Type of Cylinders in the Automation Industry

Pneumatic cylinders are a standard way to position, clamp and transmit parts in automated equipment.

Let’s now have a look and gain some basic understanding on what cylinders are and how do they operate. By understanding the basics, it will help us understand the various application of a cylinder and how it affects the operations and piston rod.

types of cylinder

As you can see above in the picture, the cylinders that are common in pneumatic applications include:

– Compact cylinder
– Rotary cylinder
– Round cylinder
– ISO cylinder
– Tie-rod cylinder

The first and most important step in choosing a cylinder is deciding if one has to use the single or double-acting cylinder. Single-acting cylinders uses compressed air to move the load in one single direction. The air is supplied to one side of the piston and a spring or a gravity will return the piston to its original position once the air pressure is removed.

As for double-acting cylinder, it uses compressed air for movement in both directions. These cylinders are suitable for loads that involves pushing and pulling.
When it comes to the cylinder sizing, the load is the prime consideration when defining cylinder type and piston size. The bore size decides the force at a given pressure. The operating pressure typically ranges from 10 to 150psi, and this is the central consideration when selecting a bore size.

The next important step in selecting the bore size is the amount of force the application necessitates. Besides that, one must also consider the speed of which the load will more. When there are pressure losses due to friction against the tube wall, the compressed air will flow through a system. It’s important to note that pressure loses can be fixed by increasing pressure, so if it’s increased, the energy consumption of the overall pneumatic system also needs to be increased.

Cylinder Options
When a cylinder is sized correctly, it may stroke rapidly and require usage of flow control, by controlling flow of air leaving the cylinder. This will reduce rapid exhaust racket and the noise caused by cylinder banging. The flow controls are usually mounted directly to the cylinder, but can also be attached inline near the cylinder.

Once the cylinders are selected, one will have a good idea of the flow rate and compressed air pressure that’s needed. By knowing these information, control valves can be selected accordingly.

How do we choose the right type of valve for the cylinder?
Choosing the right valve is important. A 3-way valve can be used for a single acting cylinder, meanwhile a 4-way valve can be used for a double acting cylinder. Valve size which is small may restrict flow and may not allow a system to work well. Meanwhile, an oversized valve may cost more and will use more air.

The key point is to always supply, prepare and distribute the air properly. When it’s properly applied, the pneumatic device and actuators/cylinders will have a longer life span with limited operational issues, and minimal maintenance.

related articles & products

Selecting the right pneumatic component or material to suit any pneumatic application is important to ensure a long service life. Read the articles below to know more about it’s specification & features.

Standard Cylinder

The cylinders are designed with great performance

Multi-Rod Cylinder

High precision and concentric cylinder

Compact Cylinder

A double-acting motion pattern 

Slim Cylinder

Good sealing performance and dust protection

ISO Cylinder

Designed to meet the international standard

Rodless Cylinder

Great for long-stroke applications

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