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Directional control valves are contraptions used to control the flow, and direction of liquid in different systems. Anything that has an engine, or relies on hydraulics, from tractors to cars, and irrigation systems will be hooked up with one of these contraptions. So you’ll find them pretty much everywhere. It’s thanks to directional control valves that we can harvest food quickly, and build houses efficiently and safely. 

So what exactly do these valves do?

Directional control valves do pretty much what they say they do: control the direction through valves. But it’s more complex than this in real life. Basically, these valves control the flow of liquid by shifting an internal moving part, often called a spool or disc. As the spool moves one direction or another, it opens up different passages or ports within the valve. This allows pressure to move through the system in a particular way – moving a piston or shaft. This is how hydraulic systems function. 

Different classifications

Different types of directional control valves exist for various kinds of machinery, equipment, and purposes. Generally, directional control valves can be classified by the:

  • Number of ports. Typically, there are three main kinds, depending on the number of ports within a system. 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way valves all have different operating positions that allow for various channels of movement. 
  • Type of spool. This is closely related to how many ports the valve has. The Spool is the mechanism by which the ports are opened and closed – allowing liquid to pass through, or be shut off. The poppet, rotary, and sliding spool are various types of spool that operate within different types of directional control valves.
  • Actuating method. This refers to how the valve position is changed. This is done manually, via a lever or pedal, electronically via a current, or mechanically via a spring or ball. 

What industries use directional control valves?

Any industry that uses hydraulic systems to power machinery such as cars, tractors, assembly lines, energy production, raw and processed materials all the way to large scale printers, marine equipment, light industrial, and mining applications – all use directional control valves. Even just getting to work, you’ll most likely be using a transmission system that relies on a directional control valve to function. Their widespread applicability makes them increasingly sought after in the modern worlds of construction, agriculture, mining, and development. 

Telltale signs they need a service

Conducting routine inspections of equipment and keeping up regular maintenance on your assets will ensure all your hydraulic systems are in top nick. However, if you do see any of the following signs, you may want to do that service sooner than later.

  • Corrosion or erosion – this can occur over time, especially if your system is exposed to the weather.
  • Internal Leakage – can occur for a number of reasons, for example, the actuator might not be properly set up, or the internal parts aren’t calibrated properly or have worn down.
  • External leakage – this can be caused by improper maintenance, excessive vibration, or pressure. 
  • Abnormal hydraulic function – if you notice any equipment behaving abnormally, be sure to cease work and inspect the problem. Call a technician if you’re unsure of how to proceed. 

Consult the experts

If you still have questions about the different types of directional control valves get in contact with the experts at Hydraulic Solutions and Sales today. For more information and detailed quotes on our range of premium Danfoss and Eaton products, our team will be more than happy to assist you.