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A clamp cylinder is a mechanical device which is used to get hold of a part or a work piece in an assembly line or a production line. Based on the end application, a clamp cylinder can be pneumatically operated or hydraulically operated; however, the pneumatic clamp cylinders are way more commonly applied in the assembly lines where smaller pieces of parts are involved. The clamp cylinders can be used to hold a part in place on a given surface too. To this end, several cylinders are applied at once to secure the part.
Though the clamp cylinders are used as a kind of work holding system, the pneumatic cylinder itself only serves as the power resource of the clamping mechanism. It is the jaws, jigs, or other sorts of clamping accessories attached onto the piston rod of the cylinder that perform the actual clamping motion. There are the regular clamp cylinders and the rotary clamp cylinders available.
The fundamental difference between a regular clamp cylinder and a rotary clamp cylinder lies in the movement pattern of the pistons rod. The typical movement pattern of a cylinder refers to the piston rod moving linearly along the axial axis of the cylinder. Yet, the piston rod of a rotary clamp cylinder has the ability to move linearly along the axial axis of the body while rotating at the same time. With the rotation capability, there is more versatility to the application of a rotary clamp cylinder. The rotary clamp cylinders are also known as swing clamp cylinders or swing arm clamp cylinders.
The basic components of a rotary clamp cylinder are not much different from a regular clamp cylinder. They both consist of a cylinder tube, a piston, a piston rod, and two branch pipes. These are the basic components of a pneumatic clamp cylinder. The piston is a moving part within the cylinder tube which is attached with a piston rod. When the piston is pushed by a pressurized gas, the piston rod is driven outward from the cylinder tube consequently. The branch pipes are small openings for pressurized gas to enter the cylinder tube.
The cylinder tube is the body of a clamp cylinder which contains all the major components and other accessories such as seals, caps, rings, and nuts. There are two branch pipes on two ends of the cylinder respectively. They serve as the ports for pressurized gas to enter and exit the cylinder tube. When the gas enters the cylinder on the sealed end, it forces the piston as well as the rod out of the cylinder; when the gas enters on the other end, the piston is forced back to its previous position. The movement of the piston controlled by the gas flow entering from two different ports is called double-acting, and the cylinders that apply this mechanism are called the double-acting cylinders.
Different cylinder manufacturers may apply different approaches to achieve the rotational movement of the piston rod inside a rotary clamp cylinder; that being said, one of the most commonly applied approaches is the vane. A vane is also called a single vane; it is a piece of accessory that attaches to the piston. When the pressurized gas enters the cylinder tube, the vane is pushed and forced to drive the piston rotate as it travels inside the cylinder.
Rotary clamp cylinders have a swing arm attached to the piston rod. The swing arms are sometimes called swing clamps, which are used to hold a part or a component in place on a given surface. Normally, the swing arm can rotate clockwise to the right or counter clockwise to the left at 90 degrees. Therefore, when the swing arm unclamps a part, it swings aside and the part can be removed easily.
In most cases, multiple rotary clamp cylinders are applied at the same time as a set to hold a part in place. For example, 4 rotary clamp cylinders can be fixed at the 4 corners of a surface to hold a sheet material or machinery in between. When the part is positioned, the 4 swing clamps rotate to secure the sheet material or to clamp the machinery on its flange. The secured part can be unclamped by simply swinging the clamps aside.
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