Compact Hydraulic Cylinders

What are the compact hydraulic cylinders?

The compact hydraulic cylinders are the machines that is used to position work pieces or components in a mechanical operation. The movement of a hydraulic cylinder is controlled by hydraulic power system. As the name compact hydraulic cylinders suggests, this type of hydraulic cylinder is made in a relatively smaller size than the standard hydraulic cylinders. It is quite normal that many compact cylinders reduce at least 20 to 30 percent of volume of the standard models. Some compact cylinders even reduce up to 50 percent of the volume in order to fit into delicate industrial operations.

Since the compact hydraulic cylinders are less bulky, they can be applied in more confined or sophisticated working environments such as the assembly lines or automatic production lines in precision machinery which requires absolute precision, accuracy and efficiency. Alternatively, the standard hydraulic cylinders are commonly implemented in construction sites, assembly lines and industrial package machines. In addition to the hydraulic power, pneumatic power is also widely applied to drive the industrial cylinders.


The anatomy and mechanism of a cylinder

The anatomy of a cylinder is very simple. It consists of a tubular barrel and a piston. Typically, the body of a cylinder looks like a tubular barrel. The piston inside the cylinder is also called a stem which can be moved within the cylinder. The movement of the stem inside the compact hydraulic cylinders is driven by fluid gas. The movement of the cylinder is professionally referred to as the stroke which indicates the distance the stem goes during its retraction and extension. The stroke is restricted based on the length of the cylinder.

The compact hydraulic cylinders usually have a relatively short stroke comparing to the standard hydraulic cylinders. The limit to the retraction and extension of the stem inside the cylinder is called the top dead center (TDC) and the bottom dead center (BDC). The TDC and BDC together set a clear moving range for the piston as in the farthest ends it can go within a cylinder. When the cylinder is working, the piston will be pushed out of its original position and forced to the top dead center. A resistant force will form and push the piston back to the former position when it reaches the dead center. The dead center is the point where the resistant force starts to form against the pushing force to reject the movement of the piston. The rejection can be formed with different mechanisms but typically it is caused by the spring that is integrated into the cylinder. As for the hydraulic cylinders or pneumatic cylinders, the resistant force has to do with the pressure and density of the gas and fluids inside the cylinder.


Hydraulic & Pneumatic

Both hydraulic cylinders and pneumatic cylinders are widely implemented in the modern industrial operations. The components of these two types of cylinders are similar to each other but the power system to drive the piston stem is different. In a hydraulic cylinder, the fluid gas is used to fill inside the barrel to exert pressure to the piston in order to initiate its movement. However, in a pneumatic cylinder, the agent or operator to drive the piston is gas instead of fluid. The pneumatic cylinders are considered more applicable when the linear or rotary movement is required while the hydraulic cylinders are applied more in the heavy duty operations since the hydraulic system is more powerful and effective. Also, the pneumatic cylinders are more resistant to harsh working environments, even in extreme temperatures and they require less maintenance comparing to the hydraulic cylinders.


The single and double acting of a cylinder

The single acting cylinder can be ruled in one direction only and the fluid gas which is spread by a pump or compressor enters the cylinder from one end only to push the stem out. When the fluid gas starts to fill into the cylinder, the stem is forced out of the cylinder. The stem will later go back to its original position when it reaches the top dead center and is rejected by the spring on the piston rod. Namely, when the gas fluid enters the cylinder on one end and one end only, the piston rod will be forced to the other end of the cylinder; to push the piston back to its former position, a spring that is integrated to the piston rod rejects the movement and pushes it back. With a single acting cylinder, the movement of the piston cannot be fully controlled by the power system which limits its application in multiple fields.

On the other hand, the double acting cylinders can be moved by the operator, or the agent, in two directions by sliding the piston back and forth along the cylinder. In other words, the fluid gas can be spread into the cylinder from both ends of it. When the fluid gas enters the cylinder from the right end, the piston rod is forced to the left end; when the fluid gas enters the cylinder from the left end, the piston is hence forced to the right end. The resistant force to push the piston back is not formed by the rejection of the spring, but the gas fluid that enters the cylinder from the other end. This is the major difference between the single acting cylinder and double acting cylinder. The double acting cylinders are considered more versatile because the power system has the full control of the movement and hence they can be applied in more operations.

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