A hydraulic pump is a mechanical device that converts mechanical power into hydraulic energy. It generates flow with enough power to overcome pressure induced by the load.
The piston pump is a rotary unit which uses the principle of the reciprocating pump to produce fluid flow. Instead of using a single piston, these pumps have many piston-cylinder combinations. Part of the pump mechanism rotates about a drive shaft to generate the reciprocating motions, which draw fluid into each cylinder and then expels it, producing flow. There are two basic types, axial and radial piston; both area available as fixed and variable displacement pumps. The second variety often is capable of variable reversible (overcenter) displacement.
Most axial and radial piston pumps lend themselves to variable as well as fixed displacement designs. Variable displacement pumps tend to be somewhat larger and heavier, because they have added internal controls, such as handwheel, electric motor, hydraulic cylinder, servo, and mechanical stem.
Axial-piston pumps — The pistons in an axial piston pump reciprocate parallel to the centerline of the drive shaft of the piston block. That is, rotary shaft motion is converted into axial reciprocating motion. Most axial piston pumps are multi-piston and use check valves or port plates to direct liquid flow from inlet to discharge.
Inline piston pumps — The simplest type of axial piston pump is the swashplate design in which a cylinder block is turned by the drive shaft. Pistons fitted to bores in the cylinder block are connected through piston shoes and a retracting ring, so that the shoes bear against an angled swashplate. As the block turns, Figure 8, the piston shoes follow the swashplate, causing the pistons to reciprocate. The ports are arranged in the valve plate so that the pistons pass the inlet as they are pulled out and the outlet as they are forced back in. In these pumps, displacement is determined by the size and number of pistons as well as their stroke length, which varies with the swashplate angle.
In variable-displacement models of the inline pump, the swashplate swings in a movable yoke. Pivoting the yoke on a pintle changes the swashplate angle to increase or decrease the piston stroke. The yoke can be positioned with a variety of controls, i.e., manual, servo, compensator, handwheel, etc.
Bent-axis pumps — This pump consists of a drive shaft which rotates the pistons, a cylinder block, and a stationary valving surface facing the cylinder block bores which ports the inlet and outlet flow. The drive shaft axis is angular in relation to the cylinder block axis. Rotation of the drive shaft causes rotation of the pistons and the cylinder block.
Because the plane of rotation of the pistons is at an angle to the valving surface plane, the distance between any one of the pistons and the valving surface continually changes during rotation. Each individual piston moves away from the valving surface during one-half of the shaft revolution and toward the valving surface during the other half.
The valving surface is so ported that its inlet passage is open to the cylinder bores in that part of the revolution where the pistons move away. Its outlet passage is open to the cylinder bores in the part of the revolution where the pistons move toward the valving surface. Therefore, during pump rotation the pistons draw liquid into their respective cylinder bores through the inlet chamber and force it out through the outlet chamber. Bent axis pumps come in fixed and variable displacement configurations, but cannot be reversed.
In radial-piston pumps, the pistons are arranged radially in a cylinder block; they move perpendicularly to the shaft centerline. Two basic types are available: one uses cylindrically shaped pistons, the other ball pistons. They may also be classified according to the porting arrangement: check valve or pintle valve. They are available in fixed and variable displacement, and variable reversible (over-center) displacement.
In pintle-ported radial piston pump, Figure 9, the cylinder block rotates on a stationary pintle and inside a circular reacting ring or rotor. As the block rotates, centrifugal force, charging pressure, or some form of mechanical action causes the pistons to follow the inner surface of the ring, which is offset from the centerline of the cylinder block. As the pistons reciprocate in their bores, porting in the pintle permits them to take in fluid as they move outward and discharge it as they move in.
The size and number of pistons and the length of their stroke determine pump displacement. Displacement can be varied by moving the reaction ring to increase or decrease piston travel, varying eccentricity. Several controls are available for this purpose.
Plunger pumps are somewhat similar to rotary piston types, in that pumping is the result of pistons reciprocating in cylinder bores. However, the cylinders are fixed in these pumps; they do not rotate around the drive shaft. Pistons may be reciprocated by a crankshaft, by eccentrics on a shaft, or by a wobble plate. When eccentrics are used, return stroke is by springs. Because valving cannot be supplied by covering and uncovering ports as rotation occurs, inlet and outlet check valves may be used in these pumps.
Because of their construction, these pumps offer two features other pumps do not have: one has a more positive sealing between inlet and outlet, permitting higher pressures without excessive leakage of slip. The other is that in many pumps, lubrication of moving parts other than the piston and cylindrical bore may be independent of the liquid being pumped. Therefore, liquids with poor lubricating properties can be pumped. Volumetric and overall efficiencies are close to those of axial and radial piston pumps.