Explaining Simple Hydraulic Systems Design
Hydraulic system designs are found everywhere from construction sites to auto shops. Yet most take these systems for granted despite relying on them every day.
A hydraulic system’s ability to turn a small space into a producer of massive amounts of force and work make them an incredibly important factor in the production of manufacturing equipment and heavy machinery.
Principles of Hydraulic System Design
The primary principle of hydraulic system design is Pascal’s principle.
In a controlled system, force is multiplied according to the area of the larger weight. Imagine a lever with a small weight on the long side, and a larger weight on the smaller side. By applying very little force, a fraction of the larger weight’s mass, to the smaller weight you can move the larger one.
In a hydraulic system, the weights are replaced by pistons, and the lever is a cylinder full of fluid which cannot expand. A small amount of force is multiplied by the area of the larger piston to produce a greater force. The cylinder is perhaps the most critical aspect of a hydraulic system, responsible for ensuring constant pressure and system protection. A damaged, or poorly made cylinder is often the cause of a failed hydraulic system.
Principles of Failure in Hydraulic Systems
The leading cause of hydraulic system failure is cavitation from micro jet air bubbles. Caused by simple condensation, water slowly finds its way into hydraulic systems over time. Hydraulic systems, which are usually heated and under immense pressure, will evaporate these small drops of water. Now under pressure, this small pocket of air will be compressed again and again (sometimes exceeding one million psi) until it bursts, causing a cavitation in the interior surface of the cylinder. This erosion creates metal shavings which leave scratches in the cylinder, damage the seal, and exponentially degrade the cylinder over time.
Firms who manufacture these systems demand high quality cast iron to combat wear and protect system performance.
Fundamental Differences between Hydraulic and Pneumatic Systems
Hydraulic and pneumatic systems are both fluid power systems using different means to generate power. Hydraulics uses liquids like oils, and pneumatics uses compressed airs or gases.
Pneumatic systems are typically used for lower power and tools with thinner or lighter materials. Hydraulics are used for more powerful machinery like you might find in the waste management, agriculture, mining, or construction industries.
The most common differences between hydraulic and pneumatic systems are:
- Hydraulics utilizes liquid rather than gas
- There is no delay in movement in hydraulic systems (liquids cannot be compressed)
- Hydraulics can generate greater power than pneumatics
- Pneumatic systems lose more energy due to compressing gas rather than liquid
Examples of Hydraulic Systems
- Scissor lifts
- Hydraulic brake systems
- Pump and motor systems
- ...and many more
Hydraulic systems everywhere. Why? Just as is the case with pneumatic systems and all fluid power applications, performing greater amounts of work in smaller spaces offers tremendous economic advantage and efficiency in production.
Protecting Hydraulic System with Continuous Cast Iron Cylinder Construction
As one of the most naturally lubricated metals available, continuous cast iron versa bar from American Iron & Alloys, LLC is favored by manufacturers designing hydraulic systems. Many hydraulic systems fail because heat damages the seal over time. Continuous cast iron retains 10% of the heat water can, making it ideal for hydraulic system designers looking to minimize system heat.
Continuous cast iron is ultra-durable and resists cavitation. Ultra-durable, naturally lubricated, and able to dissipate heat, continuous cast iron Versa-Bar from American Iron & Alloys, LLC is the preferred material for hydraulic system cylinder manufacturers.