Compact Hydraulic Cylinders

Compact hydraulic cylinders are versatile pieces of equipment in the engineering and manufacturing sectors. You can find these tiny devices in assembly lines and packing lines where products or components are moved and repositioned constantly. By compact, these cylinders usually reduce at least twenty to thirty percent of the volume of a standard model. In spite of the size, these hydraulically-driven accessories can push, lift, reposition, clamp, and support parts in a mechanical operation efficiently.

Compact Hydraulic Cylinder Swing Clamp, Roemheld Gruppe


The construction of a hydraulic cylinder is very simple. It consists of a tubular barrel and a piston. The tubular barrel is the cylinder body. The piston inside the cylinder, also called a stem, moves freely within the body. The movement of the piston is driven by fluid, and hence hydraulic. Based on how the fluid flows into the barrel to drive the piston, there are single-acting and double-acting cylinders. Before explaining the acting mechanism, we will talk a bit more about the basic working principle first.

Working Principle

The barrel restricts the stroke (moving distance between the retraction and extension limits) of the stem. Compact hydraulic cylinders typically have a short stroke (usually within a couple of inches). The retraction and extension limits are the top dead center (TDC) and the bottom dead center (BDC). The TDC and BDC together set a clear moving range for the stem as in the farthest ends it can go within a cylinder.

Hydraulic Cylinder Speed, Wisc-Online

When the cylinder operates, the piston is forced out of its original position to the TDC. A resistant force will later form and push the piston back to the former position. The dead center is the point where the resistance starts to form against the pushing force to reject the stem. In a mechanical cylinder, the rejection is formed by a built-in spring. As for the hydraulic cylinder, the resistance is formed by the pressure of the fluid that flows into the barrel. So what about the single and double-acting mechanism? Let's take a look right now.


Single-acting refers to the one-direction control of the piston rod. The fluid enters the cylinder from the base end to push the stem out. When the fluid starts to enter the cylinder, the piston rod is forced out of the cylinder. The stem retracts to its original position when it reaches the TDC. The rejection may come from a spring or an external force. With a single-acting cylinder, the stroke cannot be fully controlled by the power system, which limits its versatility and efficiency in application.

Difference between Single-acting and Double-acting, Sarum Hydraulics


Double-acting cylinders have full control of the piston retraction and extension. The fluid enters the barrel in two directions to slide the piston back and forth. The fluid spreads into the cylinder from both ends. When the fluid enters from the base end, the piston rod extends to the cap end. When the fluid enters from the cap, the piston retracts. Double-acting is more efficient with full movement control and therefore has more versatility in applications.


As mentioned earlier, compact hydraulic cylinders usually reduce about twenty to thirty percent volume to fit into delicate operations. Some cylinders even reduce up to 50 percent of the volume. Since they are less bulky, they are ideal for confined and sophisticated working environments such as assembly lines and automatic production lines. Its simple construction allows for a custom arrangement. Various piston styles, clamp levers, corrosion-resistant components, etc. are available to meet your actual requirements.

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