The three most common hydraulic cylinder configurations are piston hydraulic cylinders, telescopic hydraulic cylinders and plunger hydraulic cylinders. Each cylinder design varies by the type of application as below:
- Piston hydraulic cylinders are the most common on the market and can be designed with welding (welded hydraulic cylinders) or without (tie-rod hydraulic cylinders). Also, any piston cylinder can be suitable for single and double acting applications.
- Telescopic hydraulic cylinders consist of a minimum of two stages or more and able to provide an extremely long cylinder stroke (travel distance) from a compact collapsed length of the cylinder body. Just like piston cylinders, telescopic cylinders can be single and double acting.
- Plunger hydraulic cylinders do not have piston. Therefore, plunger cylinders require a larger size of the hydraulic rod in order to create the same amount of force compared to piston cylinders. Also, plunger cylinders are suited only for single acting applications.
For all types of cylinders, the crucial measurements include cylinder stroke, bore diameter and rod diameter. Stroke lengths vary from less than an inch to several feet or more. Bore diameters can range anywhere from an inch up to more than 24 inches, and rod diameters range from 0.5 inch to more than 20 inches. In practice, however, the choice of stroke, bore and rod dimensions may be limited by environmental, application or design conditions.
For example, space may be too limited for the needed cylinder stroke length. For tie-rod cylinders, increasing the size of the bore also means increasing the number of tie rods needed to retain stability. Increasing the diameter of the bore or piston rod is an ideal way to compensate for higher loads, but space considerations may not allow this, in which case multiple cylinders may be required.