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How to Choose a Pneumatic Cylinder for Your Application
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How to Choose a Pneumatic Cylinder for Your Application

06/28/2022

Pneumatic cylinders come in a range of sizes, loads, and speed capacities in addition to options on port locations and mountings. In addition, you must also consider the design of the pneumatic cylinder in the context of its working environment. With so many different types of cylinders, how do you know when to use which one or in what application?

In the following article, we’ve outlined only some of the considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing pneumatic cylinders in addition to some information on when to use which type. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions that you have!

Single Acting or Double Acting Pneumatic Cylinder?

Pneumatic cylinders come in both single-acting and double-acting so it’s important that you choose the right option based on your needs. To help you get a better idea of which is best for you, we’ve listed some pros and cons of each below.

Single-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders

Pros:

  • Simplistic design.
  • Compact in size.
  • When compared with a double-acting cylinder of the same size, single-acting cylinders consume half of the air.

Cons:

  • If equipped, the return spring side of this cylinder type is vented to the atmosphere. This could cause foreign matter to impact its functionality and overall reduce the lifespan of the cylinder.
  • Restrictions of the bore size and stroke result from limitations of the spring’s force and size.
  • Operating springs with extended cylinder life may become inconsistent and result in uncertain end-of-stroke positions.
  • The opposing spring force could result in a minor reduction of thrust.

Double-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders

single acting vs double acting cylinder

Pros:

  • ISO standards are usually based on double-acting cylinders’ design.
  • There are many different variations available on the double-acting cylinder design.
  • There are more bore and stroke size options due to the more expansive range of double-acting cylinders compared with single-acting cylinders.

Cons:

  • Can’t be simply held in a mid-position.
  • If a pneumatic cylinder is being used as a feed cylinder, it must be coupled to a hydraulic slave cylinder to provide a constant feed.
  • Adequate guiding of the piston rod is necessary for long-stroke cylinders.

Other Considerations When Choosing a Pneumatic Cylinder

As you can see, there are many factors in play. Here are some other things to keep in mind when choosing single-acting vs. double-acting cylinders.

How Much Pneumatic Cylinder Workload Is Expected?

The intended load for the cylinders will heavily impact the cylinder type and the size of the piston. This means that it’s essential for the cylinder to be large enough to create enough force to carry the load while simultaneously compensating for losses and friction. Keep in mind that oversized cylinders could result in higher energy costs.

What Pneumatic Cylinder Speed Is Required?

double acting pneumatic cylinder application

Pneumatic cylinders carry loads at different speeds which depend on the load itself in addition to how much pressure is available from the compressor, the bore size, the distance that needs to be covered, and the size of the piston rod. It needs to strike the right balance as higher travel speeds mean there’s a greater pressure loss which seemingly calls for increased pressure.

However, cylinders that are over-pressurized may experience damage and use more energy. The combination of long-stroke lengths and heavy loads don’t often mix well unless the cylinders are large enough to support this. Keep in mind that the load’s mounting position can help in these cases.

What Are the Worksite Conditions?

If you’re working in a tight space, it’s ideal to use a compact cylinder as they are smaller and will fit into smaller spaces. On the flip side, compact cylinders also usually have shorter stroke lengths due to their overall design being incapable of facilitating a load over a long distance. If you know that the pneumatic cylinder will be working in extreme conditions such as high or low temperatures or if it will come into contact with corrosive media, make sure to carefully choose the manufacturing material.

Choosing the right material for your working environment is essential. Generally, cylinders are made in brass, steel, aluminum, engineered plastic, or a combination of materials. You should also make sure that the sealing materials used are ideal for the working environment to keep internal workings safe.

Conclusion

Both single-acting and double-acting pneumatic cylinders have their ideal use cases and applications. We hope that you’ll turn to our experienced team at Cylinders, Inc. for additional information on this topic as we’re happy to guide you in the right direction. If you’re in need of assistance or you’d like to take advantage of our cylinder repairs quotes, please contact us today!

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