What makes a superior hydraulic circuit? I know that question is elusive, because hydraulic system beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is also more than one way to skin a cliché, but I digress.
One could evaluate what makes a superior hydraulic circuit with various criteria. One evaluation might require the hydraulic system to simply operate most closely to the desired mechanical conception, with force and velocity matching exactly to the design. However, unless the machine rivals string theory complexity, it could be easy to match the desired performance; something more may be required to create a superior hydraulic circuit.
If you could create two circuits with the exact performance, one could award superiority based on the fewest valves used to do the job. As a hydraulic designer myself, I concede that it is usually harder to create a circuit using fewer valves than it is to throw more valves at the circuit to create the desired result. If the machine requires an extra feature, adding one or two more valves to operate that auxiliary function within the framework of the current drawing could be less desk work than starting again from scratch. Ideally, starting from scratch is the way to go, in my opinion.
Also, more valves may not improve performance in regards to force or velocity, but they could improve efficiency, such as the use of load sensing compared to regular pressure compensated systems. A load sensing system wastes a tiny fraction of energy to pressure drop, but requires an often complex network of check valves to sense actual load pressure past the flow control, proportional or other metering valves.
Personally, I like a creative or unique circuit that makes me say, “now THAT is cool.” Sometimes I see a circuit with oddly-placed or -chosen valves and wonder if they were intoxicated when designing the machine. But other times I see a uniquely placed component that is so creative and impressive that I wish I had thought of it myself. Anyone can do the same old D03-stack-on-barstock hydraulic circuit, but there is not much room for personal flair.
Obviously, what makes a circuit superior is subjective, but to me, an impressive circuit is one that achieves the same function anyone else’s might, but in a different and unique execution. It’s like having a personal stamp on everyone one of your designs, and like a writer’s book or artist’s painting, your unique circuit is your legacy, left to stand until the machine recycled for scrap.
I’d love to hear what you think on this subject. What do you feel makes a superior hydraulic circuit?