Hydraulics Blog

The Hydraulics Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about pumps and valves, flow control, cylinders, actuators and components, and mobile hydraulics as they relate to hydraulics. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Key Differences Between Hydraulics and Pneumatics

Posted October 20, 2019 12:01 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: fluid power Hydraulic pneumatic

Hydraulics and pneumatics are often grouped together. However, each offers its own distinctive features. When selecting which application to use, it is critical to understand the differences between each system.

The main difference between pneumatics and hydraulics is the medium used to produce power. Hydraulics use liquid for power generation. Pneumatics uses air to transmit power. These two systems, while very different, do share some common links.

Pneumatics is a type of system that is air-operated, which allows it to function at a low pressure. Pneumatics can be used in industries where hydraulics can’t, such as food manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries. These are “clean systems” that are free of contamination, unlike a hydraulics system which is preferred in engineering industries.

A pneumatics system’s initial cost is less expensive and easier to maintain. In general, the upkeep of a pneumatic system is less complicated to maintain than a hydraulics system. Since air is an abundant resource, a pneumatic system can collect air right from the atmosphere.

Hydraulic systems tend to be larger and more complicated than pneumatic systems. Hydraulic systems use a higher force since movement is slower due to larger load handling capabilities. The opposite holds true for pneumatics where a lower force is used.

Hydraulics systems also contain fewer moving parts, which assists with maintenance. Installation is more complicated, but after the initial investment, the cost is lowered. One of the main differentiating factors around hydraulics is its high precision capabilities.

Each of these systems has its advantages and specialties. Hydraulics are more powerful and meticulous then pneumatic systems, but that doesn’t mean hydraulics is always the optimal choice. Pneumatics aren’t as powerful, but they are cleaner and faster. It’s important to understand the processes and limitations of each system when determining which is best suited for an operation.

3 comments; last comment on 10/22/2019
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Students Meet 'Chainless Challenge'

Posted June 08, 2015 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

Last month, teams of engineering students gathered in Southern California to compete in Parker Hannifin's Chainless Challenge to power a bicycle hydraulically. Using hydraulic pumps, motors, accumulators, and hoses, the designs competed in sprint and efficiency races, farthest distance on a charge, and a six mile race. Some in the design exercise used energy recovery and one used lightweight hydraulic cylinders.

3 comments; last comment on 06/12/2015
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Hydraulics Powers One-off Chinese Swing Bridge

Posted August 31, 2014 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

When Chinese engineers built a highway overpass, they could not disrupt the high-speed rail line the roadway would straddle. Instead they built the bridge parallel to the tracks. Once completed, they hoisted the span 15 m (49 ft) onto a pivot and support ring, and hydraulically swung the 17,000-ton assembly 106° in 90 minutes. The ends of the bridge were then permanently mated to the adjoining roadway segments.

3 comments; last comment on 11/20/2014
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3 Ways to Increase the Life Span of Your Hydraulic Equipment

Posted January 11, 2014 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

Like it or not, hydraulic systems are part of modern-day life. You probably rely on hydraulics for your power brakes and power steering. Hydraulic systems tend to be fairly complicated, and maintaining and repairing them can be difficult. Luckily, there are lots of things that you can do to improve the longevity of the hydraulic systems that you use on a daily basis.

Even though there are thousands of applications of hydraulic machinery, they tend to follow some basic patterns of predictability when it comes to malfunctioning parts. Here are three simple ways you can increase the life span of your equipment.

1. Keep Track of Hose Issues, and Replace or Repair Where Necessary

Hoses don't tend to break unless they are very old or worn. There are several ways in which hoses break down, and each comes with its own set of circumstances.

Old hoses tend to have cracks that start to form on the inside and outside of hose walls. One of the major contributors to hose breakdown over time is the presence of ozone. Ozone is a chemical that reacts with hose material, diminishing the life expectancy of the hose. You can prevent this by using ozone-resistant hoses in the future.

Hoses with abrasions indicate some sort of mechanical friction against the hose. This is likely due to your hoses not being secured properly. The best way to secure a hose to something is to use hydraulic hose clamps. These clamps come in all shapes and sizes, and are capable of fastening hoses to almost any surface.

You might also consider buying abrasion-resistant hosing, especially is this is a repetitive problem. Abrasion-resistant hosing will not fix the problem, but it can greatly increase the time between replacements.

Tightly bent hoses will often break down more quickly than straight hoses. They are also known to form kinks over time. For these reasons, you can buy hosing that can be bent up to 180 degrees. Since it is made to handle this type of stress, it lasts a lot longer in bent form than other hose options.

2. Install Versatile Couplings

Some couplings are extremely sensitive. When installing them, you can easily apply the wrong torque, resulting in a leaky or malfunctioning connection. If you encounter this, you will definitely have to replace the coupling. Consider installing a coupling that is designed to handle improper torque so that you don't find yourself having to replace the part again soon.

When purchasing couplings, try to pick a manufacturer that offers a variety of options. Hydraulic parts are manufactured all over the world. Because of that, there are lots of different types of parts that just don't fit together. By purchasing from a manufacturer that sells all types of fittings and hoses, you can be sure to find what you are looking for.

3. Use Quality Part Replacements

When hoses or other parts need to be replaced, the time that the machinery is not running during repairs is referred to as 'downtime.' Because time is money, minimizing downtime is important to reduce costs and speed production.

Gates Programs recommends replacing hoses, clamps, and fittings with beefier parts that have longer life spans in order to reduce downtime. The less you have to replace parts, the less downtime your equipment will require for proper function.

There are lots of things that can go wrong with a hydraulic system. However, by properly identifying the malfunctioning or missing parts, and replacing them with more durable versions, you can decrease the amount of maintenance your hydraulic system requires. Don't buy cheap replacement parts for your hydraulic system. If you do, you could end up paying for it in repairs down the road.


Editor's Note: Michael David is a freelance journalist and blogger living in New York City. Michael loves writing about DIY projects, home improvement, and garden-related topics. For his hydraulics needs, Michael relies on Air-Way Canada.

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3 comments; last comment on 02/24/2014
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Got Apps?

Posted January 12, 2012 7:07 AM

Greater numbers of applications for smartphones are being written for engineering use. Do you have any you especially like for hydraulic design or other professional uses?

The preceding article is a "sneak peek" from Hydraulics, a newsletter from GlobalSpec. To stay up-to-date and informed on industry trends, products, and technologies, subscribe to Hydraulics today.

4 comments; last comment on 02/06/2013
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