Guide Cylinders Guide

What are Guide Cylinders?

Guide cylinders are the mechanical component that stops, positions, and transfers workpieces in a production line or assembly line. A linear guide on the cylinder directs the movement of the piston rod so that it moves a workpiece in the correct direction. With the linear guide, precise movement is preserved and the cylinder does not wear excessively during the operation.

Linear Guide Cylinder, SMC Corporation


The first advantage you may already learn from the video is its resistance to deformation. Cylinders without a guide deform when operating with eccentric loads, which does not occur to those with a guide. There are more advantages to guide cylinders, which make them flexible and versatile in a production line. Let's take a look.

Compact Size

Guide cylinders are typically compact so that they can work in a confined environment for delicate positioning works. Because of their compact size and excellent precision, they are commonly involved in competitive environments such as automatic production lines for electronic consumables or medicine. The sizing ensures that these components do not get in the way of the operations.

On top of that, the smaller and lighter the cylinder is, the less energy it takes to control the motion, and the easier it is for the auto-control system to manage the movement. By decreasing the size and weight, the cycle time of each operation is reduced too.

Simple Installation

There are mounting slots that pass through the cylinder body. These slots allow for simple and direct installation to the working platform. Besides, the mounting slots also allow for installing the auto switch in the cylinder. This further enhances its ability to work in an automatic control process, rendering better accessibility to small component positioning applications.


Guide cylinders featuring shorter strokes enable more efficient operations. The term stroke refers to the distance the piston travels inside the cylinder (from top dead center to bottom dead center). The faster the cylinder completes a stroke, the faster it gets ready for the next round and hence the more efficient. Although the speed has to do with the power system (hydraulic or pneumatic) and cushion, the longer the stroke, the more time it takes in general to complete a stroke.

Simple Design

The design mainly comes in two styles, tubular and square. In fact, you can only find these two figures in almost all types of applications. The reason is that a tubular or square cylinder body best fits into most working environments; the least room is wasted. These two configurations save the most space in a line and allow for more room for other pieces of equipment, resulting in better productivity and quality.


Cylinders with a guide were more commonly seen in production lines in the past. They are capable of dealing with most applications that require precision and accuracy. However, the requirement of precision in certain sectors today, such as electronics, semiconductors, medical, and more, demands a more accurate guide to these gadgets, and hence the double-guide cylinders are introduced.

Twin-guide Cylinders, SMC Pneumatics UK

The double-guide (or twin-guide) cylinder was considered too bulky to fit into delicate working procedures before. But with the advance of technology, the double-guides today are made just as compact and light-weighted. With better guiding ability, they are able to handle higher-load tasks with precision. Used in robotic manipulation and larger-scale operations, this type is a cost-efficient machine because it is downsized yet provides more power.


There is a great number of applications to guide cylinders and the primary goal is to manage the movement of workpieces and parts in a production line. They assist the process, transfer the components, lift the loads, and more. Below are some tasks these devices handle.


In an automatic line, they serve as the stopper to control the batch of the production. In this respect, they are installed underneath or by the line. The cylinder moves in the way of the transferring path to halt the next batch while the machine is processing one.


They also act as the positioner in a line where positioning or redirecting the workpiece is required. To process certain components, there will be slots or tenons on the work table or work platform. The guide cylinders on the sideway or underneath the work platform can manage the positioning of the workpiece by retracting or extending.


The other essential application is to transfer the lightweight workpieces onto a complex in an automatic assembly line. To place the small components during the operation, precision locating is required. The guide on the cylinders makes sure the components fall on the correct spot of a complex accurately.

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