Pneumatic cylinder represents a large family of pneumatic products. Pneumatic cylinder is also called pneumatic actuator or air cylinder. Pneumatic actuator is mainly categorized as linear actuator or rotary actuator. Gripper is also an actuator. In normal pneumatic cylinder the piston rod moves in and out to effect movement of any weight or object. In case of rotary actuator the rotation is caused due to rack and pinion or vane function. However another type of air cylinder which is known as rodless cylinder has no piston rod. These rodless cylinders could be either mechanically couples or magnetically coupled.
Air cylinder has many variations depending upon the application. Some of them are guide cylinder, compact air cylinder, lock cylinder, low friction cylinder, tie rod cylinder, profile cylinder, ISO cylinder, clamp cylinder, three position cylinder, telescopic cylinder etc. Compact cylinders are widely used in fixtures where mounting space is a constraint. These compact cylinders are manufactured by most of the pneumatic products manufacturers including SMC, FESTO, CKD, JANATICS, COMOZZI, PNEUMAX, PARKER, SPAC, NORGREN and Others. Most of the pneumatic products suppliers including pneumatic products dealers or traders do keep stock of these pneumatic cylinders to meet immediate demand from their customers.
One of the important components of pneumatic cylinder selection is selection of right mountings for air cylinders. There are many types of mountings available to provide flexibility to the fixture design engineers. Most common types of cylinder mountings are front flange, rear flange, foot mounting or L mounting, wall mounting, rear clevis, front clevis, rod eye and trunnion. Floating joints are used with piston rod to accommodate any deviation in alignment. Reed switch are used to sense the position of the piston. ISO cylinders are most common type of air cylinders used by the industry. ISO air cylinders support interchangeability and can be replaced by other make ISO cylinder. Other type of pneumatic cylinder type based on standard is known as VDMA cylinder. Linear actuator family also includes electrical actuator. Electrical actuators are servo driven. Many OEMs now use electrical actuator for specific application. Another type of air cylinder, clamp cylinder is used for clamping purpose and used widely in automotive sector. Similarly, stopper cylinders are used mainly in conveying application. Based upon the working, pneumatic cylinder could be single acting cylinder or double acting cylinder. Single acting cylinder is spring return cylinder. Double acting cylinder has two ports. Air cylinders can be with air cushion or without cushion. While designing a system, selection of pneumatic actuator is a critical area and based upon their selection the valve sizing is done accordingly. However the application of pneumatic cylinder sometimes is limited by the requirement of higher force.
In case of higher force requirement the designer might opt for Hydraulic cylinder/ hydraulic actuator. Hydraulic cylinder/ hydraulic actuator provide the actuation in a hydraulic system. Hydraulic cylinder/ hydraulic actuator are designed for high operating pressure and provide higher force output.
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