What Is Hydraulic Motion?

hydraulic actuator hydraulic actuators

Hydraulic motion is a trusted standby technology in the mechanical world. From lifting transit vehicles to operating mining equipment, hydraulics provide the necessary power to drive heavy duty applications worldwide. But what makes hydraulic motion possible? How does it work, and how is it so robust compared to other power sources?

Hydraulic NFPA Cylinder

Fluid Pressure

Like pneumatics, hydraulic systems utilize Pascal’s law of fluid pressure. This law states that applying pressure on a fluid applies equal pressure to that fluid in all directions, allowing the transfer of motion through a fluid. By using near incompressible liquids instead of gases, hydraulics are able to transfer higher forces with ease.

Hydraulic Oils

Most commonly, hydraulic actuators employ specially formulated hydraulic oils as their fluid medium. These oils allow smooth mechanical motion without contamination, overheating, or other interferences that occur with pneumatic or electric motion.

Hydraulics are powerful and robust. Hydraulic actuators provide very high force outputs compared to similarly sized pneumatic actuators, at a fraction of the cost of electric actuators. The trade-off for this power is weight – while other power sources are light, liquids are very heavy per unit, making hydraulic actuators comparatively heavy. To withstand higher pressures, they are routinely built from sturdier materials.

What Applications Is Hydraulics Used For?

Hydraulics are frequently found in tough, dirty applications where other actuators may not measure up. Construction, mining, offshore, and even heavy duty manufacturing industries utilize hydraulic motion to generate the necessary force.

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