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Selecting Hydraulic Cylinders

What to Look Out for When Selecting A Hydraulic Cylinder

When it comes to hydraulic muscles, the hydraulic cylinder is something that immediately comes to mind. Hydraulic systems produce around 10 times the amount of power that an electric motor of the same size can produce. Ranging from the size of your arm right up to the humungous linear actuators that operate ships, excavators, mining trucks and oils rigs, they are more than a force to be reckoned with – no matter what scale they are.

Selecting the right hydraulic cylinder is the key to better performance. These cylinders are what enables the hydraulic power system to work. They make it possible to apply linear motion and force without the need for conventional mechanical gears or levers.

Whatever the size and its purpose, there are some points that should be considered when selecting the right hydraulic cylinder:

One of your first considerations should be around support issues. How much physical support will the cylinder and piston need? Take into account stroke length and whether a stop-tube will be required to provide further support and prevent jack-knifing. Use Euler calculations to understand whether an oversize rod is required.

An area that is often overlooked in hydraulic design is not specifying the piston rod size to be large and strong enough. This can make the cylinder weaker, leaving it under too much stress and wear and tear to be useful over the long term.  

It’s a mistake to add a standard cylinder to an application that will need a special consideration. Loading conditions are not always straightforward.  Cylinder mountings should also be evaluated fully. In some cases, a rigid mount is required, such as when there is a linear motion. In other cases such as when the motion is curvilinear, a swivel mount will need to be used. Another impact to ponder when it comes to mounts is the push versus pull requirement.

Rod buckling is something that can come from the compression applications that use long strokes. It’s recommended that the maximum allowable push stroke length is calculated when the Cylinder Rod is fully extended.

With careful consideration, mistakes can be avoided when looking at options for new hydraulic system cylinders.


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