3 Main Types of Pneumatic Cylinders With Application

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders- Pneumatic cylinders are most typically selected to produce motion from the build-up of compressed gas in the engineering and industrial fields. Naturally, the sort of pneumatic cylinder you need will differ based on the application and industry. Because of the way the device works, pneumatic cylinders are also known as air cylinders.

What is a Pneumatic Cylinder?

The pneumatic or compressed air control mechanical device’s final element is the pneumatic cylinder, sometimes known as an air cylinder. Pneumatic cylinders are machines that convert compressed air into mechanical energy.

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Linear or rotary motion is created by mechanical energy. In a pneumatic system, the pneumatic air cylinder serves as the actuator. As a result, it’s known as a pneumatic linear actuator. The proper selection of a pneumatic cylinder can assure the long-term success of an application and increase the machine’s overall performance. Visit here to understand the principle of the main types of pneumatic cylinders.

The basic parts of a pneumatic cylinder are presented in the figure below:

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Basic Parts of a Pneumatic Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

These main parts are:

  • Cap-end port (A)
  • Tie rod (B)
  • Rod-end port (C)
  • Piston (D)
  • Barrel (E)
  • The piston rod (F)

Principle of a Pneumatic Cylinder

The pressure energy of a compressed air medium is converted into mechanical energy in the form of a linear or rotary motion by the pneumatic cylinder. Pneumatic cylinders can handle pressures ranging from 5 to 20 bar.

What Are the Types of Pneumatic Cylinders?

There are three common types of pneumatic cylinders including:

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  • Single-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders
  • Double-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders
  • Telescoping Pneumatic Cylinders

The functions of these three common pneumatic cylinders are discussed below. Each of these cylinders has a distinct application and thus the best one for the job will be determined by the current project.


Single-Acting Pneumatic Cylinder

When compared to a double-acting pneumatic cylinder, single-acting pneumatic cylinders only work on one end of the piston. The single-acting cylinder is most typically found in internal engines, such as automobile engines, where it relies on an external force, such as springs or a foreign load, to push the piston in the opposite direction and create motion. Single-acting pneumatic cylinders can also be found in pumps and hydraulic rams, which can help with heavy-duty tasks like lifting big goods.

Only one side of the piston receives a specific amount of working pressure. An external force such as a spring inside, acts in one direction to control the movement and returns it to its normal state.

Types of Single-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders

Single-acting cylinders are categorized as Push type and Pull type depending on how they work.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Types of Single-Acting Pneumatic Cylinders (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)
Push Type Single-Acting Cylinder

The piston is pushed out of the cylinder by compressed air. When the pressure is released, the spring returns the piston to its original position.

Pull Type Single-Acting Cylinder

Compressed air enters within the cylinder to pull the piston. The piston in the cylinder begins to retract when pressurized air passes through the port. At the cylinder’s end is the pressure port.

Telescopic Pneumatic Cylinder

Telescoping cylinders, sometimes called telescopic cylinders, are available in both double and single action configurations. They incorporate a piston rod that ‘telescopes’ as a segmented piston when triggered, allowing for greater reach. Telescoping cylinders are frequently utilized in applications that need very little pressure.

Telescopic cylinders are available in single and double action versions and are commonly applied in hydraulic applications with high load handling. Pneumatic Telescopic Cylinders are rarely utilized in heavy cranes, dumpers, and other applications. They are categorized as the following versions in this post:

  • Tie rod cylinder
  • Flanged type
  • One-piece welded
  • Threaded end

Tie Rod Cylinder

Tie rods are utilized on all sorts of cylinders, regardless of load: heavy-duty, medium-duty, or light-duty.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Tie Rod Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

Tie rods have been shown to protect cylinders from damage better than alternative designs when there is a risk of an impact force or shock load being applied to the cylinder.

Flanged Type

They’re heavy-duty cylinders that look like tie rods.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Flanged Type Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

The supplier can make it front flanged, back flanged, or both front and back flanged, depending on your needs.

One-piece Welded

The body is integrally cast in this form, or the ends are welded or crimped.

Threaded End

Both ends of the tube are threaded on from the outside or inside in this style of construction.

Double-Acting Pneumatic Cylinder

Double-acting pneumatic cylinders work on both sides of the piston, with one element controlling the outstroke and the other controlling the instroke. While single-acting pistons are more usually found in internal engines, double-acting pistons are commonly seen in external engines such as steam engines. This is because double-acting pneumatic cylinders generate force from both ends of the piston.

A specified operating pressure is applied on both sides of the cylinder. The compressed air exerts a force on the cylinder piston rod in two directions. The double-acting cylinders are categorized according to the operational principle. These types are:

  • Through Rod Cylinder
  • Cushion End Cylinder
  • Tandem Cylinder
  • Impact Cylinder
  • Cable Cylinder
  • Rotary or Turn Cylinder

Through Rod Cylinder

The piston rod is extended on both ends of the piston in this case. This ensures that the force and speed on both sides of the cylinder are equal.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Through Rod Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

Cushion End Cylinder

The piston in this situation features a cushioned nose at one or both ends allowing moderate deceleration of position near the stroke’s endpoints.

Rubber buffers could be used to absorb shock and prevent the piston from colliding with the end covers.

Tandem Cylinder

In this arrangement, two cylinders are connected in series to double the force generated by the cylinder.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Tandem Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

Impact Cylinder

The cylinder’s piston rod is specially constructed for accelerating strong force or impact in this case.

Cable Cylinder

In this configuration, the piston rod is replaced with a cable connecting to both ends of the cylinder. This is also known as a rodless cylinder. In applications needing long strokes, cable-type cylinders are used.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Cable Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

This has the advantage of saving space while inserting the cylinder. The cost per inch of stroke is relatively low.

Rotary or Turn Cylinder

In this arrangement, a linear movement is provided by a piston rod with a rotating profile against a worm wheel.

Types of Pneumatic Cylinders
Rotary or Turn Cylinder (Reference: instrumentationtools.com)

Specifications of Different Types of Pneumatic Cylinders

A few specifications to look for when ordering a pneumatic cylinder are listed below:

  • Piston Rod Diameter
  • Cylinder Bore
  • Mounting Style
  • Stroke Length
  • Force Output at Maximum Pressure
  • Pressure Range
  • Standard Operating Temperature
  • Cushioning (At One End or Both the Ends of Cylinder)

Applications of Different Types of Pneumatic Cylinders

  • For simple applications, single-acting cylinders are utilized.
  • For complex and large load applications, double-acting cylinders are used.
  • The force generated by a single-acting cylinder is only in one direction.
  • When significant force is required in both directions, double-acting cylinders are used.

How To Select A Pneumatic Cylinder

The type of pneumatic cylinder to use depends on the application, and a certain form, material, and size will be appropriate for the job. When choosing a material for a pneumatic cylinder, there are a few things to keep in mind. Stainless steel cylinders, for example, should be considered if the application needs the machinery to function at high temperatures.


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