Compared with air cylinders, hydraulic cylinders are a lot more powerful and steady but slower in response. As a result, hydraulic cylinders are commonly deployed in large-scale applications, such as construction equipment.

What Is an Air Hydraulic Cylinder?

The air hydraulic cylinder is pneumatically controlled to provide higher hydraulic pressures to achieve a greater stroke force. Unlike the conventional cylinders that apply only pneumatic or hydraulic mechanisms, these hybrid cylinders have a more elaborated way of generating power.

How does an Air Hydraulic Cylinder Work?

To increase more pressure to the oil over the piston, the air hydraulic cylinder takes advantage of the surface area differential of an internal pneumatic piston-rod assembly. This provides a strengthened hydraulic cylinder output force. The function of the air hydraulic cylinder is similar to the double-acting cylinders. Yet, as the load comes to place, a second pneumatically controlled cylinder section starts to drive a rod into the oil section.

This seals the oil section off and intensifies the internal pressure. The intensified oil pressure will then push the working piston. This will generate an increased output thrust, which is the feature of the hydraulic cylinders.

:: Read More: An Introduction to Air Cylinder Actuator


Air hydraulic cylinders are applied to several industrial processing works, such as the piercing of the material, clinching, staking, drawing, cutting, and pressing. In general, the air hydraulic cylinder has the advantages of greater control of the processing work, having the higher retract force, and it is also very good at saving cost.

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