A hydraulic system is a system that uses pressurized fluid (typically either oil or water) to physically move a component from one place to another within a hydraulic circuit. Hydraulic systems are used in various industries and are applied to equipment of different sizes within the construction, automobile, robotics, and steel processing industries, alongside much more. Moreover, such systems operate on Pascal's law, also known as the foundational principle of hydraulics. Within a hydraulic circuit, a hydraulic pump works to create a vacuum at its inlet, allowing fluid to flow from a reservoir and into the pump. Next, mechanical forces are applied within the pump, causing fluid to exit out the pump outlet. In addition, control valves are provided to regulate the system's pressure, flow, and direction. To ensure the proper functioning of equipment, the basic components of a hydraulic system can be categorized into four groups, those of which include a reservoir, pump(s), valve(s), and actuator(s), alongside additional hydraulic accessories. To better understand how these components work together, in this blog, we will learn about each hydraulic component and its classification in detail.
Hydraulic pumps are a key component of hydraulic systems, and they function to convert mechanical energy into hydraulic energy, which provides pressurized fluid for respective applications. Moreover, these pumps can be divided into two categories, those of which include fixed and variable displacement types. In regard to displacement pumps, fluid should flow out of the system at a fixed rate, whereas variable displacement pumps allow flow rate and pressure to vary as the pump operates. Fixed displacement pumps are perfect for handling single tasks requiring long operational times. However, while variable displacement pumps can be used in various applications, they are more expensive and require additional attention while operating.
When choosing a new variable displacement pump for your operations, axial and radial piston pumps are common choices to pick from, while options for fixed displacement pumps commonly include gear pumps, gerotor pumps, and screw pumps. Additionally, these components are required to handle heavy loads, which means they necessitate regular maintenance to mitigate rapid wear and deterioration.
Control valves ensure the proper function of a hydraulic system by regulating internal pressure and ensuring the apparatus does not exceed its maximum capacity. Furthermore, depending on the application, these items can be classified into three separate categories including pressure control, direction control, and flow control valves.
Pressure control valves allow you to regulate and limit the amount of air or fluid in a hydraulic system, and common types include overflow, pressure-reducing, and sequence valves. When pressure in the system tops its recommended limit, the pressure control valve opens and diverts the flow back to the reservoir. During this time, the direction control valve works to control the fluid movement within the system. Finally, flow control valves are employed to regulate the speed of fluid moving into the system to control actuator movement.
Together, hydraulic motors and cylinders are termed actuators. Hydraulic motors used in a system work to convert hydraulic energy into torque and angular displacement, those of which include geared motors, vane motors, and axial or radial plunger hydraulic motors. On the other hand, hydraulic cylinders convert hydraulic energy into linear displacement, and pressurized fluid moves the piston in the cylinder as needed. Furthermore, a hydraulic cylinder consists of a piston, piston rod, and cylinder as its main components.
A reservoir is an external tank attached to the system to store the fluid, whether oil or water. When the hydraulic motor is activated, fluid is sucked into the system and subsequently pressurized to move the actuator cylinder.
There are several accessories required for the proper operation of hydraulic systems, one of which includes accumulators that absorb excess pressure and flow while maintaining system pressure. Another accessory is a filter to remove pollutants from the oil to further protect the hydraulic system. In addition, an oil cooler or heat exchanger is an integral part of a hydraulic system as it cools down the generated heat during the operation and maintains temperature balance. Finally, seals are used to ensure there are no leaks in the system since it is critical to maintaining internal pressure for instigating actuator movement.
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