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One of the essential components of any hydraulic system is the actuator. Actuators enable hydraulic systems to achieve a desired action by converting hydraulic power in the fluid to mechanical power.

Actuators come in all different types and can create torque (twisting force) or a linear (straight line) force. An actuator that creates a linear force is called a hydraulic cylinder.

What is a hydraulic cylinder?

A hydraulic cylinder enables a hydraulic system to do useful work by converting the energy of the hydraulic fluid into a linear force. 

Pressurised hydraulic fluid acts on the piston of the cylinder causing it to move in a linear motion. In turn, this causes the rod, which is connected to the load, to move. That is how the energy in the fluid is converted into a power which can be controlled to do useful work.

The key components of a hydraulic cylinder include: 

  • A barrel, base and head which form the main body of the cylinder.
  • A piston which creates two chambers in the cylinder.
  • A rod which is mounted on one side of the piston and connects to the machine component that does the mechanical work.
  • Seal gland and seals to stop the hydraulic fluid from leaking.

Types of hydraulic cylinders

All hydraulic cylinders create linear movement, but there are different varieties which have their own unique effects. Below we will outline some of the most common types of hydraulic cylinders.

Single acting hydraulic cylinder

Single acting cylinders operate in one direction only. They have a single port at one end of the cylinder, so when the fluid is pumped into the port it pushes the rod, causing it to extend. The rod returns because of an external force such as the load or a spring. 

Double acting hydraulic cylinder

Unlike single acting cylinders which can only push or pull, double acting cylinders do both. They have ports both ends of the cylinder so that when oil is pumped into the head port, the piston moves and extends the rod. Oil in the rod end of the cylinder is pushed out into a reservoir. To achieve the opposite movement and retract the rod, the oil flow is reversed.

Telescopic hydraulic cylinder

Telescopic cylinders are, as their name suggests, a series of rams inside one another like a telescope. This means they can achieve a comparatively long stroke when all the rams are extended. These types of cylinders can be single or double acting.

Tandem hydraulic cylinder

In a tandem hydraulic cylinder, two interconnected cylinders operate together to generate a greater force than one cylinder would be able to create on its own. The two cylinders are supplied by different hydraulic systems, but they are connected mechanically so that the rod of the first cylinder enters the second cylinder, pushing its base.

Hydraulic cylinder supplies and maintenance

Whether you need questions answered about hydraulic cylinders or are looking for high quality products to suit your needs, Hydraulic Solutions can help. 

We supply a large range of medium duty and industrial hydraulic cylinders to suit your specific application requirements. We can also assist with cylinder reconditioning or customised manufacture if you need. Get in touch with us today on +61 8 9437 5388 to see how we can assist.