What is a hydraulic cylinder? A powerful invention with a list of 7 types

The hydraulic cylinder is a true marvel in the engineering world and helped shape the world as it is today.
What Is A Hydraulic Cylinder

What is a hydraulic cylinder? A powerful invention with a list of 7 types

The hydraulic cylinder is a true marvel in the engineering world and helped shape the world as it is today. In this article, we will have a look at the origin of the hydraulic cylinder, different types of cylinders and some interesting videos about this fascinating technology.


What is a hydraulic cylinder_ Blaise Pascal & Joseph Bramah

The idea for a hydraulic cylinder originated with the ideas of French mathematician Blaise Pascal. He studied fluids, pressures and vacuums between 1647 to 1648. He discovered that fluids don’t compress the same way that air does. If you put pressure on a fluid in one area, that pressure would be applied in equal measure in all directions. Thus Pascal’s Law was established, but it took another 140 years and the start of the Industrial Revolution for this law to be applied in a useful way.

In 1795, Joseph Bramah created and patented the first hydraulic press in England. This enabled the automation of manufacturing and the widespread use of cylinders. Water was used for the fluid in cylinders but later it was discovered that a non-corrosive oil was better suited for the job and it could handle much larger pressures and thus larger loads.


The variety of hydraulic cylinders is truly vast. Depending on the industry and the application of the hydraulic cylinder, these factors would determine the design of that particular cylinder. There are a few common differences between cylinders, for instance:

  • wall thickness of the tube or end caps,
  • the methods used for connecting end caps,
  • the material used,
  • the operating pressure, and
  • temperature.


What is a hydraulic cylinder: Tipper cylinder

The side-tipper and sloping truck cylinders are also known as tipper cylinders. They are an integral part of the industrial transportation industry and they are used in vehicles such as dumping trucks and excavation vehicles. If you need this type of cylinder visit our tipper cylinders product page.


What is a hydraulic cylinder: Tie-rod cylinder

Tie-rod cylinders are used in the agricultural, industrial and manufacturing industries. These cylinders use high strength threaded steel rods to hold the two end caps to the cylinder barrel. These steel rods are called tie rods, small-bore cylinders of this type usually have four of these rods and up to 16 or even 20 for the larger variety, to keep the end caps intact because of the intense pressure that these cylinders produce. The end caps are there to prevent fluid leakages. They are easily repaired as they are not welded together but held together by the tie rods that can just be disassembled. If you need this type of cylinder visit our 150 Series product page.


Hydraulic jacks and hydraulic rams use a single-acting cylinder. The head end port of this cylinder will move in a single direction. The hydraulic fluid gets pumped into the cylinder barrel and this causes the piston rod to extend. In order for the rod to return into the barrel, an outside force is required. When such a force is applied, the fluid will drain from the barrel into the reservoir. There are two types of single-acting cylinders, one that uses spring-extend mechanisms, and the other uses spring-return mechanisms. The most commonly used is the spring-return single-acting cylinder.


This type of cylinder is used for all types of raising and lowering devices and thus they are used in many types of construction machinery. This cylinder has two active moving directions. The pistons have separate connections that enable for movement in both directions and so the force is applied in both directions. Both the head and rod ends contain hydraulic fluid; if the fluid is pumped to the rod end, it will retract the piston rod and pump fluid to the head in order to extend the piston rod.


These cylinders are basically two cylinders interconnected and arranged behind each other but built into a single unit. These cylinders are used in machines that require two or more independent systems. These cylinders generate greater force, despite having a small cylinder diameter. These cylinders can fit in smaller spaces without compromising the strength of the cylinder.


These cylinders do not have tie-rods keeping the end caps in place, but as the name suggests, they are welded directly to the barrel. They are difficult to assemble and disassemble but they are more compact and can handle more pressure than tie-rod cylinders.


A telescopic cylinder can be a single or double-acting cylinder type. The telescopic cylinder contains more than five tubes that are nested inside each other. These nested tubes are called stages and the diameter of each nested tube will become lesser. In our tipper cylinder series, we have examples of these cylinders. We have the reversed front end telescopic cylinder and the front end telescopic cylinder with eye products available.


The internet provides a wealth of interesting video and videos about hydraulic cylinders is definitely among some of the most interesting. Below is a list of the best videos we could find all about hydraulics.

This classic video from “How It’s Made” shows how a hydraulic cylinder is built step-by-step from scratch. Watch how each part of the cylinder comes together and gain a deeper understanding of how a cylinder works.


In the following 12 min video, you will see how the people from “Beyond the press” YouTube channel created a working transparent hydraulic cylinder. This is an amazing feat as you will see the hydraulic cylinder can take pressures up to 70 bars that generates over 2 tons of force. They machined acrylic cylinder tubes for the cylinder, this allows you to see the inner workings of the cylinder. Truly a fascinating video!

This last video showcases why it is important to have a quality hydraulic cylinder in your equipment. Here at Kappa Engineering we only provide the highest quality products, go visit our products page to see for yourself by clicking here.


Thank you for reading this blog post, be sure you check out any of the other related articles below for more interesting content. 

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