Fluid Power Circuits Explained

Written by: Bud Trinkel, Certified Fluid Power Engineer
Edited by Mary Gannon and Richard Schneider,
Hydraulics & Pneumatics magazine.

Table of Contents

Foreward

Chapter 1: Accumulator Circuits
Part1, Part 2, Part 3

Chapter 2: Air Logic Circuits

Chapter 3: Air-Oil Circuits

Chapter 4: Cartridge Valve Circuits
Part1, Part 2

Chapter 5: Counterbalance Valve Circuits

Chapter 6: Cylinder Circuits

Chapter 7: Decompression Circuits

Chapter 8: Directional Control Valve Circuits

Chapter 9: Filter Circuits

Chapter 10: Flow Control Circuits

Chapter 11: Flow Divider Circuits

Chapter 12: Fluid Motor Circuits

Chapter 13: Intensifier Circuits

Chapter 14: Proportional Control Valve Circuits

Chapter 15: Pump Circuit

Chapter 16: Reducing Valve Circuits

Chapter 17: Regeneration Circuits

Chapter 18: Relief Valve Circuits

Chapter 19: Rotary Actuator Circuits

Chapter 20: Sequence Valve Circuits

Chapter 21: Servovalve Circuits

Chapter 22: Synchronizing Circuits

Chapter 23: Sample Actual Circuits-

Fluid Power Circuits Explained, Copyright 2007 by Penton Media Inc. No part of this document may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Foreward

By Bud Trinkel, Certified Fluid Power Engineer

Edited by Mary Gannon and Richard Schneider, Hydraulics Pneumatics magazine.

Preface
This manual is intended for those who have a fair-to-good understanding of fluid power components and their symbols, but do not know how to arrange these valves in circuits.

This manual shows and explains most basic circuits in detail. Most explanations give advantages and disadvantages of the circuit design and discuss alternative ways of doing the same job. When applicable, information concerning reliability, dependability, availability, longevity, and safety is given.

As with all books on fluid power circuits, the information presented is based on the author’s experience and expertise. In circuit design there are few hard and fast rules. Giving six fluid power circuit designers a set of parameters results in six different schematics. All circuits would meet the specifications. Some designs would be highly efficient; some would run hot even with a heat exchanger; and some would just be different. Cost of the circuits would vary widely but the most expensive design would not always be best. Some designs would require constant maintenance while others would run trouble-free for the life of the machine.

The intent of this manual is to give information to circuit designers to help them come up with an efficient, long-life machine that is easy to maintain and less expensive to operate. It can also help the end user obtain enough knowledge about fluid power components and circuits to make an intelligent choice from the widely varying quotes they receive.

All information in this book is true and reliable to the best of my ability. All of the circuits in Section 23 are in daily use. Most of the circuits in the rest of the manual are in industry, some for many years. All of the circuits must be set up and operated by responsible persons who follow safety procedures applicable to the equipment used.

***Editor's Note: The fluid power industry lost an icon in 2009 when Bud Trinkel passed away, but we are glad to keep his work alive with his technical training manuals published as eBooks. Please see his obituary below, or read a tribute to him from H&P Editor Alan Hitchcox here. Edgar W. “Bud” Trinkel Jr., of Evansville, Ind., died suddenly on August 12. He was best known in the fluid power industry for his years spent working as a hydraulic pneumatic specialist in sales and later for starting his own consulting business, Hydra-Pneu Consulting. He wrote several books on fluid power, including Fluid Power Basics, Fluid Power Circuits Explained, and others to aid his training endeavors. They became so well-accepted that he began producing them as stand-alone books. As president of Hydra-Pneu, Trinkel designed fluid power circuits, provided training, and performed troubleshooting for industrial clients. Prior to founding Hydra-Pneu Consulting in 1984 as a part-time fluid power consulting firm — which became a full-time endeavor in 1988 — Trinkel worked as a technical sales and service representative for a fluid power distributor. Prior to that he served as a sales and service representative for Miller Fluid Power for 14 years. Earlier in his career he worked as an industrial designer in the plastics industry. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he is survived by his wife of 56 years, Sharon; son, Charles (Michelle); daughter, Julie Woodson (Russ); and six grandchildren.

 

Chapter 1: Hydraulic Accumulators

Hydraulic accumulators make it possible to store useable volumes of non-compressible fluid under pressure. A 5-gal container completely full of oil at 2000 psi will only discharge a few cubic inches of fluid before pressure drops to 0 psi. The same container filled with half oil and half nitrogen gas would discharge over 11/2 gal of fluid before pressure dropped to 1000 psi.

Figures 1-1 through 1-4 show symbols used for different types of accumulators. Figures 1-5 through 1-8 are simplified cutaways showing construction of different types of accumulators.

Figures 1-1 to 1-8

All accumulators except Fig ACC4 will have a pressure decrease as fluid discharges. A weight-loaded accumulator maintains pressure until all oil is used.

When using an accumulator, it is necessary to install a manual or automatic function to de-pressurize all fluid before working on the circuit. Several manufacturers make automatic discharge valves that work well. These automatic discharge valves are explained at the end of this section.

Most hydraulic accumulators are used in one of four applications:
1. Supplement pump flow in circuits with medium to long delays between cycles.
2. Hold pressure in a cylinder while the pump is unloading or stopped.
3. Have a ready supply of pressurized fluid in case of power failure.
4. Reduce shock in high velocity flow lines or at the outlet of pulsating piston pumps.

The following circuit images show some circuits using accumulators for the operations mentioned in 1 to 4 above. Other accumulator circuits and information follow.

Using accumulators to supplement pump flow

Some hydraulic circuits require a large volume of oil for a short time; for example to move a large cylinder rapidly to clamp a part. After clamping, the circuit needs little or no additional fluid for period of time while curing takes place. When a circuit has extended dwell time, an accumulator can be used to downsize the pump, motor, tank, and relief valve. The cost of accumulators usually offsets savings on these smaller components, but downsizing saves on operating costs.

The conventional pump, directional valve, and cylinder pictured in Figure 1-9 show horsepower and flow requirements needed for a 12.5 sec cycle time. The advance cycle requires full power, while returning the cylinder needs minimal force. Reduction of the pump and motor size is not possible if the cylinder cycles rapidly. However, if there was a 45 sec wait between cycles, the pump and motor could be almost 70% smaller with an accumulator circuit.

Fig-1-9

This reduced flow and horsepower are possible when using accumulators and the circuit shown in Figure 1-10. The extra expense of the accumulators offsets the reduced price for the power unit, but operating cost is less for the life of the machine. The directional valve and piping from the accumulators to the cylinder still has to handle the 125 gpm flow.

Fig-1-10

Using a gas charged accumulator in a pump supplementing circuit will increase maximum system pressure. The extend portion of the cycle needs at least 2000 psi working pressure, which requires filling the accumulators with fluid above 2000 psi so they can discharge oil and not drop below minimum pressure. The maximum system pressure should be as high as can be tolerated. The higher the maximum allowable system pressure, the smaller the accumulators. The drawback of high pressure is that the circuit is at this pressure when the cycle starts. If this higher pressure can cause damage or other problems, it should be lowered to a safe level.

Accumulator circuits normally have flow controls because there is a volume of oil at elevated pressure that can discharge almost instantaneously. Placing a flow control at the accumulator outlet allows free flow from pump to accumulator and adjustable flow to system.

The circuit in Figure 1-10 has a minimum pressure of 2000 psi and a maximum pressure of 3000 psi. This pressure is the limit of most hydraulic components. A 22-gpm pump driven by a 40-hp motor now meets the force and cycle time specified. All pump flow continuously goes to the circuit instead of being unloaded most of the time as in conventional circuits.

As the cylinder cycles, the accumulators supply fluid at a rate set by the flow control. Pump flow adds to accumulator flow to set the required cycle time. Cylinder cycling could be made faster than specified by increasing outlet flow from the accumulator.

The fixed-volume pump in Figure 1-10 unloads through a special accumulator relief/unload/dump valve, which sends all pump flow to the accumulators and cylinder until the system reaches set pressure. After reaching set pressure, the valve opens and unloads the pump to tank at approximately 50 psi. The pump will continue to unload until the system pressure drops about 15%. This pressure drop might be from leakage or at the start of a new cycle. Any time pressure drops, the pump will load and stay loaded until pressure tries to go above 3000 psi. With this valve, stored oil in the accumulators automatically discharges to tank when the pump stops, which makes the circuit safe to work on shortly after locking and tagging off the pump.

Fig-1-11

Figure 1-11 shows a variation of the accumulator circuit in Figure 1-10. Here a 1-gpm fixed-volume pump and a 5-gpm pressure-compensated pump supply oil until the accumulators fill. A pressure switch, set at about 2900 psi, unloads the fixed-volume pump through a solenoid-operated relief valve. After the fixed-volume pump unloads, the pressure-compensated pump finishes filling the accumulators and holds maximum pressure without fluctuations and with minimal heating.

The accumulator dump valve in this circuit will stay closed as long as the pumps are running. When the pumps stop, this valve quickly and automatically discharges the accumulators to tank.

Full-time pressure with fixed-volume pumps

Some circuits need pressure at all times to hold position or maintain force. The circuit in Figure 1-12 holds pressure on the cylinders when they stop, but excessive heat generation makes it a poor choice. Flow controls keep pressure in the circuit while a cylinder is moving.

Fig-1-12

Some designers use the circuit shown in Figure 1-13 to simultaneously reduce energy loss and maintain holding pressure. This double-pump circuit provides high flow (to move the cylinders rapidly) and low flow (for pressure holding). While the system is at holding pressure, the high-flow pump goes to tank through an unloading valve. Only the low-flow pump goes across the relief valve. Although energy loss is drastically reduced, it is still excessive.

Fig-1-13

The circuits shown in Figures 1-14 and 1-15 use a small accumulator to hold pressure on the actuators while unloading the pump at minimum pressure. This makes it possible to use a less expensive fixed-volume pump instead of a pressure-compensated pump, with little or no energy loss or heat generation.

Fig-1-14
Fig-1-15

The pump in Figure 1-14 unloads through an accumulator relief/unload/dump valve. This valve sends all pump flow to the accumulator and cylinders until the system reaches set pressure. After it reaches set pressure, the valve opens and unloads the pump to tank at approximately 50 psi. The pump will continue to unload until the system pressure drops about 15%. This pressure drop might be from leakage or it could be at the start of a new cycle. The pump loads again and fills the circuit until pressure tries to go above 2000 psi. While the pump unloads, the accumulator makes up for any leakage so pressure at the cylinders only drops about 15% maximum. The length of time the pump unloads depends on the size of the accumulator and the amount of system leakage. With the accumulator relief/unload/dump valve, stored oil in the accumulator discharges to tank when the pump stops. This makes the circuit safe to work on shortly after locking and tagging out the pump.

Notice the variation of the above pressure holding circuit in Figure 1-15. Here the pump unloads through a normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve controlled by a pressure switch. The accumulator and actuators fill from the pump until system pressure reaches 2000 psi. At 2000 psi, the pump unloads through a solenoid operated relief valve at approximately 50 psi. The main advantage of the circuit in Figure 1-15 is that pressure drop is adjustable by more or less than the fixed 15% allowed by the unloading valve in Figure 1-14.

To have a safe accumulator circuit, it is necessary to have a means to discharge stored energy at shutdown. The circuit in Figure 1-15 uses a high-ratio pilot-to-close check valve. The pilot ratio is about 200:1, which means 25 psi in the pilot line can hold as much as 5000 psi in the circuit. Most unloading circuits have at least 25 psi while unloaded, so this valve works well. When the pump shuts off, pressure drops to zero, the pilot-to-close check valve opens, and stored energy dumps to tank.

Another way to automatically discharge the accumulator at shutdown is with a normally open, solenoid-operated, 2-way directional valve. This directional valve connects to the accumulator pressure line and on to tank. Starting the pump motor also energizes the solenoid on the normally open 2-way valve, causing it to close. As long as the pump runs, this valve blocks the flow path to tank. When the pump stops, the solenoid is deenergized, and the valve shifts to port stored energy to tank.

CAUTION! ALWAYS CHECK AN ACCUMULATOR CIRCUIT FOR PRESSURE BEFORE WORKING ON IT. NEVER ASSUME THE AUTOMATIC UNLOADING SYSTEM WORKED!

Accumulators used for fast response and over-pressure control of pressure-compensated pumps

Because most pressure-compensated pump circuits have closed-center or two-position directional valves (such as the one shown in Figure 1-16), they stay at full-pressure, no-flow until a valve shifts. After any directional valve shifts to start an actuator’s movement, pressure in the circuit starts to drop. When the pump sees a pressure drop, its internal mechanism starts shifting as fast as possible to start fluid flowing. Pump shifting times vary, but no matter how fast they shift, the actuator’s initial response will be slowed down.

Fig-1-16

With an accumulator installed, as shown in Figure 1-17, the pump is still at no-flow when the circuit is at rest. However, there is a ready supply of oil at pressure available. As a cylinder starts to cycle, as seen in Figure 1-18, fluid flows directly to the actuator from the accumulator and pressure starts to drop. This pressure drop causes the pump to go on stroke, but now pressure drop is minimal. The cylinder takes off quickly and smoothly, and the pump has time to respond to the flow need.

Fig-1-17

On the other end of the cycle, if the pump is at full flow and all valves center or all the actuators hit the end of stroke, the flow requirement suddenly drops to zero. The pressure-compensated pump is still flowing at the maximum rate and pressure starts to climb. The pump will continue at full flow until pressure reaches 80-98% of the compensator setting. There has been zero flow needed for some time, but the pump does not know this until pressure is near maximum. When pressure reaches compensator setting, the pump starts to shift to no flow. All pump flow during shifting time has no place to go, so this excess flow generates a pressure spike of five to ten times the compensator setting. This pressure spike can cause premature failure of the pump, plumbing, and actuators.

Fig-1-18

A common fix for this pressure spike is to add a relief valve near the pump outlet, set 150 to 200 psi higher than the pump compensator (as shown in Figure 1-16). This relief valve should reduce the pressure spike, but it does not lower it as much as it appears. A relief valve remains closed until pressure reaches 90 to 98% of its setting. Once the relief reaches maximum pressure, it starts to open, but by the time it actually relieves, the pressure may be 11/2 to 3 times its set pressure. This reduced spike is better, but still is not as good as what an accumulator could provide.

Other problems can occur with relief valves. For example, if the relief valve setting is at or near the pump-compensator setting, the pump can start oscillating on-off flow. As the pump nears its pressure-compensator setting and starts to compensate, the relief valve starts to relieve. A flow path is created when the relief valve begins to open, so downstream pressure drops, causing the pump to go back on stroke. The drop in pressure allows the relief valve to close, so downstream pressure builds up again. This oscillation cycle repeats rapidly, causing damage to the pump and possible line failure due to shock. In another example, if the relief valve setting is lower than the pump compensator, all pump flow goes to tank at relief pressure, generating excess heat. To avoid these problems, use the correct procedure when setting pressures on a relief valve used to reduce pressure spikes.

An accumulator absorbs excess pump flow with minimal pressure override or shock. While fluid from the pump compensates from full flow to no flow, as seen in Figure 1-19, it has a direct path to the accumulator. Because the accumulator has a compressible gas in it, it takes in the small amount of excess flow produced while the compensator is reacting. Pressure increase from this additional fluid is imperceptible.

Fig-1-19

To size an accumulator for fast response of the circuit, plan to have somewhere between 1 and 5 sec of actuator flow before pressure drops below the minimum it takes to move it. A rule of thumb is to have 1 gal of accumulator for every 10 gpm of pump flow.

Using an accumulator as an emergency power supply

A conventional hydraulic system will not operate unless the pump is running. Some machines must be able to cycle to a safe condition after a power or pump failure. Use an accumulator to store enough energy to move the actuators to a safe condition after the pump quits. The operator or setup person can manually cycle the machine into a safe condition by using the stored energy.

The hopper gate cylinder shown in Figure 1-20 must close in case of a power failure. If the gate stays open, the entire hopper could overflow the truck under it, then dump on the ground. This circuit uses a pressure-compensated pump that maintains pressure with minimal heating during normal operation. An accumulator F stores the first pump flow, check valve D stops accumulator back flow, and normally open directional valves C isolate the accumulator from the cylinder and tank during normal operation.

Fig-1-20

The gate cylinder needs at least 1500 psi, so the pump compensator is set for 2000 psi. This ensures that the accumulator has enough fluid to extend the cylinder when necessary. Because the solenoids on valves C are energized by the pump start command, the accumulator is completely isolated from the cylinder and tank as long as the pump runs. When solenoid B of the 4-way directional valve shifts (as seen in Figure 1-21), the gate opens as fast as the pump moves it.

Fig-1-21

When solenoid A shifts the 4-way directional valve, as seen in Figure 1-22, the gate closes as fast as the pump moves it. When the power is on, the cylinder extends or retracts partially or all the way at the operator’s command.

Fig-1-22

If the gate cylinder is partially or completely open and power fails, the circuit automatically goes to the condition shown in Figure 1-23. In this condition the pump stops, the 4-way directional valve centers, and the normally open 2-way shutoff valves C open.

Fig-1-23

When power fails, the accumulator has a direct path to the cap end of the cylinder while rod-end oil flows to tank. The cylinder will extend and close the gate using the stored energy in the accumulator. Place warning signs at the gate indicating this equipment can operate at any time without operator intervention.

When using an accumulator for emergency power supply it is difficult to automatically drain it during normal operation. Automatically draining the accumulator would defeat its purpose as an emergency power supply. Add a manual drain valve E, with warning signs to tell maintenance persons to manually drain the accumulator before working on the gate circuit.

Size emergency-power accumulators to hold enough oil to move all actuators to the home position before pressure drops to dangerous levels. Most manufacturers provide formulas in their catalogs and offer several offer excellent computer programs to size accumulators for emergency-power supplies.

Using accumulators for leakage makeup

Some hydraulic circuits, such as in laminating presses, need to hold at pressure for long periods. A pressure-compensated pump could maintain pressure, but energy loss from pump leakage generates heat. Another way to hold pressure for long periods is with a fixed-volume pump and an accumulator. Figure 1-24 shows a press cylinder that must stay extended under pressure for several minutes.

Fig-1-24

Tee small accumulator D into the cylinder cap-end line through flow control C. Flow control C allows the accumulator to fill quickly but discharge slowly when directional valve A centers or shifts to retract the cylinder. Flow control C should pass enough flow to let the accumulator discharge quickly without system shock when directional valve A shifts to retract the cylinder. Any oil left in the accumulator when the directional valve centers will make the cylinder extend a small amount. Tee dump valve B into the cylinder cap-end line to automatically discharge the accumulator when the pump stops. Tee pressure switch E into the cap-end cylinder line to set pump load and unload pressure. Pressure switch E sets high and low pressures to control maximum and minimum tonnage.

Fig-1-25

When the pump starts, Figure 1-25, backpressure check valve F gives 75 psi pressure, closing accumulator dump valve B and supplying pilot oil for solenoid pilot-operated directional valve A. When directional valve A shifts, the cylinder starts to extend, Figure 1-26, at whatever pressure it takes to overcome the counterbalance valve. The signal to the extend coil of directional valveA goes through the normally closed contacts on pressure switch E. Because gas pre-charge pressure in the accumulator is approximately 85% of working pressure, no fluid will enter it yet.

Fig-1-26

When the cylinder contacts the work, Figure 1-27, pressure increases and oil fills the accumulator. Upon reaching the maximum working pressure set by pressure switch E, the normally closed contacts open, de-energizing the solenoid on directional valve A. Directional valve A spring centers, the pump unloads, and oil stored in the accumulator maintains pressure while making up for cylinder and valve leakage.

Fig-1-27

Bypass at the cylinder seals and/or valve causes pressure to drop slowly to the low-pressure setting of pressure switchE. This low-pressure setting is normally adjustable but must be high enough to keep the parts firmly together. Upon reaching the low-pressure setting, pressure switch E shifts, allowing the normally closed contacts to shift directional valve A to refill the accumulator. Upon reaching maximum working pressure, directional valve A again spring centers to unload the pump, while the accumulator holds its pressing force and makes up for leaks.

A pilot-operated check valve in the cap-end cylinder line between the directional valve and the pressure switch would have less leakage than the blocked port of the spool valve. With a pilot-operated check valve and resilient seals in the cylinder, it is possible to maintain pressure for 2 to 5 min or more. Use an all-ports-open directional valve with the pilot-operated check valve. This accumulator circuit maintains pressure in the cylinder while unloading the pump. It also conserves energy while using an inexpensive fixed-volume pump.

Using accumulators as shock absorbers

Accumulators can reduce damage from shock in some circuits if correctly applied. In other applications, an accumulator may add shock by releasing stored energy too quickly.

The top half of Figure 1-28 illustrates one way shock is produced. Flow velocity in a hydraulic circuit may be 25 to 30 fps and not cause any problems. However, if oil flow stops abruptly, as seen in Figure 1-28’s middle example, damaging shock can rip out tubing, blow seals, and split pump housings with ease. A column of moving fluid has a lot of energy that can get out of control.

Fig-1-28

The third example in Figure 1-28 shows a small accumulator teed into the line at the shut off that stops flow suddenly. An accumulator spreads the shock energy over a short period of time and eliminates the potential for damage.

To absorb flow shock, the accumulator is usually pre-charged at about 70 to 80% of system pressure. At this pre-charge pressure, only a small amount of fluid enters the accumulator subsequent to a shock situation. There is also little fluid transfer to take away from or add to the normal pump flow.

When it is necessary to stop a heavy load, such as shown in Figure 1-29, try using an accumulator and a hydraulic cylinder. The accumulator’s pre-charge pressure holds the cylinder extended, thus making it ready for the advancing mass. When the load contacts the cylinder, it mechanically forces it to retract. As the cylinder retracts, fluid flows into the accumulator and gas pressure increases. As pressure increases, the higher resistance slows the mass more. After the load decelerates, the cylinder might try to push the part away. Add valves between the accumulator and the cylinder to control the shock absorber after it finishes decelerating the load.

Fig-1-29

Some large, slow-turning piston pumps send a shock wave into the circuit every time a piston discharges oil. On the left of Figure 1-30, the piston pump does not have an accumulator at the discharge port. Pressure at the gauge will fluctuate from less than system pressure to well above it without an accumulator.

Fig-1-30

On the right side of Figure 1-30, adding a small accumulator reduces discharge flow and shock damage. A portion of the sudden discharge flow from an advancing piston goes into the accumulator and discharges smoothly while waiting for the next stroke. The pre-charge pressure for this type of accumulator circuit is about 60 to 75% of maximum system pressure.

Accumulator manufacturers have formulas in their brochures to calculate any situation mentioned here. Some suppliers have computer programs that do all the math after asking for circuit parameters.

Pump supplementing circuit with full pressure when work is contacted

In some cases, a pump-supplementing accumulator circuit can speed up cylinder extension and/or retraction without having to go above working pressure. Normally in a pump-supplementing circuit, the relief valve is set as high as possible above the working pressure to store ample fluid. As the cycle progresses, oil from the accumulator and pump move the actuator quickly, but circuit pressure drops steadily. If pressure drops below the actuator’s need, the pump must refill the accumulator before the cycle finishes. To overcome this problem, a larger pump and/or more accumulators are necessary.

The next circuit shows an accumulator arrangement that provides high volume to move the cylinder rapidly with the relief valve set at working pressure. The accumulator and pump supply volume to fill the large bore cylinder as it extends. The cylinder then moves to working pressure while a check valve isolates the accumulator.

Like all accumulator circuits, there must be time for refilling between cycles, as shown in Figure 1-31. Pre-charge the accumulator to a pressure slightly higher than it takes to retract the cylinder. The cylinder will then retract when directional valve A and normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve H shift. (Also see Figure 1-34.) The large piston rod reduces the return volume, although retract pressure will be higher. When the cylinder fully retracts, pressure climbs and the accumulator starts to fill through check valve E and the bypass check valve around flow control C. Piston-type accumulators are best for this circuit because they can have a low pre-charge pressure and a high final pressure without internal damage. The accumulator can discharge a large volume of oil because the pressure in it is not important when the cylinder needs full tonnage.

Fig-1-31

When pressure in the circuit reaches 2000 psi, pressure switch G de-energizes the solenoid on normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve H, unloading the pump to tank.

When directional valve A and normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve H shift, Figure 1-32, pump flow and accumulator flow provide a large volume of oil to quickly stroke the cylinder to the work. Because accumulators can discharge at a very high rate, use flow control C to set the desired advance speed. Pressure in the circuit will fall as the cylinder extends and will be well below working pressure before the cylinder meets the work.

Fig-1-32

When the cylinder contacts the work, Figure 1-33, check valve F keeps pump flow from going to the accumulator. The pump will continue filling the cylinder and pressure will build to whatever it takes to do the work. Check valve F blocks flow to the accumulator to isolate it during the high-pressure work stroke.

Fig-1-33

When directional valve A shifts to the retract position, Figure 1-34, pump flow goes to the cylinder rod end. The accumulator pre-charge is high enough to force all pump flow to the cylinder, causing it to quickly retract.

Fig-1-34

Figure 1-31 shows the cylinder reaching the top of the stroke. The accumulator now accepts all pump flow through check valve E until pressure switch G unloads the pump.

Two other pump-supplementing circuits with full pressure when work is contacted

Figures 1-35 and 1-36 depict two more ways to use an accumulator for volume and still have immediate high pressure for doing work. Either circuit works equally well with the two pump types shown.

Fig-1-35

These circuits would normally require a piston-type accumulator. Notice the pre-charge is less than one-third of maximum pressure. The large pressure difference would squeeze the bladder in a bladder-type accumulator so much that holes caused by chafing would allow the nitrogen gas to leak. The minimum pressure in the circuit could be even lower than shown here. If the actuators can move at 300 psi, then use 150 to 200 psi pre-charge.

Fig-1-36

The circuit in Figure 1-35 uses a pressure-compensated pump and a normally open, poppet-type, 2-way directional valve. All flow goes directly to the accumulator, filling it to maximum pressure with the pump operating. When the cylinders start to cycle, flow from the pump and accumulator move them rapidly. When the cylinders contact the work, pressure is well below the required amount. To get full force, energize solenoid C1. This stops pump flow to the accumulator and raises the cylinders to full pressure. De-energize solenoid C1 when the cylinders finish their work to allow the accumulator to refill.

Energizing solenoid C1 when the actuators are moving is possible with a correctly designed poppet valve. Notice the blocked position of the valve has a check valve symbol, meaning it only stops flow to the accumulator. This type of poppet valve provides accumulator volume to the actuators when pressure is low. However, maximum pressure is immediately available when the cylinders meet resistance. De-energize solenoid C1 at the end of the cycle to refill the accumulator. Some poppet-type directional valves have a very high pressure drop when flowing through the closed check valve. Use a brand designed for low pressure drop in this circuit.

The circuit in Figure 1-36 has a fixed-volume pump with a normally open,, solenoid-operated relief valve and pressure switch to unload the pump at maximum pressure. Minimum system pressure for this circuit is 1500 psi. Therefore, it is important to set the sequence valve in front of the accumulator to this pressure. Set the pressure switch to unload the pump at 1700 psi. Then set the normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve at approximately 1900 psi. Because no oil can go to the accumulator if the system pressure is below 1500 psi, the actuators will always have maximum force anytime they meet resistance. When the cylinders are moving to and from the work, pump and accumulator flow can combine to give rapid movement at reduced pressure. Flow from the accumulator can always go to the cylinders through the bypass check valve. Fluid only goes to the accumulator when pump flow is greater than the system requires. This circuit fills the accumulator anytime the cylinders stop or anytime required volume is less than pump output.

There will be some heating of the oil while the accumulator is filling until system pressure reaches 1500 psi or above. One advantage is that no control circuitry is necessary, even while the accumulator fills anytime actuator volume is less than pump flow.

Non-invasive way to check accumulator pre-charge

It is important to check accumulator pre-charge pressure at regular intervals. Check a new installation each shift for a few days to see if there is a gas-pressure loss. It the gas charge is holding, check pre-charge pressure weekly for the next month. If all is well at the end of a month, then monthly checks should be more than satisfactory.

The normal way to check pre-charge pressure is: (1). Shut down the system. (2). Attach a gauge and charging kit to the accumulator. (3). Open the gas valve and check the pressure reading.

However, this procedure is time consuming, allows some gas to discharge, and may damage the charging valve, which can result in a continuous leak. Outlined below is a simple, non-invasive way to check accumulator pre-charge pressure to see if gas is leaking.

Fig-1-37

Figure 1-37 shows a partial accumulator circuit. This figure shows an operating hydraulic system, just as the pump stops. At this point, the accumulator relief/unload/dump valve is open, draining pressurized oil stored in the accumulator. As fluid in the accumulator discharges, pressure at gauge PG1 starts dropping. By controlling the flow with a fixed orifice or a flow control, pressure deteriorates slowly when there is oil in the accumulator.

Fig-1-38

When all fluid is out of the accumulator, Figure 1-38, pressure at gauge PG1 will suddenly drop to zero. Carefully note gauge pressure when it suddenly drops. The pressure seen at the sudden drop is the present pre-charge pressure of the accumulator. This reading is only as accurate as the gauge and the person reading it. It is not a perfect reading, but will be close enough to see if a full-fledged check is needed.

Fig-1-39

If there is more than one accumulator on the machine, as in Figures 1-39 and 1-40, this test will show the lowest pre-charge pressure. When a low pre-charge pressure shows up, check each accumulator individually until finding those at a lower pressure than required.

Fig-1-40

Another way to check pre-charge pressure is to note the gauge’s pressure reading when turning on the pump. With an accumulator in the circuit, the first pressure reading should be pre-charge pressure. It is difficult to obtain an accurate reading this way with glycerin-filled or orifice-dampened gauges in the circuit. The gauge should also be at or close to the accumulator to keep line losses from adding to the reading.

Hydraulic type accumulator dump valves

When using an accumulator, there must be a way to discharge stored oil before safely working on the circuit. Even when using the accumulator for emergency power supply, install a manual drain valve for safe operation.

A manual drain valve with a gauge near it is the best way to ensure a safe operation. Mark the manual drain valve and place warning signs at all hydraulic component locations indicating there is an accumulator in the circuit and to open the manual drain before performing maintenance.

A common way to discharge stored energy is to use a normally open, solenoid-operated, 2-way directional valve teed into the pressure line with its outlet hooked to tank. Wire the solenoid on the 2-way valve to close when the pump is running. Any time the pump stops, the 2-way solenoid valve de-energizes and discharges stored oil to tank.

A solenoid-operated valve works well in most cases but can cause problems. First, if the valve fails to close or only partially closes, oil dumps across it, generating heat and making it operate sluggishly or not at all. Second, if the valve fails to open when the pump stops, the circuit is unsafe. This is a safety hazard for an inexperienced person who might not detect the problem. Third, additional wiring creates additional costs.

If the circuit uses a fixed-volume pump as shown in Figures 1-41 through 1-44, use an accumulator relief/unload/dump valve for most applications. This valve has an integral adjustable 2-way unloading valve A to unload the pump when reaching set pressure. Also, there is a pilot valve to close shut-off B that stays closed while the pump is running and opens any time the pump stops. Isolation check valve (C) keeps accumulator oil from back flowing to the pump when it stops.

Fig-1-41

In Figure 1-41 the pump has just started, so pressure jumps to accumulator pre-charge pressure and all flow goes to the accumulator through check valve C. Pilot-operated 2-way shut-off B pilots closed when the pump is running. The pilot-operated, adjustable-spring shut-off Astays closed until set pressure is reached.

Pressure continues to climb until the accumulator is full, as seen in Figure 1-42. When pressure reaches that set on 2-way adjustable-spring valve A, it opens, unloading the pump to tank at low pressure. Even while unloading there is enough pressure to keep pilot-operated 2-way shut-off B closed.

Fig-1-42

When pressure in the circuit drops approximately 15%, Figure 1-43, unload-valve A closes, again forcing oil to the circuit and accumulator. The pump will load and fill the system any time pressure drops about 15%. This pump load pressure is non-adjustable so it will not work for all circuits.

Some manufacturers offer an accumulator relief/unload/dump valve with an adjustable differential setting. Setting these valves’ load-unload pressure by more or less than the 15% differential is possible.

Fig-1-43

When the pump shuts off, as in Figure 1-44, pilot pressure to 2-way valve B drops, allowing it to open. Now all stored fluid from the accumulator has a path directly to tank. The accumulator will quickly discharge, making it safe to work on the circuit.

Fig-1-44

CAUTION! ALWAYS CHECK AN ACCUMULATOR CIRCUIT FOR PRESSURE BEFORE WORKING ON IT. NEVER ASSUME THE AUTOMATIC UNLOADING SYSTEM WORKED!

Hydraulic-type accumulator dump valves (continued)

When using an accumulator with a pressure compensated pump, the packaged dump valve shown works well. (See Figures 1-45 through 1-48.)

A pressure-compensated pump maintains pressure while flow changes to meet the needs of the circuit. When the first actuator in the system starts to move, there is no flow for it until pressure drops. As pressure drops, a pressure-compensated pump will go on stroke quickly but there will be a slight pause before flow actually starts. The addition of the small accumulator shown in Figure 1-45 nearly eliminates the startup pause. This enhances system response while reducing cycle time and pressure fluctuations.

Fig-1-45

On the other end of the cycle, if the pump is at full flow and all the valves center or all the actuators hit end-of-stroke, flow requirement suddenly goes to zero. The pressure compensated pump is still flowing at maximum and pressure starts to climb. The pump will continue at full flow until pressure reaches 80 to 98% of the compensator setting. There has been zero flow needed for some time, but the pump does not know this until pressure is near maximum. When pressure reaches the compensator setting, the pump starts to shift to no-flow. All pump flow during the shifting time has no place to go, so this excess flow makes a pressure spike of five to ten times the compensator setting. This pressure spike can cause premature failure of the pump, plumbing, and actuators. An accumulator as shown will take in this small volume of oil to minimize the spike.

As with any accumulator installation, safety is important. When shutting a circuit down for maintenance, always drain the accumulators. A manual drain valve works, but the automatic drain shown on the facing page is better. When the pump starts -- and as long as it is running -- a pilot valve closes check valve B to block the drain port. Check valve A isolates the pump from accumulator back flow when it stops or fails. There is no electrical wiring needed, so the accumulator dump valve is invisible to the control circuitry.

The pump is just starting in Figure 1-45, so pressure immediately climbs to accumulator pre-charge pressure. Flow continues until the accumulator is full and system pressure is at its maximum. Pilot-to-close check valve B blocks the drain path to tank when the pump starts. The drain path stays closed as long as the pump is running.

Fig-1-46

Figure 1-46 shows flow while the circuit is working. Accumulator and/or pump flow will go to the actuators to quickly start them and move them through their cycle. During the working part of the cycle, the accumulator smooths out flow fluctuations, while reducing pressure drops and spikes.

With the system at rest as shown in Figure 1-47, pump flow is zero and the accumulator is full and ready for another cycle.

Fig-1-47

Figure 1-48 shows how the circuit responds when the pump stops. Check valve A closes to stop back flow and pump motoring. Pressure to pilot-to-close check B drops out, allowing it to open. All accumulator volume now has a path to tank through an orifice that keeps flow at a reasonable rate. In a very short time the accumulator’s stored energy dissipates, making it safe to work on the system.

Fig-1-48

CAUTION! ALWAYS CHECK AN ACCUMULATOR CIRCUIT FOR PRESSURE BEFORE WORKING ON IT. NEVER ASSUME THE AUTOMATIC UNLOADING SYSTEM WORKED!

Linear pressure-type accumulators

The following circuits use accumulator types with little or no pressure drop as they discharge fluid.

Gas- or spring-loaded accumulators lose pressure as fluid discharges and the gas or spring expands. In a typical circuit using this type of accumulator, the maximum system pressure must be higher than working pressure to allow for this pressure drop. Some circuits cannot operate at these elevated pressures or may need high pressure for the entire stroke. Therefore, they can’t use gas or spring loaded accumulators.

The circuit in Figure 1-49 shows a weight-loaded accumulator, a fixed-volume pump, and a normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve that can replace either circuit shown in Figures 1-10 and 1-11. Notice the maximum pressure and working pressure are at 2000 psi. This is possible because the weight-loaded accumulator does not lose pressure as fluid discharges. Until the accumulator piston reaches bottom, system pressure stays constant.

Fig-1-49

With a weight-loaded accumulator, the amount of weight on a given piston area sets maximum pressure. To raise or lower maximum pressure, weight must be added or taken off. Set the relief valve on this type circuit 100 to 150 psi higher than system pressure so it does not bypass during normal operation.

The main disadvantage of a weight-loaded accumulator is its physical size. An accumulator for the circuit shown in Figure 1-49 would require a 10-in. ram with a 60-in. stroke for the cylinder to have full force for its entire cycle. This size accumulator needs almost 160,000 lb of weight on the ram to get the required volume and pressure stated. A block of concrete approximately 1080 ft3 in size or about 10 X 10 X 11 ft would be necessary to meet this need. Such high mass eliminates the use of this type accumulator for mobile equipment and also rules out many industrial applications. Using a smaller accumulator ram with a longer stroke reduces weight, but you must make sure column strength is adequate when reducing ram diameter.

The air-cylinder-loaded accumulator shown in Figure 1-50 works the same as a weight-loaded accumulator. There is a slight pressure drop as fluid starts to flow due to piston and ram seal friction but this is usually not enough to cause problems.

Fig-1-50

Physical size can also be a problem with air-cylinder-loaded accumulators, especially when using low air pressure. Most plant systems operate at 100 to 125 psi so the unit required to handle the cylinder in Figure 1-50 might be a 40-in. bore air cylinder driving a 9-in. ram with a 75-in. stroke. Using air pressure at 250 psi could reduce the accumulator to a 30-in. air cylinder driving a 10_-in. ram for a 55-in. stroke. In either case, these accumulators are still too large for mobile equipment and for many industrial applications.

Air-cylinder-loaded accumulators work best and are more economical to operate using a surge tank for the air cylinder. Surge tanks provide fast flow for discharging high oil volumes with minimal pressure drop. They also make it possible to use a small air compressor because it only has to make up for leaks after the system gets up to pressure. Size the surge tank to allow for a 3- to 8-psi drop when the accumulator discharges during a normal cycle.

 

Chapter 2: Air Logic Circuits

Electrical and electronic devices, such as relay logic circuits, programmable controllers, or computers, normally control fluid power circuits. Fluid power systems can also 0be controlled with "Air Logic." These controls perform any function normally handled by relays, pressure or vacuum switches, time delays, counters, and limit switches. While the circuitry is similar, compressed air is the control medium instead of electrical current.

Environments high in dust or moisture are excellent places for air logic controls because practically no danger from explosion or electrical shock is possible even in these atmospheres. Water can splash on the controls with no effect on the operation. If there is danger of explosion, air controls can not ignite the materials involved.

Air logic can also be used on machines that have cylinders or fluid motors, but no type of electrical device. In such instances, two services are required because the machine is powered by air but controlled electrically. In cases where electrical and mechanical maintenance come under different labor grades, air logic is also ideal because different technicians work on different aspects of the machine -- one works on the circuit and the other handles the machine parts that are electrically driven.

Air logic does have its disadvantages; most common is the lack of understanding of how the components work and how to read the schematic drawing. If an air controlled machine fails, very few persons can work on it. Also, air logic with long control lines will have a noticeably slower cycle. Control lines longer than 10 to 15 ft fill and exhaust slowly when compared to electrical signals. In addition, air quality must be above average for long life.

Air logic controls are basically miniaturized 3- and 4-way air valves. The actions of the valves provide on or off functions like relays or switches. They also exhaust the spent signal. The symbols used for air logic are similar to electronic symbols. Some manufacturers use modified electrical symbols and ladder diagrams to show circuitry.

The following is an explanation of the basic logic components showing the ANSI logic symbol and ISO graphic symbol for a comparable directional control valve.

And, or, and not symbols

Figures 2-1 and 2-2 show two types of "and" elements, which must receive two inputs before it provides an output. This ensures that two functions have completed before there is a command to continue the cycle. This can also be described by saying "this input, this input, and that input must be present before getting an output. Connect "and" inputs in a series when using more than two inputs. The first "and" receives signals’ one and two while the output of this element hooks to one input of the second "and." The other input of the second "and" receives the third signal, making three inputs necessary before giving an output.

Figure 2-1: Passive "and" element

Some manufacturers supply both types of elements. This gives you Figure 2-1 "and" with Figure 2-2 designated as "yes." The difference in elements is that the "and" in Figure 2-1 uses the lower of the two inputs as an output. This is a passive element. In contrast, a "yes" element has two inputs which obtain an output, but the designer has the choice of which input pairs with the output. Using this feature can amplify a weak signal. The weak signal pilots the valve open while the through signal comes from a full pressure supply. The "yes" in this situation is an active element.

Figure 2-2: Active "and" element

Figure 2-3 shows the symbol for an "or" element. A shuttle valve serves the same purpose as an "or" element. Both inputs to an "or" element provide an output. A pilot signal from two different sources can pass through to start the next function. This can also be described by saying this signal or that signal provides an output. An "or" element differs from an inline "tee" because an "or" passes either input to the output but does not allow the inputs to pass to eachother.

Figure 2-3: "Or" element

Stacking "or" elements allows for more than two inputs. Use an extra "or" element for each input after the first two signals.

Figure 2-4 shows the symbol for a "not" element, which is a normally open 3-way valve. An input signal or pressure supply will go through the valve until there is a pilot signal at port A. Pressurizing port A blocks supply and exhausts the output signal to atmosphere. "Not" elements will block a signal or supply as long as there is pilot pressure on the A port. The "not" always returns to a normally open condition without a pilot signal.

Figure 2-4: "Not" element

Replace a limit switch with a "not" element to indicate a cylinder is at the end of stroke. Pressure from the cylinder port goes to port A of the "not" element, holding it closed. As the cylinder moves to the work, pressure stays steady because of the meter-out flow control. When the cylinder contacts the work, the signal on port A drops, the "not" element opens and sends a signal to start the next operation. See Figure 2-21 and accompanying text to review a circuit using "not" elements to replace limit valves.

The cylinder can stop at any position and the "not" output signal will indicate its nonmovement. This will always happen whether the cylinder stopped where it should have or if it stalled by some other means. Because this can happen, take care when using a "not" element to replace a limit switch. In contrast, this feature can be advantageous when clamping different sized parts. Use a "not" element for applications where different work locations stop the cylinder.

Most manufacturers supply a different pilot ratio for a "not" element used as a limit switch. The valve function is the same but it shifts at much lower pressure. Some manufacturers make a special "not" element that mounts directly to a cylinder port. A port-mounted meter-out flow control used in conjunction with this special "not" element makes a compact installation.

Caution! Pressure control valves only show pressure buildup. When a positive location must be made, use limit valves.

Flip-flop circuits

"Flip flop" elements, with their symbol shown in Figure 2-5 are double piloted 5-way valves that send supply air to either outlet port with a signal at pilot ports S or R. Supply can be system pressure or air from another logic element. The main use for a "flip flop" is to eliminate the first pilot signal to a directional control valve. This allows a second signal on the directional valve’s opposite pilot port to shift it back. "Flip flops," sometimes called "memory" elements, stay in their last shifted position even with no air supply. Whether the signal maintains or drops out, output from the "flip flop" stays the same.

Figure 2-5: "Flip flop" element

The S and R signals stand for "set" and "reset." The "set" signal shifts the "flip flop" for a function; whether the signal continues or not, the element stays shifted. The "reset" signal returns the "flip flop" back to its original position until the next cycle.

"Flip flop" can also be used to set up a new cycle, allowing the operator to momentarily push the start buttons. Use this same "flip flop" to eliminate unwanted signals and set up the circuit for cycle completion as required.

Figure 2-6 shows another valve actually called a "memory" element, which is a normally closed 3-way valve with a built in shuttle valve. The shuttle valve uses the "memory’s" output air to hold it shifted once it receives an S "set" signal. A momentary "set" signal gives continuous pilot output. An R "reset" signal shifts the "memory" element to normally closed and exhausts output air. In addition, turning supply pressure off returns a "memory" element to its start position.

Figure 2-6: "Memory" element

There are three different types of time delays in air logic control. Fixed- or adjustable-time delays are common in both normally closed and normally open configurations. Some time delays use an orifice and accumulator chamber for delays up to one minute. Some manufacturers use air actuated diaphragms and orifices that eliminate system pressure fluctuation inaccuracies.

A "one-shot" timer, shown in Figure 2-7, is sometimes called an "impulse timer." A "one shot" timer takes a signal and passes it on to the circuit. At the same time, the input signal goes through an orifice to an accumulator tank. The setting of the orifice and size of the accumulator give a certain time delay before the normally open 3-way valve closes. After a "one shot" times out and closes, it remains closed as long as it has an input signal.

Figure 2-7 shows an adjustable time delay before it loses its output. Leaving off the sloping arrow in the symbols makes it a preset time delay. Times range from to 2 or more sec on valves with preset time delays.

Figure 2-7: "One shot" element

Many circuits uses "one shots" to eliminate opposing signals. When a valve receives a signal to extend to a cylinder, it resists a return pilot signal to itself until loss of the first pilot. Using a "one shot" element drops the extend signal shortly after iniatiation. However, when the short duratoinj signal meets a hard-to-shift valve, the time may not always be long enough to move the valve spool. The cycle will stall if the valve does not have time to shift. For best results, use a "flip flop" to drop unwanted signals after it performs a task. Figures 2-17 to 2-20 and accompanying text further describe "flip flop" valves.

Passing a signal through the element after timing stops is done with an adjustable, normally closed "time-on" time delay. Figure 2-8 shows the symbol for this element. A "time-on" delay is a preset fixed timer without the sloping arrow. Most anti-tie down circuits use a fixed time delay, thus forcing the operator to actuate both palmbuttons concurrently.

Figure 2-8: "On delay timer" element

The symbol in Figure 2-8 shows an input A moving towards the blocked port of a 3-way directional valve. Signal A also moves to a meter-in flow control to fill an accumulator. After the accumulator is filled, pilot pressure shifts the 3-way valve, allowing air to pass on to the next operation. As long as the input signal stays on the time delay stays open.

Some brand of "time-on" delays use shop air to the normally closed port A of the 3-way valve while the signal to the timing section comes from another logic element or limit valve. This allows a strong passing signal to travel long distances or to quickly shift several other logic elements.

With a built-in accumulator tank, the time delay length is usually unjer one-to-one and one-half minutes. With added external accumulators, time delays up to 5 min are possible. The repeatability of long time delays using accumulators is poor. Often, diaphragm type timers go to 3 min with good repeatability.

With a normally open 3-way valve in place of a normally closed 3-way, the delay is "time off." Figure 2-9 shows the symbol for a "time off" delay timer. A continuous input to the supply gives an output until a set time after receiving a signal at A. When A receives a signal, the time delay starts and continues timing. When the accumulator fills, it closes the normally open 3-way valve and exhausts the signal. As before, a preset, non-adjustable time delay is available.

Figure 2-9: "Off delay timer" element

"Time-on" and "time-off" delays often are identical in appearance. The part number may be the only way to tell these units apart.

To get different functions, connect air logic elements together like the examples in Figures 2-10 and 2-11. These two common pairs might be familiar to anyone using air logic. A "nand" element, shown in Figure 2-10, uses an "and" to signal a "not." The term "nand" means "not this and this." As long as there are not signals at A and B, air passes. If signals A and B are present, the "not" closes and exhausts the output signal.

A "nor" element, shown in Figure 2-11, uses an "or" to signal a "not." The term "nor" means not this or this. As long as there is not a signal at A or B, air passes through the "not." If a signal is present at either A or B), the "not closes and exhausts the output signal.

Figure 2-10: "Nand" element


Figure 2-11: "Nor" element

Some other commonly used air logic elements include:

  • Amplifiers to detect a low pressure signal (down to 3-in. water column) and send it on as an 80 psi signal.
  • Pressure or vacuum sequence elements shift after reaching a set pressure or vacuum.
  • Programmable controllers are combination elements that are used to design complex circuits with minimum knowledge of circuit design.
  • Air-operated indicators show circuit condition and/or function. Several colors are available but none emit light.

The following text and images depict examples of air logic circuits, showing how some basic circuits perform machine control functions.

Anti-tie down air logic circuit, using logic symbols

The two-hand, anti-tie down circuit schematic in Figure 2-12 uses ANSI air logic symbols to simplify schematic drawings. However, most mechanics do not understand the hardware behind the symbols. An electrician may recognize the symbols but often does not understand how air logic functions. So like most problems with hydraulics and pneumatics, changing parts, turning knobs, and swapping lines continues until the machine starts working or an expert is called.

Figure 2-12: Anti-tie down air logic circuit using logic symbols

To make the cylinder in Figure 2-12 extend, depress both palm buttons at the same time and hold them shifted. Tying either palm button more than one second before actuating the second palm button keeps the cylinder from moving. Depressing the second palm button within one second after the first palm button makes the cylinder extend and stay. Letting up on either or both of the palm buttons causes the cylinder to retract. This means that if the operator tries to use one of his hands to adjust or hold a part, the cylinder retracts. To start another cycle, release both palm buttons to reset the time delay. Both of the operator’s hands must stay on the palm buttons when the cylinder is extending.

Notice that the AND1 and OR1 elements on the left receive signals from the palm buttons at the same time. AND1 uses both signals to get an output while ORr1 gives an output when depressing either palm button.

Actuating palm button PB2 sends a signal through OR1 to start TIME ON DEL1. After approximately one half to one second, TIME ON DEL1 opens, sending a signal through normally open NOT1 to close normally open NOT2. Depressing PB1 after NOT2 closes gives an AND1 output, but it cannot go through to shift the directional valve. Actuating either palm button separately blocks the signal to shift the directional valve at PB2.

Shifting both palm buttons concurrently sends a signal through OR1 starting TIME ON DEL1. At the same time, an output from AND1 passes through NOT2, shifting the directional valve to extend the cylinder. The output ofNOT2 also closes NOT1, blocking the output from TIME ON DEL1. Depressing and holding both palm buttons extends the cylinder and keeps it there.

Releasing one palm button while the cylinder is extending drops one output of AND1. When AND1 drops out, the directional valve spring returns, the cylinder retracts, NOT1 opens, and TIME ON DEL1 output closes NOT2. Depressing the released palm button again leaves the cylinder retracted because TIME ON DEL1 closes NOT2. To start another cycle, release both palm buttons to reset TIME ON DEL1. Figure 2-13 shows this operation using ISO valve symbols.

Anti-tie down air logic circuit, using ISO symbols

Figures 2-13 to 2-16 show the previous anti-tie down circuit in ISO symbols. Most people understand ISO symbols since they show valve function more clearly.

The circuit is at rest in Figure 2-13. PB1 and PB2 are not actuated, so there is no signal being sent to the directional valve. This schematic is what the machine supplier sends with his documentation for the machine.

Figure 2-13: Anti-tie down air logic circuit at rest, air on

Figure 2-14 shows the circuit when depressing only one palm button. Here, PB2 sends an air signal to one port of the and element. The and element does not send any output because it needs two signals. The air signal from PB2 does go through the or element and starts TIME ON DEL1 timing. If PB1 is not shifted within a short time, TIME ON DEL 1 times out. When TIME ON DEL1 times out, it sends a signal through NOT1 and closes NOT2. After TIME ON DEL1 closes NOT2, the signal from PB1 through the and element becomes blocked at NOT2. Either palm button gives the same results. This protects the operator because depressing both palm buttons is the only way to cycle the machine. Before a cycle is possible in this condition, the palm buttons must exhaust any air signal from the or element, resetting TIME ON DEL 1.

Figure 2-14: Anti-tie down air logic circuit, one palm button depressed

Depressing both palm buttons simultaneously gives the results shown in Figure 2-15. Either one of the signals to the or element starts TIME ON DEL 1but one of the signals to the and element passes through NOT2, on to the directional valve. The signal from NOT2 also pilots NOT1 closed, blocking the output from TIME ON DEL 1. As long as both buttons stay shifted, the cylinder extends and holds.

Figure 2-15: Anti-tie down air logic circuit, both palm buttons just actuated

After TIME ON DEL 1times out, the circuit changes to the one shown in Figure 2-16. Output from TIME ON DEL 1L1 stops at NOT1 because the start signal from the and element is holding it closed. With this circuit the operator has to keep both hands on the palm buttons to make the cylinder extend.

Figure 2-16: Anti-tie down air logic circuit, both palm buttons actuated, time delay timed out

The following circuits show other uses for these elements and how more complex circuits use other logic valves.

Anti-tie down, non-repeat, flip flop air logic circuit

Figures 2-17 through 2-20 show a two cylinder circuit with CYLA extending (A+, CYLB extending (B+), CYLB retracting (B-), and CYLA retracting (A-).

Notice CYLB retracts immediately after extending, which means there would be an extend signal opposing a retract signal if the circuit only has limit valves for control. Using a "one shot" valve to stop the opposing signal works, but is less reliable than the "flip flop," FF circuit shown here.

Figure 2-17 shows both palm buttons depressed, causing the output of the anti-tie down circuit (see the previous explanation of an anti-tie down circuit) to shift FF. The output of the top port of FF sends a signal to shift a doubled pilot valve and extend CYLA. The FF output will also supply the normally closed port of limit valve LVA1. Shifting the FF also drops the signal from limit valve LVB0 that retracted CYLA. CYLA extends until it contacts limit valve LVA1.

Figure 2-17: Anti-tie down, non-repeat flip flop circuit, cylinder A extending

When CYLA contacts LVA1, Figure 2-18, air from the top port of FF passes through it and shifts a double piloted valve making CYLB extend. The signal to retract CYLB came from the bottom port of FF that is now exhausting to atmosphere. CYLB continues to extend until it contacts limit valve LVB1.

Figure 2-18: Anti-tie down, non-repeat flip flop circuit, cylinder B extending

The normally closed inlet port of LVB1 has a constant air supply, so when CYLB contacts it, Figure 2-19, it shifts FF back to starting position. A signal from the bottom port of the FF shifts a double-piloted valve to retract CYLB and supplies air to the normally closed port of limit valve LVB0. After FF shifts back to the starting condition, it drops the extend signals to both double piloted directional valves. This makes it possible to shift the double-piloted valves to retract the cylinders. CYLB continues to retract until it contacts LVB0.

Figure 2-19: Anti-tie down, non-repeat flip flop circuit, cylinder B retracting

A signal from LVB0 shifts the double-piloted valve to retract CYLA as shown in Figure 2-20. This cylinder can retract since its extend signal dropped out when FF shifted from LVB0. CYLA retracts to home position and ends the cycle.

Figure 2-20: Anti-tie down, non-repeat flip flop circuit, cylinder A retracting

The nonrepeat feature is possible because when the circuit is in the at rest position, there is a supply to the left palm button from the rod end port of CYLA. After the cycle starts and CYLA reaches the end of its stroke, the left palm button loses its supply. Whether the operator lets off the palm buttons or not, loss of air to the left palm button disables the anti-tie down circuit.

With both palm buttons supplied with direct shop air, if the operator kept the palm buttons shifted all during the cycle, the machine would probably stall after CYLB extended. The nonrepeat feature adds little cost, but may save lost production.

Using modified "not" elements as limit valves

The circuit in Figure 2-21 operates the same as Figures 2-17 through 2-20 on the preceding page. The only difference is pressure controlled "not" elements replace limit valves.

Figure 2-21: Anti-tie down, non-repeat and flip flop circuit, using modified "not" elements as limit valves

"Not" elements can replace limit valves when the movement they are detecting is not critical. "Not" limits operate any time the cylinder has a pressure drop. The pressure drop could be end of stroke or any place the cylinder stops for any reason. If actuator position is critical, always use limit valves.

Using a standard "not" to replace limit valves works, but the special low pressure "not" is best. Some manufacturers call this an "inhibitor", others, a "pressure trip release." Whatever the name, the modification causes the valve to shift at a lower differential pressure. This keeps a reduced backpressure at the cylinder port from giving a premature signal.

Using "not" elements in place of limit valves makes installation and plumbing easier, but can make troubleshooting more difficult. Placing the "not" elements in the control box works, but cylinder port mounting is best. No matter the location, they must read the air between the cylinder port and a meter-out flow control. This location ensures they see backpressure when the cylinder is moving.

Because a "not" is normally open, pressure holding the cylinder in position and backpressure from a meter-out flow control when the cylinder is moving give the signal to hold it shut. When the cylinder stops, pressure drops, allowing the "not" to open and send a signal to continue the cycle.

The circuit in Figure 2-21 uses "not3" to tell CYLB to extend, "not5" to tell CYLB to retract, and "not4" to tell CYLA to retract.

Since the "not" works on loss of pressure, a cylinder with leaking seals can keep it from shifting. After a slowly moving cylinder stops, slow deterioration of pressure may delay the output signal.

Loss pressure valves have many benefits. For example, it does not matter when the cylinder contacts the part. Whether the part is 1 or 20 in. thick, when the cylinder makes contact, there will be an indication. In addition, air pressure changes have little or no effect on them as the "not" only reads minimum pressure. Finally, maximum pressure setting does not affect a "not" like it does a sequence valve. "Not" elements are a preferred choice over sequence valves because sequence valves only work with meter-in flow controls. Any air cylinder has better control with a meter-out circuit and overrunning loads require meter-out flow control.

Always use loss of pressure controls with caution since they can operate any time cylinder pressure drops below their minimum shifting pressure.

Anti-tie down, non-repeat and flip flop air logic circuit with automatic cycling air drills

Figure 2-22 shows a clamp cylinder, CYLA, and three self-contained automatic air powered drills controlled with air logic.

Some circuits clamp a part then start the drills with a "one shot" element. As long as all the drills start there is no problem. However, if any drill fails to cycle, parts may come off the fixture with one or more holes missing. When double drilling is necessary, part costs’ and scrap increase. The circuit in Figure 2-22 eliminates this problem with air logic elements and piping.

Figure 2-22: Anti-tie down, non-repeat and flip flop circuit, with automatic cycling air drills

When the anti-tie down circuit shifts "flip flop" FF, a signal from its top port goes to extend clamp cylinder CYLA. FF top port output also supplies the normally closed port of limit valve LVA1. CYLA extends, clamps the part, and shifts limit valve LVA1. Use a limit valve here since the drills could sling a loosely clamped part out of the fixture. A pressure operated "not" circuit could allow premature cycling of the drills, resulting in damage and safety concerns.

After clamping the part, FF output goes through limit valve LVA1 to the drills’ start ports. When the drills start they give a run signal when they move from home position. This run signal remains on until the drills fully retract. On most of these types of air-operated drills, the output is the same air that turns the air motor in the drill. One brand of air drill has an output when at rest and exhausts that signal when it starts.

The drill run signals go to the input ports of two "ands" and two "ors". When the two cascaded "ands" have three signals indicating all the drills are moving, their output shifts FF back to its starting position and exhausts the drill start signal. The three inputs to the two cascaded "ors" pass through to close "not3" so the clamp will not open until all drills have retracted. Output from the lower port of FF goes to the inlet of "not3" to set up clamp CYLA open sequence.

The drills will continue forward until they meet their internal limit valves and retract. The run signals drop out as each drill finishes and retracts to home position. When the last drill is home, the run signal from the last "or" element exhausts and "not3" opens. When "not3" opens, its output shifts the clamp valve to retract CYLA.

If starting of one of the drills is sluggish, the run start signal stays on until it moves. If a drill fails to start, the run signal stays on and the running drill stay extended. In either case, the operator knows when a problem exists. If one of the drills hangs in the part, the clamp will not open until the drill is free to retract. For every added drill, use another "and" and "or" element. With air indicators installed in each drill run signal line, picking out a nonrunning drill is easy.

 

Chapter 3: Air-Oil Circuits

Air-over-oil systems

Compressed air is suitable for low power systems, but air compressibility makes it difficult to control actuators smoothly and accurately. Some low power systems need smooth control, rigidity, or synchronization capabilities normally associated with oil hydraulics. All of these features are available to low power circuits by using compressed air as power and oil for control. Purchased or special built air-over-oil circuits provide smooth control when power requirement is low.

Some manufacturers make self-contained air-powered cylinders with built-in oil cylinders and reservoirs. Air provides thrust while oil controls speed and/or mid stroke stopping. Some units have two speed capabilities as well as stop and hold options. ARO Corp.’s "Coaxial Cylinder” and Schrader Bellows’ "Air Motor-Hydro-Check" are two such units. Both of the above companies also make a bolt-on control unit that mounts on a standard air cylinder and controls speed and/or position.

Coupling low-pressure hydraulic cylinders with air-over-oil tanks is another common way to create an air-over-oil system. These tanks hold more than enough oil to stroke the cylinder one way. Having an air valve piped to the air-over-oil tanks forces oil from the tanks into the cylinder. Add flow controls and stop valves to the oil lines to give smooth accurate cylinder control. Air-over-oil tanks do not intensify the oil, no matter the tank diameter or length. The amount of air pressure supplied is the highest possible oil pressure available.

Tandem cylinders can also control oil and air power. The single-rod cylinder of the tandem runs on air, while the double-rod cylinder is full of oil. Because volume is equal in both ends of the double-rod cylinder, oil flows from end-to-end through flow controls and/or shut off valves for accurate speed and stopping control.

When designing with air-over-oil systems, take care sizing the oil lines. Most air-oil circuits operate at 100 psi or less, so any pressure drop in the circuit can reduce the force drastically. If oil lines are undersized, cylinder movement will be very slow. Size most air-over-oil circuit oil lines for about 2 to 4 ft/sec velocity. This low speed requires large lines and valves but is necessary if average travel speed with maximum force is important.

Bleeding of air from the oil chambers can present another common problem with air-over-oil circuits. Any trapped air in the oil will make the cylinder spongy. This compressibility makes accurate midstroke stopping and smooth speed control hard to attain. When using an air-over-oil tank system, it is best to mount the tanks higher than the cylinder they feed. All lines between the cylinder and the tanks should slope up to them. Also, if possible, let the cylinders make full strokes to purge the air. With dual oil tank systems, incorporate a means for equalizing tank level in the design.

The cylinder seals must be as leak-free and provide the lowest amount of friction as possible. Any leakage past the seals can cause tank overflow, oil misting, and loss of control. The following examples can be used to provide low power with smooth control rather than oil hydraulics.

Be sure to read Chapter 13 on Intensifiers to learn more about air-over-oil circuits that also require short, high-force work strokes.

Air-over-oil tank systems

Figure 3-1 shows a single tank air-over-oil system with an air valve piped to an air-over-oil tank to power the rod end with its other port connected directly to the cylinder cap end. A flow control valve in the oil line controls the cylinder advance speed. The cylinder’s extend speed is very slow and controllable with this setup. Also, external forces trying to extend the cylinder cannot make it move faster than the flow control allows. If force requirements keep changing while the cylinder is moving, speed will change very little as long as the cylinder has enough force.

Figure 3-1: Single tank air-over-oil system

Leakage of air past the piston seal can be a problem in a single tank air-oil circuit. Any air mixed with the oil can cause erratic movement and reduced cylinder control. Oil leaking past cylinder seals can cause misting and the environmental problems associated with it.

This circuit is good for replacing a straight air cylinder that is moving a large load. When load force requirements on the extend stroke are variable, a straight air cylinder may stop or lunge uncontrollably. With oil in the rod end of the cylinder, movement will be smooth. Even if the cylinder stops, it will not lunge when it starts again.

Notice the baffles in the air oil tank. The top baffle keeps incoming air from shooting into the oil, causing aeration. The bottom baffle stops any vortexing that might allow air to enter the cylinder as the tank level lowers.

Sight gauges are also necessary to monitor oil level on the air-over-oil tank. Purchased air tanks usually come with baffles, sight gauges, and a fill port. Some purchased air-over-oil tanks feature air cylinder tubing with two cylinder caps held in place with tie rods. Air-over-oil tanks should be sized to run approximately 75% full for optimum performance.

Figure 3-2 shows a double tank system. Two tanks eliminate the aeration problem caused by leaking cylinder seals. They will also allow accurate flow or stop control in both directions of travel. A twin tank system is more expensive, and may slightly reduce maximum cylinder speed.

Figure 3-2: Double tank air-over-oil system

When using two oil tanks, always put a line with an equalizing valve between the tanks. This line should be below the lowest tank oil level to allow easy adjustment of tank oil level when cylinder seals bypass.

When filling air-over-oil tanks, stroke the cylinder toward the low one. This action exhausts the tanks’ air for fill-plug removal and allows replenishing without overfilling. Also there is a minimum of trapped air in the piping and the cylinder. Never fill a tank to capacity when the cylinder is stroked away from it. If oil gets into the cylinder as well as the tank, it will overflow as soon as the cylinder strokes.

Install a solenoid or pilot-operated shut-off valve in the oil lines to the cylinder for accurate control. A shut-off valve makes it possible to precisely position and hold the cylinder for long periods. Since oil is practically non-compressible, a cylinder will not move even if outside forces push against it. If excessive outside force is possible, install a relief circuit to protect the cylinder and machine structure. Tandem cylinders in air-over-oil circuits

Figure 3-3 shows a tandem cylinder piped for speed control and mid-stroke stopping. A tandem cylinder unit provides the same results as an air-over-oil tank system. An air valve piped to the single-rod cylinder gives directional control. Install meter-out flow controls and a shut-off valve in the line between ports on the double-rod cylinder. The double-rod end cylinder is completely full of oil and sealed against leakage. A small makeup tank attached to the transfer line, with a check valve between it and the cylinder port, allows oil to enter the cylinder when needed.

Figure 3-3: Tandem cylinder air-over-oil circuit

This tandem cylinder arrangement operates smoothly and gives accurate mid-stroke stopping control. A tandem cylinder is about the same price as a dual tank system. However, space requirement at the workstation more than doubles. Also, long-stroke tandems can be hard to mount and maintain. Normal piston seal leakage is no problem, but rod seal leaks can let oil out and/or air in, causing a house keeping problem and spongy cylinder movement.

Figure 3-4 shows a large-bore, high-force air cylinder with a small-diameter hydraulic cylinder in tandem with it. An unmatched tandem cylinder has ample oil for smooth control and/or precise positioning. Unmatched tandems offer two big advantages: less cost and lower oil flow.

Figure 3-4: Unmatched tandem cylinder air-over-oil circuit

When specifying unmatched tandem cylinders, make sure the piston rod sizes are compatible between the air and oil cylinders. Rod size usually dictates the smallest bore hydraulic cylinder possible. Also, check for excessive pressure in the oil cylinder that could damage it and flow-control or stop valves. The higher oil pressure comes from intensification due to different bore sizes. Also, a vertically mounted cylinder with a heavy load adds load-induced pressure to intensification, possibly damaging components rated for air or low-pressure hydraulic service.

Figure 3-5 shows an accurate way of synchronizing two or more air cylinders with fluid power. Four tandem cylinders are hooked to one platen, which will stay level throughout the stroke. Force from all four cylinders is available to move the load, regardless of its position.

Figure 3-5: Tandem cylinder air-over-oil circuit for synchronizing two or more air cylinders

Notice the transfer valves between the tandem cylinder’s cross port lines. Always return a fluid-type synchronizing circuit to a positive home position often, preferably after every cycle. When the air cylinders return the platen to home position, the transfer valves open to allow the cylinders to resynchronize. Doing this after each cycle eliminates any cumulative position error from seal leakage.

When using unmatched tandem cylinders in a synchronizing circuit, check for overpressure from intensification and load-induced pressure as mentioned above. Placing a heavy load over one cylinder provides pressure intensification from the other actuators. All other cylinders will transfer their excess energy through the oil lines to the loaded cylinder. The loaded cylinder would then be capable of pushing with four times its normal force. One-fourth of this force would be from its own air cylinder, while three times more force comes from energy transfer. This could overpressure the cylinders or valves, causing failure.

Figure 3-6: Opposing tandem cylinder air-over-oil circuit for synchronizing

Figure 3-6 shows opposing tandem cylinders. These cylinders will meet exactly in center. Drilling a center hole in odd sized parts is one possible use for this circuit.

 

Chapter 4: Slip-In Cartridges

SLIP-IN CARTRIDGE VALVES

The term cartridge valves commonly refers to screw-in types of pressure, directional, and flow control valves. Screw-in type cartridge valves are mostly low-flow valves -- 20 gpm or less, although some manufacturers’ valves can handle more than 100 gpm. Screw-in cartridges are very compact, develop low-pressure drop, have little leakage, and produce inexpensive circuits that are reliable and easy to maintain. Screw-in cartridges are most often part of a drilled manifold but also are available in individual bodies. The function and performance of screw-in cartridge valves are the same as in-line or subplate-mounted valves.

Slip-in cartridge valves are different because -- except for pressure controls -- they are simply 2-way, bi-directional, pilot-to-close check valves. Most circuits using slip-in cartridge valves flow at least 60 gpm and can go as high as 3000 gpm. Slip-in cartridges are compact, develop low-pressure drop, and operate at pressures to 5000 psi. Slip-in cartridges can function as pressure, flow, and directional control valves.

Figure 4-1. 1:1 Poppet-type cartridge valve

Figure 4-1 shows a cutaway view and symbol of a 1:1 area ratio, poppet-type cartridge valve. Pressure relief, sequence, unloading, and counterbalance functions normally use a 1:1 area ratio poppet. The area ratio is the relation of the pilot area to the A port area. The 1:1 area valve stays closed when pilot pressure is equal to or greater than the A port pressure.

Figure 4-2 shows a cutaway view and symbol for a 1:1.1 area ratio valve. Here the pilot area is 1.1 times the A port area. Use this 1:1.1 ratio for special directional controls where system pressure at the pilot area must hold against excess pressure at the B port. Some pressure control applications also use this area ratio. Flow is possible from A to B, or B to A with low or no pilot pressure.

Figure 4-2. 1:1.1 Poppet-type cartridge valve

Figure 4-3 shows a cutaway and symbol for a 1:2 area ratio cartridge valve. Most directional-valve functions use this area ratio. Here, pilot area is twice the A or B port area. The 1:2 ratio valve allows flow from A to B or B to A with the same pressure drop. When the pilot area sees the same pressure as the A and/or B, all flow stops.

Figure 4-3. 1:2 Poppet-type cartridge valve

Slip-in cartridge pressure-relief valves

The schematic symbol and cutaway in Figure 4-4 are for a slip-in cartridge relief valve. The symbol for a cartridge is more pictorial than for spool valves, though the pressure-adjusting section uses a conventional ISO symbol.

Figure 4-4. Slip-in cartridge relief valve

Pressure relief cartridges can only flow from port A to port B. Port A is always connected to the pump while port B is always connected to tank. The spring that holds the poppet in place allows it to open at about 30 psi. This internal spring seats the poppet regardless of valve mounting position.

A slip-in cartridge valve has a cover that contains porting relative to the function the valve will perform and an adjustable spring-loaded poppet (the adjustable relief). This cover also holds the slip-in cartridge in place. The slip-in cartridge has a bushing with seals to prevent leakage to the outside or across the ports. This bushing fits in a machined cavity and contains the poppet that moves to allow fluid to pass. The poppet on a relief valve has a ratio of 1:1, which means the areas at the working fluid side, at the A port, and at the pilot side are equal.

Drilled pilot passages allow fluid to flow through control orifices to the pilot area of the poppet and to the adjustable relief in the cover. As system pressure increases, the poppet sees the same pressure on both sides and stays closed . . . held by the 30-psi spring. When system pressure reaches the relief setting, the adjustable relief opens a small amount, allowing pilot flow to tank. When pilot flow to tank is greater than control orifice flow from the A port, pressure on top of the poppet lowers. Then the poppet unseats to pass excess pump flow to tank.

Figure 4-5 shows the same cartridge relief valve with a single-solenoid directional valve -- or venting valve -- mounted on the cover. This solenoid-operated relief holds maximum pressure with the solenoid energized and unloads the pump to tank at approximately 30 psi when the solenoid is de-energized. Reversing the solenoid coil and spring keeps the pump loaded until the venting valve is energized.

Figure 4-5. Slip-in cartridge relief valve (solenoid-operated, normally vented)

Figure 4-6 shows the symbol for a dual-pressure relief valve with pump unloading. Pressures are set at the two manually adjustable relief covers and the solenoids select which relief to use. When both solenoids are de-energized, the pump unloads.

Figure 4-6. Slip-in cartridge relief valve (solenoid-operated, normally vented) for two different pressures

The symbol in Figure 4-7 is for an infinitely variable cartridge relief valve. A proportional solenoid valve is mounted on the cover of this 1:1 cartridge. The proportional solenoid valve controls vent flow, which in turn controls pressure. An electronic signal sets infinitely variable pressure to protect the system in varying conditions. The manually adjusted relief cover under the proportional solenoid sets maximum system pressure regardless of electrical input.

Figure 4-7. Slip-in cartridge relief valve. (Relief valve is proportional-solenoid operated.)

Figure 4-8 shows the symbol for a relief valve with a low-pressure unloading port. Set the relief cover for maximum pressure as before. Then, when it reaches maximum pressure, the relief cartridge opens to unload the pump at approximately 30 psi. Venting pressure comes from piping the unloading port downstream of a check valve that holds fluid in the accumulator. Until there is about a 15% pressure drop in the accumulator holding circuit, the pump will stay unloaded. When pressure drops about 15%, the relief cartridge closes until system pressure reaches maximum setting again.

Slip-in cartridge pressure-reducing valves

Figure 4-8. Slip-in cartridge -- pressure relief and unloading (infinitely variable pressure)

The schematic symbol and cutaway in Figure 4-9 are for a cartridge pressure-reducing valve. The ISO symbols for the cartridge and the pressure-reducing section are conventional. Pressure-reducing cartridges only flow from port B to port A. Port B always sees inlet or system pressure, while port A is the reduced-pressure outlet. If reverse flow is necessary, add a bypass check valve to allow return flow around the reducing valve. The spring directly holding the spool in place keeps it open regardless of valve mounting position when pressure is below the adjustable relief setting.

Figure 4-9. Slip-in cartridge reducing valve

The slip-in cartridge reducing valve has a cover that contains porting relative to the function to be performed. An adjustable spring-loaded poppet (the adjustable relief) in the cover sets outlet pressure. This cover also holds the slip-in cartridge in place. The cartridge has a bushing with seals to prevent leakage to the outside or across the ports. This bushing fits in a machined cavity and contains the spool that closes as pressure increases. The spool on a reducing valve has a ratio of 1:1 -- which means that the A port area and pilot area are equal.

A drilled pilot passage allows fluid to flow through a pressure-compensated control orifice to the adjustable relief in the cover, as well as to the top of the spool. As pressure builds, the spool stays open because of the spring and the equal pressures on equal areas, thus letting flow continue through the valve. When the A port reaches the reduced pressure setting, the adjustable relief opens and pilot fluid flows to tank through the drain. When pilot flow is greater than control orifice flow, lower pressure on top of the spool allows it to rise, blocking flow from the B port to the A port. Pressure at the A port will not exceed that set on the adjustable relief unless a load-induced pressure tries to force flow back through the closed spool. There will be pilot flow out the drain port whenever the reducing valve is at reduced pressure. Blocking or closing the drain port causes the spool to fully open and allow outlet pressure to reach system pressure.

A pressure-reducing valve will not allow reverse flow after it has reached its set pressure. For example, if the reduced pressure is 500 psi at a cylinder and some outside force starts pushing against the cylinder, there is no place for most of the fluid to go. About 50 to 100 in.3/min of excess fluid passes through the pilot circuit and out the drain port while the valve is reducing. Fluid in excess of drain flow becomes trapped and pressure builds, possibly to dangerous levels. If there is a chance of outside forces that can increase outlet pressure, add a relief valve bypass at the outlet. A bypass relief valve relieves trapped fluid before excessive pressure can damage the valve or machine.

Figure 4-10 shows a cartridge reducing valve with dual-pressure capabilities. A solenoid-operated selector valve and a second adjustable relief mounted on the cover give the option of two pressures. Always use the first adjustable relief above the spool for maximum pressure setting. A single-solenoid directional valve (as shown) allows default to maximum pressure. Using a 2-position detented directional valve maintains the last pressure selected.

Figure 4-10. Slip-in cartridge reducing valve

Figure 4-11 shows a proportional solenoid valve mounted on the adjustable relief. Such a valve allows selection of infinitely variable pressures via an electrical command. Allowing pilot flow to bypass the adjustable relief gives a reduced pressure of anything lower than the adjustable relief setting. An electronic signal to the proportional solenoid varies pilot flow that controls pressure on top of the spool.

Figure 4-11. Slip-in cartridge reducing valve (proportional operated, Infinitely variable pressure)

Slip-in cartridge directional control valves
Slip-in cartridge check valves

The simplest directional control valve is a check valve. Figure 4-12 shows the symbol and cutaway for a cartridge check valve. A check valve has a cover with a control orifice to control pilot fluid. The control orifice dampens the poppet movement. It is available in several diameters. The cover also holds the cartridge in place and seals it with an O-ring. The cartridge has a bushing with seals to prevent leakage to the outside or across the ports. A machined cavity holds the bushing that contains the poppet that will open when fluid flows in the right direction. The poppet on a check valve has a 1:2 ratio, which means the area at the two working ports (A or B) is one half of the pilot area. A 1:2 ratio poppet allows flow in either direction as long as pilot pressure is off or slightly less than half the working pressure.

Figure 4-12. Slip-in cartridge check valve

There are several spring forces available -- from as low as 5 psi to more than 70 psi. The lowest spring pressure possible is best for normal check valve operation.

In Figure 4-12, a drilled pilot passage senses the pressure at the A port. Flow from the B port to the A port passes with a slight pressure drop caused by the volume of flow plus the spring force. When flow tries to reverse (from the A port to the B port) as pressure on the A port half area increases, it goes through the pilot passage to the main pilot area. Because the A port area is only half the pilot area, the poppet stays closed and blocks reverse flow.

Figure 4-13 shows the same valve with the pilot passage drilled to the B port. With this valve, flow is free to go from A to B, but not from B to A.

Figure 4-13. Slip-in cartridge check valve

The symbol and cutaway in Figure 4-14 are for a cartridge pilot-operated check valve. The cartridge is the same as a standard check valve, but with a different cover. The cutaway shows the works of the cartridge pilot-operated check valve cover. On the left of the cover, a pilot piston pushes a simple ball check from the left seat to the right seat. The ball check stays to the left -- its normal position -- held by a light spring.

Figure 4-14. Slip-in cartridge pilot-operated check valve

If oil tries to pass from the B port to the A port, the same pressure that is trying to open the check on the half area also is applied to the pilot area, keeping the poppet closed.

Flow from the B port to the A port requires a pilot pressure equal to at least 30% of pressure at the B port to shift the pilot piston. When there is sufficient pressure on the pilot piston, it will move the ball check off the left seat, opening a path to the drain. At the same time, closed flow at the right seat blocks flow from the B port. With little or no pressure at the pilot area, the 1:2 poppet opens, allowing flow from the B port to the A port. If pilot pressure drops while oil is reverse flowing, the poppet shuts due to pressure on the pilot area like any check valve. Various sizes of dampening control orifices control shifting speed of the poppet to help reduce system shock.

Slip-in cartridge directional control valves

The symbol and cutaway in Figure 4-15 are for a simple 2-way cartridge valve. Most cartridge directional valves have a 1:2 pilot ratio, although a 1:1.1 ratio works better in certain circuits. In either case, pilot pressure equal to the working pressure at port A and/or port B closes the poppet.

Figure 4-15. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with plain cover

From the cutaway view in Figure 4-15, it is plain to see that fluid pressure at port A will push the poppet off its seat and allow flow to port B. Although it is less obvious, fluid pressure at port B will also open the poppet and allow flow to port A. To stop flow in either direction, apply pilot pressure to the pilot area opposite port A. If any pilot pressure generates a closing force equal to the opening force at the A and/or the B ports, the spring bias closes the poppet.

Although slip-in cartridge directional valves appear to be normally closed, they open easily without pilot pressure. A vertically mounted cylinder controlled by slip-in cartridge valves can free-fall when the pump stops and pilot pressure drops. This problem is easy to fix, as will be shown in some later circuits.

The cutaway view in Figure 4-15 shows a plain cover with a pilot passage and a control orifice. (Pilot pressure in this type of valve would come from another solenoid valve or control valve in the circuit.) Control orifices come in a variety of sizes to provide smooth, non-shock movement of the poppet. To control shock even more, add a skirt with V notches to the poppet. Figure 4-23 shows the symbol and cutaway for a cartridge poppet with a V-notched skirt for flow control or dampening function. Different manufacturers have other ways to achieve this dampening effect.

Figure 4-16. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with single-solenoid operator

Figure 4-16 shows the symbol for a 1:2 slip-in cartridge with an interface for a solenoid-operated directional valve on the cover. This solenoid valve directly operates the cartridge beneath it. It also can pilot other cartridge valves through drilled passages in the manifold. The single solenoid pilot valve can keep the poppet normally closed or normally open. Figure 4-16 shows a normally closed configuration.

Figure 4-17 shows a double-solenoid, detented pilot operator. The cartridge poppet stays in its last position even with both solenoids de-energized. With this type of solenoid operator there is no need to maintain current on the solenoid after the valve shifts.

Figure 4-17. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with double-solenoid. detented operator

Figure 4-18 shows a double-solenoid, spring-centered pilot operator. The center condition of the pilot operator allows the cartridges it pilots to open when both solenoids are de-energized. This could allow a cylinder to relax in case of power failure or when activating the emergency stop.

Figure 4-18. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with double solenoid operator N.O.

Conversely, Figure 4-19 has a double-solenoid pilot operator that closes all cartridges when both solenoids are de-energized. The actuator would stop suddenly and be locked in place. This type of pilot operator could cause system shock without some means of decelerating the cylinder.

Figure 4-19. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with double solenoid operator N.C.

Slip-in cartridge valves with 1:2 area ratios appear to be normally closed because of the spring inside the poppet. However, one half the pilot area is connected to port A or port B, and pressure at these ports can open the poppet. The only way to keep a slip-in cartridge valve closed is to keep pilot pressure on the pilot area at all times.

Anytime the pump is running, there should be enough pilot pressure to keep a poppet closed. However, when the pump stops or pilot pressure drops for any reason, the poppet may open, allowing an actuator to move. This might cause a safety hazard or machine damage.

The symbol and cutaway in Figure 4-20 are for a cover with an integral shuttle valve. A shuttle valve will take signals from two sources and send the higher pressure signal to the pilot area. At the same time, the shuttle valve will not let either signal pass through to the other signal passage.

Figure 4-20. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with shuttle-valve cover

The cutaway of the shuttle operator shows that a pilot signal to pilot passage 1 or pilot passage 2 goes to the pilot area, but not out the line with little or no pilot signal. This happens because the shuttle poppet closes the inactive or low-pressure opening and only allows pilot oil from the active or higher-pressure side to flow to the pilot area. Because the area of the shuttle ball is equal to that of both pilot passage ports, the strongest signal always goes to the pilot area. In most applications, this is an important feature.

The vertically mounted, rod-down cylinder shown in Figure 4-21 is holding a heavy weight. This is an example of an over-running load. With standard externally piloted slip-in cartridges, the weight will fall when the pump stops or anytime pilot pressure drops below approximately 275 psi. This is because the 23,000-lb weight, acting on the 40.06 square inches of rod end area, produces a static pressure of 574 psi (23,000/40.06 = 574 psi). This 574 psi would act against half the area of the poppets to push them open. It takes approximately 275 psi on the pilot area plus the spring force to hold the poppets shut. For safety’s sake, change this circuit to one with shuttle-valve covers.

Figure 4-21. Plain-cover, solenoid-operated and plain-cover, remotely piloted slip-in cartridge directional valves -- dropping a load when the pump is off

The circuit in Figure 4-22 is the same as above except for a shuttle valve in the cover. One pilot supply is from the pump, while the second pilot supply is from the cylinder’s rod end. While the pump is on and the system is at pressure, pilot supply is from the pump. In case of low or no system pressure, pilot oil comes from the cylinder’s rod end. With the cylinder’s rod end as the pilot source, pressure that is trying to open the poppets on the half area of port A also acts on the pilot areas. Because the pilot areas are twice the A port area, the poppets stay closed. The shuttle valve cover assures there is always pilot pressure on the pilot area when the cylinder is not fully extended.

Figure 4-22. Shuttle-cover, solenoid-operated and plain-cover, remotely piloted slip-in cartridge directional valves -- holding a load when the pump is off


 

Slip-in cartridge directional valves

The symbol and cutaway for a slip-in cartridge valve in Figure 4-22 include a stroke-adjusting screw that limits poppet travel. Restricting flow by limiting poppet movement controls the actuator’s maximum speed. The filled triangle in the poppet symbol shows the skirted or modified poppet that allows smooth flow change as it shifts.

The cutaway in Figure 4-23 shows one design of a slip-in cartridge with a stroke limiter. The cartridge function is identical to any 1:2-ratio poppet except for the limited movement. Restricting the poppet movement makes the cartridge function as a flow control as well as a directional valve.

Figure 4-23. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with plain cover, stroke limiter, and dampening function

Figure 4-24 shows the symbol for an adjustable-stroke cartridge valve with a directional control valve cover. This particular valve only comes in a single-solenoid configuration as shown. Also, it cannot pilot other cartridge valves in the manifold. (Figures 4-27 and 4-28 show an adjustable stroke-cartridge in a circuit. These examples also show a problem that can occur when using a stroke limiter as a flow control in a meter-out circuit.)

Figure 4-24. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with single-solenoid operator (N.C.)

Figure 4-25 shows the symbol and cutaway for an internal-poppet, orifice-type cartridge valve. The internal poppet orifice supplies pilot oil from the A port only. Standard orifices that meet most needs are available. The internal pilot supply cartridge valve provides a check-valve function without drilling pilot passages in the manifold. As a check valve, it always allows free flow from the B port to the A port and blocks flow from the A port to the B port.

Figure 4-25. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with orifice port in poppet for pilot supply

The 2-way cartridge shut-off valve in Figure 4-26 is for high flow systems. This 2-way shut-off might allow pump flow to a circuit as shown in the schematic. Also use a 2-way shut-off to let fluid flow from a large cylinder to tank for rapid advance. Using a normally open solenoid valve in place of the normally closed one shown allows flow through the cartridge valve until the solenoid is energized.

Figure 4-26. Slip-in cartridge directional valve with NC orifice port in poppet for pilot supply

One advantage of the internal-pilot-supply-type cartridge valve is that it is not necessary to keep the pump running to have pilot pressure. This can eliminate a shuttle valve when an over-running load tries to move the cylinder.

The internally piloted slip-in cartridge always controls flow from the A port to the B port. Fluid is free to flow from the B port to the A port because pilot supply comes only from the A port.

When using a stroke-adjusted poppet to meter-out flow from a cylinder with an oversize piston rod, look out for the problem that appears in Figure 4-27. This circuit pictures a horizontal cylinder with a 2:1 rod that needs a meter-out flow control. This is good circuit design for spool-type valves, but when using an adjustable-stroke slip-in cartridge valve, it can cause trouble. This circuit can actually increase the cylinder speed when making an adjustment to slow it.

Figure 4-27. Slip-in cartridge valves with adjustable-stroke poppet at CV1 (extending with poppet on CV1 full open)

The circuit in Figure 4-27 shows the valves shifted to extend the cylinder. Flow from the pump is passing through CV3 to the cylinder’s cap end. Oil from the cylinder’s rod end is flowing to tank freely through CV1 because the stroke adjuster is fully open. Pressure gauge PG1 shows a system pressure of 700 psi. Gauge PG2 in the cylinder’s cap line reads 700 psi, and PG3 at the cylinder’s rod line reads 0 psi. The 700-psi reading is from the load’s resistance (the cylinder is moving with no flow restriction). Pilot pressure is always the same as system pressure. Flow to the cylinder’s cap end is 50 gpm and flow from the rod end to tank is 25 gpm.

With the stroke limiter screwed in to restrict tank flow to 12.5 gpm, the conditions shown in Figure 4-28 will prevail. In a normal meter-out circuit with a flow control and a spool-type directional valve, the cylinder speed slows and system pressure increases.

Figure 4-28. Slip-in cartridge valves with adjustable stroke poppet at CV1 (extending with poppet on CV1 set at 12.5 gpm)

With a cartridge-valve circuit, however, restricting flow from the cylinder’s rod end increases system pressure. Gauges PG1 and PG2 register approximately 1600 psi -- or a little more than twice the non-restricted flow pressure. This is because the load now is being moved by pressure on half the piston area in a regeneration circuit. Gauge PG3, at the cylinder’s rod end, climbs to approximately 1800 psi due to area-ratio intensification.

This intensified pressure acts on the half A port area at CV2, while half the B port area sees system pressure. Pilot pressure on the full pilot area of CV2 is 1600 psi, plus a spring force of, say, 75 psi. If the full pilot area is one square inch, the poppet has a closing force of 1675 lb. The 800-lb opening force on the poppet is generated by 1600 psi on half the area. The opening force on the other half area of the poppet is 900 pounds (1800 psi X 1/2 sq. in.), making the total opening force 1700 lb. With 1700-lb opening force and 1675-lb closing force, the poppet opens to allow rod-end oil to regenerate to the cap end. Instead of the cylinder slowing to half speed, it moves 150% faster due to regeneration. The more the flow from CV1 to tank decreases, the faster the cylinder extends. Note that restricting flow at CV3 as a meter-in flow-control circuit would allow infinite control of cylinder speed. Another option would be to use a shuttle cover and take pilot pressure from the pump or the cylinder’s rod end. As pressure intensified at the rod end, pilot pressure to CV2 would increase also.

Slip-in cartridge directional valves compared to spool-type 4-way directional valves

Figure 4-29 pictures a circuit with a 300-gpm pump powering a large-bore, 2:1 rod-diameter cylinder. This is the type of circuit that uses an important feature of slip-in cartridge valves. Flow from the rod end is only 150 gpm as the cylinder extends, but while retracting, flow from the cap end is 600 gpm. A conventional 4-way valve to operate the cylinder in Figure 4-32 must be capable of 600-gpm flow. A 4-way valve with this capacity is large and expensive. Its delivery may involve a long lead time.

Figure 4-29. Slip-in cartridge valves for high-flow circuits (at rest, pump running)

Four slip-in cartridge valves can duplicate the function of the 600 gpm 4-way valve. This may sound expensive and inefficient, but with a circuit such as the one in Figure 4-29, it actually is more efficient, less expensive, and saves space.

Figure 4-30. Slip-in cartridge valves for high-flow circuits (cylinder extending)

The cylinder is extending in Figure 4-30, with 300 gpm going to the cap end through CV3. Simultaneously, the rod end of the cylinder is discharging 150 gpm to tank through CV1. With this difference in flow, it costs less and saves space to use cartridges of different sizes. Size the cartridges for nominal pressure drop at their maximum flow.

Figure 4-31. Slip-in cartridge valves for high-flow circuits (cylinder retracting)

The cylinder is retracting in Figure 4-31. Flow to the rod end is 300 gpm while flow from the cap end is 600 gpm. For this higher cap-end flow, use a larger cartridge to minimize backpressure. This circuit will have three different-sized cartridges to carry the flow required during each phase of the cycle. Size CV1 for 150 gpm, CV4 for 600 gpm, and CV2 and CV3 for 300 gpm. When using a regeneration circuit, size CV3 for 600-gpm flow also.

The small amount of space taken by the cartridges, plus the lower cost and better availability of the parts make this system superior to one with a spool-type 4-way valve for high flows.

Another advantage of slip-in-type cartridge valves is their short response time. Cartridge poppets do not have land overlaps like spool valves have. Without land overlap there is flow when pilot pressure drops. Also, when the poppet opens, it only moves far enough to allow system flow to pass. When applying pilot pressure again, the poppet closes quickly without the extra travel often seen in spool valves. A spool valve, without stroke limiters, shifts full stroke. This full shifting may be far enough to pass several times the flow required. Then, when the spool starts returning to center, there is extra spool travel just to get back to controlling flow. This does not sound like much but faster response of cartridge valves can shorten cycle time and increase production.

Figure 4-32. Conventional 4-way directional valve for high-flow circuit (at rest, pump running)

The circuit in Figures 4-29 to 4-32 uses only one pilot control valve. This limits the versatility of the slip-in cartridges. Multiple pilot control valves, shown in the following circuits, make the use of cartridge valves even more attractive.

Slip-in cartridge directional valves on running-away loads

Figures 4-33 to 4-36 show a vertically mounted (rod down) cylinder holding a heavy platen and tooling. This cylinder will run away if oil discharges to tank uncontrolled.

Figure 4-33. Slip-in cartridge valve circuit for running-away load (at rest, pump running)

A pressure-control cover (that makes CV6 a counterbalance valve) prevents rapid flow to tank. Cartridges CV1 through CV4 control cylinder flow and direction, and solenoid-operated directional valves shift their positions. Cartridge check valve CV5 bypasses normally closed counterbalance valve CV6 to retract the cylinder. With all solenoids deenergized, the pump unloads to tank through cartridge valves CV3 and CV4. Counterbalance valve CV6 keeps the load from falling at this time.

Figure 4-34. Slip-in cartridge valve circuit for running-away load (cylinder extending, regeneration)

Figure 4-34 shows valve positions and likely pressures as the cylinder is regenerating forward. Energizing solenoids A1 and B2 closes CV4 and opens CV3, porting pump flow to the cylinder. This action also opens CV2 to allow cylinder’s rod end flow to go through CV3, combine with pump flow, and regenerate the cylinder forward. Counterbalance valve CV6 keeps the forward motion of the cylinder from going faster than the pump and regeneration volume as indicated by the 750 psi seen on gauge PG3. The cylinder is extending rapidly at low or no force.

Figure 4-35. Slip-in cartridge valve circuit for running-away load (cylinder extending at full tonnage)

As the cylinder extends, it makes a limit switch to deenergize solenoid B2. When solenoid B2 drops out, Figure 4-35, pilot pressure closes CV2, while CV1 opens to tank. The cylinder slows to about half the regeneration speed, but is now able to generate full force. Counterbalance CV6 still keeps the cylinder from free-falling as it approaches the work. When the cylinder starts to form a part, pressure increases to whatever it takes to do the work. The cylinder continues extending until it finishes the work stroke.

Figure 4-36. Slip-in cartridge valve circuit for running-away load (cylinder retracting)

To retract the cylinder, the valve conditions shown in Figure 4-36 prevail. Energizing solenoids B1 and B2 allows CV2 and CV4 to open, and closes CV1 and CV3. Pump flow now goes to the cylinder’s rod end through cartridge check valve CV5. That bypasses normally closed counterbalance valve CV6. Oil from the cylinder’s cap end goes to tank through cartridge valve CV4.

Anytime all solenoids are deenergized, the cylinder stops and holds position. Counterbalance valve CV6 holds the cylinder in place as long as its pressure setting is greater than the load-induced pressure in the cylinder’s rod end.

When sizing the counterbalance valve, be sure to consider the cylinder’s static pressure. Slip-in cartridge valves have high flow capacity at nominal pressure drops. When available pressure drop is high, flow can increase to a point that the counterbalance valve’s response is too slow to stop the cylinder quickly.

Slip-in cartridge directional valves with prefill valves

Figures 4-37 to 4-40 shows cartridge valves controlling a 50-in. cylinder with a 48.75-in. piston rod.

In Figure 4-37 the circuit is at rest with all solenoid valves deenergized. The cylinder maintains its position because load-induced pressure on the CV1 and CV2 pilot areas holds them closed. Pilot pressure reaches the pilot valves through CK1, while CK2 blocks flow to tank. When system pressure is higher than pressure in the cylinder’s rod end, CK2 lets this higher pressure into the pilot circuit. The pump unloads to tank through CV3 and CV4.

Figure 4-37. Slip-in cartridge valve for vertically mounted cylinder with prefill valve (at rest, pump running)

The size of CV1 is important, because controlling flow through it sets the cylinder free-fall speed. Size the valve for the pressure drop generated by load-induced pressure. A stroke limiter in CV1 actually sets maximum cylinder extension speed.

Energizing solenoid A1 shifts CV4 closed to block tank flow and leaves CV3 open to send pump flow to the cylinder’s cap end. Figure 4-38 shows the cylinder in a controlled free fall. Energizing solenoid B2 lets CV1 open, while holding CV2 closed. Oil from the cylinder’s rod end now has a path to tank through CV1.

A prefill valve lets oil from the tank into the cylinder’s cap end. The cylinder will advance as fast as the stroke limiter on CV1 allows. Free-fall speed can be in excess of 15 in./sec.

Figure 4-38. Slip-in cartridge valve for vertically mounted cylinder with prefill valve (cylinder extending, controlled fall)

As the cylinder extends in free fall, it contacts a limit switch that de-energizes solenoid B2, Figure 4-39. CV2 remains closed and CV1 tries to close. As CV1 is closing, backpressure on the cylinder’s rod end will build to 900 psi and the pressure control will keep CV1 from fully closing. Because CV1 is restricting flow at 900 psi, the cylinder decelerates and tries to stop. While the cylinder is slowing, decreased vacuum in the cap end lets the pre-fill valve close. After the prefill closes, pump flow forces the cylinder to keep moving and rod-end pressure keeps the pressure control on CV1 open. Deceleration is smooth and rapid. The cylinder continues extending toward the work at the slower pump rate.

Figure 4-39. Slip-in cartridge valve for vertically mounted cylinder with prefill valve (cylinder approaching work, decelerating)

Figure 4-40 shows the cylinder at work. Solenoid A1 is still energized and solenoid B2 has been energized again. (Solenoid B2 could be reenergized by a limit switch or by a pressure switch when the cylinder contacts the work.) Energizing solenoid B2 lets CV1 open fully, taking away the 900-psi backpressure that decreases tonnage. The cylinder extends at the force required to do the work (up to relief pressure setting).

Figure 4-40. Slip-in cartridge valve for vertically mounted cylinder with prefill valve (cylinder pressing)

To retract the cylinder, energize solenoids A2 and B1. Solenoid B2 closes CV3, pilots the pre-fill valve open, and opens CV4 to tank. Solenoid A2 closes CV1 and opens CV2, sending pump flow to the cylinder’s rod end. The cylinder retracts rapidly with most of the cap-end flow going to tank through the pre-fill valve. In case of power failure or emergency stop, the cylinder stays where it is, or if it is moving, it decelerates, stops, and holds its position.

 

Chapter 5: Counterbalance Valve Circuits

Counterbalance valves

Some actuators with running-away (or overrunning) loads will let the load free fall when the directional valve that controls the actuator shifts to lower the load. Cylinders with large platens and tooling or hydraulic motors on winch drives are two examples of such actuators. When the directional valve shifts, an overrunning load forces the actuator to move faster than pump flow can fill it. Oil at high velocity leaves one end while the opposite side starves for fluid. A vacuum void forms in the inlet side of the actuator that must be filled before applying force. Any running-away or overrunning load needs some method to retard its movement.

A meter-out flow control is one way to control a running-away load at a constant speed. Unless pump flow never changes, setting flow precisely on this type control is critical. Setting the flow control for minimum pump flow will waste energy when pump flow is high. Setting the flow control for maximum pump flow lets the cylinder run ahead when pump flow is low. Incorporating a pressure control valve called a counterbalance is a better way to control running-away loads. A counterbalance keeps an actuator from running away even with variable flow rates.

Fig. 5-1: Internally piloted counterbalance valve

Figure 5-1 shows the symbol for an internally piloted counterbalance valve. Use an internally piloted counterbalance to hold a load back when the actuator does not need full power at the end of stroke. This type of counterbalance valve retards flow continuously, so it resists flow even after work contact stops the actuator. Note that it is necessary to adjust an internally piloted counterbalance valve every time the load changes. The following circuits show these characteristics and how to design around them.

Fig. 5-2: Externally piloted counterbalance valve

Figure 5-2 shows the symbol for an externally piloted counterbalance valve. This valve’s pilot supply is from a source other than the controlled load. An externally piloted counterbalance does not waste energy at the end of stroke and does not require adjustment for changing loads. However, an externally piloted counterbalance valve does waste a little more energy when moving the load to the work.

Fig. 5-3: Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve

Figure 5-3 shows the symbol for an internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve. This valve has the best of both systems. As the load extends, internal pilot supply gives smooth control with little energy loss. After work contact, as system pressure builds, the external pilot fully opens the counterbalance to relieve all backpressure in the cylinder.

Counterbalance valves are manufactured in both spool and poppet designs. Spool designs leak at a rate of 3 to 5 in.3/min, thus allowing actuator creep. Poppet designs leak at only 3 to 5 drops/min, minimizing cylinder creep. (Because hydraulic motors bypass internally, a counterbalance only works with a moving load. The designer should apply a braking method to hold a hydraulic motor at rest.)

Internally piloted counterbalance valve

Figure 5-4 pictures a circuit with a running-away load. This circuit demonstrates the operation of an internally piloted counterbalance valve. The cylinder in Figure 5-4 has a static pressure of 566 psi in the rod end due to the 15,000-lb load on the 26.51- in.2 area. (15,000 / 26.51 = 566 psi). An open-center directional valve unloads the pump and keeps backpressure off the counterbalance valve outlet and pilot port. The cylinder holds in any position if the counterbalance valve is set correctly and does not leak. Set the counterbalance approximately 100 to 150 psi higher than the load-induced pressure.

Fig. 5-4: Internally piloted counterbalance valve at rest with pump running

Normal procedure for setting a counterbalance valve is to turn the adjusting screw to its highest pressure before raising the cylinder. After starting the pump, energize the directional valve and carefully raise the load a short distance. With the load suspended, deenergize the directional valve. A working counterbalance will hold the load suspended and gauge PG3 will show the load-induced pressure. Now start lowering the counterbalance pressure setting slowly. When the cylinder begins to creep downward, increase the pressure until creeping stops. Then continue turning the adjusting control in the same direction another to turn. After setting the counterbalance this way, power the cylinder down and notice the pressure reading on gauge PG3. Pressure should be approximately 700 to 750 psi. Any time the cylinder loading changes, repeat the above process. Resetting the counterbalance valve keeps the cylinder from running away and reduces energy loss with a lighter load.

Fig. 5-5: Internally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder extending

When the directional valve shifts to extend the cylinder in Figure 5-5, oil from the pump flows into the cap end of the cylinder and pressure starts to build. When pressure in the cap end of the cylinder reaches about 75 psi, the cylinder should start to stroke. (This is because it builds an extra 140 psi in the rod end, adding to the load’s 566 psi.) At this point the cylinder starts to extend and continues to move as long as the pump supplies oil at 75 psi or higher to the cylinder cap end. If pump flow changes, cylinder speed changes also.

Fig. 5-6: Internally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder retracting

While the cylinder is retracting, Figure 5-6, pump flow bypasses the counterbalance valve through the integral bypass check. The counterbalance valve offsets the potential energy of the weight on the rod end of a cylinder. The 15,000-lb force in this figure cannot do useful work when using an internally piloted counterbalance valve. (See Figures 5-13 through 5-15 for energy loss and heat generation for different types of counterbalance circuits.)

Externally piloted counterbalance valve

Figure 5-7 shows an externally piloted counterbalance valve circuit. (This is the same cylinder arrangement shown previously.) Notice the counterbalance setting of 150 psi with this circuit. Because this is an externally piloted counterbalance, it operates at a much lower setting. If the load changes, the counterbalance setting does not change. Load-induced pressure does not affect set pressure. Theoretically, set pressure could be 1 psi and the load would not move. The cylinder would only extend when the counterbalance valve’s external pilot port sensed 1 psi at the cylinder cap end.

Fig. 5-7: Externally piloted counterbalance valve at rest with pump running

On most externally piloted counterbalance valves, the minimum pressure setting is 100 to 200 psi. This keeps the counterbalance valve from hunting. Hunting starts when the valve sees enough pressure to open, but then opens too wide. The cylinder runs away when the valve opens too much and pilot pressure drops. When pilot pressure drops, the counterbalance valve closes and the cylinder stops. After the cylinder stops, pilot pressure builds again. The process repeats and continues to the end of stroke. The higher the load-induced pressure, the greater the hunting problem. (On some systems it is possible to add an orifice in the pilot line to slow the pilot supply response and reduce hunting. This orifice fix is difficult to get right and may cause other circuit problems.)

Fig. 5-8: Externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder extending

Energizing the directional valve to extend the cylinder in Figure 5-8 sends pilot pressure to the counterbalance valve from the cap end cylinder line. Once pressure in the cap end cylinder line reaches 150 psi, the counterbalance opens and the cylinder extends. As long as there is enough pilot pressure to keep the counterbalance open, the cylinder moves forward. Increasing, decreasing, or stopping pump flow causes the cylinder to respond accordingly, but never to run away.

Fig. 5-9: Externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder retracting

When the cylinder meets the load, pressure in the pilot port of the counterbalance continues to increase. When pilot pressure goes above the counterbalance setting, the valve opens fully and drops all backpressure on the cylinder rod end. With no backpressure on the rod end, the weight energy generates extra downward force. The externally piloted system saves energy by eliminating all backpressure when performing work. Figure 5-9 shows the flow paths after the directional control valve shifts to retract the cylinder.

Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve

Some manufacturers make counterbalance valves with internal and external pilots. These internally/externally piloted valves provide the best of both systems. They use the internal pilot to lower the load smoothly and the external pilot to drop all backpressure when performing work, thus avoiding loss of down force. In addition, internally/externally piloted counterbalance valves don’t hunt.

Fig. 5-10: Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve at rest with pump running

Figure 5-10 shows a schematic drawing with an internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve. In the at rest condition, the external pilot drains to tank through the directional valve. The internal pilot has static pressure from the load-induced pressure on the rod end area. Setting the counterbalance pressure approximately 25% higher than static pressure (1.25 X 566 = 707 psi) means that when pressure at the cylinder cap end rises to approximately 75 psi, the cylinder starts to stroke.

Fig. 5-11: Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder extending

When the directional valve shifts, Figure 5-11, the cylinder begins to extend. Internal pilot pressure opens the counterbalance valve enough for the cylinder to move. Pilot pressure built by the pump pushing against the cylinder keeps the counterbalance valve open. The cylinder continues to extend smoothly at a controlled rate. If flow to the cylinder cap end changes or even stops, cylinder speed responds accordingly. When the cylinder meets resistance, the external pilot takes over, Figure 5-12, and opens the counterbalance fully at approximately 250 psi. With the counterbalance valve open to tank, backpressure against the cylinder rod end drops, allowing full thrust.

Fig. 5-12: Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder pressing against work

To see how cylinder thrust changes with different counterbalance valve pilot options, look at Figures 5-13, 5-14, and 5-15. These circuits show each type of counterbalance piloting system in the working condition -- with pressures, forces, and effective force listed.

Machine thrusts with different counterbalance valve pilot options

An internally piloted counterbalance valve controls cylinder extension smoothly, but reduces thrust during the working portion of the cycle.

Fig. 5-13: Internally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder pressing

Figure 5-13 shows the maximum force from different types of counterbalance circuits while acting on a part with the cylinder stalled. System pressure of 2000 psi acting on the cylinder cap end produces 100,540 lb of thrust. (50.27 in.2 X 2,000 psi = 100,540 lb.) The 15,000-lb weight on the rod end increases the resulting downward force to 115,540 lb. The 716 psi acting against the 26.51-in.2 rod end area produces an upward acting force of 18,981 lb. (716 psi X 26.51 in.2 = 18,981 lb.) The net effective downward acting force is 96,559 lb. If the upward acting force could be reduced or eliminated, the cylinder could do more useful work.

The counterbalance valve more than cancels the weight of platen and tooling that gives an energy loss of approximately 16%. Approximately 7.5 tons of force from the rod end weight must be raised during every cycle but does not do any work as the cylinder extends.

Fig. 5-14: Externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder pressing

Externally piloting the counterbalance valve, Figure 5-14, requires about twice as much pressure to extend the cylinder. However, upon reaching the work, the loss of backpressure on the cylinder increases the cylinder force and more than makes up for the loss.

The schematic shown in Figure 5-14 has the same downward force as Figure 5-13 -- a total of 115,540 lb. The difference is that there is no upward force in Figure 5-14. The resultant downward force of 115,540 lb is an increase of 16% over the circuit with an internally piloted counterbalance valve. This saves most of the energy expended to raise the load on the return cycle.

If at all possible, a counterbalance valve should be externally piloted. As explained previously, there are some instances where a cylinder might chatter as it extends if its circuit uses an externally piloted counterbalance valve. This chatter usually applies to circuits with high load-induced pressure or when the counterbalance valve is mounted at a distance from the cylinder port. The best practice is to mount the counterbalance valve directly on or very close to the cylinder port. Note that if a conductor between the cylinder port and valve breaks, the cylinder will free fall. That is why it is always good practice to use an external safety device to protect the operator and machine.

Fig. 5-15: Internally/externally piloted counterbalance valve with cylinder pressing

Figure 5-15 shows a schematic diagram of the best counterbalance circuit. This circuit has a counterbalance valve with internal and external pilot supply. As the cylinder extends, the lower-pressure internal pilot gives a smooth descent at reduced pump pressure. The end result is the same as the externally piloted valve of Figure 5-14. When the cylinder contacts the work, all upward force is eliminated, minimizing energy loss.

Hydraulic motor brake valve

Excessive backpressure can damage a fast-turning hydraulic motor during an emergency stop situation. An open-center valve will eliminate backpressure, but the motor will continue to turn until it coasts to a stop. For a fast, non-shock stop, use a special counterbalance valve, called a brake valve. Figures 5-16, 5-17, and 5-18 illustrate a hydraulic motor circuit that uses a brake valve.

Fig. 5-16: Internally/externally piloted brake valve at rest with pump running

The brake valve is an internally/externally piloted valve with different pilot areas. Some designs take one eighth of the pilot pressure at the external pilot port as that set at the internal pilot port. This means, for example, that setting the internal pilot at 900 psi requires only 113 psi at the external pilot to open the valve. The actuator could be a hydraulic motor or a fast moving horizontally mounted cylinder with an over running load. In either case, a brake valve eliminates damage from stopping the actuator abruptly.

Fig. 5-17: Internally/externally piloted brake valve with hydraulic motor running

With the hydraulic motor moving, Figure 5-17, external pilot supply opens the brake valve at low pressure. As long as pressure required to move the motor is greater than the external pilot pressure needed, there is little or no energy loss. A brake valve appears virtually nonexistent as the motor runs under load. If the hydraulic motor tries to run away, say on a loaded winch, a brake valve holds against the load until the motors down port sees at least 113 psi. The load will lower only as fast as fluid enters the motor down port. A brake valve counterbalances when necessary and allows almost free flow under load.

NOTICE: Using a counterbalance or brake valve in a hydraulic motor circuit will not keep the motor from creeping when stopped. No matter how leak-free the counterbalance valve is, the internal bypass in the motor will let it slowly turn. Use an external braking system to hold any overrunning load driven by a hydraulic motor.

Fig. 5-18: Internally/externally piloted brake valve with hydraulic motor stopping

When the directional valve shifts back to its center position, Figure 5-18, external pilot pressure drops and the brake valve begins to close. The hydraulic motor now acts like a pump, trying to force oil through the brake valve. As the brake valve starts closing, internal pilot pressure builds to 900 psi, forcing fluid through the brake valve at a 900-psi pressure drop. This 900-psi backpressure decelerates the actuator smoothly and rapidly. Setting the valve pilot pressure higher makes the stop faster and more abrupt. A lower pilot pressure setting makes the stopping time longer but smoother. In any case, stopping action is smoother and quicker than it would be without the brake valve.

The difference between this circuit and a setup using a cross-port relief valve is that setting the brake valve at a pressure lower than system pressure does not affect normal actuator operation. Also, it eliminates the danger of cavitating an externally drained hydraulic motor. Note how the path around the brake valve with a bypass check valve allows reverse free flow for opposite rotation. To stop the motor quickly in the opposite direction of rotation, install another brake valve in the opposite motor line.

 

Chapter 6: Fluid Power Cylinders

Fluid power cylinders

Approximately 85% of fluid power circuits incorporate some form of cylinder (or linear actuator). The cylinder converts pneumatic or hydraulic pressure into thrust to perform useful work. Both air and hydraulic cylinders come in ram, telescoping, single-acting/spring-return, double-acting, double rod end, rodless, and tandem types. Figure 6-1 shows the symbols for several of these types. Each machine has specific requirements that challenge the designer to determine which type of actuator to use.

Figure 6-1. Some representative cylinder symbols . . . using the “complete symbols."

Throughout this manual, many circuits show cylinders in a variety of applications. An explanation accompanies each example – noting the pumps, valves, and peripheral hardware used to do the work. Every design description also attempts to cover the limitations of a particular circuit and show other ways to perform the same task. This section covers several types of cylinder applications that do not fall under a particular heading.

Normally air cylinder circuits are less expensive than hydraulic circuits because there is no need for a power unit. An air compressor usually is part of the plant facility and compressed air is a commodity similar to electrical power. However, the cost of operating an air-powered machine may be four to seven times more than a hydraulically operated one.

Another disadvantage of air is the fluid’s compressibility. Hydraulic circuits are very rigid, while air circuits are quite spongy. This lack of control makes it almost impossible to accurately stop and hold an air cylinder in mid-stroke with standard air valves alone. After an air cylinder stops, it may start creeping or be forced out of position almost immediately.

When it comes to brute force, air cylinders fall far behind hydraulic cylinders because they normally operate only at 80 to 100 psi. Getting high force from low pressure requires large areas . . . with attendant large valves and piping. A general rule might be to look at hydraulics when an operation requires a 5-in. bore or larger air cylinder to develop the required force. However, another factor is how often the cylinder must cycle. Air circuits with very low cycle rates and long holding times could be more economical than hydraulics, but the faster the cycle time, the more it costs to operate an air cylinder. Another consideration is the operating environment. Around food or medicine, potential contamination from hydraulic oil could be a serious problem. Look at each application to see which fluid system best suits it.

Sizing hydraulic cylinders

Chart 6-1 provides an exercise in sizing a simple, single-cylinder hydraulic circuit with straightforward parameters. The example covers the basic requirements for sizing a hydraulic cylinder to power a specific machine.

Of course, in the real world of circuit design, experience, knowing the process, the environment, the skill of the user, how long will the machine be in service, and other items will affect cylinder and power unit choices.

Before designing any cylinder circuit it is necessary to know several things. The first is the required force. Usually, the force to do the work is figured with a formula. In instances where there is no known mathematical way to calculate force, use a mock-up part on a shop press or on a prototype machine to estimate the force requirements. If all else fails, an educated guess may suffice. (The sample problem in the chart requires a force of 50,000 Llb.)

The second requirement is the total cylinder stroke. Stroke length is part of machine function, but it is needed to figure pump size. Use a stroke of 42 in. in this problem.

Third, how much of the stroke requires full tonnage? If only a small portion of the stroke needs full force, a hi-lo pump circuit and/or a regeneration circuit could reduce first cost and operating cost. This cylinder requires full tonnage for the complete 42-in. stroke.

Fourth, what is the total cylinder cycle time? Make sure the time used is only for cycling the cylinder. While load, unload, and dwell are part of the overall cycle time, they should not be included in the cylinder cycle time when figuring pump flow. Use a cylinder cycle time of 10 seconds for this problem.

Finally, choose maximum system pressure. This is often a matter of preference of the circuit designer. Standard hydraulic components operate at 3000 psi maximum, so choose a system pressure at or below this pressure. If the company that will operate the machine has operating and maximum pressure specifications, adhere to them. Remember that lower working pressures require larger pumps and valves at high flow to get the desired speed.

In the example in Chart 6-1, the square root of the maximum thrust, divided by the maximum system pressure, divided by 0.7854 gives a minimum cylinder bore of 5.641 in. Obviously, a standard 6-in. bore cylinder should suit this system.

To figure pump capacity, take the cylinder piston area in square inches, times the cylinder stroke in inches, times 60 seconds, divided by the cycle time in seconds, times 231 cubic inches per gallon. This indicates a minimum pump flow of 61.7 gpm. A 65-gpm pump is the closest standard flow available. Never undersize the pump because this formula figures the cylinder is going at maximum speed the whole stroke. In the real world, the cylinder must accelerate and decelerate for smooth operation, so travel speed after acceleration and before deceleration should actually be higher than this formula indicates.

Figure horsepower by multiplying flow in gpm by pressure in psi by a constant of 0.000583. This comes out to 75.79 hp . . . and is close to a standard 75-hp motor. This should provide sufficient horsepower because the system pressure does not have to go to 2000 psi with the cylinder size used.

The tank size should be at least two to three times pump flow. For the example, 3 X 63 equals 195 gallons. A 200-gal tank should be satisfactory. When using single-acting cylinders or unusually large piston rods, size the tank for enough oil to satisfy cylinder volume without starving the pump.

Sizing pneumatic cylinders

The procedure for sizing air cylinders is very similar to that for sizing hydraulic cylinders. One major difference: most plant air systems operate around 100 to 120 psi with approximately 80 psi readily available at the machine site. This gives little or no leeway for selecting operating pressure.

Also, because a compressor is part of the plant facilities, the number of cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air available for a single air circuit usually is many times that required. It is good practice though, to check for adequate flow capacity at the machine location.

The other items needed to design an air circuit are maximum force required, cylinder stroke, and cycle time. With this information, sizing cylinders, valves, and piping is simple.

To calculate the cylinder bore required, use the formula given at A in Chart 6-2. Notice the 1.25 multiplier on the force line. For an air cylinder to move at a nominal rate, it needs approximately 25% greater thrust than the force required to just offset the load. When the cylinder must move rapidly, provide a force up to twice that required to simply balance the load.

The reason for this added force can be illustrated by the example of filling an empty tank from a tank at 100 psi. When air first starts to transfer, the high pressure difference between the two tanks produces fast flow. As the pressures in the tanks get closer, the rate of transfer slows. The last 5 to 10 psi of transfer takes a long time. As the tank pressures get close to equal, there is less reason for transfer because the pressure difference is so low.

At a system pressure of 80 psi, if an air cylinder needs 78 psi to balance the load, there is only a 2-psi differential to move fluid into the cylinder. If the cylinder moves at all, the motion will be very slow and intermittent. If pressure differential increases – either from higher inlet pressure or lower load – the cylinder starts to move smoothly and steadily. The greater the differential, the faster the cylinder strokes. (Note that once cylinder force is twice the load balance, any increase in speed due to higher pressure is minimal.)

Substituting the 1.25 multiplier in the formula produces a cylinder bore of 1.72 in. minimum. Choose a 2-in. bore cylinder because it is the next standard size greater than 1.72 in.

To size the valve, use the flow coefficient (or Cv) rating formula. (The Cv factor is an expression of how many gallons of water pass through a certain valve . . . from inlet to outlet . . . at a certain pressure differential.) Valve manufacturers use many ways to report Cv and some may be confusing. Always look at the pressure drop allowed when investigating the Cv, to be able to compare different brands intelligently.

The formula indicates that a valve with 1/8-in. ports is big enough to cycle the 2-in. bore cylinder out 14 in. and back in 4 seconds.

There are many charts in data books as well as valve manufacturers’ catalogs that take the drudgery out of sizing valves and pipes. There are several computer programs as well to help in proper sizing of components.

Cylinder circuits with four positive stopping positions

To stop a cylinder stroke accurately at different points in its travel, use a hydraulic servo system. Particularly for constantly changing intermediate stopping positions, a servo system works best. However, with only one constant mid-stroke stopping point, the circuit shown in Figure 6-2 will work well. A pair of cylinders with different strokes is attached at their cap ends. (This arrangement might be as simple as two off-the-shelf cylinders with their cap end flanges bolted together. Many manufacturers furnish this cylinder arrangement as a unit, using long tie rods to make the mechanical connection.) Because the cylinders have different strokes, it is possible to stop the load accurately at four positions. For instance, if cylinder C has a 2-in. stroke and cylinder D has a 4-in. stroke, the positions are home, and two, four, and six inches from home. If both cylinders have the same stroke, the positions are home, half extended, and full extended.)

This positioning arrangement works the same with air or hydraulic circuits, and always requires two valves. Air cylinders might bounce at fast speeds, but would quickly settle at an exact position. Note that the cylinders also move, so use flexible lines and provide some way to guide the cylinders.

Figure 6-2 shows the circuit at rest. The valves could be double-solenoid (as shown), single-solenoid/spring-return, or spring-centered. The cylinders are both fully retracted, in Position #1.

Figure 6-2. Two cylinders mounted back-to-back for multiple positive stopping positions – at rest.

When valve A shifts, as in Figure 6-3, cylinder C strokes to Position #2. This position is always the same because the piston bottoms out against the cylinder’s head end. Adjusting the rod attachment can make slight position variations. Machine wear could make such adjustments necessary.

Figure 6-3. Two cylinders mounted back-to-back for multiple positive stopping positions – position 1.

In Figure 6-4, valve A shifts to retract cylinder C while valve B shifts to extend cylinder D . This accurately places the load in Position #3. Finally, both cylinders extend as shown in Figure 6-5, moving the load to Position #4.

Figure 6-4. Two cylinders mounted back-to-back for multiple positive stopping positions – position 2.
Figure 6-5. Two cylinders mounted back-to-back for multiple positive stopping positions – position 3.

After both cylinders extend fully, they can return to home or either of the mid-stroke positions as required. (The circuit designer might choose air logic or electrical controls, with palm buttons numbered one through four – to allow an operator to pick any cylinder position at any time.)

Using more than two cylinders can provide a greater number of stopping positions, but controlling more positions requires more circuitry. This still may be is less expensive than a servo system. Lower cost and easier maintenance may offset the greater versatility of a servo system in some applications.

Air or hydraulic tandem-cylinder circuits with three positive stopping positions

A tandem cylinder consists of two double-acting cylinders in one envelope. It has four fluid ports, and the piston rods may be attached or unattached, depending on the application. Most unattached-rod tandem cylinders have unequal strokes, while attached rod tandems have equal strokes. Some tandem cylinders have different bores, again depending on the need.

Figure 6-6 shows a rigidly mounted, unattached tandem cylinder in a multi-positioning circuit, with the cylinder and valving at rest. This circuit produces three positive positions. Note that the load must be resistive – or made that way with valving. Cylinder C has a 2-in. stroke and cylinder D has a 6-in. stroke. This combination gives a positive home position, plus two inches, and six inches extended. Valve A could be single-solenoid/spring-return or a double-solenoid detented (as pictured). Valve B must allow cylinder D to float – to avoid reducing the force of the stroke to Position #2.

Figure 6-6. Using unattached tandem cylinders for multiple positive stopping positions – at rest.

Shifting valve A, as shown in Figure 6-7, extends cylinder C through its full stroke, moving cylinder D and the load to Position #2. If travel speed is too fast and/or resistance is low, cylinder D may overshoot Position #2. If this occurs, add a flow control for air or a counterbalance valve for hydraulic service to offer resistance while cylinder C is stroking.

Figure 6-7. Using unattached tandem cylinders for multiple positive stopping positions – position 1.

To extend the tandem cylinder fully, valve B shifts, as in Figure 6-8, porting fluid to the cap end of cylinder D . Cylinder D then extends fully to Position #3. Positions #2 and #3 are positive. They will be rigid in a hydraulic circuit and typically spongy in an air circuit.

Figure 6-8. Using unattached tandem cylinders for multiple positive stopping positions – position 2.

To retract the load, both valves return to home position, Figure 6-9. Cylinder D retracts fully and also pushes cylinder C home. Vent cylinder C’s rod port to atmosphere if it is air operated, or drain the port to tank on a hydraulic cylinder.

Figure 6-9. Using unattached tandem cylinders for multiple positive stopping positions – cylinders retracting.

Assembling more than two cylinders this way creates more positive stopping positions when needed. Always make the first cylinder the one with the shortest stroke, with each added cylinder’s stroke longer.

Using tandem cylinders to increase force

On occasion, a cylinder already in service is undersized for a new material or product, and there is no room in its location for a larger-diameter cylinder. One way to produce more force is to use a tandem cylinder with the same bore and mounting dimensions as the original cylinder. A tandem cylinder almost doubles the force of the single cylinder. The tandem cylinder mounts exactly as before, with the same rod diameter and thread. The only dimensional difference is that the tandem cylinder is more than twice as long. (Normally an attached tandem cylinder is best for doubling force, although not in all cases.)

Figure 6-10 shows a tandem cylinder circuit that produces additional force on the extension stroke. Normally the retraction stroke needs minimal force, so vent or drain the rod side of the single-rod cylinder. Piped this way, fluid volume only increases on the extension stroke. With a 6-in. cylinder bore and a 2-in. rod diameter, the tandem cylinder’s force is 90% more than the original single cylinder.

Figure 6-10. Using tandem cylinders in increase force.

The circuit in Figure 6-11 uses an unattached tandem cylinder in a circuit that allows standard force or increased force as needed. For low force only, energize valve A. Oil volume and force are the same as in the original circuit. For almost double force, energize valves A and B.

Figure 6-11. Using tandem cylinders in increase force – dual force option #1.

The dual-force circuit in Figure 6-12 uses almost the same volume of oil as the single cylinder it replaces. Pipe directional valve A (supplied by the pump) to single rod-end cylinder D that is part of an attached tandem cylinder. When directional valve A shifts to extend the cylinder, oil flows to cylinder D. As cylinder D extends, it moves cylinder E. Cylinder E is fitted with a flow line from rod end to cap end through directional valve B. All the oil in cylinder E transfers to the opposite side of the piston, so the cylinder is full for the double-force portion of the stroke. Check valve C holds backpressure in the transfer circuit while cylinder E is moving and allows oil to flow to tank during the extra-force portion of the cycle. Extra force comes in when directional valve B shifts, sending oil to the push side of cylinder E’s piston and allowing the opposite end to flow to tank.

Figure 6-12. Using tandem cylinders in increase force – dual force option #2.

When changing to a tandem cylinder for extra force, always check the rod diameter for column strength. All manufacturers show maximum force capabilities for a given rod diameter. When rod size increases, maximum force decreases due to less area on the double rod end cylinder. When using an oversize rod, purchase it with an undersize thread rod so it attaches directly to the machine member without modification.

Caution: make sure the cylinder mounting can withstand the extra thrust. Most cylinder manufacturers' literature gives maximum force capabilities for a given mounting style. Because certain mounting styles have a lower pressure rating, a tandem cylinder may only accept slightly more than half the rated pressure. Change the mounting style if the reduced pressure generates too little force. Also, realize the extension speed of the double force portion of a tandem cylinder arrangement is approximately half the speed of a single cylinder.

Circuit with unmatched tandem cylinders for high speed and force

Many press applications require long strokes for loading parts with only a small portion of the stroke operating at high tonnage at the end. A 10-in. bore cylinder might be required for tonnage, while a 4-in. bore cylinder could provide all the force necessary to move to and from the work. Conventional circuitry often uses high volume at low pressure and high pressure at low volume for an application of this type. A regeneration circuit (Chapter 17 will cover regeneration circuits) could reduce the high-volume pump flow by half, but fast cycling still requires high flow.

Large cylinders with prefill valves and push back cylinders are one way to overcome the requirement for large fluid volumes. (Chapter 7 will explain decompression and prefill valves.) Due to their high cost, prefill valves normally are found only in circuits with 20-in. or larger bore cylinders.

The circuit in Figure 6-13 illustrates another way to operate at high speed for extension and retraction at low force, with high tonnage available at any point along the extension stroke. The unmatched tandem cylinder has attached piston rods so the small-bore cylinder can retract both the large-bore cylinder and the load. The small-bore cylinder needs only a small volume of fluid to extend and retract at high speed, while both cylinders can produce high tonnage.

Figure 6-13. Using an unmatched tandem cylinder for high speed and high force – at rest with pump running.

Energizing the extend solenoid on valve A in Figure 6-14 causes the small-bore cylinder to extend rapidly, in regeneration. This moves the large-bore cylinder and platen downward. As the platen lowers, oil in the large-bore cylinder transfers through valve B to the large-bore cylinder’s opposite end.

Figure 6-14. Using an unmatched tandem cylinder for high speed and high force – fast-forward mode.

When the load meets resistance or contacts a limit switch, Figure 6-15, valve B’s solenoid also energizes – sending pump flow to both cylinders. During this part of the cycle, speed slows and tonnage increases. (The large-bore cylinder transferred oil during the high-speed portion of the cycle to ready it for the high-force portion of the stroke.) During the high-force portion of the cycle, oil from the mounting end of the large cylinder returns to tank. Because the large bore cylinder exhausts during this part of the cycle, it receives fresh oil for every high-pressure stroke.

Figure 6-15. Using an unmatched tandem cylinder for high speed and high force – high-force mode.

To retract the cylinder at high speed, energize the retract solenoid on valve A, Figure 6-16. The pump retracts the small-bore cylinder, which also retracts the large-bore cylinder and platen. While the large-bore cylinder retracts, fluid in it again flows from end to end, so the cylinder stays full. Backpressure check valve C in the tank line keeps oil from draining to tank when it is lower than the cylinder.

Figure 6-16. Using an unmatched tandem cylinder for high speed and high force – fast-retraction mode.

Note externally drained pilot-operated check valve E at the rod end of the small-bore cylinder. With a running-away load, some means is needed to hold the cylinder in place while the circuit is at rest. This cylinder might free fall when the directional valve centers without some way to keep it from trying to regenerate. If the load is heavy, use an externally drained counterbalance valve to stop the pilot-operated check valve from chattering.

One potential problem with this arrangement is the length of the tandem cylinder. For long strokes, the more-than-double length of the tandem cylinder could cause height or length interference. Also, the rod size of the large-bore cylinder determines the smallest bore of the small cylinder. For example: if the double rod-end cylinder has a 10-in. bore with a 5-in. rod, then the smallest single-rod cylinder would require a 7-in. bore.

For the arrangement just shown and sized, the force at 3000 psi is approximately 292,000 lb. A pump flow of 30 gpm would result in a cylinder cycle time of about 15 seconds . . . with a 40-in. travel stroke and a 3/4-in. tonnage stroke.

Short closed height with double-length movement using two cylinders

Some machines need long strokes but lack space to mount long-stroke cylinders. Using telescoping cylinders is feasible for some applications, but high cycle rates usually eliminate them from consideration. Also, most telescoping cylinders are single-acting and depend on gravity or other outside forces to return them. Another drawback to telescoping cylinders is that the smallest-diameter ram must able to generate enough force to move the load. This means all other sections must be larger so they will need to be supplied with high flow for high speed.

Figures 6-17 and 6-18 show two air cylinders facing in opposite directions with their bodies attached side by side. This orientation makes the total stroke additive, while the retracted length is that of a single cylinder. (Assuming that both cylinders have a 20-in. stroke, the platen’s starting position in Figure 6-17 is about 20 inches lower with this arrangement than it would be with a single 40-in. stroke cylinder.) Many applications use standard NFPA-design cylinders in such an arrangement. With this circuit there is constant force and speed, compact mounting, and double-acting operation. The only special requirement is to specify valves that give smooth action and control. If the circuit used two directional valves, the platen could have three positive positions (if required). With different stroke lengths, these cylinders could stop the platen positively in four positions.

Figure 6-17. Using two cylinders for double stroke from half the height – both cylinders retracted.

Figure 6-18. Using two cylinders for double stroke from half the height – both cylinders extended.

Using a single valve for extra stroke only requires meter-out flow controls at each cylinder port for near-simultaneous movement. This arrangement works smoothly and eliminates jerking when the cylinders bottom out at different times.

With hydraulic cylinders, use a spool-type flow divider for simultaneous movement and closely synchronized end of stroke stopping. (Chapter 11 will cover flow divider circuits.)

Because both cylinder bodies move, use flexible fluid lines. Also, arrange to guide the platen or machine member to keep excess side-loading off the cylinders.

Side-by-side cylinder mounting does not work as well in high-force applications because the higher side-load forces will wear out bushings and cause premature seal leakage. The side-by-side configuration works best in low-force pneumatic applications.

 

Chapter 7: Why Decompression is Necessary in Hydraulic Systems

Why decompression is necessary in hydraulic systems

In high-pressure circuits with large-bore, long-stroke cylinders -- and the accompanying large pipes and/or hoses -- there is a good chance for system shock. In circuits with large components, when high-pressure oil rapidly discharges to tank, decompression shock results.

Decompression shock is one of the greatest causes of damage to piping, cylinders, and valves in hydraulically powered machines. The energy released during decompression breaks pipes, blows hoses, and can instantly displace cylinder seals. Damage from decompression shock may take time to show up because the energy released by a single shock may be small. After repeated shocks however, weaker parts in the circuit start to fail.

The potential for decompression shock is usually easy to determine beforehand and the design can be revised to avoid it. Shock from decompression normally occurs at the end of a pressing cycle when valves shift to stop pressing and retract the cylinder. The compressibility of the oil in the circuit, cylinder tube expansion, and the stretching of machine members -- all add to stored energy. The more energy stored, the worse the effects of decompression. Any time stored energy is a problem in a hydraulic system, a simple decompression circuit will add reliability and extend the system’s service life.

One type of decompression shock that is hard to overcome occurs when a cylinder builds tonnage, then breaks through the work. Because pressure is resistance to flow, once the resistance is removed, the oil expands and decompresses rapidly. Such is the case when punching holes in a part. Punching applications pose one of the worse shock conditions any hydraulic circuit meets. To help reduce this type shock, keep piping as short as possible and anchor it rigidly. Some manufacturers offer resisting cylinders that slow the working cylinder’s movement at breakthrough. These special cylinders may reduce or eliminate decompression shock.

Another type of shock occurs when oil flowing at high velocity comes to a sudden stop. This might happen when a cylinder bottoms out or when a directional valve shifts to a blocked condition. Whatever the cause, the effect is the same as trying to stop a solid mass moving at high speed. Use an accumulator or deceleration valve to control shock caused by a sudden flow stop. (See Chapter 1 on accumulators.)

The ensuing text describes applications where decompression shock might cause a problem. Also shown is the operation of some typical decompression circuits.

When using a decompression circuit, cycle time becomes longer. Instead of the cylinder immediately retracting after finishing its working stroke, there is a short delay while stored energy dissipates. (It may be possible to arrange to decrease cylinder traverse time to make up for decompression time.) In any case, the added cycle time, if necessary, will decrease down time and maintenance problems.

Press circuit without decompression

Figure 7-1 shows a schematic diagram for a typical medium- to large-bore cylinder without provision for decompression. A 50-in.-bore cylinder always needs a decompression circuit -- while cylinders with bores under 10 in. may get by without one. The main criteria are the volume and pressure of the stored fluid. The more high-pressure oil in a circuit, the greater the decompression shock. Long lengths of hose also cause and/or amplify decompression shock. It is best to install a decompression circuit when there is any chance it may be necessary. The expense of a decompression circuit is minimal and only adds to the cycle time if used.

Fig. 7-1. Press circuit without decompression protection – at rest with the pump running.

The circuit in Figure 7-1 has a directional valve with an all-ports-open center condition. The pump unloads to tank when the valve shifts to this center condition. The cylinder stays retracted because there is a counterbalance valve on the rod port.

In Figure 7-2 the cylinder is pressing at a working pressure of 2800 psi. The 10-in. bore by 40-in. stroke cylinder holds approximately 3141 in.3 of oil. Added to this is another 800 in.3 of oil is in the pipe between the valve and the cylinder’s cap end. At a compressibility of approximately 1/2% per thousand psi, and allowing another 1/2% per thousand psi for physical expansion of the cylinder and pipe, plus frame stretch, total volume expansion could be up to 1% per thousand psi. Multiplying (0.01) X (2800 psi) X (3941 in.3) indicates that there are approximately 110 in.3 of extra oil in the cylinder when pressing at 2800 psi.

Fig. 7-2. Press circuit without decompression protection – while extended cylinder is at full tonnage.

When the directional valve shifts to retract the cylinder, a large portion of the 110 in.3 of extra oil rapidly flows to tank. Every corner this fast moving fluid turns and every restriction it meets causes system shock. The shock only lasts a few milliseconds during each cycle but the damage accumulates. In a small system like this one, the shock may not be audible or give a noticeable jerk to the pipes. However each shock adds to the last one, and the damage eventually shows up in leaking fittings or broken machine members.

Press circuit with decompression

The circuit depicted in Figure 7-4 is the same as in Figures 7-1, 7-2, and 7-3, but a decompression circuit has been added. Also, the directional valve’s center condition has ports P, B, and T interconnected, while port A is blocked. A pressure switch and a single-solenoid directional valve (the decompression valve) are added to the basic circuit to make decompression automatic and adjustable. The cylinder is at full tonnage in Figure 7-4, ready for decompression before beginning to retract.

Fig. 7-3. Press circuit without decompression protection – cylinder just starting to retract.

Fig. 7-4. Press circuit with decompression protection – while extended cylinder is at full tonnage.

In this circuit, the signal to the retract solenoid on the directional valve passes through the normally closed contacts on the pressure switch. With a pressure switch setting of 350 psi, the retract solenoid will not be energized until pressure in the cap end of the cylinder lowers to that level and the contacts close. Set the shift pressure of the pressure switch high enough to shorten the decompression time as much as possible, yet still low enough to eliminate decompression shock.

In Figure 7-5, the extend solenoid on the directional valve has just been deenergized, and a 115-VAC signal to retract the cylinder is on, but is blocked at the pressure switch’s open contacts. The 115-VAC signal does go to the decompression valve’s solenoid and that valve shifts, opening a path to tank for any stored energy. Until pressure in the cap end of the cylinder deteriorates to the pressure switch setting, the cylinder sits still. The main flow of trapped oil in the cylinder is stopped at the directional valve’s blocked A port. This part of the cycle completely eliminates all shock damage -- although it does add to cycle time.

Fig. 7-5. Press circuit with decompression protection – while cylinder is decompressing.

Note the orifice in the line going to tank from the decompression directional valve. A fixed or adjustable orifice works equally well here. The orifice size determines the length of decompression time. If the orifice is too large, shock is less but may still be enough to cause damage. If the orifice is too small, there is no shock but cycle time may slow.

When pressure in the cylinder’s cap end drops to the pressure switch setting -- as in Figure 7-6 -- the pressure switch shifts to its normal condition. The normally closed contacts on the pressure switch pass a signal to the retract solenoid on the directional valve, and the cylinder retracts.

Fig. 7-6. Press circuit with decompression protection – while cylinder is retracting.

Large press circuit with prefill valve and decompression

On presses with large-bore cylinders or rams, oil compressibility is a problem. Another problem can be how to fill the ram as it approaches the work at high speeds and how to empty the ram when it retracts rapidly. The circuit in Figures 7-7 through 7--12 shows how to use a prefill valve to fill and empty a large ram. This type of prefill valve also can decompress the ram automatically without electrical controls.

Fig. 7-7. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – at rest with pump running.

Figure 7-7 shows the parts of a typical high-tonnage press. Small double-acting cylinders A (sometime called outriggers or pull-back cylinders) rapidly extend and retract the large ram. A small volume of oil cycles the outriggers for fast advance and return. Counterbalance valve B keeps the outriggers from running away and sequence valve C directs all fluid to the outriggers until the platen meets resistance. As the ram advances, vacuum opens prefill valve D, sucking fluid out of the tank to fill the large volume. Piloting the prefill valve open on retract first decompresses trapped oil, then allows free return flow to tank from the ram.

Figure 7-8 shows the cylinder extending toward the work. Pump flow to the outriggers A increases the rod-end pressure of these cylinders to open counterbalance valve B. When B opens, the platen starts forward and the ram pulls a vacuum in the cylinder tube. This vacuum sucks prefill valve D open and oil flows from the tank to fill the ram void. As the ram extends, the cylinder tube continues filling from the tank through D.

Fig. 7-8. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – ram extending in fast-forward mode.

When the platen meets resistance, forward movement stops and pressure increases in the outrigger cylinders, Figure 7-9. When the ram stops, prefill valve D closes and pressure build-up opens sequence valve C, oil from the pump flows to the ram and outriggers simultaneously. The press can develop full tonnage during this part of the cycle. Ram speed during full tonnage is relatively slow because the pump flow is low in relation to ram volume. However, the horsepower requirement is at a minimum while the overall cycle is fast.

Fig. 7-9. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – ram pressing.

The outrigger cylinders must produce enough force while retracting to raise the platen and ram, as well as to discharge the volume of oil displaced by the ram. If the outriggers have a 2:1 rod-area ratio, use a regeneration circuit on the forward stroke for faster speed or add a small pump.

Replacing the sequence valve with a normally closed 2-way directional valve allows the use of a limit switch to tell the ram to slow before contacting the work. Also, using a bi-directional pump to control direction, speed, acceleration, and deceleration is common for large cylinders on presses or some other machines.

When the press completes its work stroke and reaches full tonnage, Figure 7-10, it is ready to retract. Pressure in the circuit is 2800 psi and the trapped oil contains a large amount of stored energy. To retract the press, deenergize the directional valve’s forward solenoid and energize its retract solenoid. The sequence valve closes when the directional valve shifts, and fluid in the cap ends of the outrigger cylinders flows to tank.

Fig. 7-10. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – ram generating full tonnage.

Figure 7-11 shows the press in decompression mode. Fluid from the pump flows to the outrigger cylinders’ rod ends and to the pilot port of the prefill valve. A prefill valve operates almost the same as a pilot-operated check valve. Pilot pressure opens the flow poppet for reverse flow when needed. However, on a prefill valve, the ratio of the pilot-piston area to the flow-poppet area is the reverse of a normal pilot-operated check. Most pilot-operated check valves have 3 to 4 times more pilot-piston area than flow-poppet area. On a prefill valve, the pilot-piston area is only about 1/10th of the flow-poppet area. This reverse area ratio keeps the flow poppet closed until most of the backpressure against it dissipates. Another feature of the prefill valve is that inside the main poppet of the prefill valve is a smaller poppet. The area of this small poppet is only 1/16th the area of the pilot piston, so it opens easily -- even with high pressure trapped inside the ram. The flow capability of the small poppet gives a quick, smooth decompression when it is piloted open.

Fig. 7-11. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – ram decompressing.

As pressure builds on the rod sides of the outrigger cylinders, pressure in the pilot line to the prefill valve also increases. When pilot pressure is high enough to open the small poppet, decompression flow lowers pressure in the ram at a controlled rate. When ram pressure is low enough, pilot pressure opens the main prefill poppet. Low shifting pressure and flow of the inner poppet allows the prefill valve to meet most system requirements.

When the main prefill poppet opens, Figure 7-12, the ram freely retracts at high speed. Pump flow into the rod end volumes of the outrigger cylinders determines the ram’s retraction speed. The prefill valve allows fast ram movement in both directions of travel. This same prefill valve often has the option of automatic decompression as shown here. (Some manufacturers make prefill valves with large spools or sliding sleeves. They operate differently, but the end results are basically the same.)

Fig. 7-12. Press circuit with prefill and decompression valves – ram retracting rapidly.

Simple decompression for a single-cylinder circuit

Figures 7-13 through 7-16 depict a simple but effective decompression circuit for an application with a single valve and cylinder. There are no separate decompression valves to operate. This circuit can be adjustable and is easy to set up and maintain.

In Figure 7-13 the circuit is at rest. Pressure switch A keeps the directional valve from retracting the cylinder until a safe minimum pressure is reached. Check valve B blocks pump flow from the cylinder while retracting. Directional valve C unloads the pump, blocks main cylinder flow during decompression, and extends and retracts the cylinder. Adjustable or fixed orifice D controls decompression speed.

Fig. 7-13. Simple decompression circuit – at rest with pump running.

Figure 7-14 shows the cylinder meeting resistance and pressure increasing in the circuit.

Fig. 7-14. Simple decompression circuit – cylinder extended and generating full force.

To retract the cylinder, Figure 7-15, the extend solenoid is deenergized and a retract signal goes to the normally closed contacts of pressure switch A. (These normally closed contacts are open at this time because pressure in the cylinder cap end is well above the 350-psi setting.) Directional valve C shifts to its center position; the pump unloads; and trapped fluid decompresses through orifice D and check valve B. The pump-to-tank condition of tandem-center directional valve C allows decompression flow while centered. Decompression lowers pressure in the cylinder cap end quickly, without shock, until pressure reaches the setting of pressure switch A.

Fig. 7-15. Simple decompression circuit – cylinder decompressing.

When the contacts on the pressure switch close, they pass a signal to the retract solenoid on directional valve C. The valve shifts and the cylinder retracts as shown in Figure 7-16. This circuit requires no special electrical controls while eliminating decompression shock.

Fig. 7-16. Simple decompression circuit – cylinder retracting after decompression.

Another way to control the decompression portion of the cycle uses a time-delay relay. If the signal to retract comes from a time-on delay, set it for enough time to allow orifice D to decompress the cylinder before sending a retract signal to directional valve C. This type of control always gives an exact cycle time. Set the time long enough to make sure decompression takes place under any operating conditions. This usually makes the cycle longer than necessary, so it may not be a satisfactory arrangement for all machines.

 

Chapter 8: Directional Control Valves

Directional Control Valves

Directional control valves perform only three functions:

  • stop fluid flow
  • allow fluid flow, and
  • change direction of fluid flow.

These three functions usually operate in combination.

The simplest directional control valve is the 2-way valve. A 2-way valve stops flow or allows flow. A water faucet is a good example of a 2-way valve. A water faucet allows flow or stops flow by manual control.

A single-acting cylinder needs supply to and exhaust from its port to operate. This requires a 3-way valve. A 3-way valve allows fluid flow to an actuator in one position and exhausts the fluid from it in the other position. Some 3-way valves have a third position that blocks flow at all ports.

A double-acting actuator requires a 4-way valve. A 4-way valve pressurizes and exhausts two ports interdependently. A 3-position, 4-way valve stops an actuator or allows it to float. The 4-way function is a common type of directional control valve for both air and hydraulic circuits. A 3-position, 4-way valve is more common in hydraulic circuits.

The 5-way valve is found most frequently in air circuits. A 5-way valve performs the same function as a 4-way valve. The only difference is an extra tank or exhaust port. (Some suppliers call their 5-way valves, “5-ported 4-ways.") All spool valves are five ported, but hydraulic valves have internally connected exhaust ports going to a common outlet. Because oil must return to tank, it is convenient to connect the dual tank ports to a single return port. For air valves, atmosphere is the tank, so exhaust piping is usually unimportant. Using two exhaust ports makes the valve smaller and less expensive. As will be explained later, dual exhausts used for speed-control mufflers or as dual-pressure inlets make this configuration versatile.

Following are schematic symbols for commonly used directional control valves.

2-way directional control valves
A 2-way directional valve has two ports normally called inlet and outlet. When the inlet is blocked in the at-rest condition, as shown in Figure 8-1, it is referred to as "normally closed" (NC). The at-rest box or the normal condition is the one with the flow lines going to and from it.

The boxes or enclosures represent the valve’s positions. In Figure 8-1, the active box shows blocked ports, or a closed condition, while the upper box shows a flow path. When an operator shifts the valve, it is the same as sliding the upper box down to take the place of the lower box. In the shifted condition there is flow from inlet to outlet. Releasing the palm button in Figure 8-1 allows the valve spring to return to the normal stop flow condition. A 2-way valve makes a blow-off device or runs a fluid motor in one direction. By itself, a 2-way valve cannot cycle even a single acting cylinder.

Figure 8-2 shows a "normally open" (NO) 2-way directional valve. Energizing the solenoid on this valve stops fluid flow.

Valve operators come in different types. Figure 8-3 shows a solenoid pilot operator using solenoid-controlled pressure from the inlet port to move the working directional spool. Figure 8-4 shows a cam-operated valve. A moving machine member usually operates this type valve.

3-way directional control valves
A 3-way valve has three working ports. These ports are: inlet, outlet, and exhaust (or tank). A 3-way valve not only supplies fluid to an actuator, but allows fluid to return from it as well. Figures 8-5 through 8-10 show schematic symbols for 3-way directional control valves.

Figure 8-6 depicts an all-ports-blocked, 3-way, 3-position valve. A valve of this type connected to a single-acting, weight- or spring-returned cylinder could extend, retract, or stop at any place in the stroke.

Some 3-way valves select fluid flow paths as in Figure 8-9. Use a spool-type valve for this operation. Another flow condition is the diverter valve shown in Figure 8-10. A diverter valve sends fluid to either of two paths.

Figure 8-9. Solenoid pilot-operated 3-way selector valve.

Figure 8-10. Palm-button-operated 3-way diverter valve.

4-way directional control valves
Figures 8-11 to 8-15 show different configurations available in 4-way directional control valves. They range from the simple, two-position, single, direct solenoid, spring-return valve shown in Figure 8-11, to the more complex three-position, double solenoid, pilot-operated, spring-centered, external-pilot supply, external drain valve shown in Figure 8-15.

Figure 8-11. 4-way, 2-position direct solenoid-operated spring return.

Lines to the boxes show flow to and from the valve, while lines with arrows in the boxes show direction of flow. The number of boxes tells how many positions the valve has.

INSERT FIG 8-12

Figure 8-12. 4-way, 2-position direct solenoid-operated spring centered.

Figure 8-12 shows a single solenoid, spring-centered valve. This valve has a third position but there is no operator for it. Use this spring-centered, single solenoid valve in control circuits for special functions. In the past, to get this configuration, you only had to wire one solenoid of a double-solenoid, three-position valve.

Figure 8-13. 4-way, 2-position direct solenoid-operated spring return.


Figure 8-13 shows another unusual 4-way configuration. This valve shifts from an actuator moving flow path to center condition for certain special circuits.

5-way directional control valves
Figures 8-16 through 8-20 show symbols of some 5-way air valves. Most spool-type air valves come in a 5-way configuration. Because air usually exhausts to atmosphere, the extra exhaust port is no problem.

Figure 8-14. 4-way, 2-position solenoid, pilot operated detented, line-mounted.

Figure 8-15. 4-way, 3-position solenoid, pilot operated centered, manifold-mounted.
Figure 8-16. Line-mounted, air-pilot-operated, 2-position, detented 5-way valve.

Many valves use the two exhaust ports for speed control mufflers. Mufflers not only make the exhaust quieter, but throttle the exhaust, which in turn controls cylinder speed in a meter-out circuit.

Another example later in this section shows dual exhaust ports piped with different pressures to save air. Also use dual inlet piping to make an air cylinder operate quickly and smoothly. (See Figures 8-48 through 8-55.)

Figure 8-17.Line-mounted, solenoid pilot-operated, 2-position,spring returned 5-way valve.

Figure 8-18. Line-mounted, hand lever-operated, 2-position, spring-returned 5-way valve.

Most air cylinders stroke from one extreme to the other. A two position, single solenoid, spring return valve is sufficient for this operation. About 90% of air circuits use this type of valve. To stop an air cylinder in mid-stroke, use the 3-position valve shown in Figures 8-19 through 8-21.

It is difficult — if not impossible — to accurately stop an air cylinder any place other than at end of the stroke. When the cylinder moves slowly, a repeatable mid stroke position of plus or minus an inch might be possible. The problem is, if the load on the cylinder changes or there is any slight leak in the piping or seals, it will not hold position once it stops.

Figure 8-19. 5-way, 3 position, spring-centered solenoid, pilot-operated, cylinder ports open-center condition, line mounted.

Figure 8-20. 5-way, 3 position, spring-centered solenoid, pilot-operated, all ports blocked center condition, line mounted.

Figure 8-21. 5-way, 3 position, spring-centered pressure to cylinder ports, exhausts blocked center condition, solenoid-pilot operated, line mounted.

Three-position valves come in several styles, including: cylinder ports open as seen in Figure 8-19; all ports blocked as seen in Figure 8-20; and pressure to cylinder ports as seen in Figure 8-21.

Using 2-way valves
Figures 8-22, 8-23, and 8-24 show some uses for 2-way directional control valves.

One use is the blow-off function shown in Figure 8-22. A 2-way valve in Figure 8-23 operates a one-direction motor with an open exhaust in the motor housing. The circuit in Figure 8-24 works well for electrically unloading a pump for easy start up and/or reduced heat generation

Figure 8-22. Blow-off.

Figure 8-23. Running a one-direction fluid motor.

Figure 8-24. Unloading a pump.


Figure 8-25 shows a weight-returned, single-acting cylinder powered by a 2-way in the at rest condition. At first sight it looks as if this circuit might work. Shifting the 2-way valve, or extending, sends fluid to the cylinder cap end and it extends. The problem comes when the 2-way returns to normal at the end of cycle. Instead of the cylinder retracting after the solenoid de-energizes, it stays in the extended position. The cylinder would only return if the valve, cylinder seals, or pipe connections leak.

Figure 8-25. Using one 2-way valve to operate a single-acting cylinder.


Figure 8-26 shows a circuit that operates a single-acting cylinder with 2-way valves. One (NO) and one (NC) 2-way directional valve piped to the cap end cylinder port allows fluid to enter and exhaust from it. Actuating both operators simultaneously extends the cylinder. According to valve size and inlet air flow, the cylinder might not extend if just energizing the (NC) valve. If the cylinder extends with only one valve actuated, it would be slow and waste a lot of air.

Figure 8-26. Operating a single-acting cylinder with two 2-way valves.


Figure 8-27 shows four 2-way valves piped to operate a double-acting cylinder. A pair of 2-way valves at each cylinder port gives a power stroke in both directions. Energize and de-energize all four valves simultaneously to cycle the cylinder and keep from wasting fluid.

Figure 8-27. Operating a single-acting cylinder with four 2-way valves.


Four 2-way valves may seem to be a complex and expensive way to operate a cylinder. However, in the past few years, poppet type slip-in cartridge valves have been operating large bore hydraulic cylinders this way. See chapter four on Cartridge Valves for the advantages of these valves in high flow circuits.

Using 3-way valves
Figure 8-28 shows a 3-way valve, used to select Pr. 1 or Pr. 2. Use a spool type directional control valve in this type of circuit. Spool valves normally take pressure at any port without malfunction. Poppet design valves normally take pressure at the inlet port only.

Figure 8-28. Pressure selector.


Since the example selector valve is solenoid pilot-operated, it is important to determine which port has the higher pressure. Most solenoid pilot-operated valves take air from the normal inlet port to operate the pilot section. If both inlet pressures are too low to operate the valve, plumb an external pilot supply from the main air system.

When it is necessary to lock out one of two circuits while the other one operates, the hookup in Figure 8-29 works well. While circuit one has fluid going to it, working on circuit two is no problem. Use a spool type valve here also. Poppet valves usually only take pressure at one port.

Figure 8-29. Fluid diverter.


The most common limit valve is a miniature 3-way like the one shown in Figure 8-30. This particular example is (NC). Contact with a machine member opens it. Except for bleeder type control circuits, a limit valve requires at least a 3-way function. Once this normally closed valve shifts, it passes a signal on to continue the cycle. In normal condition, fluid in the control circuit exhausts through the exhaust port.

Figure 8-30. NC limit valve.


Figure 8-31 shows a single-acting cylinder with a 3-way valve powering it. Energizing the solenoid, or extending, allows flow to move to the cylinder port and it extends. Deenergizing the solenoid or retracting, lets the valve shift to home position, and the cylinder retracts from outside forces. The exhaust port on a 3-way valve lets fluid in the cylinder escape to atmosphere.

Figure 8-31. Operating a single-acting cylinder with one 3-way valve.


To operate a double-acting cylinder with 3-way valves, use the hookup shown in Figure 8-32. With a 3-way directional valve at both ports, both extend and retract strokes of a double-acting cylinder have force.

Figure 8-32. Operating a double-acting cylinder with two 3-way valves.


Some manufacturers use dual 3-way valves to conserve air. Piping between the valve and cylinder ports wastes air. Every time a cylinder cycles, the lines to both ports fill and exhaust. The longer the valve-to-cylinder lines are, the greater the air waste. Mounting air valves directly to the cylinder ports minimizes air waste. The higher cycle rate results in greater savings.

Lowering pressure at the rod end port is another way to save air with dual 3-way valves mounted directly to the cylinder port. As discussed before, reducing air pressure at the cylinder uses less compressor horsepower. Usually, force required to return a cylinder is minimal, so lower pressure at the rod port saves energy.

Speed-control mufflers in the direct-mounted 3-way valves independently control the extend and retract speed of the cylinder. This saves piping time and the cost of flow control valves.

Figure 8-33 shows an air cylinder inching circuit. It is possible to inch an air circuit if accuracy and repeatability are not important. An inching circuit’s repeatability is usually not closer than ±1 in. if travel speed is slow. Faster travel speeds give less control.

Figure 8-33. Inching circuit for a double-acting cylinder with two 3-way spring-centered valves.


A 3-way valve can replace a 2-way valve. To duplicate the 2-way function, block the exhaust port of the 3-way valve. Blocking the exhaust of a 3-way is usually not necessary for most 2-way applications. Using 3-way valves in place of 2-way valves reduces inventory cost and saves time.

Using 4-way valves
See Figures 8-34 to 8-36 for some uncommon uses of 4-way directional control valves. Using directional controls in ways other than normal is a common practice. Make sure the valve is capable of pressure in all ports before applying it to some of these circuits. If the valve is solenoid pilot-operated, where does pilot supply come from? Also check with the manufacturer if there is any doubt about the valve’s performance in an unusual application.

Figure 8-34. Double flow capacity.


To make a high flow 2-way valve from a 4-way valve try the circuit shown in Figure 8-34. Connect pump flow to the normal inlet port and its outlet port, then connect the other outlet port to the normal tank port and on to the system. In the at-rest condition there is no flow through the valve. When the valve shifts, flow is fromP through B to system and from A through T to system. A valve rated at 10 gpm is now good for 20 gpm with little or no increase in pressure drop. Make sure the valve is capable of backpressure at the tank port.

This piping arrangement comes in handy in hydraulic circuits, since most manufacturers do not offer a 2-way valve. Also, a lot of 2-way hydraulic valves only stop flow in one direction, so they are useless in a bi-directional flow line.

For a full time regeneration circuit, pipe the 4-way as shown in Figure 8-35. Read Chapter 17 for a full explanation of this regeneration circuit.

Figure 8-35. Full time regeneration.


Figure 8-36 shows how to pressurize both ends of the cylinder when a 4-way valve centers. When a cylinder retracts to pick up another part, it often has to go too far to make sure it is behind the part. Low backpressure from the check valve makes the cylinder creep forward at low power so the cylinder is in contact with a part before the next cycle starts.

Figure 8-36. Low-pressure cylinder extend.


Figure 8-37 shows the normal hookup of a 4-way directional valve. A double-acting cylinder only needs one 4-way directional valve to extend and retract it. The three sequences show a 4-way valve in action. Add flow controls or a counterbalance valve to complete the circuit when there is weight on the rod. Note the port hookup is A to cap and B to rod. Using this port connection arrangement consistently makes it is easy to wire the circuit because the electrician knows A solenoid extends the cylinder while B solenoid retracts it. Maintenance persons always know which manual override to push during trouble shooting or setup.

Figure 8-37. Operating a double-acting cylinder with one 4-way valve.


Most hydraulic directional control valves are 3-position. Valve center conditions perform different functions in relation to the actuator and pump.

An all-ports open center condition directional valve unloads the pump and allows the actuator to float as shown in Figure 8-38. This reduces heat build up and allows opposing forces to move the cylinder without building backpressure.

Figure 8-38. Inching circuit with pump unloaded, cylinder floating.


To block the cylinder while unloading the pump, use the center condition shown in Figure 8-39. Most hydraulic valves are a metal-to-metal fit spool design, so do not depend on the cylinder setting dead still with a tandem center spool. If there are outside forces on the cylinder, it will creep when the valve centers.

Figure 8-39. Inching circuit with pump unloaded, cylinder blocked.


If the cylinder needs to float while blocking pump flow, use the center condition shown in Figure 8-40.

Figure 8-40. Inching circuit with pump blocked, cylinder floating.


Figures 8-41 to 8-46 show several commonly used 4-way hydraulic valve center conditions. The first four account for about 90% of all 3-position hydraulic valves in use.

The center condition of a 3-position valve can unload a pump, open actuator ports to tank for free movement, block actuator ports to stop movement, give regeneration, or work in combinations of these functions.

Figure 8-41. All ports open, center condition.


Figure 8-41 shows an all-ports-open center condition valve. The open center condition unloads the pump and allows the actuator to coast to a stop or float. In the crossover or transition condition it causes very little shock. Fixed volume pumps use this center condition.

The all-ports-blocked center condition valve of Figure 8-42 appears to block the cylinder ports. In actual use, leakage oil across the spool lands pressurizes A and B ports, possibly causing a single rod cylinder to extend. This is not a good choice for stopping and holding a cylinder as the symbol seems to indicate. To positively stop a cylinder, use a valve with the cylinder ports hooked to tank, and pilot-operated check valves in the cylinder line or lines. (See the section on “Check Valves as Directional Valves.”)

Figure 8-42. Ports blocked, center condition.


The float center valve of Figure 8-43 allows the actuator to float while blocking pump flow. Pump output is available for other valves and actuators with this center condition. It also works well for pilot-operated check valve locking circuits or with counterbalance valves. This is the normal center condition for the solenoid valve on a solenoid pilot-operated, spring-centered directional valve.

Figure 8-43. Float center condition.


Figure 8-44 shows a tandem center valve. A tandem center valve lets the pump unload while blocking the cylinder ports. The cylinder sits still unless there is an outside force trying to move it. Any metal-to-metal fit spool valve never fully blocks flow. With external forces working on the cylinder, it may slowly creep with the valve centered. This is another common center condition for fixed volume pumps.

Figure 8-44. Tandem center condition.


The regeneration center position of the valve in Figure 8-45 pressurizes and connects both ports of a cylinder to each other. Connecting pressure oil to both cylinder ports and to each other regenerates it forward when the valve centers. This valve is the pilot operator for hydraulically centered directional valves or normally closed slip in cartridge valves.

Figure 8-45. Regeneration center condition.


To unload the pump while blocking the cylinder from moving, use the valve shown in Figure 8-46. However, the metal-to-metal fit spool will not lock the cylinder when there are external forces.

Figure 8-46. Pump unload, port B blocked, center condition.


Figures 8-47 to 8-48 show what is commonly referred to as the “crossover” or “transition” condition of a spool. In some actuator applications it is important to know what the valve port flow conditions are as it shifts. As shown in these figures, dashed lined boxes show crossover condition. Normally discussions about crossover conditions cover “open” or “closed” types; in reality, the crossover condition may be a combination of these and may be different on either side of center. Open crossover stops shock while the spool shifts, while a closed crossover reduces actuator override travel. If the crossover condition is important to the circuit or machine function, show it on the schematic drawing.

Figure 8-47. Open crossover or transition condition.

Figure 8-48. Closed crossover or transition condition.


Figure 8-49 shows an all ports blocked center condition, solenoid pilot-operated valve, as a simplified and complete symbol. On most schematics, the simplified symbol is sufficient. The solenoid slash and energy triangle in the operator box show the valve has a solenoid operated valve piloting a pilot-operated valve. The boxes show the function of the main or working spool that controls the actuator. On valves with other hardware added (here, pilot chokes and stroke limiters), it is better to show the complete symbol. Both symbols in Figure 8-49 represent the same valve. The complete symbol gives more information about the valve function and helps with troubleshooting and valve replacement.

Figure 8-49. Solenoid pilot-operated valve with pilot chokes and stroke limiters. Internal pilot supply (X) and external drain (Y).


Using 5-way air valves
The 5-way selector valve and shuttle valve in Figure 8-50 works where a 3-way selector may not. The 3-way selector does fine when going from low to high pressure, but if there is no air usage to allow expansion, it is almost impossible to go from high to low pressure.

Figure 8-50. Pressure selector.


The 5-way and shuttle valve arrangement gives an exhaust path for high-pressure air when shifting to low pressure. After the air exhausts to the lower pressure, PR.1, the shuttle shifts and low pressure holds in the system.

Figure 8-51 shows a pair of 5-way valves piped to act like a three way light switch. Either valve moves the cylinder to its opposite position when activated.

Figure 8-51. Operating an actuator from two locations.


Figure 8-52 shows the normal hookup of a 5-way valve. Normally, input air goes to the center port of the side with three ports. A lot of air valve manufacturers call this #1 port. In the at rest condition, air flows from #1 to #4 port and on to the cylinder rod end, while #2 port exhausts the cylinder cap end through #3 port.

Figure 8-52. Operating a double-acting cylinder with one 5-way valve.


After shifting the valve, or extending, air flows from #1 port through #2 port to the cylinder cap end. Flow from the cylinder rod end goes to #4 port and exhausts through #5 port. The exhaust ports often have speed control mufflers to reduce noise and control the amount of exhaust flow. Speed control mufflers give individual meter-out speed control in each direction of travel.

Deenergizing the solenoid, or retracting, lets the valve spring return to its normal condition causing the cylinder to retract.

In Figure 8-53, the 5-way has a dual inlet instead of dual exhaust. Use a spool type valve for this hookup, since it takes pressure at any port without malfunction.

Figure 8-53. Air-saving circuit using a 5-way valve.


On most air circuits the cylinder does little or no work on the retract stroke. Putting low pressure on the rod side of the cylinder uses less compressor air without affecting the operation. This air savings results in lower operating cost and leaves more air to run other actuators. Install flow controls in the lines to the cylinder ports for individual speed control.

If the valve is solenoid pilot-operated, the supply to the pilot valve usually comes from port #1. This means, with a dual pressure inlet, pilot supply must come from some other source. On the circuit in Figure 8-53 a pilot line from system pressure goes directly to the pilot valve. System pressure goes into the external pilot supply port and a plug shuts off the internal pilot port. Changing the pilot line in the field with assistance from the supplier’s catalog is quite easy.

Figures 8-54 to 8-61 show another reason for using dual pressure inlets. They depict air cylinder movement with conventional hookup. The cylinder pauses before raising and drops rapidly when starting to retract.

Dual-pressure 5-way valves for air cylinder actuation
A vertical, up-acting air cylinder, with a heavy load, gives sluggish and jerky operation when valved conventionally. Figure 8-54 shows a conventional 5-way valve hook up on a cylinder raising a 600-lb load. This figure shows weight, cap and head end areas, and pressures at both cylinder ports.

Figure 8-54. Cylinder at rest.


When the directional valve shifts, as seen in Figure 8-55, there is a pause before the cylinder extends. The weight-to-cylinder force ratio and the rate of cylinder travel speed control the length of pause. The heavier the weight and the slower the cylinder speed, the longer the pause. The delay could be three to four seconds in extreme cases.

Figure 8-55. Valve just shifted, cylinder pauses.


The pause comes from weight pushing down along with force from air pressure on the cylinder rod end. At the moment the valve shifts to extend the cylinder, down forces are up to 1240-lb while up force is only 800 lb. As long as down forces exceed up force, the cylinder will not move. The slower the air exhausts, the longer it takes to get enough differential pressure across the cylinder piston to move it. The speed of exhausting air controls how fast the cylinder moves once it starts.

When pressure in the head end of the cylinder reaches about 15 psi, as shown in Figure 8-56, the cylinder starts to move. It moves up smoothly and steadily as long as the load remains constant.

Figure 8-56. Cylinder starts to move after rod-end pressure drops.


When the valve shifts to retract the fully extended cylinder, there is another problem. Figure 8-57 shows the cylinder at rest at the top. Up force is 800 lb from air pressure on the cap end, and down force is 600 lb from the weight.

Figure 8-57. Cylinder travels to end of stroke.


When the directional valve returns to normal, as shown in Figure 8-58, down force quickly changes to 1240 lb. Now the load drops rapidly until air pressure in the cap compresses to approximately 120 psi. It takes about 120 psi on the 10-in.2 area to slow the cylinder’s rapid retraction.

Figure 8-58. Valve shifted to retract cylinder, which drops rapidly.


Both pauses that occur when extending and retracting are eliminated by using the dual-inlet feature of a 5-way valve.

With a dual inlet pressure circuit shown in Figure 8-59, the cap end port has 80 psi while the rod end port is only 15 psi. This sets a pressure differential across the piston before the valve shifts.

Figure 8-59. Dual-pressure valve at rest.


When the valve shifts, as seen in Figure 8-60, down force is 720 lb and up force is 800 lb. The cylinder starts to move almost immediately and continues moving smoothly to the end.

Figure 8-60. Valve shifts, cylinder starts moving quickly.


In Figure 8-61 the valve shifts and the cylinder retracts. With the head end regulator set at 15 psi, down force from air pressure and the load is almost offset by up force. The load lowers smoothly and safely without lunging or bouncing, as fast as cap end air exhausts. In figure 8-59 to 8-61, the cylinder strokes smoothly and quickly in both directions with dual-pressure valve.

Figure 8-61. Valve shifts to normal, cylinder moves with no lunge.


Check valves as directional valves
Normally a check valve is not thought of as a directional control valve, but it does stop flow in one direction and allow flow in the opposite direction. These are two of the three actions a directional control valve can perform. An inline check valve stops any chance of reverse flow and is useful and/or necessary in many applications. Figure 8-62 shows the symbol for a plain check valve.

Figure 8-62. Plain check valve.


Another application for a check valve is a relief function, which can be seen in Figure 8-63. Heat exchangers, filters, and low-pressure transfer pumps often need a low-pressure bypass or relief valve. A check valve with a 25-125 psi spring makes an inexpensive, non-adjustable, flow path for excess fluid. It protects low-pressure devices in case of through flow blockage. Pilot operated directional valves commonly use a check valve in the tank or pump line to maintain at least 50-75 psi pilot pressure during pump unload. Some manufacturers make a check valve with an adjustable spring, for pressures up to 200 psi or more.

Figure 8-63. Backpressure check valve


Some check valves have a removable threaded plug in them that may be drilled to allow controlled flow in the reverse direction. The symbol in Figure 8-64 shows how to represent this in a symbol. A common use for a drilled check valve is as a fixed, tamper proof, flow control valve. Fluid free flows in one direction, but has controlled flow in the opposite direction. The only way to change flow is to change the orifice size. This flow control valve is not pressure compensated.

Figure 8-64. Check valve with orifice plug.


Many of the circuits in this manual show standard check valves in use. Hi-L pump circuits, reverse free flow bypass for flow controls, sequence valves or counterbalance valves, and multi-pump isolation, to name a few. Figure 8-65 shows some other applications for check valves.

Figure 8-65. Check valves in different circuit applications.


When the tank is higher than the pump or directional valves, always install some means to block flow lines for maintenance. If the valves are not blocked, the tank must be drained when changing a hydraulic component. Shut-off valves are the only option for lines that flow out of the tank to a pump or other fluid using device. To avoid running the pump dry, its shutoff should have a limit switch indicating full open before the electrical control circuit will allow the pump to start. All return lines though, can have a check valve piped as shown in Figure 8-65. A check valve with a low-pressure spring, called an tank isolation check valve, on each return line allows free flow to tank, while blocking flow out of it. A check valve in the tank lines makes shut off automatic and eliminates chances of blowing a filter or wrecking a valve at startup.

The backpressure check valve in the pump line maintains a minimum pilot pressure while the pump unloads. Here it is in the line feeding the directional valves, other times it is in the tank line. In either case it provides pilot pressure to shift the directional valves when a new cycle starts.

The circuit in Figure 8-65 also shows an anti-cavitation check valve for the cylinder with a relief valve to protect it from over pressure. An external force can pull against the trapped oil in the cylinder and cause damage or failure without relief protection. When outside forces move the cylinder, fluid from the rod end goes to the cap end, but is not enough to fill it. If a void in the cap of the cylinder is no problem then an anti-cavitation check valve is unnecessary. However, this void can cause erratic action when the cylinder cycles again, so install an anti-cavitation check valve. The anti-cavitation check valve has a very low-pressure spring, which requires 1-3 psi to open, so it allows tank oil to fill any vacuum void that might form. The anti-cavitation check valve has no effect during any other part of the cycle.

Pilot-operated check valves
There are some circuits that need the positive shut off of a check valve but in which reverse flow is also necessary. The following images show symbols of pilot-operated check valves that allow reverse flow. Figure 8-66 shows the symbol for a standard pilot to open check valve. Figure 8-67 shows a pilot-operated check with a decompression feature. The symbol in Figure 8-68 shows a pilot-operated check valve with an external drain for the pilot piston. Each of these pilot-operated check valves allow reverse flow, but two of them have added features to overcome certain circuit conditions.

Figure 8-66. Pilot-operated check valve.

Figure 8-67. Pilot-operated check valve with decompression poppet.

Figure 8-68. Pilot-operated check valve with external drain.


To hold a cylinder stationary, it must have resilient continuous non-leaking seals, no plumbing leaks, and a non-leaking valve. Metal-to-metal fit spool valves will not hold a cylinder for any length of time. As shown in Figure 8-69, a blocked center valve can actually cause a cylinder to creep forward. Vertically mounted cylinders with down acting loads always creep when using a metal-to-metal fit spool valve. Hydraulic motors always have internal leakage so the circuits shown here will not hold them stationary. Figures 8-70, 8-71, and 8-72 show a typical pilot-operated check valve circuit that prevents cylinder creep.

Figure 8-69. Blocked center directional valve, cylinder creeping forward.


The circuit in Figure 8-70 shows a horizontally mounted, non-leaking cylinder, positively locked in place any time the directional centers. When using an on-off type solenoid valve, a fast moving cylinder stops abruptly when the directional valve centers. Use a proportional valve with ramp timers to decelerate the actuator and eliminate shock damage.

Figure 8-70. Pilot-operated check circuit at rest with pump running.


Notice the directional valve has A and B ports open to tank in the center condition. This center condition allows pilot pressure to drop and the pilot-operated check valves to close. Using a directional valve with blocked A and B ports in center condition, may keep the pilot-operated check valves open and allow cylinder creep. If it is only necessary to keep the cylinder from moving in one direction, one pilot-operated check valve will suffice.

When solenoid A1 on the directional valve shifts, as seen in Figure 8-71, the cylinder extends. Pump flow to the cylinder cap end builds pressure in the pilot line to the rod end of the pilot-operated check valve, causing it to fully open. The pilot-operated check valve in the line to the cap end opens by pump flow like any check valve. Energizing and holding a directional valve solenoid causes the cylinder to move. Pilot operated check valves positively lock the cylinder but are invisible to the electric control circuit.

Figure 8-71. Pilot-operated check circuit with cylinder extending.


When solenoid B on the directional valve shifts, as seen in Figure 8-72, the cylinder retracts. Pump flow to the cylinder rod end builds pressure in the pilot line to the cap end of the pilot-operated check valve, causing it to fully open. The pilot-operated check valve in the line to the rod end opens by pump flow like any check valve. Energizing and holding a directional valve solenoid causes the cylinder to move.

Figure 8-72. Pilot-operated check circuit with cylinder retracting.


The following will describe how pilot-operated check valves can cause problems in some applications.

Pilot-operated check valves
Figure 8-73 shows how using a pilot-operated check valve to keep a heavy platen from drifting can cause problems.

Figure 8-73. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, at rest, pump running.

When a cylinder has a load, trying to extend it causes load-induced pressure. In the example cited, a 15,000-lb platen pulling against a 26.51 square inch rod end area gives a 566 psi load-induced pressure. This load-induced pressure holds against the poppet in the pilot-operated check valve, forcing it closed. The pilot piston must have sufficient pressure to open the poppet with 566 psi pushing against it. The pilot piston on most pilot-operated check valves has an area that is three to four times that of the poppet. This means it will take approximately 141-188 psi at the cap end cylinder port to open the poppet for reverse flow.

When the directional valve shifts, starting the cylinder forward, as shown in Figure 8-74, pressure in the cap end cylinder port starts climbing to 150 psi. At about 150 psi the poppet in the pilot-operated check valve opens and allows oil from the cylinder rod end a free flow path to tank. The cylinder immediately runs away, pressure in cylinder cap port drops, the pilot-operated check valve closes fast and hard, and the cylinder stops abruptly. When the pilot-operated check valve closes, pressure at the cap end cylinder port again builds to 150 psi, opening the check valve, and the process starts again. A cylinder with these conditions falls and stops all the way to the work unless it meets enough resistance to keep it from running away.

Figure 8-74. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, cylinder extending, free fall.


With this circuit, system shock very quickly damages piping, cylinders, and valves.

Adding a flow control between the cylinder and pilot-operated check valve is one way to keep it from running away. However, the restriction could cause fluid heating and slow cycling, and would need frequent adjustment to maintain optimum control.

Placing a flow control after the pilot-operated check valve causes backpressure against its pilot piston and could keep it from opening at all. With the flow control after the pilot-operated check valve, use one with an external drain. When there is much backpressure on the outlet of a pilot-operated check valve, it is best to use one with an external drain.

It is best to control the cylinder shown here with a counterbalance valve. See chapter five for the different types of counterbalance circuits.

Even with some spool type counterbalance valves, the cylinder still drifts. Adding an externally drained pilot-operated check valve between the counterbalance valve and the cylinder holds it stationary. The counterbalance valve keeps the cylinder from running away no matter the flow variations, while the pilot-operated check valve holds it stationary when stopped.

Figure 8-75. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, cylinder stopping on closed P.O. check.


A pilot-operated check valve with the decompression feature would not help in this circuit.

Figures 8-76 and 8-78 show another possible problem using a pilot-operated check valve to keep a vertical down-acting cylinder from drifting. The cylinder in this example has a heavy weight pulling against the rod side. A load induced pressure of 1508 psi plus 142 psi from pilot pressure acts against the poppet in the pilot-operated check valve. This requires a high pilot pressure to open the pilot-operated check valve.

Figure 8-76. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, cylinder just starting to extend.


It requires approximately 500 psi pilot pressure to open the pilot-operated check valve with 1650 psi against the poppet. As pilot pressure builds to open the poppet, it also pushes against the full piston area of the cylinder. This cylinder has nearly twice the area on the cap side as the rod side, so every 100 psi on the cap side gives about 200 psi on the rod side. As pilot pressure builds to the 500 psi required, pressure against the poppet in the pilot-operated check valve increases at twice the rate. Figure 8-77 shows the start of this condition.

Figure 8-77. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, cylinder still trying to extend.


In Figure 8-77, the cylinder rod end pressure is at 300 psi, which adds 570 psi to the 1508 psi load-induced pressure. The extra hydraulic pressure pushes harder against the pilot-operated check valve poppet, making pilot pressure increase even more.

As pilot pressure increases, down force and rod end pressure escalates also. In Figure 8-78, rod end pressure is at 3565 psi because pilot pressure continues to climb. In the situation shown here, it is obvious the relief valve will open before reaching a pilot pressure high enough to open the pilot-operated check valve. Even if pilot pressure could go high enough to open the pilot-operated check valve, the cylinder runs away and stops.

Figure 8-78. Pilot-operated check valve on running away load, cylinder still trying to extend.


A pilot-operated check valve with a decompression poppet would not help in this situation. Flow from the small decompression poppet is not enough to handle cylinder flow. The cylinder would extend with a decompression poppet, but at a very slow rate.

It is best to control the cylinder in this example with a counterbalance valve. See chapter five for the different types of counterbalance circuits.

Even with some spool type counterbalance valves, the cylinder still drifts. Adding an externally drained pilot-operated check valve between the counterbalance valve and the cylinder will hold it stationary. The counterbalance valve keeps the cylinder from running away no matter the flow variations, while the pilot-operated check valve holds it stationary when stopped.

Shown are circuits that require a pilot-operated check valve to have external drain and/or decompression capabilities.

A standard pilot-operated check valve circuit usually has minimum backpressure at the reverse flow outlet port. If there is a restriction causing high backpressure in the reverse flow outlet port, a standard valve may not open when applying pilot pressure. The reason this might happen is the pilot piston sees backpressure from the reverse flow outlet port. If the pilot-operated check valve poppet has load induced pressure holding it shut, plus reverse flow outlet port backpressure opposing the pilot piston, there is not enough pilot piston force to open the check poppet.

If the reverse flow outlet port backpressure cannot be eliminated, then specify a pilot-operated check valve with an external drain. Pipe the external drain to a low or no pressure line going to tank. With an external drain pilot-operated check valve, the pilot piston usually opens the check poppet to allow reverse flow.

Figure 8-79. Pilot-operated check valve circuit with external drain function at rest, pump running.


The schematic drawing in Figure 8-79 shows a cylinder with pilot-operated check valves at each port and meter out flow controls downstream of the reverse flow outlet port. If this circuit did not have externally drained pilot-operated check valves, the cylinder would operate in jerks or not at all when the directional valve shifts. Backpressure from the flow controls can push the pilot piston closed and stop the cylinder, then pressure would drop and it would start again. This oscillating movement would continue until the cylinder competes its stroke. With externally drained pilot-operated check valves, the cylinder is easy to control at any speed.

Placing the flow controls in Figure 8-79 between the cylinder ports and the pilot-operated check valve eliminates backpressure. This move eliminates the need for externally drained pilot-operated check valves.

In Figure 8-80, a running away load had a drifting problem with only the counterbalance valve installed. Adding a pilot-operated check valve in front of the counterbalance valve stopped cylinder drifting. Using a decompression poppet made it easy to open the main check poppet against the high load induced pressure. The decompression poppet releases trapped fluid in the piping between the pilot-operated check valve and the counterbalance valve allowing the main check poppet to open.

Figure 8-80. Pilot-operated check on running away load with external drain and decompression poppet with P.O. check for no leak holding, counterbalance valve for smooth control of the extend stroke at rest, with pump running.


Notice the pipe between the pilot-operated check valve and the counterbalance valve is at zero psi while the cylinder is held retracted. This pressure would have been about 1200 psi while the cylinder was retracting, but quickly drops to zero when the directional valve centers. The reason for this pressure drop is leakage past the counterbalance valve spool, which is the reason for adding the pilot-operated check valve.

If the pilot-operated check valve did not have an external drain, backpressure from the counterbalance valve can force it shut when the cylinder starts moving. The external drain and decompression features are both necessary in this holding circuit.

Placing the pilot-operated check valve in the line after the counterbalance valve would require neither an external drain nor decompression feature. However, the reason for installing the pilot-operated check valve was to stop drifting. With the pilot-operated check valve after the counterbalance valve, the counterbalance valve must have an external drain. An external drain indicates there is internal leakage, so the drift problem may decrease -- but would not go away.

 

Chapter 9: Filtration

 

Hydraulic filters

Contaminated fluid causes most hydraulic system failures. Oil in a reservoir may look clean to the naked eye, but silt contamination particles too small to see can still wreck pumps, cause valves to stick, and erode cylinder bores. In many facilities, components may take the blame for problems in error, when contaminated fluid is the culprit. It is amazing that some plants will change pumps every six months (believing that is normal component life), when they could add a proper filtration system and get many times longer pump service life.

A well-filtered hydraulic system should not have particles in the fluid larger than 10 microns. (A micron is 0.000039 inches.) A contamination particle that measures 0.001 in. across is 25 microns. The smallest dirt particle that is visible to the naked eye is 40 microns. Simply looking at an oil sample is not a good way to tell if the filters are cleaning the fluid.

Nominal or absolute are common terms found in hydraulic filter micron ratings. A filter with a nominal rating takes out most of the particles that measure the same size or larger than the stated micron size. A filter with an absolute rating takes out all particles the same size or larger than the rated micron size. A newer filter-rating system called the beta ratio is replacing the old nominal and absolute designations.

The beta ratio indicates what size particles the filter removes, followed by the ratio of the number of this size particle in the fluid upstream from the filter, divided by number of particles that size in the fluid downstream from the filter. For example: a filter rating of beta 5 = 90 indicates the filter will remove 90 of every 100 particles of 5 micron or larger size from the fluid passing through it. The efficiency of this filter would be 98.9% -- or 100 - (100/90).

Most hydraulic filters employ a closely controlled paper fiber mat or a woven wire mesh element to trap particles. While woven wire is more expensive than paper, the ability to manufacture it with more precisely sized fluid flow openings makes it a better choice. Also, woven wire elements can withstand higher pressure drops without collapsing.

Fig. 9-1. Suction filter (or strainer) with bypass check valve.
Fig. 9-2. Return-line filter with a bypass check valve (and electrical clogging indicator).

Fig. 9-3. Pressure filter (without bypass) that has pressure gauges to indicate pressure drop across the filter.


Figures 9-1, 9-2, and 9-3 show the symbols used in circuit diagrams for the common filter types. The hydraulic circuit diagrammed in Figure 9-4 has these filters in typical locations.

Suction strainers

Figure 9-4 shows a hydraulic circuit with filters in standard locations. Strainer is a common name for filters with openings of 75 microns or larger. Suction strainers usually are installed in the pump inlet line to protect the pump from large, damaging contamination particles that can cause catastrophic failure. The suction strainer also protects the pump from ingesting any start-up debris left in the tank and piping. In addition, the suction strainer traps large contamination particles introduced to the system from external sources or resulting from internal part failure.

Fig. 9-4. Typical filter locations – with micron ranges and bypass settings.


Don’t use filters with low-micron ratings in suction lines because pumps without supercharged inlets can only tolerate a portion of one atmosphere pressure drop without affecting inlet flow. With this low-pressure drop (14.7 psi maximum, at sea level on an average day), a restriction such as a low-micron filter can cause the pump to cavitate. Cavitation will cause pump failure almost as fast as dirty oil, so avoid it in every situation.

Suction strainers are normally available with openings ranging from 75 to 150 microns. Some manufacturers offer inlet filters with ratings as low as 25 microns. These low-micron elements have large filtering surfaces.

If the pump is force-fed by another pump (sometimes called a supercharge pump), use of a low-micron rated element is possible. The supercharging pump will force fluid through a very fine filter to the working pump without cavitation.

A suction strainer or filter should have a bypass relief valve. Set the bypass to open at a pressure of 1 to 3 psi when the strainer becomes clogged. The reasoning behind this is that the pump will run many hours on contaminated oil, but will fail in a few minutes with little or no oil.

Suction strainers can be located inside or outside the reservoir. Internal strainers are less expensive, but their condition is more difficult to monitor. External strainers are easy to service and often include an indicator to show when the filter starts bypassing. The indicator can be as simple as a vacuum gauge or it might be a vacuum-operated electrical output to a warning light or controller.

Many older circuits have nothing but a suction strainer for filtration. Retrofitting these systems with the off-line or kidney filters discussed later in this chapter is advisable.

Return-line filters

Another common location for filters is in the return line. (See the circled item in Figure 9-5.) The return-line filter keeps most contamination caused by part wear from getting into the tank. These filters are offered with ratings ranging from 3 to 25 microns. A common level of filtration is 10 microns. Obviously, if the desired system cleanliness is 10 microns, use a filter of 10 microns or less.

Fig. 9-5. Typical filter locations – with micron ranges and bypass settings.

Return-line filters should have integral bypass check valves. If the filter becomes loaded, return oil needs a flow path to tank until it is convenient to change the filter. Without a bypass, the filter element may collapse, or the element housing or seal may rupture. The bypass check valve usually requires 10 to 50 psi to open. The bypass pressure should be high enough to stop fluid from going around the filter except under unusual conditions, but low enough to keep the filter element and housing seal from being damaged.

Sizing return-line filters just to handle pump flow is a common practice. However, sizing the filter to pump flow can cause problems if cylinders in the circuit have oversized rods, or if one cylinder returns one or more other cylinders. For example, if a cylinder has a 2:1 rod diameter, flow to tank while the cylinder is retracting will be twice pump flow. Sizing the filter just for pump flow will allow contaminated oil to bypass at least -- and may damage the housing or seals. Paper filters can collapse, have holes blown through the element, stop filtering, and never indicate they need to be replaced. With pleated elements, the pleats can collapse, giving a premature “loaded element” indication.

Even with a correctly sized return-line filter, the flow through it changes constantly. A steady flow through the element gives the most efficient filtration. If a filter passes constant flow, the bypass valve will not open until the filter fills with contaminants. This means only clean fluid leaves the filter.

Visual and electrical indicators also are available to show when the return-line filter is bypassing.

Pressure line filters

Servo directional control valves normally require pressure-line filters because these valves have low contamination tolerance, as shown in the lower circle on Figure 9-6. These valves have small internal orifices, very close-tolerance fits, and must shift rapidly at low pilot-pressure differential. A servovalve can stop functioning in as little as two minutes with oil from a typical hydraulic system. Any servovalve circuit operates best with a pressure filter.

Fig. 9-6. Hydrostatic transmission circuit with bi-directional filter.


Even when a 3-micron return-line filter is installed, contamination generated by the pump is enough to shut down a servovalve in a short time. To solve this problem, place a pressure filter in the line between the pump and the servovalve. To eliminate servovalve contamination in circuits with long lines, place a pressure filter at each valve inlet.

Pressure-line filters normally have elements with 1- to 5-micron openings. The pressure filter should be of the absolute-rated type, or have a beta ratio of 50 or higher.

A pressure-line filter should not have a bypass. If the filter element clogs, it is better to stop flow to servovalves than to contaminate them. Indicators on the filters warn of clogging to allow the elements to be changed before production speed is affected. Visual and electrical clogging indicators also are available for most pressure-line filters.

Pressure-line filter housings must be strong enough to withstand full system pressure. When there is a high pressure drop across the filter, the element must not collapse. These requirements make pressure-line filter housings and elements more expensive than return-line filters. High cost is the main reason for not using pressure-line filters on all systems.

Figure 9-6 pictures a bi-directional pressure-line filter. Another name for this bi-directional filter is "last-chance filter." Because it is in the working line to an actuator, this filter has to withstand maximum system pressure. The only difference between a bi-directional filter and a standard pressure filter is the four check valves in the housing. The four check valves cause oil flow to pass through filter element in the same direction regardless of the direction that the fluid enters the housing. A bi-directional filter will normally have a 3- to 10-micron rating for most circuits. Pipe a bypass check externally when required.

Closed-loop hydrostatic transmission circuits are one place to use bi-directional filters. Note that the oil between the pump and motor can stay in the loop for long periods. Any contamination in this closed loop will continue to cause damage, even after changing oil in the tank.

Off-line filtration

The top image in Figure 9-7 shows an off-line filtration circuit. This is an easy circuit to retrofit to existing hydraulic systems. Also, it is an excellent circuit for new systems where high cleanliness levels are needed. Sometimes called kidney filters or bypass filters, off-line filtration systems consist of a separate pump, motor, and filter that re-circulates oil in the reservoir. Oil from one end of the tank passes through the filter and returns to the opposite end of the tank.

Fig. 9-7. Off-line filtration arrangement (top image) and off-line filtration circuit with heating or cooling capacity (bottom image)

The filter in the off-line circuit should be rated in the 3- to 10-micron range. The circuit should be set up to filter the volume of fluid in the reservoir every 1 to 3 hours minimum. This low, constant flow rate makes the filter very efficient, never opens the bypass, never causes channeling, and never blows holes in the element.

When the off-line filter indicator shows a clogged element, the main hydraulic circuit can continue to run during filter change. Also, this type filter system can operate while the main hydraulic circuit is shut off over nights or weekends.

Always filter new oil before use since it not as clean as most hydraulic systems require. Put new oil into the tank through a pair of shut off valves, or a 3-way ball valve in the suction line (as diagrammed in the bottom of Figure 9-7). Rotate the 3-way ball valve 180 degrees, hooking the pump suction to a flexible hose in an oil drum or fluid container. This set-up filters all oil from the fluid container before it enters the reservoir.

Any circuit with a servovalve still requires a pressure filter downstream from the pump. Also, according to the working conditions, a return-line filter may be helpful to take out system-generated particles before the fluid goes back to tank.

A heating or cooling loop is another function sometimes performed in an-off line filter circuit. Figure 9-8 shows a bypass circuit with a normally open solenoid relief valve, a high-horsepower motor, a temperature switch, a heat exchanger, and a temperature-controlled water valve. These additions can effectively control temperature while filtering the fluid. (To only filter the oil, leave the water turned off and the solenoid relief valve open.) If oil temperature drops too low, the temperature switch will energize the solenoid on the relief valve and pressure will rise. All electric-motor horsepower converts into heat until the temperature switch indicates the correct oil temperature. Unlike an immersion-type electric tank heater, the fluid is being circulated, so there are no hot spots. For every electric horsepower, there will be 2544 Btu/hour heating capacity. After figuring the Btu/hour to heat or maintain minimum temperature, divide by 2544 to calculate the horsepower needed.

Fig. 9-8. Cross-section of typical air-line filter, left, with symbols that show drains at right.

If the tank fluid overheats, the temperature-controlled water valve will open, sending water through the heat exchanger. All filtered flow cools while the temperature valve indicates elevated temperatures. The heat exchanger always passes constant flow, so a bypass valve around it is unnecessary. Also, the heat exchanger passes flow even when a pressure-compensated pump in the circuit is holding pressure without flow.

Air-line filters

Air-line filters trap debris in air lines to protect downstream valves and cylinders. They also capture condensed water in the air stream. Most air-line filters have a manual drain to get rid of the trapped water. Several manufacturers offer an automatic drain at added cost.

The filter media in air-line filters consists of compressed fibers, ceramics, or sintered metal. A standard air filter removes particles 40 microns or larger. Most manufacturers also can supply filters with ratings as low as 5 microns when required.

Air entering the filter, Figure 9-8, flows along the walls of the bowl to swirl out condensed water – which drops to the bottom of the bowl. The air then passes through the filter media, and on to the regulator and lubricator. A baffle separates the lower part of the bowl, making a quiet zone for trapped water so it won’t be picked up again.

To get even better air quality, coalescing filters are available. Coalescing filters remove up to 99.9% of oil aerosols, as well as particles down to 0.3 microns. These filters are desirable in instrument air and paint spraying applications, or any other circuit that requires very clean air. The basic design of a coalescing filter is the same as a standard filter. The main difference in is the filter element. The filter element is for one-time use and is quite expensive. Most suppliers recommend standard filters upstream to remove larger particles and liquids, thus extending the service life of the expensive coalescing element.

Air filters usually do not come with a bypass check valve. When the filter becomes clogged, flow restriction increases until air flow finally stops. Pressure drops on gauges at the inlet and outlet show when to change the filter element.

 

 

Chapter 10: Flow Control Circuits

To control the speed of an actuator, most designers use flow controls. Air circuits normally need controlled flow because the plant air compressor is greatly oversized for almost any given circuit. Hydraulic circuits usually have a dedicated power source sized to meet the cycle time so flow restrictors are unnecessary.

Flow controls always generate some heat in hydraulic circuits, so consider some other method of controlling actuator speed where possible. The circuit examples in this chapter explain the types of flow-control systems and how to apply them.

Figures 10-1 and 10-2 show symbols for fixed orifices, rudimentary components that will control flow. A fixed orifice can be a simple restriction in a line or a factory-preset control with pressure compensation and a bypass. Their low cost and the fact that they are tamper-proof are two main reasons for using fixed orifices.

fig 1
fig 2

Use the needle valve shown in Figure 10-3 when control of fluid flow in both directions is necessary. Add the check valve arrangement shown in Figure 10-4 when a needle valve needs pressure compensation in both directions. These check valves, sometime referred to as bridge rectifiers, force fluid to flow through the needle valve in the same direction regardless of actuator movement. (Remember, pressure compensation only works in one direction of flow.)

fig 3
fig 4

When talking about flow-control hardware, some manufacturers use different terminology. Normally the term flow control refers to an adjustable needle valve with an integral bypass, as pictured in Figure 10-5. This type of flow control meters flow in one direction and allows free flow in the opposite direction. However, some companies identify the flow control in Figure 10-5 as a throttle valve. These companies say a flow control must have a bypass and be pressure-compensated as shown in Figure 10-6.

fig 5

When a hydraulic actuator needs accurate speed control, use a pressure-compensated flow control. System pressure fluctuations or load changes will cause actuator velocity to change. Regardless of the cause of the pressure differences, flow across the orifice will change unless the flow control is pressure compensated. Only use a pressure-compensated valve when very accurate speed control is needed because its cost is as much as six times that of a non-compensated valve.

fig 6

Types of flow-control circuits

There are three types of flow control circuits from which to choose. They are: meter-in, meter-out, and bleed-off (or bypass). Air and hydraulic systems use meter-in and meter-out circuits, while only hydraulic circuits use bleed-off types. Each control has certain advantages in particular situations.

Figure 10-7 shows a meter-in flow-control circuit for a cylinder. Notice that a bypass check valve forces fluid through an adjustable orifice just before it enters the actuator. Figure 10-8 shows the circuit while the cylinder is extending – with the pressures and flows indicated. With a meter-in circuit, fluid enters the actuator at a controlled rate. If the actuator has a resistive load, movement will be smooth and steady. This is because hydraulic fluid is almost incompressible.

fig 7

In pneumatic systems, cylinder movement may be jerky because air is compressible. As air flows into a cylinder, as depicted in Figure 10-9, pressure increases slowly until it generates the breakaway force needed to start the load moving. Because the subsequent force needed to keep the load moving is always less than the breakaway force, the air in the cylinder actually expands. The expanding air increases the cylinder speed, causing it to lunge forward. The piston moves faster than the incoming air can fill the cylinder, pressure drops to less than it takes to keep the cylinder moving and it stops. Then pressure starts to build again to overcome breakaway force and the process repeats. This lunging movement can continue to the end of the stroke. A meter-out circuit is the best control to avoid air-cylinder lunging.

fig 8

Figure 10-7 shows the components in a meter-in flow-control circuit. Notice that a bypass check valve forces fluid through an adjustable orifice just before it enters the actuator.

Figure 10-8 shows an extending hydraulic cylinder and indicates the pressures and flows in various parts of the circuit. With a meter-in circuit, fluid enters the actuator at a controlled rate. If the actuator has a resistive load, movement will be smooth and steady with a hydraulic circuit. This is because oil is almost non-compressible.

fig 9

In the case of an air system, pressure builds slowly and cylinder movement may be jerky. This jerky movement comes from compressibility of the air. As air enters the cylinder, Figure 10-9, pressure builds slowly until it generates the breakaway force to start the piston moving. Because moving force is always less than breakaway force, air in the cylinder expands. The expanding air speeds up cylinder movement, causing it to lunge forward. This increased speed moves the piston faster than the incoming air can fill the space behind it, so pressure drops to less than it takes to keep it moving and the cylinder stops. After the cylinder stops, pressure starts to build again to develop breakaway force and the process repeats. This lunging movement can continue to the end of the stroke. A meter-out circuit is the best control for an air cylinder.

fig 10

If the actuator has an overrunning load, such as in Figure 10-10, a meter-in flow control will not work. When the directional valve shifts, the vertical load on the cylinder rod makes it extend. Because fluid cannot enter the cylinder’s cap end fast enough, a vacuum void forms there. The cylinder then free falls, regardless of the setting of the meter-in flow adjustment. The pump will continue to supply metered fluid to the cap end of the cylinder and will eventually fill the vacuum void. After the vacuum void fills, the cylinder can produce full force.

3-speed meter-in circuit

The schematic diagram in Figure 10-11 shows a 3-speed, meter-in flow-control circuit using modular valves. Energizing different combinations of solenoids changes cylinder speed at will. To get additional speeds, add more tandem-center directional valves and flow-control modules like station DV01. The limiting factor would be pressure drop through the valves’ tandem centers. Using a bar manifold and modular valves eliminates many fittings and possible leak sources. As in all meter-in circuits, the pressure-compensated pump shown here generates less heat than a fixed-volume pump.

fig 11

To extend the cylinder at fast speed, shift the valves as shown in Figure 10-12. Energizing solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02 sends fluid through the meter-in flow-control module directly under it to the cylinder’s cap end. This condition is always set for the fastest extension speed. Solenoid A2 stays energized for all extension speeds.

fig 12

Energizing solenoid B1 on directional valve DV01, Figure 10-13, sends pump flow through the right-hand flow control in the module underneath it. This will produce a slower speed -- here called middle speed. Either solenoid A1 or B1 could produce middle speed, making the opposite solenoid produce slow speed. As with fast speed, the cylinder speed is variable, but never faster than fast speed.

fig 13

By actuating solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01, fluid passes through the left-hand flow control in the module underneath it. This will produce a different speed here called slow speed.

The cylinder can retract rapidly or at any of the same slower-flow settings as above. By energizing solenoid B2of directional valve DV02, flow will pass through the opposite meter-in flow control. This means fast-speed retracting can be different from the extending speed. The middle and slow speeds will be at the same flow rate as extension. Cylinder speed during these reduced flows will be somewhat faster due to the decreased rod-end area.

A simple manifold can give multiple speeds inexpensively, while eliminating potential plumbing leaks.

Note: Select a valve for DV01 that can withstand tank-line backpressure.

Speed changes with this meter-in circuit will be smooth because the cylinder can coast while slowing down. (It also is possible that the cylinder could cavitate when slowing down, so an anti-cavitation check valve may be needed.)

fig 14

Fig. 10-14: Three -speed meter-in flow-control circuit using modular valves mounted on bar manifold – extending at slow speed.


Meter-in flow control of a running-away load

Figures 10-15 and 10-17 show a running-away load controlled by a meter-in circuit and counterbalance valves. The meter-in flow control works exactly as explained previously, while a counterbalance valve makes cylinder movement resistive. (See Chapter 5 for an explanation of counterbalance valves.) Figure 10-16 pictures a bleed-off flow control circuit that gives the same results as a meter-in circuit -- without most of the heat generation.

fig 15

Fig. 10-15: Meter-in flow-control circuit for vertical cylinder extending with over-running load. Counterbalance valve prevents load from falling.


A meter-in flow control circuit for an over-running load is not the normal design but it may be necessary when the circuit has a pressure switch or a sequence valve.

In any meter-in circuit with a fixed-volume pump, the wasted energy will heat the fluid. In the circuit in Figure 10-15, almost 95% of the power used by the system becomes heat. In this circuit, fluid from the pump enters the cylinder as fast as the meter-in flow control allows. A counterbalance valve at the rod-end port keeps the cylinder from running away as it extends.

fig 16

Fig. 10-16: Bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit for vertical cylinder extending with overrunning load. Counterbalance valve prevents load from falling.

.

To save energy while using a fixed-volume pump, the circuit in Figure 10-16 works well. A bleed-off or bypass flow control greatly reduces the amount of wasted energy. With a bleed-off circuit, excess pump flow goes to tank at the pressure required to move the cylinder. In the circuit in Figure 10-16, pressure would be approximately 50 psi as the cylinder extends. The extension-stroke speed is still infinitely variable, while pressure in the cylinder cap end line never goes higher than that caused by load resistance.

fig 17

Fig. 10-17: Meter-in flow-control circuit with load-sensing pressure-compensated pump and vertical cylinder extending with over-running load. Counterbalance valve prevents load from falling.


Figure 10-17 shows another way to reduce energy loss and heat generation – using as load-sensing, pressure-compensated pump in conjunction with a meter-in flow-control circuit. A sensing line, teed into the cylinder cap-end line after the meter-in flow control, transmits pressure information to the pump. With a load-sensing, pressure-compensated pump, pressure at the pump outlet stays 150 to 200 psi higher than the load until it tries to go above the compensator’s pressure setting. The only energy loss here is the 150- to 200-psi pressure drop across the flow control at the volume set. (Heat generation within a load-sensing pump circuit is explained later in this Chapter.)

When meter-in circuits are necessary

In some cases a meter-in circuit is the only way to control the speed of an actuator -- even for pneumatic devices. Figures 10-18 through 10-21 show several instances requiring meter-in circuits.

fig 18

Fig. 10-18: Meter-in flow-control circuit with pressure switch for end-of-stroke indication.


Many machine circuits use pressure switches to indicate when an actuator meets resistance. If pressure in the actuator builds prematurely, the machine cycle gets out of phase. With the meter-in circuit shown in Figure 10-18, pressure in the cylinder will be just enough to move the cylinder and its attachments until it reaches the load. With a meter-out circuit, pressure in the cylinder cap end would build as soon as the directional valve shifts, tripping the pressure switch long before the cylinder contacts the load.

fig 19

Fig. 10-19: Meter-out flow-control circuit with pressure switch for end-of-stroke indication.


However, it is possible to use a pressure switch with a meter-out flow control circuit. In Figure 10-19, notice that the pressure switch is on the cap-end line to the cylinder. It passes a signal when the cylinder cannot extend farther. Notice also that the pressure switch setting is very low (50 psi). While the cylinder is moving, oil flowing from the cylinder head-end port remains pressurized by the meter-out flow control. When the cylinder contacts the load, pressure in the head-end port drops, actuating the pressure switch and sending a signal. (Use a normally open, 3-way, pilot operated, spring-return directional valve in place of the pressure switch to produce an air or hydraulic pilot signal.)

The pressure-decaying circuit in Figure 10-19 works well in pneumatic circuits because metering air flow out provides good control. Several companies furnish air logic elements designed specifically for this type of circuit.

fig 20

Fig. 10-20. Meter-in flow-control circuit with sequence valve for end-of-stroke indication.


Sequence valves often are used to start a second actuator after a cylinder meets resistance and builds tonnage. With the meter-in flow control shown in Figure 10-20, pressure in the cylinder cap end increases when -- but not before -- the cylinder contacts the work. Pressure at the sequence valve’s inlet stays lower than its spring setting while the actuator is moving. (With a meter-out circuit, pressure in the cylinder’s cap end would go to system pressure when the directional valve shifts. Because of this, flow to the secondary circuit would take place prematurely.

The vertical single-acting, weight-return cylinder shown in Figure 10-21 needs meter-in control as it extends. This will be the case even if it is a pneumatic cylinder where meter-out control works best. For a different retraction speed, use a second meter-out flow control (as shown in Figure 10-21).

fig 21

Fig. 10-21. Meter-in flow-control circuit for a single-acting cylinder extending.


Note: A pressure switch or a sequence valve will only indicate that pressure has reached a certain level. What caused the pressure build-up is unimportant. If the actuator positively has to be at a certain position before the next function starts, do not use a pressure-sensing device. Always use a limit switch. (Use a pressure switch or sequence valve in series with the limit switch if cylinder position and force are both important.)

Action of a meter-in air circuit with a varying load

When using a meter-in circuit on an air cylinder with a variable load, movement will not be consistent. Depending on the required range of forces, movement may be smooth, the cylinder may over-speed, or it may even stop. In Figure 10-22, the cylinder is moving smoothly at a pressure difference of 30 psi. (It takes 30 psi in the bore size being used to generate the force to move the load.) If the load remains constant, the cylinder can -- and probably will -- advance smoothly.

fig 22

Fig. 10-22. Meter-in pneumatic flow-control circuit for loaded cylinder extending slowly and smoothly toward a second load.


fig 23

Fig. 10-23. Meter-in pneumatic flow-control circuit as cylinder contacts second equal load. Cylinder stops while cap-end pressure builds to produce force required.


When the load doubles, as in Figure 10-23, 30 psi is not enough to keep the cylinder moving. At this point the cylinder will stop until pressure in the cap end reaches 60 psi. (The meter-in flow setting determines how long this takes.)

fig 24

Fig. 10-24. Meter-in pneumatic flow-control circuit moving both loads after cap-end pressure reaches load requirement.


Once pressure in the cylinder cap end reaches 60 psi, Figure 10-24, the cylinder starts moving again. If the higher load stays constant, movement is steady.

When the second load is reduced, as diagrammed in Figure 10-25, 60 psi in the cap end is more pressure than needed. This high pressure will cause the cylinder to lunge forward and, as a result, pressure in the cap end will start to decay. The amount of lunge is in direct proportion to the total volume of air in the cylinder’s cap end and the piping leading to it. Next, as Figure 10-26 shows, once decompression reaches 30 psi, the cylinder slows to its original speed.

fig 25

Fig. 10-25. Meter-in pneumatic flow-control circuit as second equal load drops off. Cylinder lunges forward as pressure in cap end decreases.


If this stop/lunge/over-speed problem is intolerable and air is the required power source, add some method of oil control to the circuit. (See Chapter 3 on air-oil circuits.)

Meter-out flow controls

fig 26

Fig. 10-26. Meter-in pneumatic flow-control circuit as cylinder again moves forward slowly and smoothly after pressure decreases to that required to move the single load.


Meter-out controls restrict fluid leaving the cylinder to retard the cylinder’s movement. This type of flow-control circuit works for any type of load -- and works best with air-operated devices. Figure 10-27 shows a meter-out flow-control circuit in the at rest condition.

fig 27

Fig. 10-27. Meter-out flow-control circuit – at rest with pump running.


In Figure 10-28, the directional valve has shifted and the cylinder starts to extend. Fluid in the cap end of the cylinder is at system pressure and the relief valve is dumping excess pump flow to tank. Pressure at the head end of the cylinder will be at system pressure or higher according to the rod size and force required to move the load. The action of meter-out flow controls is smooth and steady in hydraulic circuits.

fig 28

Fig. 10-28. Meter-out flow-control circuit – with cylinder extending.


Figure 10-29 shows the pressure pattern of an air cylinder while it is extending. By restricting flow out of the cylinder, the action will be smooth when the load remains constant. (Figures 10-35 through 10-39 show the action of an air cylinder that is moving a changing load.)

In Figure 10-30, meter-out flow controls are controlling the load on a down-acting vertical cylinder. This over-running load moves steadily because fluid flow leaving the cylinder is restricted. The meter-out circuit keeps the load from running away, but depending on the load and the rod size, there could be excessive pressure in the cylinder’s head end. Notice that the rod-end pressure is 3000 psi when extending. This is because the rod is oversize (2:1) and the load is heavy. At a relief valve setting of 3000 psi, this head end pressure could be as high as 7000 psi.

fig 29

Fig. 10-29. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – with cylinder extending.


When using a meter-out system with a running-away load, check load-induced pressure and hydraulic-force-induced pressure at the rod end. This pressure can be much higher than components’ rating -- even when the relief valve setting is well below maximum rated pressure.

fig 30

Fig. 10-30. Meter-out flow-control circuit – cylinder extending with over-running load.


Three-speed meter-out circuit

The schematic diagram in Figure 10-31 shows a 3-speed meter-out flow-control circuit using modular valves. Energizing different combinations of solenoids changes speeds at will. To get additional speeds, add more tandem-center directional valves and flow-control modules like station DV02. The limiting factor would be pressure drop through the valves’ tandem centers. Using a bar manifold and modular valves eliminates many fittings and possible leak sources. As in all meter-out circuits, the pressure-compensated pump shown here generates less heat than a fixed-volume pump.

fig 31

Fig. 10-31. Three-speed meter-out flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold – at rest with pump running.


Figure 10-32 shows the cylinder extending at fast speed. Solenoid A1 of directional valveDV01 shifts and fluid from the cylinder passes through the meter-out flow-control module directly under it. This flow path will always produce the fastest speed.

fig 32

Fig. 10-32. Three -speed meter-out flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold – cylinder extending at fast speed.


By energizing solenoid B2 on directional valve DV02, as in Figure 10-33, return flow from the cylinder passes through the left flow control in the module underneath it. This will produce a slower speed -- here called middle speed. Either solenoid A2 or B2 could be assigned to middle speed (making the opposite solenoid produce slow speed). As with fast speed, the rate of cylinder movement is variable, except it can never be faster than fast speed.

fig 33

Fig. 10-33. Three -speed meter-out flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold -- cylinder extending at middle speed.


By actuating solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02, Figure 10-34, oil from the cylinder passes through the right flow control in the modular valve underneath it. This will be a different speed --here called slow speed.

fig 34

Fig. 10-34. Three -speed meter-out flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold -- cylinder extending at slow speed.


The cylinder can retract at fast speed or at any of the same slower flow settings as above. By energizing solenoid B2 of directional valve DV01, flow will pass through the opposite meter-out flow control. This means fast speed can be different when the cylinder extends. The middle and slow speeds will be at the same flow rate as extend. Cylinder speed during these reduced flows will be somewhat slower due to increased area on the cap end.

When changing from a faster to a slower speed, the action will be abrupt. This is because the meter-out circuits control the flow exiting the cylinder.

Note: A simple manifold can set multiple speeds inexpensively while eliminating plumbing leaks. Also, be sure to use a valve for DV01 that can withstand tank-line backpressure.

Meter-out pneumatic circuit with a variable load

When using a meter-out circuit on an air cylinder with a changing load, movement will not be consistent. According to the amount of force change required, movement can range from smooth, to stop, to lunging. (Note that in Figures 10-35 through 10-39 there is no allowance made for rod differential.)

fig 35

Fig. 10-35. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – with loaded cylinder extending slowly and smoothly toward second equal load.


In Figure 10-35, a loaded air cylinder is stroking smoothly at a pressure difference of 30 psi between its cap and head ends. (At the bore size for this example, it takes a 30-psi difference to generate enough force to move the load). If the load remains constant, the cylinder usually will advance smoothly.

fig 36

Fig. 10-36. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – as cylinder contacts second load and stops while rod-end pressure drops.


But when the load is doubled, as shown in Figure 10-36, a difference of 30 psi across the piston is not enough to keep the cylinder moving; the cylinder stops while pressure in the rod end decreases to about 20 psi. The speed of the pressure decay is in direct proportion to how quickly air discharges through the flow control. Once pressure in the cylinder rod end reaches 20 psi, Figure 10-37, the cylinder will start moving again. If the additional load stays constant, movement is smooth and steady again.

fig 37

Fig. 10-37. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – with cylinder moving both loads after rod-end pressure has dropped.


When the second load is removed, as in Figure 10-38, 20 psi in the rod end is less pressure than needed to hold the piston back. At this time the cylinder will lunge forward until the pressure in the rod end increases to about 50 psi. The amount of lunge is in direct relation to the volume of air in the cylinder rod end and the piping to it. As Figure 10-39 shows, once air in the rod end again compresses to about 50 psi, the cylinder returns to normal speed.

fig 38

Fig. 10-38. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – cylinder lunging forward after second load is removed. Pressure in rod end is increasing to level that will hold cylinder back.

fig 39

Fig. 10-39. Pneumatic meter-out flow-control circuit – after return to original conditions, cylinder extends slowly and smoothly with single load.


If this stop-and-lunge problem is intolerable and air is the power source, add a method of oil control to the circuit. (See Chapter 3 on air-oil circuits for ways to overcome the problem.)

Bleed-off or bypass flow controls

Figure 10-40 shows a bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit in the at-rest condition. This type of flow control circuit bleeds off excess fluid to tank. A bleed-off circuit works best in hydraulic circuits using fixed-volume pumps. And a bleed-off circuit only works with multiple actuators if they operate one at a time.

fig 40

Fig. 10.40. Bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit -- at rest with pump running.


When oil passes to tank through a pressure-compensated flow control, cylinder movement will slow while system pressure only climbs high enough to move the load. (While this arrangement wastes energy, the amount is minimal.)

The cylinder in Figure 10-41 is extending at 3 gpm while 7 gpm passes to tank through the pressure-compensated needle valve. Because the resistance of the cylinder and load is only 100 psi, the energy needed is very low. The 3 gpm flowing to the cylinder generates no heat because it is doing useful work. The 7 gpm going to tank at a 100-psi pressure drop is the only wasted energy. If the cylinder were to contact a load that requires 300 psi then the whole system would climb to 300 psi. Energy losses would increase, but would still be much less than those in a meter-in or meter-out system.

fig 41

Fig. 10.41. Bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit – with cylinder extending


Even with a pressure-compensated flow control valve, cylinder speed will change slightly as pressure increases. This is because pump flow decreases slightly when pressure increases. The flow control still passes 7 gpm. (All pump inefficiency losses reduce cylinder speed.) When the cylinder bottoms out, pressure increases until the relief valve opens. At this time all input energy generates heat. Note that this only happens when the cylinder must maintain force while stalled.

fig 42

Fig. 10.42. Bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit – vertical cylinder extending with over-running load.


As with meter-in circuits, bleed-off circuits do not work with a running-away load. Figure 10-42 shows the cylinder extending rapidly and fully when the directional valve shifts. (When using a bleed-off circuit with a running-away load, use the counterbalance circuit shown in Figure 10-16. With a counterbalance valve creating resistance, oil entering the cylinder sets its speed as with any resistive load.)

fig 43

Fig. 10.43. Bleed-off or bypass flow-control circuit – with energy losses identified.


Heat generation can be minimal if the cylinder force is low while extending and retracting. Figure 10-43 shows only 1038 BTU/hr loss -- even with 7 gpm being bled to tank. Normally, use a bleed-off circuit where only a small amount of fluid goes to tank to fine tune actuator speed.

A bleed-off circuit requires a pressure-compensated flow control to keep the cylinder from slowing as pressure increases. Without a pressure-compensated flow control, cylinder speed slows as load increases and speeds up when load decreases. With a bleed-off flow-control circuit, turn the flow control clockwise to increase speed and counter-clockwise to decrease speed.

Three-speed bleed-off circuit

Figure 10-44 shows a 3-speed bleed-off circuit, controlled by energizing different solenoids. To get additional speeds, add more blocked-center directional valves and flow modules like DV01. The limiting factor would be the number of stations on the manifold. (Using a bar manifold and modular valves eliminates many fittings and possible leaks.) Use this circuit with fixed-volume hydraulic pumps only.

fig 44

Fig. 10.44. Three-speed bleed-off flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold – at rest with pump running.


To extend the cylinder at fast speed, as in Figure 10-45, shift solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02. All pump output flows to the cylinder to produce fast speed. This condition always is the highest speed. Adding a bleed-off modular flow control under DV02 will allow adjustment of fast speed. Use of a primary adjustment at DV02 would slow both other speeds.

fig 45

Fig. 10.45. Three-speed bleed-off flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold – cylinder extending at full speed.


Energizing solenoid B1 on directional valve DV01, as in Figure 10-46, directs a portion of pump flow to tank through the module underneath it. The cylinder speed varies, but it can only be slower than fast speed. This is middle speed. Either solenoid A1 or B1 could produce middle speed while the opposite solenoid would produce slow speed.

fig 46

Fig. 10.46. Three-speed bleed-off flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold -- cylinder extending at middle speed.


Actuating solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01, as in Figure 10-47, bleeds oil to tank through the other flow control, resulting in slow speed.

fig 47

Fig. 10.47. Three-speed bleed-off flow-control circuit using modular valves on bar manifold -- cylinder extending at slow speed.


The cylinder can retract at fast speed or at any of the same slower flow settings as above. Energizing solenoid B2 on directional valve DV02 sends pump flow through the directional valve directly to the cylinder for fast speed. The middle and slow speeds give the same flow rate as extend. Cylinder speed during these reduced flows is somewhat faster due to the decreased area on the rod end.

Note: Speed change with a bleed-off circuit is very smooth. The cylinder decelerates smoothly, although a slight jerk or shock may be evident when changing from slow to a faster speed.

Different locations for flow controls

Figures 10-48 through 10-51 suggest other possible locations for flow-control devices in circuits. Figure 10-48 shows a meter-in needle valve in the pump line. At first, it appears this arrangement results in equal speed in both directions of travel. While it does slow the stroke in both directions, the speeds are not identical with a single-rod cylinder. As the cylinder advances, metered oil flows to the cap-end area (4.91-in.2 for a 2.50-in. bore). With a 1.375-in. diameter rod, the head-end area would only be 3.43 in.2 Thus, with the same flow entering the different areas, retraction speed would be faster.

fig 48

Fig. 10.48. Meter-in flow-control circuit with needle valve in pump line.


Note that all of the same precautions given previously for meter-in circuits apply to this single meter-in needle valve as well. In addition, some solenoid valves cannot stand backpressure on the tank line, so use caution when applying this circuit.

The circuit in Figure 10-49 locates a single meter-out needle valve in the tank line. Again extension and retraction speeds appear to be identical. But as with the tank-line meter-in circuit, piston area differences when extending and retracting result in different speeds. The single meter-out flow-control circuit is faster on the extension stroke with a single-rod cylinder.

fig 49

Fig. 10.49. Meter-in flow-control circuit with needle valve in tank line.


The pump-line bleed-off circuit diagrammed in Figure 10-50 is identical in action to the meter-in circuit in Figure10-48. If a fixed-volume pump supplied both circuits, the bleed-off circuit would generate less heat.

fig 50

Fig. 10-50. Bleed-off flow control circuit with pressure-compensated needle valve teed into pump line.


To get identical speed in both directions of cylinder travel, use the circuit in Figure 10-51. Locating a needle valve in the rod- or cap-end line controls the same cylinder area extending and retracting. This circuit meters in flow during one direction of travel and meters flow out in the opposite direction.

Single-rod cylinders have different areas on the two faces of the piston so pressure drop across the needle valve is different when extending and retracting. The circuit in Figure 10-51 has a higher pressure drop across the needle valve orifice when the cylinder is extending. The higher pressure drop has no effect on the pressure-compensated needle valve in this circuit due to the rectifier check valve shown. The rectifier check valve allows oil to flow through the needle valve in the same direction when the cylinder extends or retracts. Cylinder speed will stay the same with this setup, even though pressure drop differs during extension and retraction.

fig 51

Fig. 10-51. Meter-in/meter-out flow-control circuit with pressure-compensated needle valve and rectifier on rod-end cylinder port.


Heat generation in hydraulic flow-control circuits

Many of the circuit examples in this chapter use fixed-volume pumps. Fixed-volume pumps always generate heat when used with any flow-control circuit. Also, flow controls always generate some heat regardless of the type pump used. Figures 10-52 through 10-55 show meter-in flow-control circuits and explain how different type pumps affect heat generation.

Checking horsepower loss is one way to determine the amount of heat generated by a circuit. To figure horsepower in a hydraulic system use the formula:
(horsepower) = 0.000583 (pressure in psi) (flow in gpm).
Multiply the horsepower by 2545 to calculate the amount of heat produced in British Thermal Units per hour.

fig 52

Fig. 10-52. Meter-in flow-control circuit with fixed-volume pump – cylinder extending.


In the circuit in Figure 10-52, 7 gpm flows across the relief valve at 1000 psi. When this oil reaches system pressure, it flows to tank without doing useful work. If you multiply 0.000583 (7 gpm)(1000 psi)(2545 BTU/hr), the heat loss comes to 10,386 BTU/hr. Add to this the heat loss due to the 3 gpm at 900-psi pressure drop passing through the flow control (4006 BTU/hr). Thus, when the cylinder is moving under the conditions shown in Figure 10-52, more than 14,000 BTU/hr of energy turns into heat. The maximum heat that the unit could produce is 0.000583(10 gpm)(1000 psi)(2545 BTU/hr) or 14,837 BTU/hr. Therefore, approximately 97% of the system’s energy is wasted heating the fluid.

fig 53

Fig. 10-53. Meter-in flow-control circuit with pressure-compensated pump – cylinder extending.


The pressure-compensated pump in Figure 10-53 produces only the flow needed, so there is no oil going over a relief valve. The only heat loss in this circuit is the 900 psi across the flow-control valve. There are 10,000-BTU/hr fewer entering the system just by changing the type of pump.

fig 54

Fig. 10-54. Meter-in flow-control circuit with load-sensing, pressure-compensated pump – cylinder extending.


To cut even more heat from the system, the circuit in Figure 10-54 uses a load-sensing pressure-compensated pump. This pump has a sensing line that monitors the pressure required to move the cylinder, then sets the compensator 150 to 200 psi higher. With a 100-psi cylinder requirement, the pump would operate at approximately 250 psi. This low pressure drop across the meter-in flow control generates a heat loss of just 668 BTU/hr.

To sense the load at both ends of the cylinder, or if there is more than one cylinder to control, the sensing lines come back to the pump through check valves. These check valves allow the pump to see the system’s highest pressure requirement and set the pump pressure 150 to 200 psi above it.

When using a load-sensing pump, always use a meter-in flow-control circuit. A meter-out circuit shows pressure at both ends of the cylinder all the time it is moving. With pressure at the load-sensing port, the pump would go to compensator setting and stay there. (For more information on load-sensing pumps, look in Chapter15.)

fig 55

Fig. 10-55. Meter-in flow-control circuit with variable-volume pump – cylinder extending.


Heat generation for the circuit in Figure 10-55 is the lowest possible when variable speed is necessary. In this circuit, a variable-volume pump set for 3-gpm flow replaces the flow controls. Because the cylinder uses all the flow produced, system pressure only goes to the 100 psi required to move the cylinder. There is no excess horsepower, so no heat is generated. (In actual practice, pump inefficiency, pressure drop in the lines, and friction between parts generate some heat. These losses may cause the system temperature to rise 5 to 15° above ambient temperature.)

When practical, a variable-volume pump provides the best way to control actuator speed. Variable-volume pumps may require some electronic controls if there is more than one cylinder, but lower operating cost for the life of the machine quickly offsets this one-time first cost.

Motor-type flow-divider speed control

There are some ways to use a fixed-volume pump and motor-type flow dividers to change speeds with minimal heat generation as shown in Figures 10-56 through 10-63. These circuits will only give fixed preset speeds without changing hardware.

fig 56

Fig. 10-56. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at slow speed.


Figure 10-56 shows a 3-speed flow-control circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Here the cylinder is extending at slow speed. With the circuit set up as shown, it defaults to slow speed. Notice that there are no flow controls. To split pump flow evenly and reduce energy loss, use a motor-type flow divider at its outlet. Each outlet of the flow divider will put out about 3 gpm.

In Figure 10-56 the cylinder is receiving 3 gpm of oil and requires a pressure of 300 psi to move. Notice the pump pressure reads 100 psi. This will happen because the flow divider is taking in 9 gpm, but using only 3 gpm to do work. The other two 3-gpm flows go back to tank at 0 psi. While it appears these other flows waste energy, they are actually transferring their energy through the motor flow divider to the left-hand motor. The left-hand motor becomes a pump with a 100-psi inlet and two motors driving it to 300 psi. In flow-divider circuits, the average of the sum of the outlets always will be the inlet pressure. In this case: (300 psi) + (0 psi) + (0 psi) = (300 psi)/3 = (100 psi) With this system, speed slows but energy loss is only the inefficiency of the parts used.

fig 57

Fig. 10-57. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at middle speed.


To get mid speed, the directional valves shift as shown in Figure 10-57. By energizing solenoid C2 on the right-hand 3-way valve, an extra 3 gpm goes to the cylinder to produce mid speed. Notice that the pump pressure goes to 200 psi as the cylinder speed doubles. Still there is only hardware inefficiency to waste energy, so the system runs cool.

fig 58

Fig. 10-58. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at fast speed.


To make the cylinder extend at fast speed, shift the directional valves as shown in Figure 10-58. By energizing solenoids C1 and C2, both 3-way valves shift to send all pump flow to the cylinder. Because the cylinder is at fast speed, pump and cylinder pressure are the same.

To retract the cylinder at fast speed, shift solenoids B1, C1, and C2 as shown in Figure 10-59. Energizing one or more solenoids in the retract mode gives different speeds that are nearly the same as when extending. (If the flow divider had more and/or unequal size motors, selection of a combination of speeds by selecting different flow outputs is possible.) Notice that this circuit is tamperproof. To change the preset speeds, the flow divider and/or pump must be changed.

fig 59

Fig. 10-59. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder retracting at fast speed.


Any flow-divider circuit will intensify pressure. If the cylinder in Figure 10-56 stalled, the pressure would continue to climb. When it reached the relief valve setting, pressure at the cylinder would be 3000 psi. A second pressure-relief valve installed between the flow divider and the pump port of the main directional valve could be set at a safer pressure in case the cylinder stalls.

Another motor-type flow-divider speed control

Figures 10-60 through 10-63 show a different type of motor flow-divider circuit for variable speed. This circuit uses a smaller pump, electric motor, and tank to give the same speed but less force at high speed. Notice there is a 3-gpm pump feeding one section of the flow divider. As this section of the flow divider turns, the other two sections turn and pump fluid directly from the tank. In Figure 10-60 the two right-hand sections of the flow divider are only circulating oil. All pump flow is going to the cylinder, which is operating at slow speed. In this condition, the cylinder is capable of generating its highest tonnage. Notice the cylinder requires 300 psi to move it and the pump is showing 300 psi.

fig 60

Fig. 10-60. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at slow speed.


The cylinder speeds up when solenoid C2 on the left-hand 3-way valve is energized, as in Figure 10-61. Now, one flow-divider section sends its oil to the cylinder along with pump flow. The cylinder goes to mid speed and pump pressure climbs to 600 psi.

fig 61

Fig. 10-61. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at middle speed.fig 62

 

Fig. 10-62. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder extending at fast speed.


To get full speed from the cylinder, energize solenoid C1 on the right hand 3-way valve, as shown in Figure10-63. Now all three sections of the flow divider feed the cylinder. The cylinder strokes at fast speed and pump pressure climbs to 900 psi.

If the pressure required to move the cylinder to the load is low, this system works well. There is enough flow to move rapidly at low pressure and enough pressure at low flow to do the work.

Note: Standard gear-motor flow dividers are noisy. In the two circuits just discussed, the flow divider runs continuously. The high noise level may be detrimental in some locations.

fig 63

Fig. 10-63. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider (to minimize heat) – cylinder retracting at fast speed.


Controlling speed of hydraulic motors

Figures 10-64 through 10-67 show schematic diagrams of flow-control circuits for hydraulic motors. The circuits in Figures 10-64 and 10-66 are the best for this purpose. In both of these circuits the motor only has pressure on one port. This arrangement provides the motors’ internal leakage with a path to tank at minimal backpressure. High backpressure in a motor can cause wear on the motor shaft seal and leakage. Motors with external case drains eliminate high case backpressure at both ports, but motor drain flow increases.

For a running-away load, the schematic diagram shown in Figure 10-65 is best. When using a meter-out circuit, specify a high-pressure shaft seal due to backpressure at the motor outlet port. A case drain to let internal leakage go directly to tank can take the place of the high-pressure shaft seal, and is preferred in most cases.

fig 64

Fig. 10-64. Meter-in flow-control circuit for hydraulic motor.


The bleed-off circuit in Figure 10-66 will generate the least heat of the first three. The only problem is that the motor will slow a little as pressure increases -- due to pump and motor inefficiency. The pressure-compensated flow control will maintain a constant bypass of fluid as pressure climbs. However, pump output will decrease and motor bypass will increase, causing the motor to slow. Use high-efficiency components to keep this speed change minimal.

fig 65

Fig. 10-65. Meter-in flow-control circuit for hydraulic motor. (Requires high-pressure seals and case drain, as shown.)


The circuit in Figure 10-67 is the most efficient of the four in this section. With a variable-volume pump, pressure is always just what the load requires, backpressure is negligible, and heat generation is minimal. To obtain very accurate control, use a servo-controlled pump with electronic feedback from the motor.

Any of the flow-control circuits for cylinders works well with motors. The main difference is dealing with leakage. Most cylinders have dynamic seals that do not leak. Also, there are no areas to trap internal leakage in a cylinder.

fig 66

Fig. 10-66. Bleed-off or bypass circuit for hydraulic motor.


Three-port flow control

Figures 10-68 through 10-70 diagram how to control the output of a fixed-volume pump with a 3-port flow control. A 3-port flow-control circuit operates the same as a bleed-off flow control. The main difference is that a 3-port flow control does not need an external relief. The flow control’s integral relief valve protects the pump and makes the flow control pressure compensated.

fig 67

Fig. 10-67. Meter-in flow-control circuit for variable-volume pump supplying hydraulic motor.


A 3-port flow control used with a running away load requires a counterbalance valve (as was shown in Figure 10-15). Normal use is with a single-actuator circuit because it controls maximum pump pressure and flow, and affects all actuators in a circuit.

Figure 10-68 shows a typical 3-port flow-control circuit at rest with the pump running. Flow from the pump is 10 gpm. The needle valve is set for 5 gpm. The bias spring on the main relief valve is about 25 to 70 psi (according to the manufacturer). In the at rest condition, 5 gpm flows to tank through the directional valve and 5 gpm flows to tank through the main relief valve (at a pressure drop of approximately 70 psi). The normally closed pilot operator on the relief valve stays closed until system pressure reaches its setting.

fig 68

Fig. 10-68: Three-port flow-control circuit at rest.


When the cylinder starts to move, as in Figure 10-69, its resistance will increase pressure at the outlet of the flow control. Pressure build-up sensed through the fixed orifice acts on the main relief valve with the 70-psi spring. Any resistance from the actuator -- plus the 70 psi of the bias spring -- will increase pressure at the pump. The constant 70-psi pressure drop will maintain an accurate and constant flow to the cylinder while it moves. This 3-port flow control generates very little heat when the pressure requirement is low. It works the same as a bleed-off flow control except it has a built in relief valve.

fig 69

Fig. 10-69: Three-port flow-control circuit with cylinder extending.


When the cylinder reaches the load, as in Figure 10-70, pressure increases. As pressure at the cylinder rises, the main relief valve senses it and maintains a 70-psi differential right up to the setting of the pilot operator. When cylinder pressure reaches 1000 psi, all pump flow will go to tank across the main relief valve. The pilot-operator section of the 3-port flow control sets maximum system pressure.

fig 70

Fig. 10-70: Three-port flow-control circuit with cylinder stalled.


The 3-port flow control is similar to the priority flow divider that will be explained in Chapter 11. The main difference between these two valves is that tank flow always goes directly to tank on a 3-port flow control. Any backpressure in the tank line will add to the maximum system pressure. A priority flow divider can use the excess flow to operate other valves and actuators. Relief valves in the lines leaving the priority flow divider protect the circuits from overpressure.

 

Chapter 11: Flow Divider Circuits

When you must to split a single hydraulic line into two or more identical flow paths, a tee or several tees can be the first solution. However, if the resistance in all the branches is not identical, flow can vary greatly in each path. Adding flow controls at the tee outlets makes it possible to change resistance and equalize flow in each branch, but as the machine operates, work resistance changes often require constant flow modifications. A device called a flow divider splits flow and compensates for pressure differences in most cases. A flow divider can split flow equally, unequally, and into more than two paths. One design maintains a constant flow for one outlet and directs any excess flow to a second outlet.

Fig 11-1

Figure 11-1 pictures the ISO symbol for a flow-dividing valve. While the ISO symbol shows the function of the valve, it does not indicate which design it is. Fluid entering the flow divider splits and passes to both outlets equally. Figure 11-2 shows the symbol for a spool-type flow-divider and gives a better indication of the valve’s operation. Note that a spool-type flow divider will not allow reverse flow. When using a spool-type flow divider to synchronize cylinders, add check valves to pass reverse flow. However, when the cylinders reverse, there is no synchronization with a spool-type flow divider.

Fig 11-2

Figure 11-3 shows a divider/combiner that synchronizes actuators in both directions of travel. It splits pump flow to the actuators and also assures that equal reverse flow returns from both cylinder ports.

Fig 11-3

Figure 11-4 pictures a flow divider with bypass relief valves that allow a lagging cylinder to complete its stroke. Reverse-flow check valves allow free flow around the divider spool while the actuator returns.

Fig 11-4

Figures 11-5 and 11-6 show a priority flow-divider symbol. Port CF (controlled flow) of this flow divider always has the same flow when the pump is producing that flow or more. Excess pump flow goes through port EF (excess flow) to tank — or to another circuit.

Fig 11-5
Fig 11-6

Figures 11-7 and 11-8 show motor-type flow-divider symbols (as drawn by the manufacturers). This type flow divider is more efficient in most circuits. Motor-type flow dividers also work well in flow- and/or pressure-intensification circuits. They are available with multiple outlet ports and/or unequal flows.

Fig 11-7
Fig 11-8

Spool-type flow dividers

Spool-type flow dividers split flow through pressure-compensated fixed orifices. The pressure-compensation feature ensures near-equal flow through the orifices — even when inlet and/or outlet pressures fluctuate.

Spool-type flow dividers can split flow equally or unequally, according to the orifice sizes. Always use spool-type flow dividers at or near their rated flow. Because most designs use fixed orifices, equality of flow is poor when used below their rated flow. If flow exceeds the rating of the valve, high pressure drop causes poor performance and fluid heating.

The dividing accuracy of spool-type flow dividers can be as close as ±5%, depending on the pressure difference at the outlet ports.

Figure 11-9 shows a spool-type flow divider splitting pump flow equally. With this circuit, flow to each directional valve is nearly equal, even with one cylinder working at high pressure while the other cylinder is at low pressure or stopped by a centered valve.

Fig 11-9

In Figure 11-10, fluid from port 1 flows to tank through the directional valve while fluid from port 2 drives a cylinder. Pressure at port 1 is 0 psi while pressure at port 2 is 1500 psi. Under these conditions, pressure at the flow divider inlet also is 1500 psi. Pressure at the inlet of a spool-type flow divider is always equal to the highest-pressure outlet. This condition generates a lot of heat because pressurized oil leaving port 1 is not doing work. It is best to use a spool-type flow divider in circuits where both outlet ports are at or near the same pressure. The higher the pressure variation, the greater the energy wasted as heat with spool-type flow dividers. When outlet pressures continuously vary by more than 300 to 500 psi, it is best to use a motor-type flow divider.

Fig 11-10

When splitting flow into more than two paths, add another spool-type flow divider to each outlet of the first divider. Figure 11-11 shows a synchronizing circuit for four unidirectional hydraulic motors. Flow split equally by the first spool-type flow divider goes to two more spool-type flow dividers. The second pair of spool-type flow dividers split the half flow from the first spool-type flow divider, and sends equal flow to the four motors.

Fig 11-11

When using spool-type flow dividers for equal flow, the total number of dividers must be an odd number. If used in any even combination, flow will not be equal from all outlets -- unless the first divider has unequal flow from its outlets.

To get three equal outputs with spool-type flow dividers use one with unequal outputs, say 33.3% and 66.7%. Send flow from the 33.3% side to power the first actuator. Send flow from the 66.7% side to an equal-flow divider. Flows from the equal flow divider outlets is now 33.3% of total pump flow, so all three outputs are the same.

Notice that these circuits cannot handle reverse flow. Reverse flow through a spool-type flow divider will lock up one actuator when return pressure differs at the outlet ports.

Also notice that each outlet of a flow divider can have a different pressure. Figure 11-9 shows outlet 1 with a relief valve set at 1500 psi, and outlet 2 set at 2000 psi. (If both cylinders operate at the same pressure, substitute a single relief valve at the pump.) However, if both cylinders are moving and one of them stalls at 2000 psi, both cylinders will stop. The relief valve arrangement in Figure 11-11 allows any motor needing more than 2000 psi to stop while all other motors continue turning.

Spool-type flow divider/combiners

Spool-type flow dividers only allow flow in one direction. From the symbol in Figure 11-2, it is plain that reverse flow would lock up one of the cylinders. The cylinder that needs less resistance actually gets more. In a circuit where flow must go both ways, use a check valve to bypass the flow divider.

Fig 11-12

Figure 11-12 shows spool-type flow dividers in a circuit that synchronizes two cylinders. As the cylinders extend, the flow divider splits the flow and cylinder speed is nearly the same. When the cylinders retract, bypass check valves allow fluid to go around the divider. There is no synchronization from the cap-end flow divider at this time. A second flow divider with bypass check valves on the rod-end ports (as shown) is necessary for identical movement while retracting. As depicted in Figure 11-4, some flow dividers come with integral bypass check valves. Integral bypass check valves save piping time, have fewer leaks, and are more compact.

Because flow dividers are not 100% accurate, one of the cylinders may lag. Because there is internal leakage past the spool, any flow divider will let the lagging cylinder continue its travel. Because of the bypass leakage, the speed of the lagging cylinder while it is going to the end of its stroke is very slow. Integral relief valves (as shown in Figure 11-4) allow the lagging cylinder to catch up quickly. Set these relief valves between 50 and 150 psi. Once the pressure difference across the valve reaches this pressure range, fluid bypasses the restricted spool to quickly re-phase the cylinders.

In Figure 11-13, a single flow divider/combiner synchronizes cylinders in both directions of travel. Here a flow divider/combiner replaces the flow divider and check valves in Figure 11-12. Because there is no ANSI symbol for the flow divider/combiner, add bi-directional arrows to the one-way flow-divider symbol. This more-detailed symbol helps to clarify the valve’s action. Bi-directional arrows show the divider/combiner function. These detailed symbols come from manufacturers’ catalogs and represent their interpretation of their valve’s function.

Fig 11-13

As the cylinders extend, the divider/combiner splits the flow to keep cylinder speeds nearly the same. When the cylinders retract, the divider/combiner shifts internally and equalizes return flow also.

A flow divider/combiner wastes energy the same as a standard flow divider. In essence these devices are infinitely variable pressure-compensated flow control pairs. Any flow control will cause heat because it is a restriction.

Flow dividers or flow divider/combiners are not designed to control running-away loads. For the circuits in Figures 11-12 and 11-13, a counterbalance valve in the line between the directional valve and the flow divider may be necessary if the loads can run away.

Spool-type priority flow dividers

Figure 11-14 shows a typical spool-type priority flow divider circuit. A priority flow divider maintains constant flow from the controlled flow (CF) port. Any additional flow passes out the excess flow (EF) port. The non-standard symbol in the Figure is one typically found in manufacturers’ catalogs. The controlled flow may be fixed or adjustable, according to the circuit needs. The excess flow may be sent to tank or to another circuit as required. (When there is pressure at the excess flow port, make sure the valve design can handle it.)

Fig 11-14

Some priority flow dividers are more like 3-port flow controls and cannot stand backpressure at the EF port. Use these flow dividers for bleed-off flow controlling only. With a bleed-off type priority flow divider, pressure at EF port causes flow at the CF port to fluctuate.

In Figure 11-14, a fixed-orifice priority flow divider is used on a vehicle with power steering and hydraulic actuators. This is the standard circuit for a forklift truck using a fixed-volume pump. The power-steering circuit needs 7 gpm and pump flow at idle is a minimum of 10 gpm. The actuators need as much as 15 gpm for maximum speed.

When the vehicle is operating, the power steering circuit will always have at least 7 gpm. When the mast or tilt cylinders need fluid, excess pump flow operates them. Because there is little excess flow at idle, the mast and tilt cylinder's speeds are slow at this time.

The circuit in Figures 11-15 and 11-16 controls the speed of a hydraulic cylinder powered by a fixed-volume pump. The adjustable controlled-flow port of the priority flow divider connects to the cylinder valve, with the excess-flow port piped to tank. This arrangement controls cylinder speed and keeps heat build up low because the pressure in this circuit is only slightly higher than the cylinder needs.

Fig 11-15

Most priority flow dividers are pressure compensating so the priority flow remains constant even when pressure changes occur. As long as there is enough pump output, the controlled flow is constant. Excess flow changes as pump volume varies.

Fig 11-16

A priority flow divider wastes energy just like any spool-type divider. The inlet pressure to the divider is the same as the highest outlet pressure. When either outlet port is pressurized, the port with little or no pressure is wasting energy and generating heat.

Motor-type flow dividers

Motor-type flow dividers consist of two or more hydraulic motors in a common housing. All the motors share a common shaft, so they all turn at the same speed. All motors have a common inlet but separate outlets. If the motors have the same displacement, the output from each motor is nearly equal. (Some motor-type flow dividers use motors with different displacements, so each section’s output differs.) The big advantage of a motor-type flow divider over a spool-type flow divider is energy transfer between sections. A spool-type flow divider's inlet pressure is always equal to the highest outlet pressure. This means heat generation from the lower or 0 pressure outlets, because pressurized fluid goes to tank without doing any work.

In contrast, a motor-type flow divider’s inlet pressure is the average of the sum of the outlet pressures. Because there is a mechanical link between sections, excess energy transfer via this link greatly reduces heat generation. Because hydraulic motors are not 100% efficient, there still is some energy loss and heat generation in any motor-type flow divider.

Another advantage of motor-type flow dividers is their outlet options. A spool-type flow divider has only two outlets; a motor-type flow divider can have many outlets — in even or odd numbers. Most manufacturers catalog units with 6 to 8 outlets, but also will custom-build dividers to suit.

Fig 11-17

Figure 11-17. Motor-type flow divider piped to split pump flow. (Shown at rest with pump running.)


Figure 11-17 shows a motor-type flow divider splitting flow from a fixed-volume pump to separate actuators. With the cylinders at rest, all flow goes to tank through the tandem-center valves with minimal energy loss. To stroke the cylinder on the right, shift its directional valve as in Figure 11-18. Flow from the right-hand section of the motor-type flow divider sends half of the pump’s flow to the right-hand cylinder at 1500 psi. The other half of the pump’s flow goes to tank through the left valve at 0 pressure. Notice that pump pressure is approximately 750 psi instead of 1500 psi as in Figure 11-10. Pump pressure is low because most of the energy in the flow divider outlet going to tank mechanically transfers from the idling motor to the working motor. Whether one or both cylinders do work, energy going in is always equal to energy needed plus inefficiencies.

Fig 11-18

Figure 11-18. Motor-type flow divider piped to split pump flow. (Shown with right-hand cylinder extending.)


The 4-outlet motor-type flow divider in Figure 11-19 supplies four hydraulic motors. Because each motor has a different load, pressure at the motor inlets is not the same. To figure the approximate inlet pressure to the flow divider, add the outlet pressures and divide by the number of outlets. (1100 psi + 700 psi + 1250 psi + 1500 psi = 4550 psi. Divide by four outlets and 1138 psi is the pressure at the pump outlet). The 1138-psi figure is approximate due to losses in piping and the motors of the flow divider.

Fig 11-19

Figure 11-19. Motor-type flow divider piped to split pump flow into four equal parts. (Shown with pump running).


Notice the relief valve at the flow divider outlets. Because a motor-type flow divider also acts as an intensifier (See Figures 11-45 through 11-48), it is necessary to limit the pressure at each outlet. If each motor needs a different pressure, use separate relief valves at each flow divider outlet. In Figure 11-19, a set of check valves and a single relief valve sets the same pressure for each motor — and protects them from overpressure. Because the relief valve is solenoid-operated it also starts and stops all motors simultaneously.

Motor-type flow divider synchronizing two cylinders

Motor-type flow dividers work well for synchronizing actuators. Figure 11-20 shows two cylinders synchronized by a double equal-outlet, motor-type flow divider. Install the flow divider between the valve and the cylinder cap-end ports as shown. This arrangement synchronizes the extension stroke of the cylinders and provides some control for the retraction stroke (See Figures 11-22 and 11-23). Use a second flow divider at the rod-end ports for precise control on the retraction stroke when required.

Fig 11-20

Figure 11-20. Motor-type flow divider piped to synchronize two cylinders. (Shown at rest with pump running.)


As the cylinders extend, as in Figure 11-21, the flow divider splits pump flow, causing the actuators to extend at the same time. If the cylinders’ loads require different pressures, the flow divider still sends almost equal flow to each port. A motor-type flow divider has some internal bypass, causing the section with the higher outlet pressure to pass less than half flow. Therefore, use motor-type flow dividers for circuits needing only nominal synchronization. With any type of hydraulically controlled synchronization, always take the cylinders to a fixed position at one or both ends of the stroke.

Fig 11-21

Figure 11-21. Motor-type flow divider piped to synchronize two cylinders. (Shown with cylinders extending.)


Also, if pressure intensification above any of the system’s component ratings is possible, put a relief valve at the flow divider outlets. Several manufacturers supply their flow dividers with integral bypass relief valves. Set these reliefs for a safe pressure differential so intensification will not damage the cylinder. When a bypass relief valve starts relieving, the cylinder on that side stops while the opposite cylinder’s speed doubles. (If integral relief valves are not available, install external reliefs when there is a chance for actuator damage from high pressures.)

Some manufacturers pipe the integral relief valve’s outlet to tank instead of back to the flow divider inlet. This type of relief valve circuit dumps fluid to tank at a pressure low enough to keep from damaging the actuator. Using a relief valve with its outlet piped to tank causes one actuator to stop and allows the other one to continue at the same speed.

Fig 11-22

Figure 11-22. Motor-type flow divider piped to synchronize two cylinders. (Shown with cylinders retracting.)


Figure 11-22 shows how the cylinders retract under normal conditions. Flow from the pump goes to both rod-end ports and the cylinders retract together. The flow divider combines the oil from the cap-end ports and synchronization continues. However, if one cylinder binds on the retract stroke, the cylinder with less drag will run away.

Fig 11-23

Figure 11-23. Motor-type flow divider piped to synchronize two cylinders. (Left-hand cylinder shown binding.)


Figure 11-23 depicts what happens when a cylinder binds. All flow from the pump goes to the right-hand cylinder — retracting it at double speed. The right-hand motor of the flow divider turns rapidly due to the high flow. The left-hand motor of the flow divider also turns rapidly, but no oil passes through it. The left-hand motor cavitates due to this lack of fluid. After the right-hand cylinder bottoms out, pressure buildup may cause the left-hand cylinder to retract. As the left-hand cylinder retracts, the right-hand motor of the flow divider cavitates.

If the cylinders in a circuit have different return-force requirements, or are subject to binding, add a second motor-type flow divider at the cylinders’ rod-end ports. The second flow divider assures that the cylinders are synchronized on their retraction strokes also. (See Chapter 22, covering Synchronizing Circuits, for other ways to make actuators move at the same rate.)

Motor-type flow divider in a priority circuit

Using a motor-type flow divider in a priority circuit like the one shown in Figure 11-16 will give unsatisfactory results. A spool-type priority flow divider sends a constant flow to one outlet as long as the pump produces at least that much flow. When pump flow increases, priority flow stays the same while the other outlet’s flow starts or increases. Flow from the priority outlet stays constant through the entire pump range.

Fig 11-24

Figure 11-24. Motor-type priority flow divider in lift-truck circuit. (Shown with engine idling.)


Figures 11-24 and 11-25 show what happens when using a motor-type flow divider in place of a spool-type priority flow divider. With the engine at idle speed, 3 gpm flows to the power steering and 7 gpm to the cylinder circuit. This circuit works well at idle — if 3 gpm is enough for the power steering. Figure 11-25 indicates what happens when engine rpm and flow increase. As pump flow increases, both the power steering and the cylinder circuits receive more fluid in the same ratio. This overspeeds the power steering while robbing oil from the cylinder circuit. (There would be little or no heat generation from this circuit, but the end result is less than satisfactory.) Motor-type flow dividers with unequal flow outlets are available in various combinations and multiple flow paths. However, the flow from each outlet changes proportionately as the inlet flow changes. This feature makes them hard to adapt to the engine-driven pumps on much off-road equipment.

Fig 11-25

Figure 11-25. Motor-type priority flow divider in lift-truck circuit. (Shown with engine speed increased.)


Motor-type flow divider speed control

There are ways to use a fixed-volume pump and motor-type flow dividers to change speeds with minimal heat generation. Figures 11-26 through 11-33 depict some of these. These circuits only give fixed preset speeds without changing hardware.

Fig 11-26

Figure 11-26. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at slow speed).


Figure 11-26 shows a 3-speed flow control circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Here the cylinder is extending slow speed. With the circuit set up as shown, it defaults to slow speed. Notice there are no flow controls. To split pump flow evenly and reduce energy loss, use a motor-type flow divider at its outlet. Each outlet of the flow divider will put out about 3 gpm.

In Figure 11-26 the cylinder is getting 3 gpm of oil and requires a pressure of 300 psi to move. Note that the pump pressure is only 100 psi. This happens because the flow divider is taking in 9 gpm and using 3 gpm to do work. The other two 3-gpm flows are going back to tank at 0 psi. While it appears these two 3-gpm flows waste energy, they are actually transferring their energy through the common to the left-hand motor. The left-hand motor becomes a pump with a 100-psi inlet and two motors driving it to 300 psi. As always in flow-divider circuits, the average of the sum of the outlets will be the inlet pressure. (300 psi + 0 psi + 0 psi = 300 psi; divide by 3 to get 100 psi.) With this system, cylinder speed slows, but the only energy loss is the inefficiency of the components used.

Fig 11-27

Figure 11-27. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at medium speed.)


To get mid speed, the directional valves shift as indicated in Figure 11-27. By energizing solenoid C2 on the right-hand 3-way valve, an extra 3 gpm goes to the cylinder to give mid speed. Note that the pump pressure rises to 200 psi as the cylinder speed doubles. There still is only hardware inefficiency to waste energy, so the system runs cool.

Fig 11-28

Figure 11-28. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at fast speed.)


To make the cylinder stroke at fast speed, shift the directional valves as shown in Figure 11-28. By energizing solenoids C1 and C2, both 3-way valves shift to send all pump flow to the cylinder. While the cylinder is in fast speed mode, pump and cylinder pressure are the same.

Fig 11-29

Figure 11-29. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder retracting at fast speed.)


To retract the cylinder at fast speed, shift solenoid B1 along with C1 and C2, as shown in Figure 11-29. Energizing one or more solenoids in the retract mode gives different speeds that are nearly the same as when extending.

If the flow divider had more and/or unequal-size motors, selection of a combination of speeds by selecting different flow outputs is possible.

This circuit is tamper-proof. To change the preset speeds, the flow divider and/or pump must be changed.

Note: Any flow-divider circuit will intensify pressure. In Figure 11-26, if the cylinder stalled, the pressure would continue to rise. When the pump reached the relief valve setting, pressure at the cylinder would be 3000 psi. Use a second pressure-relief valve between the flow divider and the pump port of the cylinder directional valve to set a safe pressure in case of cylinder stall.

Speed control with motor-type flow dividers

Figures 11-30 through 11-33 show a different type of motor-type flow-divider circuit for variable speed. This circuit uses a smaller pump, electric motor, and tank to give the same speed but less high-speed force. Notice there is a 3-gpm pump supplying one section of the flow divider. As the fed section of the flow divider turns, the other two sections also turn and pump fluid directly from the tank. Thus, in Figure 11-30, the two right-hand sections of the flow divider are only circulating oil. All pump flow is going to the cylinder, which is operating in slow-speed mode. In this condition, the cylinder is capable of generating its highest tonnage. Notice that the cylinder requires 300 psi to move it and the pump is showing 300 psi.

Fig 11-30

Figure 11-30. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at slow speed.)


The cylinder speeds up when solenoid C2 on the left-hand 3-way valve is energized as in Figure 11-31. Now, one flow divider section sends its oil to the cylinder along with pump flow. The cylinder goes to mid-speed mode and pump pressure climbs to 600 psi.

Fig 11-31

Figure 11-31. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at medium speed.)


To get full speed from the cylinder, solenoid C1 on the right-hand 3-way valve is energized as shown in Figure 11-32. Now all three sections of the flow divider feed the cylinder. The cylinder is at fast-speed mode and pump pressure climbs to 900 psi.

Fig 11-32

Figure 11-32. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder extending at fast speed.)

If the pressure required to move the cylinder to the work is relatively low, this circuit works well. There is enough flow to move rapidly at low pressure, and enough pressure at low flow to do the work.

Note: The gears in standard motor-type flow dividers are noisy. In the above two systems, the flow divider turns continuously. The noise level may be unacceptable in low-noise areas.

Fig 11-33

Figure 11-33. Meter-in flow-control circuit with motor-type flow divider to minimize heat generation. (Shown with cylinder retracting at fast speed.)


Motor-type flow divider in full-time regeneration circuit

Figures 11-34 through 11-44 picture a unique regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Normally flow-divider circuits use the split flow to synchronize actuator movement. This circuit uses a flow divider to intensify flow for regeneration. This circuit works best on cylinders with small rods; and gives exactly twice speed on double-rod cylinders and hydraulic motors.

Fig 11-34

Figure 11-34. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. (Shown at rest with pump running.)


Figure 11-34 shows the circuit in the at-rest condition. Equal-outlet motor-type flow divider C is piped between the cylinder rod-end port and the directional valve. The flow divider’s normal inlet port connects to the cylinder; one outlet connects to the directional valve; and the other outlet is teed into the cylinder cap-end line.

Fig 11-35

Figure 11-35. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. (Shown with cylinder extending under regeneration.)


Figure 11-35 depicts solenoid A1energized so that flow from the pump goes past the teed-in flow divider line to the cylinder cap end. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end enters the flow divider. The flow divider splits this oil. Half goes to tank at 0 pressure and half goes to the cylinder cap-end tee at pressure high enough to mix it with pump flow. As the cylinder starts to extend, speed quickly increases to almost twice the original speed. Maximum cylinder speed directly relates to the rod size: the larger the rod, the slower the speed. With a double rod-end cylinder, speed exactly doubles. As with any regeneration circuit, speed increases but force decreases.

Fig 11-36

Figure 11-36. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. (Shown with cylinder retracting.)


Figure 11-36 shows the cylinder retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional valve sends pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor that has its inlet teed into the cap-end line becomes a pump. Pump flow plus the same flow from the second motor makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. (However, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.) This flow-divider regeneration circuit doubles the cylinder speed without making the pump work harder. Size the pump, valve, tank, and piping up to the regeneration circuit according to pump flow. The only high flows are at or very near the cylinder.

Using a motor with a higher displacement on the left-hand side of the flow divider increases speed even more. The limit is reached when pressure to run the cylinder at the faster rate exceeds the relief valve setting. When using unmatched motors, make sure the line from the cylinder cap-end to the motor will handle the higher suction flow.

Motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit – pressure-activated to full thrust

When it is necessary to get out of regeneration and into full thrust, add other valving to the motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit.

Fig 11-37

Figure 11-37. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be pressure activated to full thrust. (Shown at rest with pump running.)


The regeneration circuit shown at rest in Figure 11-37 can be pressure activated to produce full thrust. Equal flow divider C is piped between the 4-way directional valve and the cylinder. The normal inlet port connects to the cylinder; one outlet connects to the directional valve; and the other outlet passes flow freely through pilot-operated check valve E to a tee in the cylinder cap-end line. Pilot-operated check valve E gets its pilot signal from the cylinder rod-end line before the flow divider port. Teed into the line between the flow divider and check E is the inlet to sequence valve D. Sequence valve D’s outlet tees into the cylinder rod-end line. Sequence valve D is internally drained and gets its external pilot signal from the cylinder cap-end line.

Fig 11-38

Figure 11-38. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be pressure activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder extending under regeneration.)


In Figure 11-38, solenoid A1 is energized so flow from the pump goes past the tee in the flow divider line to the cylinder cap-end. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end enters the flow divider. This oil splits; half goes to tank at no pressure, and half free-flows through pilot-operated check valve E to the cylinder cap-end tee at a pressure high enough to mix with pump flow. When the cylinder starts to extend, its speed quickly increases to almost twice speed. Maximum cylinder speed directly relates to the rod size. The larger the rod, the slower the speed. For a double rod-end cylinder, speed exactly doubles. As with any regeneration circuit, speed increases but force decreases.

Fig 11-39

Figure 11-39. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be pressure activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder extending at full power.)


When the cylinder meets resistance, pressure increases. When the cylinder butts against the work, as in Figure 11-39, pressure build up in the cap-end line pilots sequence valve D open. When sequence valve D opens, oil from both sides of the flow divider returns to tank at no pressure. At the same time, pilot-operated check valve E closes to keep the pump from relieving to tank. With the rod end of the cylinder hooked to tank and the pump feeding the cap end, the cylinder produces full thrust.

Fig 11-40

Figure 11-40. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be pressure activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder retracting.)


In Figure 11-40, the cylinder is retracting. By energizing solenoid B1, the 4-way directional valve sends pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor — with its inlet teed into the cap-end line — acts as a pump. Pilot pressure from the cylinder rod-end port opens pilot-operated check valve E to allow this flow. Pump flow, plus the same flow from the second motor, makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. Again, however, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.

Motor-type flow divider regeneration circuit — solenoid-activated to full thrust

Other valving added to the motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit produces an arrangement that can be switched to full thrust by activating a solenoid. Shown with the circuit at rest in Figure 11-41, equal-output flow divider C is piped between the 4-way directional valve and the cylinder. The flow divider’s normal inlet port connects to the cylinder; one outlet connects to the directional valve; and the other outlet passes flow freely through pilot-operated check valve E to a tee in the cylinder cap-end line. Check valve E receives its pilot signal from the cylinder rod-end line before the flow divider port. Teed into the line between the flow divider and the check valve is the inlet to normally closed directional-control valve D. Valve D’s outlet tees into the cylinder rod-end line. Valve D is direct solenoid operated and thus does not need a pilot supply.

Fig 11-41

Figure 11-41. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be solenoid activated to full thrust. (Shown at rest with pump running.)


When solenoid A1 of the main directional valve is energized — as in Figure 11-42 — flow from the pump goes past the flow divider line to the cylinder. As the cylinder extends, oil from its rod end enters the flow divider. The flow divider splits this oil; half of it goes to tank at no pressure, and the other half of it passes freely through pilot-operated check valve E to the cylinder cap end at a pressure high enough to mix it with pump flow. As the cylinder moves, its speed almost doubles. The amount of speed increase is directly related to the size of the piston rod. The larger the rod, the slower the speed. A double rod-end cylinder would go exactly twice as fast. As with any regeneration circuit, the speed increases but force decreases.

Fig 11-42

Figure 11-42. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be solenoid activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder extending under regeneration.)


When the cylinder rod trips a limit switch, as in Figure 11-43, the switch sends an electrical signal to solenoid-operated 2-way directional valve D, causing it to open. When valve D opens, oil from both sides of the flow divider returns to tank at no pressure. The cylinder slows before it contacts the work with this arrangement. At the same time, pilot-operated check valve E closes to prevent pump flow from bypassing to tank also. With the rod end of the cylinder connected to tank and the pump feeding the cap end, the cylinder generates full thrust.

Fig 11-43

Figure 11-43. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be solenoid activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder extending at full power.)


In Figure 11-44, the cylinder is retracting. Energized solenoid B1 shifts the 4-way directional valve to send pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor — with its inlet teed into the cap-end line — acts as a pump. Pilot pressure from the cylinder rod-end port opens check valve E to pass this flow. Pump flow, plus the same flow from the second motor, makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. However, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.

Fig 11-44

Figure 11-44. Regeneration circuit with motor-type flow divider that can be solenoid activated to full thrust. (Shown with cylinder retracting.)


Motor-type flow divider as an intensifier

As noted earlier, a motor-type flow divider intensifies pressure at one outlet when the other outlet is at a lower or 0 pressure. In the case of a 2-outlet motor-type flow divider with equal displacements, if the inlet pressure is 1000 psi, one outlet can be at 2000 psi while the other outlet is at 0 psi. While pressure doubles, flow from the intensified outlet is one half that at the inlet. The energy from the outlet motor with 0 pressure transfers to the other motor via the common shaft, thus intensifying the pressure.

With more than one section going to tank — say a 4-outlet divider with three outlets to tank — intensification would quadruple the pressure. While the intensified fluid reaches that pressure, volume is only one-fourth of inlet flow.

Using motor-type flow dividers with unequal sections is another way to get high intensification. If the motor in one section discharges 3 gpm to tank and the other section discharges 1 gpm. Intensification is still 4:1.

Fig 11-45

Figures 11-45 through 11-48 depict how to use this feature of motor-type flow dividers in a circuit. This circuit has equal-outlet flow divider C and 3-way directional valve D in the cylinder cap-end line. In the at-rest condition, shown in Figure 11-45, both outlets of the flow divider connect to the cap-end port.

Fig 11-46

In Figure 11-46, the cylinder is extending at full speed and low thrust. Energizing solenoid A1 shifts the directional valve to pass oil through one side of the flow divider and the 3-way valve to the rod-end port. Fluid from the other side of the flow divider goes directly to the cylinder rod-end port. The pump and valves must be sized to handle enough flow for the speed required during the fast-forward portion of the cycle. (Normally, motor horsepower is low for a cylinder moving a light load.)


Fig 11-47

When the cylinder contacts the limit switch, as in Figure 11-47, the switch energizes solenoid C1 on the 3-way valve. The valve shifts and oil from one section of the motor-type flow divider then goes to tank. Pressure doubles while cylinder speed drops to half what it was before solenoid C1 was energized.

This circuit works best on actuators that are not required to stall. Using this setup for a fast advance followed by a clamping operation might result in excess heat because internal leakage in the flow divider while the cylinder is holding.

Fig 11-48

Energizing solenoid B1, as in Figure 11-48, makes the cylinder retract. Oil from the cap-end port goes through both sections of the flow divider and back to tank through the directional valve.

When using a motor-type flow divider as an intensifier, make sure it is capable of operating at the elevated pressure. The pressure rating of an inexpensive gear-motor-type flow divider may be only 2000-psi intermittent and 1500-psi continuous. On the other hand, some gerotor-type flow dividers handle as much as 4500-psi intermittent and 3000-psi continuous — at a higher price.

 

Chapter 12: Fluid Motor Circuits

Fluid Motor Circuits

One way to change fluid energy into useful work is through air or hydraulic motors. These fluid motors produce rotary power that can drive conveyors, operate long transfers, power fan blades, run a winch, drill and tap a hole, and handle many other applications.

Compared to electric motors, quick reversal of rotation or stalling does not damage a fluid motor. Changing motor speed (within the limits of its specifications) does not adversely affect torque. Repeated starting and stopping air or hydraulic motors does not cause damage or overheating. Also, hydraulic motors commonly operate at low speed without a gear reducer. These features — along with compact size — make fluid motors the best choice in many applications.

To size a fluid motor, calculate torque instead of horsepower. However, remember that fluid motors have approximately 50% less starting torque than electric motors of the same horsepower. Make allowance for this reduced torque if the motor must start under load.

Vane-design air motors are common in low-torque/high-speed applications. For some high-torque applications, vane motors with integral gear reducers work well. Piston-type motors are larger and more expensive, but they produce high torque at low speeds. A less expensive, more-compact gerotor-design air motor that operates in the lower-speed range also is available.

Air motors operate safely in most environments and save space at the work site. Air motor efficiency is very low — only in the 15 to 30% range. Minimizing run time by starting and stopping the motor helps offset low efficiency in many applications.

Air motor speed varies with load changes. Power level and torque also vary widely with speed change. Without a good silencer or muffler, air motors are loud.

Fig 12-1
Fig. 12-1. Uni-directional hydraulic motor.

Fig 12-2

Fig. 12-2. Bi-directional hydraulic motor.


Hydraulic motors, on the other hand, can produce speeds from 1 to 5000 rpm. With proper valving they produce little shock, and their efficiency is in the 80 to 95% range. They also operate safely in most environments and save space at the work site. They are very rugged. Unlike cylinders with resilient seals, hydraulic motors always leak or bypass internally. To stop and hold over-running loads, use a brake or other external device.

Fig 12-3

Fig. 12-3. Variable-displacement, bi-directional hydraulic motor.

Fig 12-4

Fig. 12-4. Uni-directional air motor.


Figure 12-1 and Figure 12-4 show the symbols for a uni-directional hydraulic and air motor. Figures 12-2, 12-3, and 12-5 show motors designed for bi-directional operation. Figure 12-3 shows a variable-displacement bi-directional hydraulic motor symbol.

Fig-12-5

Fig. 12-5. Bi-directional air motor.


Sizing a hydraulic motor system

To size a hydraulic motor system, the following information must be known:

1. Maximum torque required (usually in in.- or ft-lb)

2. Maximum speed required (usually in revolutions per minute, rpm)

3. How motor will be stopped (coast, braked, decelerated, other)

4. Maximum pressure allowed (in psi, arbitrarily decided by the engineer or designer)

Fig 12-6

Fig. 12-6. Bi-directional hydraulic motor at rest with pump running.

Fig 12-7

Fig. 12-7. Bi-directional hydraulic motor running clockwise.


Sample problem – see Figures 12-6 through 12-9

Maximum torque = 5400 in.-lb Maximum pressure = 3000 psi

Maximum speed = 220 rpm Motor will coast to a stop

Fig 12-8

Fig. 12-8. Bi-directional hydraulic motor running counterclockwise.

Fig 12-9

Fig. 12-9. Bi-directional hydraulic motor stopping.


Sizing an air motor system

To size an air motor system the following information must be supplied:

1. Maximum torque required Usually in foot-pounds (or horsepower could be substituted)
2. Maximum speed required Usually in revolutions per minute, rpm
3. How motor is stopped Coast, braked, decelerated, other
4. Maximum pressure allowed Usually 80 to100 psi
Fig 12-10

Fig. 12-10. Bi-directional air motor at rest.

Fig 12-11

Fig. 12-11. Bi-directional air motor just starting to rotate.


Sample problem – see Figures 12-10 through 12-13

1. Maximum torque required 10 ft-lb
2. Maximum speed required 150 rpm
3. How to stop motor Retarded
4. Maximum pressure available 90 psi

Fig 12-12

Fig. 12-12. Bi-directional air motor running at full torque.

Fig 12-13

Fig. 12-13. Bi-directional air motor stopping with backpressure.


Directional controls for hydraulic motors

Figure 12-14 shows a solenoid-operated control circuit for a small, uni-directional hydraulic motor. Energizing the solenoid starts and runs the motor. Deenergizing the solenoid allows the motor to coast to a stop. Depending on the type and amount of load, starting and stopping the motor may be anywhere between smooth and abrupt.

Fig 12-14

Fig. 12-14. Small hydraulic motor circuit with single direction of rotation.


Figure 12-15 shows how to control a large uni-directional hydraulic motor via a normally open, solenoid-operated relief valve. This circuit is less expensive than one that uses a large directional valve and a relief valve. Solenoid-operated relief valves discharge pump flow to tank at about 20 to 50 psi, normally keeping the motor stopped. Energizing the solenoid on the relief valve causes it to start closing. The closing of the relief valve builds pressure and the motor starts to turn. If pressure tries to go higher than the relief setting, this valve stays partially open, which gives the motor time to accelerate. When the motor is at maximum speed, pressure drops, and the relief valve closes completely, directing all pump flow to the motor inlet. If the system pressure tries to go higher than the relief setting, the valve opens to protect the circuit. De-energizing the solenoid on the relief valve allows the motor to coast to a stop without cavitation.

Fig 12-15

Fig. 12-15. Large hydraulic motor circuit with single direction of rotation.


Note that if the motor can turn at the low unloading pressure (20 to 50 psi), it may never stop completely. Use a brake valve at the motor outlet to keep it from turning if this situation occurs.

Figure 12-16 shows two hydraulic motors in a parallel circuit. Supplying two or more motors from a single valve lets the fluid follow the path of least resistance. Synchronizing the motors with a flow divider (Chapter 11) or by a mechanical linkage would keep them together. With parallel circuits, all motors have full torque but only get a portion of pump flow. In other words, the motors have equal power at reduced speed.

Fig 12-16

Fig. 12-16. Parallel hydraulic motor circuit with bi-directional rotation.


The series circuit in Figure 12-17 has the outlet of the first motor piped to the inlet of the second. This series circuit gives nearly perfect speed synchronization, but reduces each motor’s power.

The series circuit works well with hydraulic motors because outlet flow is almost identical to inlet flow. This near-equal flow provides tolerable synchronization, but generates backpressure on the inlet and outlet ports of the leading motor. All hydraulic motors have some internal leakage that normally goes to the low-pressure or tank-side outlet through internal check valves. With motors in series, backpressure to run the downstream motors can cause excessive case pressure that may blow out the shaft seal. Some hydraulic motors are available with high-pressure seals that eliminate the blowout problem. Another option is to select motors with external case drains (as shown in the Figure) that allow leakage oil to return to tank at little or no backpressure. When external case drains, remember that leakage in the leading motors will cause the downstream motors to run more slowly.

Fig 12-17

Fig. 12-17. Series hydraulic motor circuit with bi-directional rotation.


All of these circuits show open-centered valves for smooth stopping or coasting of the motors. This works well if the motor has little or no tendency to coast or if coasting is allowable. Next, we’ll look at some circuits for rapidly and smoothly stopping hydraulic motors with over-running loads.

Circuits for hydraulic motors with over-running loads

Figure 12-18 depicts the most common way to slow a hydraulic motor with an over-running load. Notice that the directional valve has blocked ports A and B. This valve’s center condition makes a motor stop abruptly, which could cause high shock and physical damage. Shock occurs because the motor becomes a fixed-displacement pump without a relief valve to protect it from over pressure. The cross-port relief valve shown in the Figure allows fluid from the over-pressured port to go to the opposite motor port. The reason for piping the outlet of the reliefs to the opposite motor port is to keep it from cavitating as the motor decelerates. Cross-port reliefs are available with both relief valves in a common housing to save piping time and reduce potential leakage points.

Fig 12-18

Fig. 12-18. Dual cross-port relief valves.


Set the pressure for the cross-port relief valve the same or higher than system pressure. This gives full starting torque and smooth controlled stopping. When the cross-port relief valve pressure setting is lower than system pressure, it reduces starting and maximum running torque. The only reason for a lower setting at the cross-port reliefs is for longer coasting time. The higher the pressure setting of the cross-port reliefs, the more quickly the motor stops.

By deenergizing the directional valve with the motor at full speed, outlet flow from the motor is blocked and pressure increases. When pressure reaches the setting of the cross-port relief valve, the valve opens and allows flow to the opposite motor port. Backpressure equal to or greater than what it took to start the motor now holds back against the load. The energy of the over-running load dissipates over a short period of time to eliminate shock.

Fig 12-19

Fig. 12-19. Single cross-port relief valve with check valves.


Dual cross-port relief valves allow different stopping times for the two directions of rotation. If this feature is not required, use the single relief and check valves shown in Figure 12-19. With this circuit, pressure is set only once for both directions of rotation. Notice that the check valves direct flow through the relief from either motor port to the opposite motor port. This check valve arrangement is available in a manifold to save piping time.

Fig 12-20

Fig. 12-20. Sequence valve for cross-port relief.


Figure 12-20 shows an externally piloted and drained pressure control valve that slows the motor in both directions. A shuttle valve feeds the pilot port from either motor port to open the pressure control valve. The external drain line allows internal leakage to return to tank. As Figure 12-20 indicates, the pressure control must be set equal to or higher than the system pressure. For longer stopping times, use the piping arrangement in Figure 12-21.

Fig 12-21

Fig. 12-21. Externally piloted and drained sequence valve for cross-port relief.


In Figure 12-21, the drain line from the pressure-control valve is piped to the pump line of the directional valve. With the drain line piped this way, the setting of the pressure control is unimportant when the motor is running. Working pressure at the drain port of the pressure control valve adds to the set pressure. Shifting the directional valve keeps the cross-port relief valve from opening when the motor is running.

When the directional valve shifts to its center position, pump flow dumps to tank and the drain line pressure drops, allowing the cross-port relief to operate. This provides pressure lower than system pressure at the cross-port relief valve, so the over-running load takes longer to stop.

Brake valves to control hydraulic motors with over-running loads

Figure 12-22 depicts brake valves (sometimes called over-center valves) piped in the lines between the motor and the directional valve. To control the motor in both directions of rotation, install two brake valves as shown.

Fig 12-22

Fig. 12-22. Internally and externally piloted brake valve – at rest with pump running.


A brake valve is an internally and externally pilot-operated pressure-control valve. The internal pilot works on a small area and thus requires a high pilot pressure. The external pilot works on a larger area at a much lower pilot pressure. A common ratio for pilot areas is 8:1. With an 8:1 pilot-area difference, the valve allows fluid to pass when the internal pilot pressure is 1000 psi or the external pilot pressure is 125 psi. Always note the internal pilot pressure setting on the schematic diagram. The internal pilot setting indicates the amount of backpressure at the motor during deceleration.

Brake valve pressure setting is independent of system pressure. This means a lower or higher pressure on the brake valve does not affect the system’s maximum operating pressure.

Brake valves are necessary when a hydraulic motor’s load tries to make it go faster than the pump or control circuit feeds it. In a winch application, a directional valve shifts to lower a load. Without a brake valve, the winch load falls freely, the motor cavitates, and the circuit is unsafe. Most winch applications require only one brake valve.

Figure 12-22 shows a brake-valve circuit at rest. The brake valves stay closed because their pressure settings are high enough to stop the load. Notice the internal pilot lines on each brake valve that sense pressure in the motor outlet lines. Also, each brake valve has an external pilot line from the opposite motor flow line. Bypass check valves in each brake valve allow free-flow return during reverse flow.

NOTE: Never depend on any valves to stop and hold a hydraulic motor. Hydraulic motors always have internal leakage and will continue to turn slowly without some external braking arrangement. Spring-on, pilot-to-release, multiple-disk brakes are one method of holding a hydraulic motor stationary.

Figure 12-23 shows the brake-valve circuit after shifting the directional valve. Oil entering the left motor port must be at least 112 psi (1/8 of the 900-psi setting) to open the right brake valve. When the load is over-running, inlet pressure to the motor stays at 112 psi to hold the outlet brake valve open. When pressure at the inlet drops below 112 psi, the opposite brake valve closes to retard motor movement. During this portion of the cycle, backpressure keeps the motor from running away. When pressure tries to go above 112 psi, the opposite brake valve opens wide -- dropping all backpressure. As the motor is turning under power, the external pilot supply controls the brake valve.

Fig 12-23

Fig. 12-23. Internally and externally piloted brake valve – with hydraulic motor running.


When the directional valve centers, as depicted in Figure 12-24, external pilot supply to the brake valve drops. The brake valve tries to close, causing pressure to increase at the motor outlet port. When outlet pressure reaches 900 psi, it forces the brake valve open and holds back against the over-running load. Because 900 psi is more than enough to stop the load, the motor decelerates to a smooth controlled stop.

Fig 12-24

Fig. 12-24. Internally and externally piloted brake valve – with hydraulic motor stopped.


The brake valve only holds the motor back if it is trying to run away. This means little or no energy loss as the motor turns under load — and no running away when the load tries to turn the motor. This action is identical to that of a counterbalance circuit for a cylinder.

Because each brake valve is independent, a different pressure setting at each valve is possible.

Controlling the speed of hydraulic motors

When flow controls set the speed of a hydraulic motor, the result is nearly the same as with a cylinder. The main difference is that cylinders normally have positive seals while motors always have internal leakage. With meter-in and bleed-off circuits, internal leakage causes motor speed to fluctuation as pressure varies.

Figure 12-25 shows a motor circuit with meter-in flow controls. This is the preferred way to control the speed of hydraulic motors. Use a meter-in circuit whenever possible because the motor's internal leakage passes to the low-pressure port through internal check valves. This type circuit makes a case drain or high-pressure shaft seal unnecessary. There is little or no backpressure at the outlet of the motor to cause high pressure at the shaft seal.

Fig 12-25

Fig. 12-25. Meter-in flow-control circuit for a hydraulic motor.


When supplied with 3 gpm at 100 psi, the motor turns at low torque. Its speed is approximately 200 rpm. When the motor load increases and pressure drop across it climbs, increased internal leakage causes speed to slow by as much as 10 to 30%. (The lower the efficiency of the motor, the greater the change in speed.) Motors that turn very slowly may even stop as pressure drop increases. Fast-turning motors may lose speed but continue rotating. As discussed in the section on flow controls, a pressure-compensated valve keeps a constant flow to the motor but cannot offset its internal leakage.

Fig 12-26

Fig. 12-26. Bleed-off (or bypass) flow-control circuit for a hydraulic motor.


The bleed-off circuit shown in Figure 12-26 is even less effective than the meter-in circuit. With bleed-off flow control, the motor inefficiency combines with the pump inefficiency to produce an even greater loss of rotational speed as the motor loads. The circuit shows a pressure-compensated flow control bypassing 7 gpm. The motor operates at 3 gpm and 100 psi. As the motor loads and pressure increases, internal leakage in the motor and pump results in a greater drop in speed than with the meter-in circuit.

Fig 12-27

Fig. 12-27. Meter-out flow-control circuit with an external drain.


The meter-out circuit shown in Figure 12-27 provides the most accurate speed control. Note that heat generation is high, even with a pressure-compensated pump, but the resulting speed control is very accurate. Use pressure-compensated flow controls and motors with external case drains for the greatest accuracy and longest motor life. Oil enters the motor at low torque and the pressure drop across it is low. Even though high inlet pressure with high backpressure causes high internal leakage, pump input makes up for it. Accurately controlled fluid leaving the motor keeps speed constant because the pressure-compensated flow control maintains a steady flow. When the motor loads, pressure drop across it decreases. Internal leakage decreases but the amount of oil leaving the outlet port stays constant. As long as outlet flow does not change, speed stays the same.

Fig 12-28

Fig. 12-28. Meter-in flow-control circuit with a servo-controlled variable-displacement pump.


The circuit in Figure 12-28 generates only minimum heat, but speed fluctuates with load changes when using a variable-displacement pump. The only energy loss is from the inefficiency of the pump, valve, and motor. As the load increases, pressure at the motor inlet climbs. The increased pressure causes greater slip at the pump and motor, so motor speed slows. As shown in the Figure, a servo-controlled pump with electronic feedback from the hydraulic motor eliminates the speed change problem and gives extremely accurate speed control.

Simple torque limiter for air motors

Some circuits reduce the inlet pressure to limit air motor torque on a device. Reducing inlet pressure causes the motor to stall when the workload exceeds its torque. Limiting torque with this method is not reliable or repeatable. Torque levels vary by as much as 10 to 20% according to how fast the motor turns, the mass involved, and the pressure required. The faster the motor turns and the heavier the part being turned, the more the torque overrides. Adjusting inlet pressure reduces motor torque but will not overcome the variations that weight and speed cause. Also, adjusting inlet pressure to a very low level makes motor performance erratic, with an ever-changing torque. Finally, at lower pressures, reduced speed may increase cycle time.

Fig 12-29

Fig. 12-29. Simple unidirectional torque limiter for an air motor.


To overcome these problems, try the diagrammed circuit and simplified mechanical layout shown in Figure 12-29. With this circuit, the motor operates at full torque, while meter-in flow controls set its maximum speed. An adjustable spring force holds the motor in position by opposing its torque reaction. As the motor turns to tighten a device, torque is low until near the end of the operation. During this part of the cycle, the adjustable spring resists motor torque, keeping its housing stationary. When motor torque increases to match the amount set by the spring tension, the housing starts to rotate. When torque reaches spring setting, the motor housing moves the reaction arm against the limit switch, shifting the directional valve to center and stopping the motor. This mechanism — designed with minimal friction or binding — gives reliable and repeatable results. Air limit valves or electric limit switches work equally well with this arrangement. Use air limits with snap action shifting for good repeatability.

Hydraulic motor driven by a bi-directional pump

Figure 12-30 shows a variable-displacement bi-directional pump driving a bi-directional hydraulic motor in a closed-loop system. This circuit is commonly known as a hydrostatic transmission. The bi-directional hydraulic pump can produce up to full flow from either port, eliminating the need for directional or flow control valves. When the pump strokes to produce flow from one port, the motor starts turning a given direction. With controlled pump stroking, the motor starts and accelerates smoothly. The amount of pump stroke controls motor rpm and pressure is just enough to make the motor turn. With high-efficiency components, this system generates little heat, eliminating the need for large reservoirs while it gives infinitely variable speed and torque.

Fig 12-30

Fig. 12-30. Bidirectional hydraulic motor driven by a bidirectional pump (shown with motor at rest and pump running).


Due to internal leakage of the pump and motor, the circuit is not a true closed loop. Without leakage makeup, the circuit would quickly run dry, operate intermittently, and damage its parts. To keep the closed loop full, fixed-displacement charge pump A supplies flow through check valves C1 and C2 to the low-pressure side of the circuit. Charge oil keeps the pump inlet fully supplied, preventing cavitation. When the motor stops, excess oil from the charge pump goes to tank through relief valve B. Oil from the charge pump often operates the pump stroking mechanism, plus other circuits on the machine.

In Figure 12-31, the motor is running forward. Flow from the pump goes to the motor inlet, making it turn. Flow from the motor outlet returns to the opposite side of the pump. Check valve C1 stays closed (due to the working pressure) while check valve C2 opens to allow charge oil to make up for leakage and supply the closed-loop with cooled clean fluid. Shuttle valve E shifts when the motor runs, porting excess charge fluid through relief valve D, the motor case, the pump case, and back to tank. Charge flow sends spent oil through the motor and pump case to cool them, then through a heat exchanger to remove excess heat. Flow goes through relief valve D because its setting is 100 psi less than relief valve B.

Fig 12-31

Fig. 12-31. Bidirectional hydraulic motor driven by a bidirectional pump (shown with motor running forward).


While the motor runs, speed is infinitely variable and system pressure fluctuates with any load changes. The only heat generation in this circuit comes from the charge pump going across the relief valve, plus inefficiencies in the pump, motor, and valves.

When the motor meets a load large enough to stall it, relief valve F1 opens as shown in Figure 12-32. This directs pump flow around the stalled motor, protecting the system from overpressure. If relief valve F1 stays open for any length of time, the wasted energy quickly over-heats the closed-loop piping.

Fig 12-32

Fig. 12-32. Bidirectional hydraulic motor driven by a bidirectional pump (shown with motor stalled).


Relief valves F1 and F2 also protect the motor when the pump goes to zero stroke and an external force continues to drive the motor. When an external force drives a motor, the motor becomes a pump. Pressure at its outlet climbs until it reaches 5000 psi. At 5000 psi, one of the relief valves opens, allowing oil to flow to the opposite motor port. This protects the motor and circuit from excess pressure and possible cavitation. While the externally driven motor bypasses, relief valve backpressure decelerates it, stopping the load quickly and smoothly.

Closed-loop motor circuits give infinitely variable control of torque and speed with minimal shock and heat generation.

 

Chapter 13: Pressure Intensifier Circuits

Pressure- or fatigue-testing machines often require high pressure for long periods of time. Other circuits might need a small volume of high-pressure fluid for a short period while most of the cycle only needs low pressure. Other machines can use air cylinders to manipulate a part but need very high pressure to perform one operation. Some manufacturers make high-pressure rotary pumps — rated up to approximately 10,000 psi — but these pumps are expensive and may heat the fluid. Another choice for low-volume/high-pressure circuits is an intensifier.

When a circuit calls for a small volume of high-pressure oil or air, consider using an intensifier — sometimes called a booster. Most cylinder manufacturers build air- or hydraulic-powered intensifiers. Or you can use off-the-shelf cylinder parts to assemble your own booster. Also, intensification is a natural function of single-rod cylinders and motor-type flow dividers.

Fig 13-1

Fig. 13-1. Air-oil intensifier symbol.


Figure 13-1 pictures the symbol for an air-oil intensifier. While the symbol shows two pistons with different diameters, the actual intensifier consists of a piston pushing a rod. The large-area air piston pushes a small-area hydraulic ram against trapped oil. The difference between the two areas gives high-pressure capability at the small ram. This capability is indicated by the area ratio. If the air piston has a 5-in. diameter and the oil piston has a 1-in. diameter, the area ratio is 25:1. With this area ratio, 80 psi acting on the air piston produces 2000 psi at the hydraulic piston.

Fig 13-2

Fig. 13-2. Reciprocating air-oil intensifier.


Stroke length dictates the maximum volume of high-pressure fluid from an intensifier configured as in Figure 13-1. The booster in Figure 13-2 produces the same pressure but an unlimited volume. A reciprocating intensifier takes fluid from a reservoir and forces it into the circuit. In effect, the reciprocating intensifier is a single-piston pressure-compensated pump. The area ratio and air pressure determine the maximum hydraulic pressure. This pump is close to 100% efficient, so oil heating is not a problem. Intensifiers do not need relief valves because they stall at maximum pressure.

Fig 13-3

Fig. 13-3. Oversize-rod intensifier.


The oversize-rod cylinder shown in Figure 13-3 also is an intensifier. Any single-rod cylinder intensifies pressure with the rod end port blocked. The larger the rod diameter, the greater the intensification. For low intensification — say 1.5 to 2 times system pressure — a single-rod cylinder is inexpensive and readily available.

Fig 13-4

Fig. 13-4. Motor-type flow-divider/intensifier.


Figure 13-4 depicts the symbol for a motor-type flow divider used as an intensifier. This type intensifier produces a continuous flow of higher-pressure oil at a reduced flow rate. The reduced flow rate is the same ratio as the pressure increase. (A 2:1 intensifier reduces the flow by 50%.) A motor-type flow divider intensifier is less efficient than a piston-type intensifier and is not recommended for applications with long holding periods.

Fig 13-5

Fig. 13-5. Air-to-air intensifier.


Figure 13-5 shows the symbol for an air-to-air intensifier. These intensifiers produce small volumes of higher-pressure air from the plant air supply. Ratios up to 4:1 are common. Hydraulically driven designs with higher ratios are available from some manufacturers.

Intensifier circuit using standard cylinders

The schematic diagram in Figures 13-6 through 13-9 suggests how to use standard cylinders as an air-hydraulic intensifier. This is a quick way to get high ratio intensification for a rush job. A 6-in. bore air cylinder driving a 1.5-in. bore hydraulic cylinder gives an intensification ratio of 16:1. With 80-psi input air, hydraulic output pressure is approximately 1300 psi.

Fig 13-6

Fig. 13-6. Air-oil intensifier circuit using standard cylinders. System on and ready.


Mount the cylinders to a beam or machine member and pipe them as shown in the Figures 13-6. This circuit allows a hydraulic cylinder to operate at low pressure during extension and retraction, with a short high-pressure work stroke to clamp, punch, or do other work. The circuit includes shop-made intensifier A, air-oil tank B, air-pilot-operated hydraulic check valve C, solenoid-operated 5-way air valve D, sequence operated 5-way air valve E, and work cylinder F. With solenoid S1 deenergized, the cylinder and intensifier stay fully retracted, ready for a work stroke.

Fig 13-7

Fig. 13-7. Air-oil intensifier circuit using standard cylinders. Work cylinder advancing at low pressure.


Energizing solenoid S1 on valve D, as in Figure 13-7, directs air to air-oil tank B and exhausts the rod end of cylinder F. Oil from the air-oil tank free-flows through check valve C to extend the cylinder rapidly. Pressure in the line to the cylinder’s cap end remains low as the cylinder moves toward the work, so sequence valve E stays in its normal position. The cylinder extends until it contacts the work.

Fig 13-8

Fig. 13-8. Air-oil intensifier circuit using standard cylinders. Work cylinder holding at high pressure.


After the cylinder contacts the work, pressure in its cap-end port increases. Figure 13-8 shows the circuit condition after this pressure buildup shifts sequence valve E. When sequence valve Eshifts, air goes to the cap end of the 6-in. cylinder on intensifier Aand exhausts from its rod end. Cylinder Aextends to stroke the 1-1/2-in. hydraulic cylinder. This forces high-pressure oil to the cap end of work cylinder F. Check valve C is held closed by its spring to block high-pressure oil from going to air-oil tank B. Pressure in the cap end of cylinder F rises to approximately 1300 psi — and is available to power any high-force operation.

The intensifier’s hydraulic cylinder must provide enough oil to move the work cylinder through its high-pressure stroke. A 3.25-in. bore work cylinder with a high-pressure work stroke of 0.75 in. requires a minimum 6.22 in.3 intensifier volume. Calculate volume by multiplying the area of the working cylinder by the length of the high-pressure work stroke. To figure the minimum intensifier stroke, divide the volume required for the work cylinder by the area of the intensifier. In this example, the minimum intensifier stroke is 3.5 in. To make sure there is always enough high-pressure oil to do the job, add 1.0 to 1.5 in. to the intensifier stroke to allow for oil compressibility, hose stretch, and possible future needs. Choose an intensifier stroke of at least 5 in. for this application.

Fig 13-9

Fig. 13-9. Air-oil intensifier circuit using standard cylinders. Work cylinder retracting at low pressure.


Deenergizing solenoid S1 on valve D, Figure 13-9, directs air to the rod end of cylinder F and to the pilot port of air-pilot-operated check valve C. Check valve C opens, providing oil from the cap end of cylinder F with a free path to tank. Pilot pressure to sequence valve E drops when valve D shifts. When sequence valve E returns to its normal position, intensifier A retracts and fills the intensifier cylinder with oil for the next cycle.

Notice that as cylinder F retracts, only 80-psi air pressure drives it. There is ample hydraulic pressure to extend the cylinder for the high-force work stroke, but only air pressure to retract it. If a higher retracting force is needed (to disengage tooling or for other reasons), external help or other circuit changes may be necessary.

Adjust hydraulic pressure to the cylinder with a regulator in the air line connected to sequence valve E. With a regulator to adjust the air pressure, changing hydraulic force is simple.

Hydraulic cylinder F should have resilient seals that keep oil from leaking to the air side or air to the oil side. Some circuits use two air-oil tanks on cylinder F to prevent aeration of the oil. (Chapter 3 has information about sizing and hooking up air-oil tanks.)

Three-head intensifier circuit with tandem cylinder

Several manufacturers produce 3-head intensifiers that eliminate external pilot-operated check valves. The first head on a 3-head intensifier has an air seal on its rod facing the air side and a hydraulic seal facing the oil side. The second head has an oil port into the rod chamber and a resilient seal facing the third head. The third head has a welded-on oil chamber that the piston rod enters. When the piston rod advances, it displaces oil from this chamber to create high pressure. The ratio of the air-piston area to the rod area intensifies the pressure by up to 40:1, or even higher. A standard 5-in. bore air cylinder with a 1-in. diameter piston rod produces 25:1 intensification. (This is a standard size for several manufacturers.) Three-head intensifiers supply a small volume of oil for short high-pressure work strokes. Calculate the high-pressure oil volume by multiplying the rod area by the stroke length after the rod passes the seal between the second and third head.

Fig 13-10

Fig. 13-10. Tandem-cylinder air-oil intensifier circuit with typical 3-head intensifier. System is on and ready.


Figure 13-10 shows how 3-head intensifier C pressurizes air-oil tandem cylinder A. This circuit provides rapid low-force advance and retract strokes, with a short high-force work stroke when the cylinder meets resistance. Solenoid-operated directional valve B extends the air part of the tandem cylinder. Sequence valve D operates intensifier C. Sealed expansion tank Ereceives oil from the tandem cylinder while it extends at high pressure. For an expansion tank, mount an air filter with a clear bowl upside down, and remove the filter element. The transparent bowl makes it easy to check oil levels. This circuit eliminates air-oil tanks to make the system more compact. Figure 13-10 shows the circuit at rest.

Fig 13-11

Fig. 13-11. Tandem-cylinder air-oil intensifier circuit with typical 3-head intensifier. Tandem cylinder is advancing rapidly.


Shifting solenoid S1 on valve B, as in Figure 13-11, makes the air-oil tandem cylinder advance rapidly to the work. Oil in the double rod-end cylinder transfers from front to back through the center head of intensifier C. (Keep these transfer lines short with oil velocity below 4 fps to minimize pressure drop.) As the cylinder advances, pressure at the cap port stays low. Adjust the spring on sequence valve D to cycle the intensifier after the tandem cylinder contacts the work.

Fig 13-12

Fig. 13-12. Tandem-cylinder air-oil intensifier circuit with typical 3-head intensifier. High pressure in tandem cylinder.


At this contact, sequence valve D shifts to start intensifier C stroking forward, as in Figure 13-12. When the intensifier rod passes through the seal between heads 2 and 3, pressure intensification begins on the back of the double rod-end cylinder. As the tandem cylinder extends, trapped oil from the front chamber goes into expansion tank E. (Pressure increases slightly in the tank because the air trapped above the oil is compressed.) Use a tank with three to four times the volume displaced by the cylinder during the high-pressure work stroke. As the intensifier continues to stroke, increased pressure performs the work.

It is important that the intensifier contains enough oil to move the tandem cylinder through its high-pressure stroke. If the double-rod cylinder has a 3.25-in. bore with a 1.375-in. rod, and the high-pressure stroke is 0.375 in., then a minimum of 2.55 in.3 of oil is needed. Add considerations for oil compressibility plus line and cylinder tube expansion to the cylinder high-pressure stroke volume. Remember: line expansion is greater when using flexible hose. Determine the volume of oil in the high-pressure portion of the piping and cylinder, and then increase this volume by 0.5% per thousand psi of pressure. Often it requires 0.5 to 1.5 in.3 of oil at 2000 psi to make up for oil compressibility. Calculate oil compressibility and add it to the stroke volume so the intensifier does not bottom out before the oil reaches the desired high pressure. On most 3-head intensifiers, add 2.0 in. to the stroke required for volume to make up for oil that bypasses the rod before it enters the high-pressure seal between head 2 and head 3.

Fig 13-13

Fig. 13-13. Tandem-cylinder air-oil intensifier circuit with typical 3-head intensifier. Tandem cylinder is retracting rapidly.


Figure 13-13 shows the intensifier and cylinder retracting. Deenergizing solenoid S1 on valve B lets sequence valve D spring-return to its normal condition. The intensifier starts retracting at high speed, but the tandem cylinder moves slowly. When the intensifier passes the high-pressure seal between heads 2 and 3, the tandem cylinder quickly returns to its home position.

Reciprocating intensifier for increased volume

A single-stroke intensifier produces a limited volume of high-pressure fluid. Pressure stops building when a single-stroke intensifier reaches the end of its stroke. If cylinder seals or piping leak, a single-stroke intensifier may build pressure, but then quickly lose it. When a circuit needs unlimited high-pressure volume at low flow, use a reciprocating intensifier.

Figures 13-14 through 17 show a reciprocating intensifier powering a cylinder that must hold clamping pressure for days. Reciprocating intensifier A, air-oil tank B, pilot-operated check D, solenoid valve E, and sequence valve F advance cylinder C to the work rapidly. This arrangement can hold as much as 3200 psi for long periods without wasting energy or generating heat.

Fig 13-14

Fig. 13-14. Air-oil intensifier circuit with purchased reciprocating intensifier. System is on and ready.


Several companies assemble reciprocating intensifiers with a directional valve, limit valves, and check valves in a unit. Special-order units may come with air-oil tanks, special valves, or accumulators — all pre-piped for operation. When supplied with pressurized air, the unit in Figure 13-14 cycles and pumps oil until it reaches a maximum pressure. Other units operate from a pilot signal whenever the machine requires intensified pressure. For even higher pressures, dual or triple air pistons give higher ratios. Double-acting intensifiers increase oil volume while using less air. Most manufacturers offer single-acting intensifiers as standard and double-acting intensifiers as an option. When a machine needs a low to medium volume of high-pressure oil and has long holding times, use a reciprocating intensifier.

Fig 13-15

Fig. 13-15. Air-oil intensifier circuit with purchased reciprocating intensifier. Intensifier is filling with oil.


The circuit changes as shown in Figure 13-15 after the cylinder contacts the work. The intensifier starts cycling because pressure buildup shifts sequence valve F to open. Pilot-operated check valve D closes, blocking pressure fluid from going to tank. Pressure in cylinder C is already at 800 psi. As the intensifier retracts, suction draws oil in through the right-hand check valve to fill the oil chamber. Its spring and the pressure already in the work cylinder hold the left-hand check valve closed. A reciprocating intensifier is a low-volume, single-piston, pressure-compensated pump that continues to move fluid until it reaches maximum pressure. Because output from the intensifier is intermittent, cylinder movement is jerky, as is the rate of pressure increase.

Fig 13-16

Fig. 13-16. Air-oil intensifier circuit with purchased reciprocating intensifier. Intensifier is reversing direction.


Figure 13-16 shows the intensifier changing from filling mode to pumping mode. The reciprocating air piston depresses the upper cam valve, reducing pressure on the right end of the double-bleed valve and causing it to shift. Both check valves close at this time, trapping oil in the cylinder. The intensifier now starts its pumping stroke.

Fig 13-17

Fig. 13-17. Air-oil intensifier circuit with purchased reciprocating intensifier. Intensifier is filling work cylinder with high-pressure oil.


The intensifier is extending and discharging fluid through the left check valve to the actuator in Figure 13-17. Fluid fills the actuator and pressure increases. The intensifier continues to reciprocate until it reaches maximum pressure. At maximum pressure, the intensifier stalls but continues to make up for internal or external leakage.

With the addition of an accumulator, a reciprocating intensifier could supply cylinders or motors that operate intermittently. The accumulator stores oil during machine idle time, and then discharges it at high flow without pulses for short periods. Use flow controls to slow the rapid uncontrolled movements likely to occur when using an accumulator.

Oversize-rod cylinder as an intensifier

There are times when the operating pressure of a hydraulic system is too low to produce enough force on a cylinder. The pump’s rated pressure may be inadequate or the electric motor has too little horsepower for the higher pressure. Also, other actuators in the system may not be able stand higher pressure. One answer to this problem is a hydraulic cylinder piped as an intensifier.

When a single-rod cylinder extends, pressure in the rod end intensifies if there is any resistance to flow out of it. Resistance could be from a flow control, counterbalance valve, or simply a restriction. The amount of intensification depends on the area differential of the cap end to the rod end of the cylinder. A typical 4.0-in. bore cylinder with a 2.5-in. oversize rod is sold as a 2:1 ratio. All standard interchangeable cylinders use standard bore and rod sizes that are close to but not greater than a 2:1 ratio. The 4.0-in. bore, 2.5-in. rod combination actually has 1.64:1 area differential. With the rod-end port blocked, a 1.64:1-ratio cylinder produces 1640 psi at the rod end if the cap-end pressure is 1000 psi. This intensified fluid might cause problems in a typical circuit, but could supply a small volume of higher-pressure oil for a short, high-force work stroke from a cylinder.

Fig 13-18

Fig. 13-18. 2:1 rod cylinder serving as an intensifier. At rest with pump running.


The volume of oil entering and leaving the intensifier cylinder has the same ratio as the intensification. In the 1.64:1 example above, with a cylinder cap-end flow of 10 gpm, pressure intensified flow from the rod end is 6.1 gpm. The larger the cylinder rod, the higher the intensified pressure — and the lower the flow.

Figure 13-18 shows a schematic diagram of an oversize-rod cylinder used as an intensifier. Intensifier cylinder A has 5.0-in. bore with a 3.5-in. diameter rod. The area of the cap side is 19.64 in.2 and the rod annulus area is 10.01 in.2, giving a ratio of 1.96:1. Every 100 psi in the cap end produces 196 psi in the rod end. Also, 10 gpm entering the cap end pushes 5.1 gpm from the rod end. Stroke length of intensifier cylinder A must give enough volume to move work cylinder B through its high-pressure work stroke. If cylinder B has a 10.0-in. bore and a 0.5-in. stroke, the required volume is approximately 40 in. 3. Dividing the 40-in.3 work-stroke volume by a 10-in.3 intensifier volume indicates that a minimum stroke of 4 in. is needed from cylinder A. To allow for oil compressibility and leakage, specify an intensifier stroke of 6 to 8 in.

Fig 13-19

Fig. 13-19. 2:1 rod cylinder serving as an intensifier. Work cylinder is extending rapidly.


The cycle is automatic because sequence valves D and E control extension and retraction of the intensifier. Cycle time is slightly slower than the original low-force circuit.

Figure 13-19 shows solenoid A1 on directional valve C energized. Fluid flows directly to work cylinder B through the free-flow check on sequence valve E. Work cylinder B advances rapidly toward the work at low pressure.

Fig 13-20

Fig. 13-20. 2:1 rod cylinder serving as an intensifier. Work cylinder is extending under high pressure.


At work contact, pressure builds to the setting of sequence valve D, Figure 13-20. Intensifier cylinder A extends and pressurizes oil in the cap end of work cylinder B to approximately twice system pressure. Before the intensifier bottoms out, it must give enough volume to complete cylinder B’s work stroke. For long holding cycles, calculate valve and cylinder leakage, then add extra intensifier stroke so pressure holds.

Fig 13-21

Fig. 13-21. 2:1 rod cylinder serving as an intensifier. Both cylinders retracting.


To retract work cylinder B, energize solenoid B1 to direct oil to its rod end, as in Figure 13-21. As cylinder B retracts, sequence valve E forces oil from its cap end to retract intensifier cylinder A. This saves pump fluid and retracts the intensifier within normal cycle time. When intensifier cylinder B retracts fully, external pilot-operated sequence valve E opens and the remainder of the oil in the work cylinder cap end goes to tank. The only added cycle time is while the intensifier boosts pressure in the work cylinder.

Motor-type flow divider as an intensifier

A motor-type flow divider intensifies pressure at one outlet when the other outlet is at a lower or no pressure. In the case of a 2-outlet motor flow divider with equal displacements, when inlet pressure is 1000 psi, one outlet can be at 2000 psi while the other outlet is 0 psi. While pressure doubles, flow from the intensified outlet is one half that at the inlet. The energy from the zero outlet motor transfers to the other motor to produce intensified pressure.

With more than one section going to tank, say from a 4-outlet divider with three outlets to tank, intensification would be four times. While the intensified fluid is four times inlet pressure, volume is only one-fourth inlet flow.

Using motor dividers with unequal sections is another way to get high intensification. If the motor in one section discharges 3 gpm to tank and the other section sends 1 gpm, intensification is still 4:1.

Fig 13-22

Fig. 13-22. Motor-type flow divider used as an intensifier. At rest with pump running.


Figures 13-22 through 25 show how to use this feature of motor-type flow dividers in a circuit. This circuit has equal flow divider C and 3-way directional valve D in the cylinder cap end line. In the at-rest condition, both outlets of the flow divider connect to the cap-end port.

Fig 12-23

Fig. 13-23. Motor-type flow divider used as an intensifier. Cylinder extending at full speed.


In Figure 13-23, the cylinder is extending at full speed and low thrust. Shifting solenoid A1 of the directional valve ports oil through one side of the divider and 3-way valve to the rod-end port. Fluid from the other side of the divider goes directly to the cylinder rod-end port. Size the pump and valves to provide enough flow for the speed required in the fast-forward portion of the cycle. Normally, motor horsepower is low for a cylinder moving a light load.

Fig 13-24

Fig. 13-24. Motor-type flow divider used as an intensifier. Cylinder extending at full power.


When the cylinder makes a limit switch, as in Figure 13-24, it energizes solenoid C1 on the 3-way valve. When the valve shifts, oil from one section of the motor flow divider goes to tank. Pressure doubles, while cylinder speed drops to half what it was before energizing solenoid C1.

This circuit works best on actuators that do not stall. Using this setup for a fast advance and clamping operation might result in excess heat from internal leakage in the flow divider during the clamping part of the cycle.

Fig 13-25

Fig. 13-25. Motor-type flow divider used as an intensifier. Cylinder retracting.


Energizing solenoid B1, Figure 13-25, makes the cylinder retract. Oil from the cap-end port flows through both sections of the flow divider, then back to tank through the directional valve.

When using a motor-type flow divider as an intensifier, make sure it is capable of operating at the elevated pressure. Pressure rating of an inexpensive gear motor flow dividers may be only 2000 psi intermittent and 1500 psi continuous. Some gerotor flow dividers go as high as 4500 psi intermittent and 3000 psi continuous.

Special air-oil intensifier cylinder

Some manufacturers build self-contained, air-driven, high-force hydraulic cylinders. These units look like a very long stroke air cylinder. Typically, they have 2 to 10 in. total strokes with 1.0- to 1.5-in. high-force strokes. They often replace a hydraulic unit on a machine that needs high tonnage for one operation on an otherwise air-powered circuit. Because these special intensifiers are self-contained, they only require an air supply and a signal to start them. They have sealed reservoirs so they operate in any position. They normally have an indicator to monitor oil volume for preventive maintenance. According to bore size and stroke length, cycle rates go as high as 150 per minute. The bigger the bore and longer the stroke, the fewer the cycles per minute.

Fig 13-26

Fig. 13-26. Special air-oil intensifier cylinder. System on and ready.


As with other air-oil devices, return power is only cylinder net rod-end area multiplied by air pressure. The unit may have 50 tons to punch a hole but only 0.5 ton to retract the punch. For high retraction force use springs or urethane strippers, or add short-stroke return cylinders.

Figure 13-26 has a cutaway view of the intensifier cylinder at rest. (This view only shows function, not necessarily an actual assembly.) Air piston and rod C with attached hydraulic ram D move rapidly at low force to the work and return the tooling at the end of the cycle. Ram D is the area that intensified oil pushes on to get the short, high-force work stroke. Spring-loaded, floating piston A forms the top of a variable-volume, sealed oil tank. Spring-return air piston B drives its piston rod into trapped oil to intensify pressure for the work stroke. Directional control valve E cycles the advance and return strokes of cylinder C, and supplies air to pilot sequence valve F, starting the high-pressure work stroke.

Fig 13-27

Fig. 13-27. Special air-oil intensifier cylinder. Fast advance at low force.


When directional valve Eshifts, as in Figure 13-27, air piston-and-rod C extends the tooling to the work rapidly. As the piston-and-rod extend, ram D advances and fills with oil from the variable-volume tank. Vacuum forms in the chamber behind ram D, and the spring behind the floating piston forces oil into the void. Piston-and-rod C continues to advance and oil transfers until the work is met. This low-force advance stroke moves quickly (and uses air flow controls when necessary). Seals on ram D separate oil and air.

Fig 13-28

Fig. 13-28. Special air-oil intensifier cylinder. Starting high-pressure cycle.


Figure 13-28 shows the intensifier after contacting the work. When air piston-and-rodC stop against the work, pressure build-up behind the piston shifts sequence valve F. When sequence valve F shifts, shop air extends spring-return air piston B. The first movement of the spring-loaded air piston advances the rod to the flow port connecting the tank to the chamber behind hydraulic ram D. As the rod enters this flow port, it passes through a resilient seal, stopping flow to tank and sealing the chamber behind ram D. This action automatically isolates the low-pressure chamber — eliminating the need for a pilot-operated check valve.

Fig 13-29

Fig. 13-29. Special air-oil intensifier cylinder extending at low speed with high force.


As the spring-return air piston continues to extend, as in Figure 13-29, the rod displaces oil in the chamber behind hydraulic ram D. In this case, the area of spring-return piston B is 15 times the area of the rod entering the sealed chamber. The air piston and rod continue to displace oil and move hydraulic ram D until the pressure behind the ram becomes 15 times greater than the air pressure on the piston. The stroke of spring-return piston B and the diameter of its rod set the maximum high-pressure work stroke. The higher the intensification ratio and the shorter the stroke, the less the high-pressure stroke capability.

Deenergizing directional valve E allows the spring loaded air piston and the work cylinder to return home. The work cylinder returns slowly while spring return air piston B retracts past the high-pressure seal.

Air-to-air intensifiers

Instead of buying a high-pressure compressor when only a small volume of compressed air is needed, consider using an air-to-air intensifier. Air-to-air intensifiers are small self-contained units that operate automatically as long as they have a supply of compressed air. Figure 13-30 shows a generic schematic of a simple air-to-air intensifier made from stock cylinders and valving. The arrangement has two cylinders connected at their rod ends and mounted on a beam, with limit switches or limit valves, a directional control valve, and four check valves. As long as compressed air is supplied to the intensifier, it takes in atmospheric air, compresses it, and sends it to a receiver and/or the system.

Fig 13-30

Fig. 13-30. Typical piping arrangement for air-to-air intensifier (shown running with air on).


As the cylinders in Figure 13-30 stroke to the left, the intensifier takes in atmospheric air at the cap end of the 3.0-in. bore cylinder. Compressed air discharges from the rod end to a high-pressure receiver. After the cylinders fully stroke to the left, a limit valve pilot-shifts the directional control valve to stroke the cylinders to the right. When the cylinders stroke to the right, the opposite check valves take in and discharge air. Reciprocation continues until outlet pressure from the 3.0-in. cylinder reaches approximately twice the inlet pressure at the 4.0-in. bore cylinder.

The piping arrangement in Figure 13-30 produces less intensified air per compressor horsepower than the circuits in Figures 13-31 and 13-32. Taking in and compressing atmospheric air to a higher pressure gives a minimal high-pressure volume for each stroke. When compressing a gas, reducing volume by one half doubles absolute pressure. If the 3-in. bore cylinder has a 6-in. stroke and intake pressure is 14 psia, then as the cylinder moves through 3 in. of stroke, pressure climbs to 28 psia. As the 3-in. bore cylinder continues to stroke, pressure goes to 56 psia 1.5 in. from the end and to 112 psia 0.75 in. from the end. The cylinder finally starts discharging 160-psia air about 0.625 in. from the end of its stroke. Volume entering the high-pressure receiver is minimal for each stroke, and continues to decrease as the pressure level increases.

Fig 13-31

Fig. 13-31. Air-saving piping arrangement for air-to-air intensifier (shown running with air on).


 

Using shop-air pressure in the intensifying cylinder, Figures 13-31 and -32, greatly reduces this high-pressure/low-flow problem. First, the high-pressure receiver starts with 80 psig and the air in the intensifying cylinder starts at 94 psia. This circuit discharges intensified air for more than half its stroke, making it a smaller, more-efficient package.

Notice also, the approximately 2:1 intensification from a 4-in. cylinder driving a 4-in. cylinder. This is possible because two areas, pressurized by shop air, push against one area of the intensifier cylinder. The actual intensification of the unit in Figure 13-31 is 2.06:1 when stroking to the left, and 1.93:1 when stroking to the right.

Fig 13-32

Fig. 13-32. Air-saving piping arrangement for air-to-air intensifier (shown running with air on).


For higher pressure use a smaller-bore intensifier cylinder or a larger-bore driving cylinder. Figure 13-32 depicts a 4-in. bore driving cylinder and a 2-in. bore intensifier cylinder. This combination increases inlet air pressure about five times. The actual intensification ratios are 6.33:1 as the cylinders stroke left, and 4.74:1 as the cylinders stroke right.

When specifying cylinders to build an air-to-air intensifier, be careful not exceed their pressure rating. Pre-lubed cylinders are best for this type of operation because they keep excess lubricator oil out of the high-pressure circuit.

As an air-to-air intensifier pumps air to a maximum pressure, the volume decreases as the pressure increases. It is best to operate the intensifier to produce a pressure 15 to 20% higher than the system needs, with a regulator to set the maximum pressure at the work.

 

Chapter 14: Proportional Control Valve Circuits

The spool in a standard 2-position-solenoid-operated valve shifts all the way to its new position at high speed. (Hence the nickname: bang-bang solenoid.) This rapid, full shift can cause an actuator to jump or lunge on start up and produce excessive shock when stopping. Pressure spikes and shock are noisy, may cause machine damage, and can adversely affect piping, causing leaks.

A soft-shift solenoid with hydraulically dampened spool movement slows the rate of shift and reduces shock in some applications. However, many machines need a variable shifting rate to match changing power and work requirements. Soft-shift solenoids with variable flow controls offer more range and give better control for some circuits.

Other options include valves with specially designed flow controls and spool-stroke adjusters set for a specific machine function. This type of variable valve works on some machines, but requires many precision adjustments to attain the wanted actuator control.

Variable-volume, bi-directional pumps in closed-loop circuits give very smooth action, but are limited to operating a single actuator. For extremely accurate control, a servovalve with actuator feedback is the ultimate motion controller. In between a servo circuit and the other controls mentioned above are proportional valves.

Figure 14-1

Figure 14-1. Direct-solenoid-operated proportional valve.


Proportional valves are well suited for circuits that need to vary either flow or pressure to reduce lunge and shock. The solenoids on these valves shift the spool more or less, According to the voltage applied to proportional solenoids, they can change the speed at which the spool shifts or the distance that it travels. Because the spool in a proportional valve does not shift all the way, all at once, the valves can control the acceleration and deceleration of an actuator. Usually, varying shifting time of the spool controls acceleration and deceleration. Varying voltage to the coil limits spool travel to control the maximum speed of an actuator. A computer, a PC, a programmable logic controller, or even a simple rheostat can produce the variable electric signal.

Figure 14-2

Figure 14-2. Simplified symbol for solenoid pilot-operated proportional valve with LVDT.


If flow is low (less than 20 to 25 gpm), use a direct solenoid-operated proportional valve, such as shown in Figure 14-1. Direct-operated valves are smaller and less expensive than solenoid- pilot valves. However, solenoid-pilot proportional valves can handle higher flows — some in excess of 200 gpm. Figure 14-2 shows the simplified symbol for a solenoid pilot-operated proportional valve. Figure 14-3 shows the complete symbol for the same valve. The complete symbol includes details of the control and slave valves, the reducing valve in the pilot circuit, and the routing of the pilot lines.

Figure 14-3

Figure 14-3. Complete symbol for solenoid pilot-operated proportional valve with LVDT.


A simple proportional valve depends on solenoid force working against a spring to position the spool. Because flow, pressure, temperature, and fluid cleanliness change constantly, a given input voltage may not always produce the same spool position. To resolve spool position accuracy, use a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT), such as shown in Figures 14-2 through 14-5. An LVDT electronically compares the input signal with spool position and modifies voltage to give the same spool position regardless of system changes. An LVDT adds cost to the valve and the electronics, but is usually necessary in all but simple acceleration/deceleration circuits.

Figure 14-4

Figure 14-4. Direct solenoid-operated proportional valve with LVDT.


An LVDT does not control repeatability of flow through the valve because flow is a function of pressure drop and fluid viscosity as well as orifice size. Changes in pressure or fluid thickness will modify actuator speed. To reduce speed change, add a feedback signal from the actuator (similar to a servovalve circuit). Actuator feedback will help but is still not extremely accurate because most proportional valves do not respond quickly enough to overcome sudden system changes.

Figure 14-5

Figure 14-5. Direct solenoid-operated proportional valve with LVDT and pressure compensator.


In Figure 14-5, the pressure-compensating valve in the inlet line reduces flow fluctuations due to system pressure changes. The pressure compensator maintains a constant pressure drop across the spool orifice to keep flow constant when inlet or working pressures change. The pressure compensator is a reducing valve that has a fixed spring setting (say 150 psi). A shuttle valve provides pressure feedback from each cylinder port to the reducing valve’s remote-control port. As pressure in a working port changes, it modifies reducing-valve pressure to maintain a constant 150-psi drop across the proportional valve’s spool.

Figure 14-6
Figure 14-6. Proportional relief valves.

Using electrical signals to a proportional solenoid to vary the force against a poppet or orifice allows infinitely variable control of pressure. Figures 14-6 and 14-7 show symbols for infinitely variable pressure-relief and reducing valves. Use a PC or PLC to produce the variable signal to change pressure any time the machine sequence requires it.

Figure 14-7

Figure 14-7. Proportional reducing valves.


Remote control of a pressure-compensated pump with a proportional pressure valve makes these pumps more versatile also.

Figure 14-8 depicts the symbol for a slip-in cartridge relief valve. When flows go above 150 to 200 gpm, use a slip-in cartridge relief valve with a direct-acting proportional relief pilot. These cartridge valves come in stand-alone bodies or as part of a special high-flow manifold.

Figure 14-8

Figure 14-8. Slip-in cartridge relief valve – proportionally operated for infinitely variable pressure.


Proportional directional control valves are more tolerant of contamination and cost less than the servovalves that they often replace. When a circuit does not require extreme accuracy or flow repeatability, the savings in first cost, plus a less-expensive filtration requirement, make proportional valves a good choice.

One reason a servosystem is more accurate is the electronic feedback signal from the actuator. The feedback signal modifies the servovalve’s spool position to put the actuator in an exact place, or produce the speed or force that the controller requires. A proportional valve may have feedback control, but the response time of the valve is too slow to get the precise control that a servovalve circuit provides.

Figure 14-9

Figure 14-9. Direct solenoid-operated proportional throttle valve without LVDT.


Figure 14-9 depicts a proportional valve used for a throttle function. This valve is an infinitely variable, electrically controlled flow control. As coil voltage increases, the spool shifts farther to increase flow. The symbol in Figure 14-9 shows the valve piped for a single flow path. Dual flow paths shown in Figure 14-10 give twice the flow at the same pressure drop in either flow path. Use the throttle valve shown in Figure 14-10 to control flow in a bleed-off or bypass circuit, or to control flow to or from a conventional solenoid valve.

Figure 14-10

Figure 14-10. Direct solenoid-operated proportional throttle valve with LVDT feedback, parallel flow-path module, and pressure-compensating hydrostat module.


The throttle function varies flow to an actuator that needs frequent or constant adjustment. Also use a throttle valve and a conventional directional valve to give smooth acceleration and deceleration of a cylinder to eliminate shock.

A throttle valve in the tank line of a conventional solenoid valve controls actuator speed in a meter-out configuration. The actuator cannot run away with a throttle valve at this location. Make sure the directional valve can withstand any backpressure in the tank line that is greater than the circuit produces.

One throttle valve in the main pump line can vary the speed to one actuator or several that cycle at different times. This type of circuit is less expensive but requires a more-complex electrical control circuit.

The throttle valve configuration in Figure 14-10 gives infinitely variable flow. Adding the hydro stat module to the pump line keeps the pressure drop across the orifices constant. With a constant pressure drop, flow does not fluctuate. Because the 4-way valve never sees reverse flow, both flow paths can supply the circuit. Either flow path has a nominal pressure drop at a specified flow. This arrangement gives twice rated flow without excess pressure drop or heat.

The parallel flow path module comes with all flow paths internally drilled and sized to keep pressure drop to a minimum. This module is available in D03 and D05 sizes for flows up to approximately 50 gpm.

Use proportional control valves to reduce shock and give a finer degree of control to circuits that do not require extreme position accuracy, or repeatable speed and force.

Proportional valves restrict flow to and from an actuator. They work best with a pressure-compensated pump in a closed-center circuit. An accumulator in the circuit enhances cycle response time and protects the pump from pressure spikes. Systems that use proportional valves usually require a heat exchanger because energy waste is higher with this type circuit.

The following sections describe a few more circuits — with some pointers for using proportional valves in several applications. Always remember to size the valves for maximum flow and pressure drop to get optimum response and repeatability from the circuit.

Circuits with proportional throttle valves

The circuits in Figures 14-11 and 14-12 control acceleration and deceleration of an actuator. Electronic signals to these circuits also can vary the speed of the actuators infinitely.

Figure 14-11

Figure 14-11. Proportional throttle valve in a meter-in circuit on the pump line — for smooth acceleration, deceleration, and speed control.


A proportional throttle valve in the pump line of Figure 14-11 controls flow to a standard solenoid valve. This circuit is good for resistive loads only because it meters fluid to the cylinder. To reduce energy waste, use a load-sensing pump and sense the line between the proportional valve and the directional valve. Load sensing lets the system operate at lower pressures during most of the cycle. Load sensing also makes the circuit pressure compensated.

The proportional throttle valve in Figure 14-12 meters flow out of the tank line of a standard solenoid valve. This circuit is good for over-running loads because it meters fluid from the cylinder. CAUTION: The directional valve may see pressure as high as twice the pump compensator setting. Make sure this pressure does not exceed its tank line rating. Allowing the throttle valve to shift abruptly in this meter-out circuit could result in detrimental shock. Use a proportional control card with adjustable ramps for this application.

Figure 14-12

Figure 14-12. Proportional throttle valve in a meter-out circuit on the tank line — for smooth acceleration, deceleration, and speed control.


If the cylinder must set without creep, use a counterbalance valve. A throttle valve has internal leakage and may not be able to prevent cylinder drift. A counterbalance valve in this circuit must have an external drain. Backpressure at the counterbalance valve outlet modifies the pressure setting of an internally drained valve. (See Chapter 5 for a full explanation of counterbalance circuits.)

Typical conventional valve circuit with resistive load

A horizontally mounted cylinder typically requires force at all times to stroke. This cylinder configuration is known as a resistive-load application. Heavy loads at fast operating speeds usually require a means of acceleration and deceleration for smooth operation. One way to control acceleration in these circuits is to shift a standard open-center solenoid valve to extend the cylinder and let excess pump flow relieve to tank during acceleration. A small pressure spike and some heat generation take place during this part of the cycle, but otherwise cylinder start up is smooth. The schematic diagram in Figure 14-13 shows a double pump in a hi-lo circuit that operates this way. Figure 14-14 shows the circuit with a closed-center valve and a pressure-compensated pump. This arrangement eliminates some of the pressure spikes and reduces heat generation, but is more expensive.

Figure 14-13

Figure 14-13. Typical hi-lo pump circuit that accelerates and decelerates actuator smoothly.


When the cylinder approaches the end of its stroke, a limit switch unloads the high-volume pump of the hi-lo circuit, decelerating the cylinder as quickly as friction on the machine members allows. When the cylinder slows to the speed of the low-volume pump, it continues to the end of stroke at a velocity low enough to eliminate most of the shock. (In this application, a cylinder with standard cushions will eliminate virtually all shock.)

Figure 14-14

Figure 14-14. Pressure compensator and fixed-volume pump circuit that accelerates and decelerates actuator smoothly.


Figure 14-15 shows another shock-free deceleration circuit. Here a pressure-compensated bleed-off flow control dumps excess flow from a single fixed-volume or pressure-compensated pump. Deceleration is still as fast as the friction of the machine dictates. Secondary speed is adjustable to meet any requirement.

Figure 14-15

Figure 14-15. Pressure-compensated pump and flow control circuit that accelerates and decelerates actuator smoothly.


Another option for decelerating a load is to specify a cylinder with longer than standard cushions that have a tapered flow cutoff. Always specify load, pressure, and speed when ordering tapered cushions. Tapered cushions are very effective for machines that have fixed working parameters. If the load constantly changes, tapered cushions are only effective over a narrow range of the change.

Proportional valves in resistive-load circuits

The circuit in Figure 14-16 arranges a proportional valve and a pressure-compensated pump to cover all the situations in the previous section. Acceleration and deceleration are fully adjustable through a broad range with this circuit. When the load, speed, or pressure changes, it is easy to change the control parameters to match the new situation. Normally an electronic dashpot changes shifting speed of the spool between zero and five seconds. To make up for changes in fluid viscosity, pressure, or load, decelerate to a minimum creep speed and finally close the valve completely via the end-of-stroke limit switch.

Figure 14-16

Figure 14-16. Pressure-compensated pump and proportional valve circuit that accelerates and decelerates actuator smoothly.


Proportional valves for running-way loads

Loaded cylinders that are vertically mounted usually run away or over-run pump flow in one direction. When an on/off directional valve shifts, the cylinder free falls. Free fall is a safety hazard that can cause tool or machine damage.

Figure 14-17

Figure 14-17. Typical circuit for a counterbalance valve with internal and external pilots to control an over-running load.


The counterbalance valve in Figure 14-17 controls an over-running cylinder. The valve allows flow from the run-away end of the cylinder as fast as the pump supplies the opposite end. When the cylinder strokes in the opposite direction, the load is resistive. Control acceleration and deceleration with any of the resistive-load circuits in the previous section when using a counterbalance valve.

Figure 14-18

Figure 14-18. Proportional valve and externally drained counterbalance valve controlling a running-away cylinder while it is extending.


Proportional directional valves control inlet and outlet flow so that there is pressure at both ends of an actuator when it moves. A counterbalance valve often needs an external drain when used with a proportional directional valve. Without an external drain, pressure at the outlet of the counterbalance valve adds to the spring setting that keeps the valve from opening. Notice that the circuit in Figure 14-18 shows the external drain line on the counterbalance valve. With this circuit the cylinder stops smoothly when the proportional directional valve centers rapidly, as in an emergency stop.

Proportional directional valves control running-away loads because most spool designs control flow to and from the actuator. If the actuator is a hydraulic motor or a double rod-end cylinder, volume at the inlet and outlet is the same. As the proportional valve shifts to move the actuator, restricted flow from the opposite side controls acceleration, deceleration, and maximum speed.

However, the majority of cylinders have a single rod, making the volume leaving the rod end less than what enters the cap end. The volume difference is almost 50% when using a 2:1 rod cylinder. In these cylinders, the rod area equals half the piston area. (Some manufacturers offer proportional valves with spools that only allow approximately half flow through the rod port. These valves work well with a 2:1 rod cylinder.)

Figure 14-19

Figure 14-19. Proportional valve with anti-cavitation check valve controlling a running-away cylinder while it is extending.


Two problems can occur when using a standard spool-type proportional valve with single-rod-end cylinders and running-away loads. Figure 14-19 shows the cylinder running away from the pump, causing cavitation in the cylinder’s cap end. The cylinder runs away because the proportional directional valve’s meter-out function lets out more oil than it allows in at the cap end. Because the cap end does not stay full, it will pause when it meets a load while the pump fills the cap-end void. When a cylinder runs ahead of the pump, use an anti-cavitation check valve to allow fluid from the tank into the cylinder’s cap end. This circuit works for applications with the over-running load at the cylinder’s rod end.

Figure 14-20

Figure 14-20. Proportional valve with externally piloted pressure-control valve controlling a running-away cylinder while it is extending.


With an over-running load at the cap end of the cylinder, the pump tries to force the cylinder to move faster than fluid can leave it. The excess fluid retards the cylinder’s motion. The circuit works, but the pump wastes energy because it is at full pressure unnecessarily. The circuit in Figure 14-20 shows an external pilot-operated pressure control valve teed into the cap-end line to provide a path for excess fluid to flow directly to tank. Giving the extra oil a second path reduces rod-end pressure and wasted energy. In effect, this is a meter-in circuit for a running-away load.

 

Chapter 15: Pumps

Pumps

Figures 15-1 through 15-5 show the schematic symbols for several fixed-displacement pumps. Use fixed-displacement pumps in simple, one- or two-cylinder circuits that never stop under pressure. Also use them for single-speed motor circuits, or circuits where several cylinders operate simultaneously but never stop and hold at full pressure. Fixed-displacement pumps always move a set volume of fluid at a pressure between that dictated by resistance and the maximum relief valve setting. Blocking the outlet of a fixed-displacement pump sends excess flow through the relief valve to tank. When fluid goes across the relief valve at pressure, all of the input energy generates heat.

Fig. 15-1

Fig. 15-1. Symbol for single pump


Fixed-displacement pumps may be gear, gerotor, vane, or piston types. The most common are gear and vane. They are relatively inexpensive, very reliable, and generate little heat when used correctly.

Fig. 15-2

Fig. 15-2. Symbol for double pump


Gear and vane pumps come in a wide variety of configurations. Figures 15-1 through 15-3 show one or more pumps in a single housing. The pumps may share a common inlet or have multiple inlets. Most combination pumps have separate outlets for use in different sub-circuits. The flow from each pump in the combination may be the same or different.

Fig. 15-3

Fig. 15-3. Symbol for triple pump


Figure 15-4 shows the symbol for a self-contained double pump for a high-low circuit. Flow from both pumps moves an actuator to and from the work at low pressure. The high-volume pump unloads through an integral unloading valve at work contact. This leaves all motor horsepower to drive the low-volume/high-pressure pump. This circuit usually consumes less horsepower without sacrificing cycle time. The packaged pump represented here is compact and inexpensive, but any double pump with the correct valves can supply a high-low circuit.

Fig.15-4

Fig. 15-4. Symbol for High-low pump


Many manufacturers produce thru-drive pumps like the one shown in Figure 15-5. A double-shafted electric motor normally operates both pumps. With a thru-drive pump, a second pump is bolted to and driven by the shaft of the first pump. When connecting more than two pumps, consider some possible problems: will the shaft of the first pump handle the torque of additional pumps; will additional pumps result in too much overhung load from too many pumps.

Fig. 15-5

Fig. 15-5. Symbol for thru-drive pump


Fixed-displacement pump circuits
Figure 15-6 shows a schematic circuit for a fixed-displacement pump operating a single cylinder. At rest, the pump unloads through a tandem-center valve at minimum pressure. When the cylinder extends, pressure is whatever it takes to stroke the cylinder. When the cylinder contacts the work, pressure increases to whatever it takes to perform the work. As the cylinder retracts, pressure is whatever it takes to return the cylinder and load. At no time does the relief valve dump oil to tank. Therefore, this circuit operates with little heat and should not require a heat exchanger when using high-efficiency parts.

Fig.15-6

Fig. 15-6. Typical fixed-displacement pump circuit


Figure 15-7 depicts one way to use fixed-displacement pumps in a multiple-cylinder circuit. Each of the three cylinders in this example has a separate pump, relief valve, and directional valve. The actuators move at the desired speed and force because each pump’s flow and relief valve settings match their cylinder’s work requirement. Because there are no flow controls, the relief valves never dump excess fluid, allowing all input energy to do useful work. Heat should not be a problem in this circuit.

Fig.15-7
Fig. 15-7. Circuit with three fixed-displacement pumps supplying three actuators

Two pumps supply CYL3 to stroke it rapidly. This circuit works best when CYL2 does not cycle at the same time CYL3 does.

Fig. 15-8
Fig. 15-8. Typical fixed-displacement high-low circuit

It takes time to design efficient circuits, but the results pay off in future savings. The high-low circuit in Figure 15-8 — which cycles a large fast-stroking cylinder — saves on both first cost and operating cost. If a single 60-gpm pump operating at 3000 psi were used, a 120-hp motor would be required. By substituting a double pump with 60- and 10-gpm sections, the motor size can be reduced without sacrificing cycle time. The big difference occurs because moving the cylinder at say 450 and 500 psi, only requires 20.4 hp. When the cylinder meets resistance and pressure builds to about 500 psi or higher, the 60-gpm pump section unloads at no pressure while the 10-gpm pump does the work. The 10-gpm pump at 3000 psi requires 17.5 hp. Although work speed is slower, travel time is faster. With a little figuring, it’s easy to save money on the electric motor and controls up front, and reduce energy cost for the life of the machine.

Fig. 15-9
Fig. 15-9. High-low pump circuit to operate clamping cylinder

In Figure 15-9, a fixed high-displacement thru-drive pump, coupled with a low-displacement, pressure-compensated pump, creates a different kind of high-low circuit. This circuit provides fast travel and then maintains clamping pressure for extended periods with little heat generation. The circuit operation is the same as Figure 15-8. It requires no special electric controls because the unloading valve automatically dumps the high-displacement pump at any pressure above 400 psi. The low-displacement’ pressure-compensated pump reduces energy cost and heating. This pump arrangement takes the place of a large pressure-compensated pump in certain applications.

Pressure-compensated and variable displacement pumps
One way to keep from generating heat while maintaining pressure is to use pressure-compensated pumps. Flow from pressure-compensated pumps drops to almost nothing when they reach compensator pressure. Reduced flow cuts horsepower consumption and keeps the system from overheating. Be advised: pressure-compensated pumps are more expensive than fixed-displacement pumps and usually are less contamination tolerant. Also, pressure-compensated pumps only come in vane or piston design. Other pump designs are not capable of variable-displacement while turning the same rotational speed.

Fig. 15-10
Fig. 15-10. Symbols for pressure-compensated pumps

Figure 15-10 shows symbols for a pressure-compensated pump. The arrow inside the circle, parallel to the flow path, indicates pressure compensation. The complete symbol shows all the operating features. The simplified symbol leaves out some details (such as the case drain) and assumes that the person reading the schematic diagram knows their necessity.

Fig. 15-11
Fig. 15-11. Symbol for pressure-compensated, variable-displacement pump

Many pressure-compensated pumps include a method to adjust maximum flow, making the pump more versatile. The symbol in Figure 15-11 indicates a pressure-compensated, variable-displacement pump. The angled arrow through the pump symbol designates variable or adjustable flow. Pressure-compensated pump flow automatically decreases when pressure increases, but the sloping arrow indicates a variable maximum output volume as well. A variable-displacement pump can eliminate the need for flow controls in some circuits.

Fig. 15-12

Fig. 15-12. Symbol for variable-displacement pump


The variable-displacement pump in Figure 15-12 is not pressure-compensated. Use this type of pump to change the speed of an actuator without wasting energy. Controlling speed this way produces less heat. Control of variable-displacement pumps may be manual, hydraulic, or electrical with servo or proportional valves.

Fig. 15-13
Fig. 15-13. Circuit for pressure-compensated pump with remote operator

Figure 15-13 shows the symbol for a pressure-compensated pump with a remote operator to adjust maximum pressure. Set the pump compensator for minimum pressure and adjust system pressure at a remote location. This schematic shows a manually adjustable remote relief valve installed near the operator for easy access.

Fig. 15-14
Fig. 15-14. Load-sensing, pressure-compensated pump

A load-sensing feature can be added to pressure-compensated pumps. Figure 15-14 shows a pump symbol for such a combination. An extra port in the pump samples pressure in the flow lines to the actuator. Sensing actual working pressure causes the pump to compensate to flow demand at pressures 100 to 150 psi higher than working pressure. Load sensing is only advantageous in circuits using less than maximum pump flow. In these circuits load-sensing pumps are more efficient — wasting less energy by and reducing oil heating.

Fig. 15-15
Fig. 15-15. Pressure-compensated pump with horsepower-limiting feature

The pump in Figure 15-15 is pressure-compensated with horsepower limiting added. When maximum required pump horsepower can exceed the power of the prime mover, use a horsepower limiter. Horsepower limiting allows the use of a smaller gas or diesel engine with a high volume pump on off road equipment.

Set the compensator on a horsepower-limiting pump for maximum system pressure at compensated flow. As pressure increases at high flow, the horsepower needed could exceed that available. A horsepower limiter reduces pump displacement at a predetermined pressure. Reducing pump displacement as pressure climbs lowers the horsepower requirement to that available. With this system a 20-hp motor can drive a 60-gpm pump to 5000 psi at reduced flow.

Pressure-compensated, variable-displacement pump circuits
To control the speed of an actuator while generating little or no heat, try the circuit in Figure 15-16. A variable-displacement pump controls cylinder speed fairly accurately while using minimum power. As the cylinder strokes, pressure in the system is only what it takes to move the load. All pump flow goes to the cylinder so the only wasted energy is from component inefficiency. A setup like this operates continuously without a heat exchanger. The oil temperature may rise 15 to 25 degrees above ambient temperature only when cycle rates exceed ten or more per minute.

Fig. 15-16
Fig. 15-16. Variable-displacement pump circuit for speed control

The circuit in Figure 15-17 is a typical pressure-compensated pump setup. This circuit allows multiple cylinders to run separately or together. When the cylinders cycle simultaneously, add flow controls to restrict the actuator that meets the least resistance.

Fig. 15-17
Fig. 15-17. Typical pressure-compensated pump circuit

Oil heating can be a problem in pressure-compensated pump circuits. With the pump set at high pressure and/or if flow controls are used in the circuit, energy losses produce excess heat. The efficiency of the directional valves also is a factor. Because the system maintains maximum pressure most of the time, leakage at valve spools adds extra heat.

Pressure-compensated pumps often fail prematurely with high actuator cycle rate. High cycle rates work the compensating mechanism rapidly and resulting pressure spikes can cause part failure. A small accumulator at the pump outlet smoothes the compensator shift cycle, reducing pressure spikes and extending component life.

Fig. 15-18
Fig. 15-18. Load-sensing pump circuit

One way to overcome a heating problem is with the pump in Figure 15-18. When the cylinder cycles, this load-sensing, pressure-compensated pump never allows system pressure to go more than 150 to 200 psi above load demand. The pump constantly senses the load and compensates at that pressure plus the load-sensing spring rate. Load sensing usually eliminates the need for a heat exchanger — even on a system with flow controls.

Run a sensing line from each port in a multiple-actuator circuit. The different feedback lines meet at the pump’s load-sensing port with a check valve to isolate them from each other. The pump always sees the highest load in the circuit and sets output pressure accordingly. A meter-in flow control circuit is the only way to control the actuator. With over-running loads, use a counterbalance valve to keep the actuator from running away.

Fig. 15-19
Fig. 15-19. Horsepower-limiting pump circuit

When driving the pump with an engine — or to save energy with a smaller electric motor — use the horsepower-limiting circuit in Figure 15-19. This circuit changes pump displacement whenever the horsepower required is greater than that called for by the compensator spring setting. The horsepower compensator can be factory set or field adjustable. When system pressure reaches the setting of the pump compensator, output goes to no flow like any pressure-compensated pump.

Bi-directional pumps
Axial- and radial-piston pumps can output fluid from either port while rotating in one direction. Closed-loop circuits take advantage of this feature of piston pumps. A closed-loop pump circuit sends fluid to an actuator while fluid from the same device comes back to the pump’s inlet.

(Do not confuse bi-directional pumps with bi-rotational pumps. Bi-rotational pumps can flow out of either port, but only when rotation reverses. A bi-rotational pump has one port hooked to tank and the other port piped to the circuit. Most bi-rotational pumps operate hydraulic circuits on off-road equipment because rotation of the pump-driving shaft is different from one piece of equipment to another.)

Normally, bi-directional pumps do not have a port piped to tank. Both ports hook directly to the cylinder or motor ports. Many bi-directional circuits operate hydraulic motors, because they accept and return nearly the same amount of fluid. The most common closed-loop circuit is the hydrostatic drive — often used on off-road equipment.

Fig. 15-20
Fig. 15-20. Symbol for bi-directional pump

Figure 15-20 shows the schematic symbol for a bi-directional pump. Notice that there are two energy triangles to show that fluid flows out of both ports. The pump only outputs from one port at a time while the opposite port is inlet. With one port hooked to tank and the other port piped to a circuit, the pump serves as a variable-displacement uni-directional pump. Flow direction of a bi-directional pump hooked up this way depends on the position of the stroking control. By changing the position of the stroking control, either port can serve as the inlet or outlet.

Fig. 15-21
Fig. 15-21. Bi-directional pump in closed-loop hydrostatic circuit

Figure 15-21 shows a hydrostatic transmission — a common bi-directional pump circuit. Small fixed-displacement pump A (called a charge pump) makes up for leakage in the main pump and motor while the circuit operates. Check valves B protect the charge pump and only allow oil into the return side of the closed loop. Charge relief valve C dumps excess charge flow to tank at 150 to 300 psi. Charge pump flow generates heat in hydrostatic systems. Many hydrostatic systems use charge pump fluid to operate pump controls and/or auxiliary circuits.

Fig. 15-22
Fig. 15-22. Bi-directional closed-loop pump circuit

When return flow does not equal output flow, use the bi-directional pump schematic shown in Figure 15-22. With a single-rod end cylinder attached to a bi-directional pump, the volume of fluid going to the cap end when the cylinder extends is greater than the flow returning to the pump from the rod end. When cylinder direction changes, the opposite is true. Without a way to overcome flow inequalities, a bi-directional pump powering a single-rod cylinder would not work.

For single-rod cylinders, add check valve A, low-pressure relief valve B, and NC pilot-operated 2-way valve C to the closed-loop circuit. Check valve A allows the pump to take oil from the tank when the cylinder extends. Relief valve B and 2-way valve C provide a path for excess oil to go to tank when the cylinder retracts.

Often large cylinders operating at high pressure and speed use bi-directional pumps with unequal flow capabilities. This circuit is very efficient and virtually eliminates hydraulic shock

Bi-directional pump circuits
By controlling the volume of flow and its direction from a bi-directional pump, a hydraulic motor can be made to turn in either direction at infinitely variable speeds. A closed-loop circuit wastes very little energy. There is minimum shock when starting or changing direction because the pump starts from and passes through no-flow as it cycles. The hydraulic motor decelerates smoothly when pump flow goes to zero, slowing whatever load it drives.

Fig. 15-23
Fig. 15-23. Closed-loop bi-directional hydrostatic drive; at rest with pump running

Figure 15-23 shows the parts of a simple hydrostatic transmission that uses this type of circuit. It consists of a variable-displacement bi-directional pump piped to a fixed-displacement bi-directional hydraulic motor in a closed loop. Charge pump A, driven off the bi-directional pump, takes oil from the tank and feeds it through check valves C1 and C2 to keep the closed loop filled. Excess oil from the charge pump discharges across relief valve B to tank. Shuttle valve E and relief valve D send charge flow into the low-pressure side of the closed loop when the hydraulic motor runs. This happens because the set pressure of relief valve D is approximately 100 psi lower than that of relief valve B. Continuous infusion of cool filtered oil protects the closed loop from overheating and contamination.

Cross-port relief valves F1 and F2 protect the pump and motor from excess pressure. When pressure in the closed loop exceeds the relief valve setting, oil bypasses to the opposite line. However, because system volume is small, the flow through the bypass builds heat rapidly. This heat can damage components, hoses, and seals. Most hydrostatic circuits now use valves to destroke the pump at a slightly lower pressure than the cross-port relief valve setting. This destroking valve eliminates pump flow heating but does not help when a driven hydraulic motor acts as a pump.

(Replacing the closed loop circuit with a 4-way directional valve and a fixed-displacement pump with flow controls to vary speed could also operate the hydraulic motor in either direction. This simplified circuit costs about one fifth as much as a hydrostatic transmission. However, the costs of system shock, oil heating, and machine damage caused by the cheaper system far outweigh the original cost savings.)

Fig. 15-24
Fig. 15-24. Bi-directional closed-loop pump extending single-rod cylinder

Using a closed-loop pump with a single-rod cylinder requires additional valving in the pump. Figures 15-24 and 15-25 show a single-acting cylinder circuit operated from a bi-directional closed-open-loop pump. The term closed-open-loop indicates that the pump is bi-directional, but one port is connected to tank through check valve A. This keeps the pump from starving when the cylinder extends. Also, low-pressure relief valve B and NC 2-way valve C provide a path to tank for excess flow from the cylinder cap end when it retracts.

When the cylinder extends as in Figure 15-24, flow from the rod end of the cylinder cannot fill the pump. Because the pump needs more oil than the cylinder supplies, check valve A opens to allow oil from the tank to enter the pump. (Note that large cylinder rods increase the need for flow from the charge pump and tank.)

Fig. 15-25
Fig. 15-25. Bi-directional closed-loop pump retracting single-rod cylinder

When the cylinder retracts as in Figure 15-25, oil from the cap end of the cylinder is more than the pump needs. During this part of the cycle, pilot pressure opens NC 2-way valve C to allow excess cylinder flow to pass through low-pressure relief valve B to tank. (Again, the larger the cylinder rod, the greater the volume of oil ported to tank.)

The main reason for using bi-directional pumps is the very smooth control of the actuator they provide. Bi-directional pumps completely control starting, stopping, and reversing of the largest high-speed actuators. This practically eliminates system shock and greatly extends machine life.

 

Chapter 16: Reducing Valves

When one branch of a fluid power circuit must operate at a lower pressure, use a reducing valve to provide it. Reducing valves control their outlet or downstream pressure only.

Air line regulators, Figure 16-1, reduce pressure for a pneumatic circuit. Because air in the supply line to a machine is at maximum pressure, energy can be saved by reducing pressure whenever possible. With a compressor setting between 115 and125 psi and a machine requirement of 70 psi, approximately 40% of the input energy would be lost without a properly adjusted regulator. The air-driven machine will work at the higher pressure, but it consumes more compressor horsepower than necessary.

Figure 16-1

Figure 16-1. Self-relieving type air line regulator.


Another use for air line regulators is on retraction strokes of air cylinders. Reducing pressure on a cylinder’s retraction stroke saves air and thus consumes less compressor horsepower.

In multiple actuator circuits, it is often impossible to size all actuators to operate at maximum system pressure. For example: when a cylinder needs 5000 lb of force and one standard bore produces only 4712 lb at maximum pressure, the designer must go to the next larger standard bore. However, the next larger bore produces 7363 lb of force, which can cause machine or part damage. Instead, install a pressure-reducing valve in the branch circuit with the over-sized cylinder, as in Figure 16-2, to lower that branch’s pressure to generate the required cylinder force.

Figure 16-2

Figure 16-2. Pressure-reducing valve with bypass check valve.


A standard reducing valve is normally open. When downstream pressure goes higher than its setting, the valve closes, blocking flow. If pressure downstream tries to increase — say due to resistance from an opposing cylinder — a reducing valve also blocks reverse flow. Escalating pressure in the downstream line continues until something bursts or gets mechanically damaged.

Figure 16-3 shows the symbol for a reducing-relieving valve. A reducing-relieving valve sets maximum outlet pressure, then relieves fluid to tank when outlet pressure tries to go higher. The overpressure could be due to outside forces or possibly high temperature in some environments. A reducing-relieving valve has an integral relief valve with a full-flow line to tank. When pressure in the downstream circuit rises 3 to 5% above reduced pressure, trapped fluid relieves to tank. Adjusting the reduced pressure automatically sets the maximum relief pressure.

Figure 16-3

Figure 16-3. Pressure-reducing-relieving valve with bypass check valve.


Hydraulic reducing valves always have a drain line open to tank for control oil flow. Drain oil flows when reducing valve outlet is lower than its inlet. This generates a small amount of heat in the system. Blocking the drain line forces the valve wide open and lets outlet pressure rise to system pressure.

Multiple pressures in one circuit
Figure 16-4 has a schematic diagram for two cylinders that need different pressures. One option a novice designer might use is to add a second relief valve. However, second relief valve B reduces pressure in the whole circuit. System pressure cannot go above 400 psi — making high-pressure relief valve A useless.

Figure 16-4

Figure 16-4. Using relief valves for two pressures.


In Figure 16-5, reducing valve C replaces relief valve B. Now each cylinder operates at a different pressure. Note that there is no bypass check valve on reducing valve C. When the system does require reverse flow through the reducing valve, the bypass check valve can be omitted. However, for a circuit with reverse flow always use a bypass check.

Figure 16-5

Figure 16-5. Using a reducing valve for two pressures.


With the reducing valve installed in the line that feeds the directional control valve, pressure at both ends of the cylinder is reduced. Also, when the pump is at pressure, reducing valve drain line flow is constant. Drain flow amounts to 20 to 70 in.3 minimum, and produces heat. With several reducing valves in a system, drain line flow might require a larger pump and a heat exchanger.

Figures 16-6 and 16-7 show the preferred location for a reducing valve. In Figure 16-6, the circuit is at rest. There is no drain flow with the reducing valve in the line between the directional valve and the actuator. This arrangement eliminates oil heating and provides extra flow to other actuators. When both ends of the cylinder need pressure reduction and/or different pressures, use the arrangement in Figure 16-7. The components cost more up front but the energy it saves often pays for the extra reducing valve.

Figure 16-6

Figure 16-6. Using a reducing valve for two pressures (circuit at rest with pump running).

Figure 16-7

Figure 16-7. Using two reducing valves for two pressures (circuit at rest with pump running).


A reducing valve is normally open from inlet to outlet, but closes when reaching the outlet pressure setting. When an actuator at reduced pressure reverses suddenly, the reducing valve does not have time to open. Oil forced out of the cylinder that tries to go back through the reducing valve keeps pressure on the outlet, holding it shut. A small pilot-drain flow in this blocked reverse flow condition allows very slow reverse cylinder movement. A reducing valve with a bypass check may try to stay closed but will not block flow, so the cylinder reverses easily.

Two-pressure circuit with a pressure-reducing valve
Always connect the drain line of a pressure-reducing valve to a free-flow tank line. Backpressure in the drain line adds to the spring setting, thus raising the set pressure. A constant backpressure can be offset by a lower spring setting, avoiding a problem. With intermittent and/or fluctuating backpressure, the reduced outlet pressure changes when the backpressure changes.

Some circuits require a reduced pressure to position a part, then full pressure to do the work. A reducing valve easily gives two pressures by opening or blocking the drain line. Figures 16-8 through 16-11 show a simple way to get two pressures using a reducing valve and a normally open 2-way directional valve.

Figure 16-8 shows a normally open 2-way directional control valve piped in the drain line. There is no leakage from the drain port in the at-rest condition.

Figure 16-8

Figure 16-8. Using a reducing valve for dual pressure (circuit at rest with pump running.). (contacting work at low pressure).


Figure 16-9 shows the directional valve on CYL2 shifted to advance the cylinder to the work at low pressure. During this part of the cycle the reducing valve stays open.

Figure 16-9

Figure 16-9. Using a reducing valve for dual pressure (cylinder 2 extending at low pressure).(pressing work at high pressure).


Figure 16-10 shows the cylinder contacting the work with pressure at the reducing valve setting. The low pressure continues as long as required. During this time the operator can check part alignment or other details. If a problem is detected, the operator simply reverses the cylinder to realign any out of place or problem components.

Figure 16-10

Figure 16-10. Using a reducing valve for dual pressure (cylinder 2 contacting work at low pressure).


After determining all is well, the operator energizes the solenoid on the 2-way directional valve as shown in Figure 16-11. This blocks drain flow from the reducing valve. Blocking drain flow at the reducing valve causes it to open fully. Backpressure in the blocked drain line, plus the internal valve spring, pushes and holds the spool open. When the reducing valve opens, full system pressure goes to the cylinder to generate high force. This action poses no problem to the reducing valve. This circuit is a reliable way to get two pressures for an actuator.

Figure 16-11

Figure 16-11. Using a reducing valve for dual pressure (cylinder 2 pressing work at high pressure).


Remotely operating a pressure-reducing valve
Pilot-operated reducing valves have a remote pressure-control port. Connecting this port to other pressure valves allows pressure to be changed from a remote location. For example, Figure 16-12 shows a reducing valve with a directional valve and two remote relief valves connected to the remote-control port. With the directional control valve in its center position, set the pressure with the knob on the reducing valve. This setting is always the highest reduced pressure for the circuit.

Figure 16-12

Figure 16-12. Using remote pilot port for three different system pressures (no solenoids energized).


Energizing solenoid A1 of the directional valve, as in Figure 16-13, connects the remote pilot port to the remote relief valve SET 350 psi. Pressure in the system now drops to and holds at 350 psi. Energizing solenoid B1 of the directional valve, as in Figure 16-14, connects the remote pilot port to the remote relief valve SET 700 psi. Pressure in the system now rises to 700 psi and holds at that level.

Figure 16-13

Figure 16-13. Using remote pilot port for three different system pressures (solenoid A1 energized).

Figure 16-14

Figure 16-14. Using remote pilot port for three different system pressures (solenoid B1energized).


Figure 16-15 shows the reducing valve’s remote port connected to an infinitely variable electrically modulated relief valve. An electronically controlled relief valve changes the reduced pressure infinitely with a remote electrical controller.

Figure 16-15
Figure 16-15. Using remote pilot port with a servo press controller for infinitely variable pressure.

Pressure-reducing-relieving valves
When it is possible for an external force to increase pressure in a reduced-pressure circuit, use a reducing-relieving valve. Most modular valves now have the reducing-relieving function. When in doubt, specify reducing-relieving valves where they are required.

Figure 16-16 shows a large-bore cylinder opposing a smaller-bore cylinder. With a standard reducing valve, oil in the cap end of the 2-in. bore cylinder (CYL1) is blocked after reaching reduced pressure. With a 6-in. bore CYL2 opposing CYL1, pressure could increase to 9000 psi in its cap end. Pressures this high could cause machine damage and be unsafe.

Figure 16-16

Figure 16-16. Using a reducing valve in circuit with unmatched opposing cylinders (both extending and locked up).


Figure 16-17 shows a reducing-relieving module installed. Now, pressure in the end of cylinder CYL1 only increases to 430 psi. At 430 psi, the relief function takes over and the cylinder retracts.

Figure 16-17

Figure 16-17. Using a reducing valve in circuit with unmatched opposing cylinders (larger cylinder driving smaller back).


A cylinder in a high-temperature location may have a similar problem. (Normally, hydraulic systems are not installed in areas with excessive heat, but it is a possibility.) With the cylinder extended at reduced pressure, as in Figure 16-18, heat could cause pressure at a conventional reducing valve outlet to increase and cause failure. Figure 16-19 shows how a reducing-relieving valve allows any heat-expanded oil to relieve to tank.

Figure 16-18

Figure 16-18. Using a reducing valve with cylinder in high-temperature area (cylinder stalled).

Figure 16-19

Figure 16-19. Using a reducing-relieving valve with cylinder in high-temperature area (cylinder stalled).


With slow heat build-up in a location with conventional ambient temperatures, oil expansion that raises pressure is slow enough to pass through the normal drain function.

All pilot-operated reducing valves have a drain line that bypasses control oil. There is always a small amount of oil passing through it. When drain flow is sufficient to handle backpressure from outside forces or heat, a reducing-relieving valve may be unnecessary. If in doubt, specify a reducing-relieving valve for safety’s sake.

Modular pressure-reducing-relieving valves
When buying modular reducing valves or reducing-relieving valves, different options help reduce heat in a circuit while still maintaining good control.

Figures 16-20 and 16-21 show a reducing-relieving valve in the pump port line. The valve has an internal pilot that maintains reduced pressure at the outlet port. This means there is heat-generating flow from the drain line whenever the pump is running.

Figures 16-20

Figure 16-20. Reducing valve circuit using a reducing-relieving valve on port P — with both cylinders contacting a load.

Figures 16-21

Figure 16-21. Reducing valve circuit using a reducing-relieving valve on port P — with both cylinders retracted.


Remotely piloting the reducing-relieving valve from port A, as in Figure 16-22, reduces pressure only on the extension stroke of the cylinder. While the cylinder retracts and holds, as in Figure 16-23, the reducing valve drain is not bypassing oil. (Some manufacturers put the reducing valves directly in the A or B ports and use bypass checks for reverse free flow.)

Figure 16-22

Figure 16-22. Reducing valve circuit with reducing-relieving valve on port A — with both cylinders contacting a load.

Figure 16-23

Figure 16-23. Reducing valve circuit with reducing-relieving valve on port A — with both cylinders retracted.


In either case, drain flow only takes place during a small portion of the cycle. This may sound unnecessary, but some circuits have multiple reducing valves. Excess drain flow can cause heating and fluid waste. (Pilot flow cannot be used to operate other actuators.)

Extra time spent on circuit design pays off in energy-efficient systems that perform better in the work place.

 

Chapter 17: Regeneration Circuits

A regeneration circuit can double the extension speed of a single-rod cylinder without using a larger pump. This means that regeneration circuits save money because a smaller pump, motor, and tank can produce the desired cycle time. It also means that the circuit costs less to operate over the life of the machine.

A regeneration circuit can also replace a double rod-end cylinder in some circuits. With equal rod diameters, a double-rod cylinder’s area is the same on both ends. Equal areas mean identical force and speed both ways at a given pressure and flow. Reciprocating tables often use double rod-end cylinders for this reason. When the main function of a double rod-end cylinder is equal speed and power in both directions of travel, replace it with a regeneration circuit.

A double rod-end cylinder costs more than a cylinder with a single oversize rod; the extra rod needs space in which to move; and the second rod seal is another potential leakage source. To eliminate these objections, use the full-time regeneration circuit shown in Figures 17-6 and 17-8. Extension and retraction speed (as well as thrust) is the same, without the extra rod and its problems.

One disadvantage to using cylinders with a single oversize rod is that speed and thrust are not identical if the rod diameter ratio is not exactly 2:1. Most cataloged 2:1 rod diameters are only close to that ratio. A standard NFPA 3.25-in. bore cylinder comes with a 2.00-in. diameter rod as a 2:1 differential. If using this cylinder in a full-time regeneration circuit, speed is about 21% faster on the extension stroke, with about 21% less force than the retraction stroke.

This chapter explains regeneration principles and shows several common circuit designs, as well as some uncommon and unique circuits.

Regeneration principles
Applying fluid flow to both ports of a single-rod cylinder makes it extend -- or at least try to extend. Because areas on opposite sides of the piston are unequal, the cap end of the cylinder always has more force than the rod side.

Figure 17-1 shows forces and speeds that result when using a cylinder with a 10-in.2 piston area and a 2-in.2 rod area. This cylinder has a rod differential of approximately 1.25:1.

Fig. 17-1

Fig. 17-1. Regeneration flows and forces for a cylinder with a small-diameter rod.


Applying 10-gpm flow to both ports of the cylinder makes it extend at a rate of 1155 ipm. The effective cylinder thrust as it moves forward at 1000 psi is 2000 lb. The same cylinder, with 10 gpm flowing into the cap end while the rod end is connected to tank, would extend at 231 ipm or 1/5 the speed of the regeneration circuit.

Figure 17-2 shows the forces and speeds of this same cylinder as it retracts. Thrust is 8000 lb, but speed is only 288 ipm.

Fig. 17-2

Fig. 17-2. Cylinder with a small-diameter rod retracting.


Often when a cylinder with a small rod is piped for regeneration, it will not even try to extend at a reasonable working pressure. This is because the extension force is too low to overcome cylinder friction, machine force requirements, and pressure drop due to high flow from rod end to cap end. Even if the cylinder does extend, low force may make it useless. Notice also that extension speed is very fast and retraction speed is very slow.

Most regeneration circuits use cylinders with a 2:1 rod ratio. A 2:1 rod cylinder has a rod area equal to half the piston area. In actual use, extend and retract speed and power is identical with an area differential of exactly 2:1. All of the cylinders in the following examples have 2:1 ratios.

Regeneration with a 2:1 rod
Figure 17-3 shows a 2:1 rod cylinder in regeneration. Notice the difference in force and speed using the same flow and pressure as Figure 17-1. These figures assume an exact 2:1 rod. In actual practice only specially made cylinders have an exactly 2:1 area ratio.

Fig. 17-3
Fig. 17-3. Regeneration flows and forces for a cylinder with a 2:1 rod diameter.

With a 2:1 rod, force and speed on the extension and retraction stroke is identical. As Figure 17-4 shows, a regenerating cylinder acts like a ram-type cylinder. In effect, a cylinder in regeneration does not need a piston. Because both ports connect to the same power source, the effect of the piston area outside the rod diameter is cancelled. Pressure on both sides of the annulus area around the rod makes the piston area here useless. As the cylinder extends in regeneration, force is half while speed doubles.

Fig. 17-4

Fig. 17-4. Ram-type cylinder extending. (same force and speed as regeneration.)


During regeneration there is no flow to tank. All oil from the pump goes to the cylinder. All fluid from the rod end of the cylinder mixes with pump flow and goes to the cap end. The exchange of rod end fluid, added to pump oil going to the cap end, doubles the cylinder’s speed.

Figure 17-5 shows force and speed when a 2:1 oversize rod cylinder retracts. Pump flow of 10 gpm enters the rod port and the cylinder retracts using the 5-in.2 annulus area. Speed during retraction is the same as when the cylinder regenerates forward. Flow from the cylinder cap end port is twice pump flow as it retracts because cap end area is twice rod end area. A conventional regeneration circuit has double flow through the valving while the cylinder extends and retracts.

Fig. 17-5

Fig. 17-5. Cylinder with 2:1 rod retracting.


The rest of this section shows many regeneration circuits with explanations of how they work. Different circuits have various features that make them better for certain applications. Some circuits are just a different way of connecting the same parts.

Full-time regeneration
The regeneration circuit in Figures 17-6 through 17-8 replaces a double-rod-end cylinder circuit used to produce equal speed and power in both directions of travel. The schematic diagram shows a tandem-center, 3-position, 4-way directional valve, connected to a 2:1 rod cylinder. Port A of the directional valve connects to the cap-end port of the cylinder. The rod-end port of the cylinder tees into port P of the directional valve. In the at-rest condition shown in Figure 17-6, the pump unloads to tank while the cylinder sits still.

Fig. 17-6
Fig. 17-6. Full-time regeneration circuit at rest, with pump running.

To extend the cylinder, energize solenoid A1 as in Figure 17-7. Energizing solenoid A1 connects the pump to the cap end of the cylinder to make it extend. Oil leaving the rod end of the cylinder mixes with pump flow and regenerates to the cap end of the cylinder through the directional valve. Supplementing pump flow with rod flow makes the cylinder extend twice as fast as a conventionally piped circuit.

Fig. 17-7

Fig. 17-7. Full-time regeneration circuit extending in regeneration with solenoid A1 energized.


At first it appears that the cylinder only goes 50% faster. If 10 gpm goes in the cap end of a 2:1 rod cylinder, only 5 gpm comes out of the rod end. This puts 15 gpm into the cap end for a 50% increase in speed. However, once 15 gpm goes into the cap end, 7.5 gpm comes out of the rod end. Now there is 17.5 gpm going into the cap end. Continuing this scenario shows that flow from the cylinder’s rod end -- as it extends in regeneration -- almost immediately reaches 10 gpm to produce double cylinder speed.

Figure 17-8 shows the cylinder retracting. Pump flow goes directly to the rod-end port and the cylinder retracts. Oil from the cap-end port returns to tank through the directional valve. Note that in a full-time regeneration circuit, the directional valve handles twice pump flow in both directions of travel. If the valve were sized for just pump flow, excess pressure drop would slow cylinder speed and add to system heating.

Fig. 17-8

Fig. 17-8. Full-time regeneration circuit retracting with solenoid B1 energized.


In Figure 17-9, a needle valve has been teed into the rod-end line and connected to port B. Use this needle valve to adjust maximum speed when the cylinder extends. This circuit is useful when standard speed is too slow but double speed is too fast. It is a bleed-off flow-control circuit, which means opening the valve reduces speed. Also, for accurate speed control, use a pressure-compensated flow-control valve in this circuit.

Fig. 17-9

Fig. 17-9. Full-time regeneration circuit with needle valve to adjust extension speed.


Regeneration circuit – pressure-actuated to full thrust
Regeneration circuits move a cylinder rapidly to the work, but only have half power at work contact. For machines that need full cylinder force to do their jobs, divert regeneration flow to tank after work contact. The full force portion of the stroke is only half as fast as approach speed. The half-speed work stroke poses little problem because it usually is a small portion of the cycle.

Figures 17-10 through 17-13 show a regeneration circuit that changes to full thrust when pressure reaches a predetermined setting. The addition of externally piloted sequence valve A and check valve B to the circuit makes this possible. When pressure rises, sequence valve A shifts to connect the rod end of the cylinder to tank, eliminating backpressure. Because sequence valve A has an external pilot, it opens fully as pressure builds in the cylinder’s cap end.

Fig. 17-10

Fig. 17-10. Regeneration circuit that is pressure-activated to full thrust. Shown at rest, with pump running.


Figure 17-11 shows the cylinder regenerating forward. During this part of the cycle pump oil goes to the cap end of the cylinder through the directional valve. Oil from the rod end free flows through check valve B to mix with pump flow -- passing through the directional valve to the cylinder’s cap end also. Sequence valve A stays closed because its pressure setting is higher than the pressure it takes to move the regenerating cylinder. The setting of sequence valve A is easy to establish while the circuit runs. Start with a high-pressure setting and slowly lower it as the cylinder extends until speed starts to slow. When speed slows, raise the setting until speed is maximum, then go another half turn higher. The cylinder continues to extend at twice speed and half power until it meets added resistance.

Fig. 17-11

Fig. 17-11. Regeneration circuit that is pressure-activated to full thrust. Shown extending with solenoid A1 energized.


When extra resistance raises cylinder cap-end pressure high enough to pilot sequence valve A open, as in Figure 17-12, oil from the cylinder’s rod end goes directly to tank. With this flow going to tank, forward speed decreases as rod-end pressure drops. No backpressure means the cylinder is capable of full tonnage but only moves half as fast. During this part of the cycle, check valve B blocks pump flow from going to tank through sequence valve A.

Fig. 17-12

Fig. 17-12. Regeneration circuit, pressure-activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.


To retract the cylinder, energize solenoid B1 of the directional valve as in Figure 17-12. Pump flow now goes through the directional valve, around the free-flow check valve in sequence valve A, and into the rod end of the cylinder. As the cylinder retracts, oil from the cap end goes to tank through the directional valve.

Fig. 17-13

Fig. 17-13. Regeneration circuit, pressure-activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


This sequence circuit provides rapid advance speed, followed by full force to clamp, punch, or operate with different size parts. The cylinder moves rapidly until it contacts a part, then changes to full force. As with any sequence circuit there is no guarantee pressure build-up came from work contact. Anytime pressure increases enough, the circuit automatically shifts out of regeneration into full force. Another down side of this circuit is that the cylinder hits the part at full speed. This impact might cause damage to the machine, tooling, or parts. To avoid these problems, consider a circuit that drops out of regeneration electrically.

Regeneration circuit – solenoid-actuated to full thrust
Figures 17-14 through 17-17 show a standard regeneration circuit that changes to full thrust and half speed on demand. Shifting a solenoid-operated valve any place in the stroke slows the cylinder’s advance and sets up the circuit for full tonnage. Addition of solenoid pilot-operated 2-way valve A and check valve B to the circuit makes this possible. When the cylinder reaches a limit switch, 2-way valve A shifts to connect the rod end of the cylinder to tank, eliminating backpressure.

Fig. 17-14
Fig. 17-14. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Shown at rest with pump running.

In Figure 17-15, cylinder is depicted extending in regeneration. During this part of the cycle, oil from the pump goes to the cap end of the cylinder. Oil from the rod end flows freely through check valve B to mix with pump flow and go back into the cylinder. Two-way directional valve A remains closed. The cylinder advances at double speed and half power.

Fig. 17-15

Fig. 17-15. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the moving cylinder makes the limit switch, an electrical signal energizes the solenoid on valve A as in Figure 17-16. Valve A opens and oil from the cylinder’s rod end flows directly to tank. With the cylinder’s rod-end flow going to tank, pressure drop there allows the cylinder to produce full force while stroking at half speed. During this part of the cycle, check valve B blocks pump flow from going to tank through 2-way valve A. With this arrangement, cylinder speed is slowed before contacting the part because the limit switch drops it out of regeneration. The result: less shock to the system and damage to the machine, tooling, or parts.

Fig. 17-16
Fig. 17-16. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoids A1 and C1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

To retract the cylinder, energize solenoid B1 of the directional valve as in Figure 17-17. Pump flow goes through the 4-way directional valve and flows freely through the check valve in 2-way valve A, then into the rod end of the cylinder. As the cylinder retracts, oil from the cap end flows to tank through the 4-way directional valve. (Note: when using a 2-way valve without reverse free-flow capability, either leave the solenoid on the 2-way valve energized, or install a bypass check around it.)

Fig. 17-17

Fig. 17-17. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Other regeneration circuits
Some of the following circuits use a solenoid or a pressure-control valve to disable regeneration but the placement of the valves is different. Some of these circuits have specific advantages; some are just another way of doing the same thing.

Figures 17-18 through 17-21 show a different way to pipe a solenoid-actuated regeneration circuit. (The results are the same as the previous circuit. There is no particular advantage to this configuration.) Figure 17-18 depicts a standard valve and cylinder circuit with the addition of 2-way normally open directional valve A and check valve B. At rest, the pump unloads through the tandem-center directional valve and 2-way valve A.

Fig. 17-18
Fig. 17-18. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Shown at rest with pump running.

In Figure 17-19, both solenoid A1 on the 4-way valve and solenoid C1 on the 2-way valve are energized. Pump flow goes through the 4-way valve to the cylinder’s cap-end port. Oil returning from the cylinder goes through check valve B to mix with pump flow and regenerates to the cylinder’s cap end. Cylinder speed is twice that of a conventional circuit, but force is one half.

Fig. 17-19

Fig. 17-19. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoids A1 and C1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder makes the limit switch, valve A shifts, Figure 17-20, opening a free path for oil from the rod end to flow to tank. During this part of the cycle, check valve B closes to prevent pump flow from going to tank also. Now the cylinder is capable of full thrust at half speed.

Fig. 17-20
Fig. 17-20. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

In Figure 17-21, solenoid B1 on the 4-way valve is energized to retract the cylinder. Pump oil goes to the rod end of the cylinder while oil from the cap end returns to tank through the 4-way and the 2-way valves.

Fig. 17-21

Fig. 17-21. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Caution: make sure the tank line of the 4-way directional valve used in this circuit is capable of operating with the amount of backpressure generated.

Regeneration circuit – solenoid-actuated to full thrust
Figure 17-22 shows another way to alter and operate the previous solenoid-actuated regeneration circuit. Add 2-way normally open directional valve A to the standard valve and cylinder circuit. At rest, the pump unloads through the open-center directional valve and valve A. This circuit also has counterbalance valve B to resist a running away load situation. Note that counterbalance valve B has an external drain port. The external drain is necessary on this circuit because outlet flow from the counterbalance valve sees pressure while oil regenerates. Backpressure from regeneration would prevent an internally drained counterbalance valve in this circuit from opening. The cylinder would not extend with the counterbalance valve closed.

Fig. 17-22

Fig. 17-22. Regeneration circuit, pressure-activated to full thrust. Shown at rest with pump running.


In Figure 17-23, solenoid C1 on directional valve A is energized to start the cylinder forward. Pump flow goes through the 4-way directional valve to the cylinder. Oil returning from the cylinder’s rod end flows through the open-center 4-way directional valve, mixes with pump flow, and enters the cylinder’s cap end. Cylinder speed is twice as fast as a conventional circuit while force is only half. When the cylinder contacts the limit switch, it deenergizes solenoid C1 and energizes solenoid A1 on the 4-way directional valve, as in Figure 17-24. Pump oil still flows to the cylinder’s cap end, but flow from the rod end now passes freely to tank. The cylinder is now capable of full thrust at half speed.

Fig. 17-23

Fig. 17-23. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid C1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


In Figure 17-25, solenoid B1 on the 4-way directional valve is energized. Pump oil now goes to the rod end of the cylinder while oil from the cap end returns to tank through the 4-way and the 2-way directional valves. Note: while this hook-up eliminates the check valve, it complicates the electrical circuit slightly.

Fig. 17-24
Fig. 17-24. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized, Shown extending at full force.

CAUTION: Make sure the tank line of the 4-way directional valve used in this circuit is capable of operating with the amount of backpressure generated.

Fig. 17-25

Fig. 17-25. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust solenoid B1 energized retracting.


Regeneration circuit – solenoid-actuated to full thrust
Figures 17-26 through 17-29 show another way to pipe a solenoid-actuated regeneration circuit. The results are the same as the previous circuit, but the components it uses eliminate most of the piping and potential leaks.

Fig. 17-26

Fig. 17-26. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated. Using modular valves on a bar manifold. Shown at rest with pump running.


Figure 17-26 indicates a series bar manifold with two open-center directional valves: a double-solenoid 4-way and a single-solenoid 3-position valve. At rest, the pump unloads through the open centers on the directional valves. The single-solenoid valve takes the place of the 2-way valve in the previous circuit.

Energizing solenoid A2 on the single-solenoid directional valve, as in Figure 17-27, sends pump flow through the open center of the 4-way valve to the cylinder’s cap end. Oil returning from the cylinder’s rod end mixes with pump flow through the open center of the double-solenoid 4-way and goes into the cylinder’s cap end. Speed is twice that of a conventionally piped circuit while the force is only half.

Fig. 17-27

Fig. 17-27. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated. Using modular valves on a bar manifold. Solenoid A2 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder makes the limit switch, Figure 17-28, it deenergizes solenoid A2 on the single-solenoid valve and energizes solenoid A1 on the 4-way directional valve. Pump oil still goes to the cylinder’s cap end but flow from the rod end passes freely to tank. Cylinder speed is half of that of regeneration, but now full cylinder force is available.

Fig. 17-28
Fig. 17-28. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated. Using modular valves on a bar manifold. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

Figure 17-29 shows solenoid B1 on the 4-way directional valve energized for retraction. Pump oil goes to the rod end of the cylinder and oil from the cap end returns to tank through the 4-way and the open center of the single-solenoid directional valve.

Fig. 17-29

Fig. 17-29. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated. Using modular valves on a bar manifold. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


The advantages of this circuit are ready availability of the valves, shorter installation time, and fewer potential leaks.

CAUTION: again make sure the tank line of the 4-way directional valve used in this circuit is capable of operating with the amount of backpressure generated.

Regeneration circuit – pressure actuated to full thrust
Large cylinders at high flows need large, expensive directional valves to handle the double flow of a regeneration circuit. Also, when cylinders with regeneration circuits are located at some distance from the directional valve, pressure drop at high regeneration flows might be a problem. The circuit in Figure 17-30 uses pressure-control valves near the cylinder to handle regeneration flows, so that the directional valve only sees pump flow. This circuit drops out of regeneration after pressure increases at load contact. Valve B opens under low pressure to route rod-end oil to the cap end. Its operation is like a sequence valve so it uses an external drain. In this circuit the external drain goes to tank through the rod-end port. Porting the drain here keeps the sequence valve from opening when the cylinder retracts. Valve C direct oil from the rod end to the cap end until load pressure builds. This valve is similar to a counterbalance valve. (Set pressure on valve C high enough to make sure the cylinder regenerates.) Pressure valve A dumps part of cap-end flow to tank when the cylinder retracts. This keeps part of the high return flow away from the 4-way valve to reduce backpressure during cylinder return.

Fig. 17-30
Fig. 17-30. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Shown at rest, pump running.

Figure 17-31 shows the cylinder extending in regeneration. Energizing solenoid A1 shifts the 4-way directional valve to send oil to the cylinder’s cap end. Oil from the cylinder’s rod end opens low-pressure sequence valve B and regenerates to the cap end. Counterbalance valve C stays closed because its pressure setting is higher than regeneration pressure. Set sequence valve B as low as possible to minimize backpressure. Set counterbalance valve C high enough to make sure the cylinder regenerates -- and low enough to open easily when the cylinder meets resistance. Valve A stays closed when the cylinder extends because its pilot supply comes from the rod port after counterbalance valve C.

Fig. 17-31

Fig. 17-31. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder meets resistance, Figure 17-33, pressure builds up in the cap-end port and opens externally piloted counterbalance valve C. When counterbalance valve C opens, it lets rod-end flow go directly to tank. Pressure drop at sequence valve B lets it close to stop regeneration. This drops all backpressure at the cylinder’s rod end so it is capable of full thrust.

Fig. 17-32

Fig. 17-32. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.


To retract the cylinder, energize solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional valve, as in Figure 17-33. Oil flows through the bypass check of counterbalance C to the cylinder’s rod end. Rod-end pressure at the external drain line of sequence valve B holds it closed so fluid cannot bypass to tank. The cylinder retracts with part of the cap-end oil going through the directional valve and excess flow through valve A directly to tank. Pressure-control valve A gets an external pilot signal from the cylinder’s rod end line to open it for retraction.

Fig. 17-33

Fig. 17-33 Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


In the at rest condition the cylinder could extend due to external forces because fluid can pass through sequence valve B from rod to cap at any pressure above 30 psi. If this happens, add a pilot-operated check valve in the line between sequence valve B and the rod port.

Regeneration circuit – solenoid-actuated to full thrust
The circuit in Figures 17-34 through 17--37 is the same as in Figures 17-30 through 17-33 except that the change from regeneration to full thrust is solenoid controlled. The circuit in Figure 17-34 uses pressure-control valves near the cylinder to handle the high regeneration flows, so the directional valve only sees pump flow. This circuit drops out of regeneration after making the limit switch.

Fig. 17-34

Fig. 17-34. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Shown at rest, pump running.


Pressure valve B opens under low pressure to route oil from the rod end to the cap end. The valve’s operation is like a sequence valve, so use an external drain. In this circuit, the external drain goes through 3-way directional valve D to the rod-end port, then to tank. With the drain here, sequence valve B will not open when the cylinder retracts. Directional valve D closes sequence valve B from an electrical command to stop regeneration.

Valve C directs oil from the rod end to the cap end until pressure rises enough to pilot it open. This valve acts as a counterbalance, so set it high enough to make sure the cylinder regenerates, but low enough to minimize energy loss.

Pressure valve A dumps part of the cap end flow to tank while the cylinder retracts. This keeps high flow away from the 4-way valve to reduce backpressure during the return stroke.

Figure 17-35 shows the cylinder extending in regeneration. Solenoid A1 of the 4-way directional valve shifts it, porting oil to the cylinder’s cap end. Oil from the rod end passes through sequence valve B to the cap end. Valve C stays closed because pressure during regeneration is not enough to pilot it open. (Set valve C high enough to make sure the cylinder regenerates, but low enough to operate easily after energizing 3-way valve D. Valve A stays closed while the cylinder extends because its pilot oil comes from the rod port after counterbalance valve C.

Fig. 17-35

Fig. 17-35. Regeneration circuit, solenoid-activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder contacts the limit switch in Figure 17-36, 3-way directional valve D shifts and sends pump pressure to the drain port of sequence valve B. Pressure in the drain port of sequence valve B closes it to block flow from the rod end to the cap end. Pressure rise in the cap port opens externally piloted counterbalance valve C to give rod-end oil a path to tank. Because oil from the rod end has a free path to tank, the cylinder now is capable of full thrust.

Fig. 17-36
Fig. 17-36. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoids A1 and C1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

To retract the cylinder, energize solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional, as in Figure 17-37. Oil goes through the bypass check of counterbalance C to the cylinder’s rod-end port. The cylinder now retracts, with part of the oil from the cap end going to tank through the directional valve and part through dump valve A. Pilot pressure from the cylinder’s rod-end line opens pressure valve A to dump excess fluid.

Fig. 17-37

Fig. 17-37. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Regeneration circuit with poppet-type cartridge valves
For circuits with flows above 60 to 100 gpm, poppet-type cartridge valves are an option. This type of valve, sometime called a logic valve is a simple pilot-to-close check valve. Because check valves are 2-way valves, four of them are needed to operate a double-acting cylinder. The main advantage of using logic valves in a regeneration circuit is the way they handle high flows. Another reason is, larger cartridges handle double flow during regeneration and cylinder retract in these flow paths only.

With a 150-gpm pump cycling a 2:1 rod cylinder, flow to the cylinder is 150 gpm. Flow from the rod end of the cylinder extending is, 75 gpm, and 300 gpm from the cap end when retracting. With a conventional 4-way valve this 150-gpm-pump circuit requires a 300-gpm valve. A valve this size is expensive, big, and overkill for all but the regeneration and retract part of the cycle.

In the circuit covered by Figures 17-38 through 17--41, size logic valve CV1 to handle 75 gpm, logic valve CV2 for 150 gpm, and logic valves CV3 and CV4 for 300 gpm. Smaller cartridges are less expensive and take less space, while larger cartridges give high flow at low pressure drop.

Fig. 17-38
Fig. 17-38. Slip-in cartridge valves in a solenoid-activated to full force regeneration circuit. Shown at rest, pump running.

Figure 17-38 shows the circuit at rest with the pump running. Pilot pressure through two directional valves holds all logic valves closed. A regeneration circuit requires two pilot valves for limit switch changing from regeneration to full force. Use a pressure-control valve in place of the single-solenoid pilot valve when transition from regeneration to full force is due to pressure build up at work contact.

To extend the cylinder in regeneration, energize solenoid A1 of the 4-way double-solenoid directional valve, as in Figure 17-39. This drops pilot pressure on logic valve CV3, allowing pump flow to go to the cylinder's cap end. Oil from the cylinder’s rod end cannot get out of logic valve CV1 so pressure increases there until it forces logic valve CV2 to open. Then oil flows through logic valve CV2, mixes with pump flow, and both pass through logic valve CV3 to the cylinder. The cylinder extends at twice speed and half force till it contacts a limit switch.

Fig. 17-39
Fig. 17-39. Slip-in cartridge valves in a solenoid-activated to full force regeneration circuit. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.

When the cylinder rod contacts the limit switch, it energizes solenoid C1 of the single-solenoid directional valve to let logic valve CV1 open, as in Figure 17-40. When logic valve CV1 opens, logic valve CV2 closes because regeneration pressure drops. With oil free flowing to tank through logic valve CV1, the cylinder is capable of full thrust at half speed.

Fig. 17-40

Fig. 17-40. Slip-in cartridge valves in a solenoid-activated to full force regeneration circuit. Solenoids A1 and C1 energized. Shown extending at full force.


Figure 17-41 shows solenoid B1 of the double-solenoid directional valve energized and the logic valve positioned to retract the cylinder. With solenoid B1 energized, pilot pressure drops on logic valve CV2 and CV4. Logic valves CV2 and CV4 open to pass pump flow to the cylinder’s rod end while cap end oil goes to tank.

Fig. 17-41

Fig. 17-41. Slip-in cartridge valves in a solenoid-activated to full force regeneration circuit. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


A high-flow circuit normally costs less, and has lower pressure drop when using cartridge valves.

Motor-type flow divider in full-time regeneration circuit
Figures 17-42 through 17-44 show a unique regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. This regeneration circuit works best on small-rod cylinders and produces exactly twice the speed on double-rod cylinders and hydraulic motors.

Fig. 17-42
Fig. 17-42. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Shown at rest, pump running.

A motor- type flow divider consists of two or more hydraulic motors in the same housing mounted on a common shaft so they all rotate at the same speed. The motors have a common inlet but separate outlets. If the motors are the same size, any fluid to the inlet divides equally at the outlets. Motors with different cir provides proportionally different outlet flows.

Normally, flow-divider circuits split the inlet flow to synchronize actuator movements, but they also can be used to increase flow for a regeneration circuit.

Figure 17-42 shows a regeneration circuit with a full-time motor-type flow divider in the at-rest condition. Piped between the cylinder’s rod end-port and the directional valve is equal-motor flow divider C. Its normal inlet port connects to the cylinder, one outlet connects to the directional valve, and the other outlet is teed into the cylinder’s cap-end line.

Figure 17-43 shows solenoid A1 energized so flow from the pump goes past the teed-in flow-divider line to the cylinder’s cap end. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end enters the flow divider. The flow divider splits that oil. Half flows to tank at no pressure, and the other half flows to the cylinder’s cap-end tee at pressure high enough to mix it with pump flow. As the cylinder starts forward, speed quickly increases to almost double. Maximum cylinder speed directly relates to the rod size. The larger the rod, the slower the speed. With a double-rod end cylinder, speed exactly doubles. As with any regeneration circuit, speed increases but force decreases.

Fig. 17-43

Fig. 17-43. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


Figure 17-36 shows the cylinder retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 shifts the 4-way directional valve to send pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor with its inlet teed into the cap-end line acts as a pump. Pump flow, plus the same flow from the second motor, makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. Again, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.

This flow-divider regeneration circuit doubles the speed without making the pump work harder. Size the pump, valve, tank, and piping up to the regeneration circuit according to pump flow. The only high flows are at or very near the cylinder.

Fig. 17-44

Fig. 17-44. Full-time regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Using a motor with a higher cir on the left side of the flow divider increases speed even more. The limit is when pressure to run the cylinder at the faster rate, exceeds the relief valve setting. When using unmatched motors, make sure the line from the cylinder cap end to the motor will handle the higher suction flow.

Motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit – pressure actuated to full thrust
When it is necessary to get out of regeneration and into full thrust, add other valving to the motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit. Figure 17-45 shows such a regeneration circuit at rest. Piped between the 4-way directional valve and the cylinder is equal flow divider C. Its normal inlet port connects to the cylinder; one outlet connects to the directional valve; the other outlet passes flow through pilot-operated check valve E to a tee in the cylinder’s cap-end line. Check valve E gets its pilot signal from the cylinder’s rod-end line before the flow-divider port. Teed into the line between the flow divider and check valve E is the inlet to sequence valve D. The outlet of sequence valve D tees into the cylinder’s rod-end line. Sequence valve D is internally drained and gets its external pilot signal from the cylinder’s cap-end line.

Fig. 17-45
Fig. 17-45. Pressure activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Shown at rest, pump running.

Figure 17-46 shows solenoid A1 energized, with flow from the pump going past the teed in the flow-divider line to the cylinder’s cap end. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end enters the flow divider. The flow divider splits that oil. Half goes to tank at no pressure and half flow freely through pilot-operated check E, then goes to the cylinder’s cap-end tee at a pressure high enough to mix with pump flow. As the cylinder starts forward, speed quickly increases to almost double. Maximum cylinder speed directly relates to the rod size. The larger the rod, the slower the speed. With a double-rod end cylinder, speed exactly doubles. As with any regeneration circuit, speed increases but force decreases.

Fig. 17-46

Fig. 17-46. Pressure activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder meets resistance, pressure builds. Figure 17-47 shows the cylinder against the work. Pressure build-up in the cap-end line pilots sequence valve D open. When sequence valve D opens, oil from both sides of the flow divider returns to tank at no pressure. At the same time, pilot-operated check E closes to keep the pump from relieving to tank. With the rod end of the cylinder hooked to tank and the pump feeding the cap end, the cylinder has full thrust.

Fig. 17-47
Fig. 17-47. Pressure activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

In Figure 17-48, the cylinder is retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional valve sends pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor with its inlet teed into the cap end line becomes a pump. Pilot pressure from the cylinder’s rod end port, opens pilot operated check valve E to allow this flow. Pump flow, plus the same flow from the second motor, makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. However, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.

Fig. 17-48

Fig. 17-48. Pressure activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit -- solenoid actuated to full thrust
When it is necessary to get out of regeneration and into full thrust, add other valving to the motor-type flow-divider regeneration circuit.

The regeneration circuit in Figure 17-49 is solenoid actuated to full thrust. Piped between the 4-way directional valve and the cylinder is equal flow divider C. Its normal inlet port connects to the cylinder; one outlet connects to the directional valve; and the other outlet passes flow freely through pilot-operated check valve E to a tee in the cylinder’s cap-end line. Check valve E gets its pilot signal from the cylinder’s rod-end line upstream from the flow-divider port. Teed into the line between the flow divider and pilot-operated check E is the inlet to normally closed valve D. The outlet of directional valve D tees into the cylinder’s rod-end line. Directional valve D is direct-solenoid-operated and does not need a pilot supply.

Fig. 17-49

Fig. 17-49. Solenoid-activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Shown at rest, pump running.


Energizing solenoid A1 of the main directional valve, as in Figure 17-50, sends flow from the pump to the cylinder past the teed-in flow-divider line. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end enters the flow divider. Oil entering the flow divider splits -- half of it going to tank at no pressure, and half of it flowing freely through pilot-operated check valve E to the cylinder’s cap end at a pressure high enough to mix with pump flow. As the cylinder moves, speed almost doubles. The amount of speed increase is directly related to the rod size. The larger the rod, the slower the speed. A double-rod end cylinder would go exactly twice as fast. As with any regeneration circuit, the speed increases but force decreases.

Fig. 17-50

Fig. 17-50. Solenoid-activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder rod contacts the limit switch in Figure 17-51, the switch sends an electrical signal to 2-way valve D, causing it to shift open. When valve D opens, oil from both sides of the flow divider returns to tank at no pressure. The cylinder slows before contacting the work with this arrangement. At the same time, pilot-operated check E closes to keep the pump from bypassing to tank also. With the rod end of the cylinder connected to tank and the pump feeding the cap end, the cylinder has full thrust.

Fig. 17-51

Fig. 17-51. Solenoid-activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoids A1 and C1 energized. Shown extending at full force.


Figure 17-52 shows the cylinder retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional valve sends pump flow to one outlet of the flow divider. Both of the motors in the flow divider turn at the rate of flow from the pump. During this part of the cycle, the motor with its inlet teed into the cap-end line becomes a pump. Pilot pressure from the cylinder’s rod-end port opens check valve E to allow this flow to pass. Pump flow, plus the same flow from the second motor, makes the cylinder retract twice as fast as a conventional circuit. However, cylinder thrust is only half that of a conventional circuit.

Fig. 17-52

Fig. 17-52. Solenoid-activated to full thrust regeneration circuit using a motor-type flow divider. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


Figure 17-52 shows a purchased manifold regeneration circuit from Sun Hydraulics. It is available as an inline manifold that mounts close to the cylinder or as a sandwich module that goes between a directional valve and sub-plate. Although operation of both units is the same, the inline type in these figures has less pressure drop because it normally mounts closer to the cylinder.

Figure 17-53 shows a 2:1 rod-diameter cylinder controlled by a 4-way directional valve. Regeneration manifold A, mounted close to the cylinder, gives double extension speed. The regeneration manifold contains an internal and external pilot-operated counterbalance valve and a pilot-to-close check valve.

Fig. 17-53
Fig. 17-53. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust, Shown at rest, pump running.

Figure 17-54 shows solenoid A1 of the directional valve energized, sending oil to the cylinder’s cap end. As the cylinder extends, oil from the rod end regenerates to the cap-end line through the pilot-to-close check valve. Set the counterbalance valve pressure high enough to keep oil from going to tank while the cylinder approaches the work. The cylinder advances at approximately twice normal speed but only half of its normal force.

Fig. 17-54

Fig. 17-54. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending in regeneration.


When the cylinder contacts the work, Figure 17-55, pressure rises in the cylinder’s cap end. When pressure increases enough, the counterbalance valve opens the rod end to tank and the pilot-to-close check valve shuts. The cylinder is now capable of full force although the speed is half of regeneration travel. The cylinder advances at working force until it stalls or the directional valve shifts to stop or return it.

Fig. 17-55
Fig. 17-55. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid A1 energized. Shown extending at full force.

Energizing solenoid B1 of the directional valve sends oil from the pump to the cylinder’s cap end, as in Figure 17-56. Oil bypasses the counterbalance valve through its integral check valve and flows to the cylinder’s rod end. As the cylinder retracts, pilot pressure from the rod-end line holds the pilot-to-close check valve shut so fluid cannot return to tank through the cap-end line.

Fig. 17-56

Fig. 17-56. Regeneration circuit, pressure activated to full thrust. Solenoid B1 energized. Shown retracting.


This package is convenient and easy to use. It eliminates many leakage points, is easy to setup, and simple to troubleshoot.

Two-hand, anti-tie-down circuit with manual regeneration
Figures 17-57 through 17-62 show a manually operated regeneration circuit using a pair of lever-controlled directional valves. To make the cylinder move with this circuit, the operator must have both hands on the levers. Regeneration takes place when the operator shifts the valves as explained below.

Fig. 17-57

Fig. 17-57. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown at rest with pump running.


Figures 17-58 and 17-59 show how the circuit reacts when the operator shifts only one valve. Pump oil always has a path to tank through the idle valve so the cylinder does not move. Shifting one of the valves and then tying it down allows the cylinder to extend when the second valve is shifted. However, the cylinder cannot retract until the operator releases the tied-down valve, and shifts it to the retract position.

Fig. 17-58
Fig. 17-58. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown with valve A actuated.
 Fig. 17-59

Fig. 17-59. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown with valve B actuated.


In Figure 17-60, the valves are shifted to extend the cylinder at regeneration speed. Valve sends pump oil to the cylinder’s cap end while valve B directs rod-end oil to mix with the pump flow. During this part of the stroke the cylinder extends at half force and double speed. The operator controls when the cylinder goes out of regeneration into slow speed and full force.

Fig. 17-60

Fig. 17-60. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown extending in regeneration.


Figure 17-61 shows the valves shifted to give full thrust. Pump flow goes to the cylinder’s rod end and oil from the cap end goes directly to tank.

Fig. 17-61

Fig. 17-61. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown extending at full force.

To use this circuit for the anti-tie down feature only, add a check valve in the pump line to valve B, The check valve allows pump flow to go to valve B, but blocks regenerating flow from the cylinder from going to the other manual valve.

Fig. 17-62

Fig. 17-62. Manual two-hand anti-tie-down circuit with regeneration. Shown retracting.


 

Chapter 18: Pressure-relief Valves

Always use a relief valve with fixed-displacement hydraulic pumps. Pressure-compensated pump circuits also may use a relief valve for certain applications.

Think of a relief valve in a hydraulic system as a fuse or circuit breaker in an electric circuit. An electric circuit never blows a fuse unless it overloads. When an electric circuit overloads, it is inoperable until reset. Usually the person responsible for resetting the fuse looks for the reason it blew and fixes the problem before restarting the machine. Many hydraulic circuits allow the relief valve to dump some or all pump flow to tank all or part of the time. The extra power to produce that unused flow is expensive. Also, heat generation from excess flow requires larger heat exchangers that are expensive to buy and operate.

Protecting the pump and the system from excess pressure is the only valid function for a relief valve. At no time should the relief valve be used to pass excess pressure fluid to tank. When excess pump flow goes to tank, it generates heat. The relief valve in a well-designed hydraulic circuit never relieves oil to tank — unless there is a circuit or control malfunction.

Figure 18-1

Fig. 18-1. Direct-acting relief valve.


Figure 18-1 pictures the symbol for a direct-acting relief valve. A direct-acting relief valve responds quickly when pressure tries to go above the valve’s setting. It can be use it on circuits with pressure-compensated pumps to reduce pressure spikes. On a hydraulic circuit with a fixed-displacement pump, a direct-acting relief valve opens partially early and thus wastes energy. When the system must operate near maximum pressure without any fluid bypass, use a pilot-operated relief valve.

Figure 18-2

Fig 18-2. Simplified symbol for a pilot-operated relief valve.

Figure 18-3

Fig. 18-3. Complete symbol for a pilot-operated relief valve.


Figures 18-2 and -3 show the simple and complete symbols for a pilot-operated (or compound ) relief valve. This type relief valve has two sections. The pilot operator on top is a small, poppet-type direct-acting relief valve. The main flow section of the valve is a poppet- or piston-type, normally closed 2-way valve. Through internal porting, a small direct-acting relief poppet controls a large poppet or piston. A pilot-operated relief valve responds more slowly, but does not even partially open until system pressure reaches approximately 95% of set pressure. Pilot-operated relief valves are suitable for remote operation, they open to unload pumps at pressures below 50 psi, and they act as large 2-way valves in some circuits.

Examples of relief-valve circuits
Always locate the relief valve as close as possible to the outlet of a fixed-displacement pump. A pilot-operated relief works best because it does not pass any fluid until system pressure is very near the valve’s set pressure.

Figure 18-4

Fig. 18-4. Fixed-displacement pump circuit with relief valve.


Figure 18-4 shows a typical fixed-displacement pump circuit. Except in the event of a control circuit malfunction or if it is used to hold the cylinder at pressure, the relief valve never opens. Heat generation is minimal and the circuit usually can run without a heat exchanger.

Figure 18-5

Fig. 18-4. Fixed-displacement pump circuit with relief valve.


Figure 18-5 shows a pressure-compensated pump with a direct-acting relief valve to protect it against overpressure. Pressure spikes often occur in pressure-compensated pump circuits with high flow or fast cycling. When the pump must compensate rapidly or often from full flow to no flow, the resulting overpressure drastically shortens pump life.

In Figure 18-5, the pump would be at low pressure and full flow when cylinder CYL3 extends rapidly. When the cylinder stops, fluid requirement is zero, but pump flow is still 40 gpm. As pressure builds, the pump finally starts compensating at about 1900 or 1950 psi. It is still producing 40 gpm — with no place for the oil to go. Without a relief valve in the circuit, system pressure spikes during each cycle can reach four to ten times the compensator setting. Pressure spikes damage the pump and piping after a few hours of operation. The faster the cycle, the more quickly shock damage from pressure spikes causes problems.

A relief valve, installed in Figure 18-5, reduces pressure spikes to protect the system. When the pump shifts to no flow, excess flow goes to tank through the relief valve. When the pump reaches compensator pressure, the relief valve closes. (For another and better way to reduce pressure spikes and protect a pressure-compensated pump from rapid cycling, see Chapter 1, Figures 17-19.)

Set the relief valve in a pressure-compensated pump circuit at 150 to 200 psi higher than the pump compensator. With relief pressure below compensator setting, pump flow goes to tank and makes heat. With relief pressure set at compensator pressure, the relief valve starts dumping when the pump starts compensating. When the relief valve passes fluid, the pump sees a pressure drop, and starts flowing again. The resultant pressure drop allows the relief valve to close and the dump/flow cycle starts again. After a few hours of this erratic operation, the pump fails.

Adding a solenoid valve to the vent port of a pilot-operated relief valve makes an effective unloading valve. Figure 18-6 shows a fixed-displacement pump supplying three cylinders. There is no power to the solenoid on the relief valve with the cylinders idle, so pump flow goes to tank at low pressure. Energizing a solenoid on the relief valve and one cylinder’s directional valve causes an action. Energizing both solenoids at the same time sends pump flow to the cylinder until reaching maximum relief pressure. A solenoid relief valve always has a slight delay before blocking flow to tank after energizing the solenoid. The delay is in milliseconds so it usually is only noticeable on very fast cycles.

Figure 18-6
Fig. 18-6. Fixed-displacement pump unloading circuit using a normally open solenoid relief valve.
Figure 18-7

Fig. 18-7. Hi-lo pump circuit in which a solenoid relief valve unloads the high-volume pump.


The circuit in Figure 18-7 uses a solenoid-operated relief valve to unload the high-volume pump in a hi-lo circuit. Instead of waiting for pressure to build before the high-volume pump dumps to tank, the solenoid relief dumps oil on demand. The demand signal could come from a pressure switch, a limit switch, or an electric eye that senses cylinder position (then slows it before it contacts the work).

A relief valve that decelerates an actuator
Figures 18-8 through 18-14 show normally closed, solenoid-operated relief valve B used to rapidly extend, then decelerate a free-falling cylinder. Deceleration takes place when the cylinder makes a limit switch that deenergizes the solenoid on relief valve B . Relief pressure should be set 150 to 200 psi higher than the pressure required to raise the cylinder. Any higher relief pressure shortens the deceleration stroke and increases shock.

Figure 18-8

Fig. 18-8. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown at rest with pump running.


Figure 18-8 shows a cylinder with its rod port piped to tank through normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve B . Prefill valve F allows the cap end of the cylinder to fill during rapid advance. (See Chapter 7 for an explanation of the prefill valve’s function.) Check valve C at the rod port keeps cylinder flow from going to tank through directional valve A.

Figure 18-9

Fig. 18-9. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder stroking fast forward.


To extend the cylinder, energize solenoid A1 on directional valve A to pass oil to the cylinder’s cap end, as in Figure 18-9. Also energize solenoid C1 on relief valve B , venting it to tank and allowing the cylinder to fall freely. As the cylinder falls, the cap end fills from the pump and from tank directly through prefill valve F.

Figure 18-10

Fig. 18-10. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder decelerating.


As the cylinder extends, high flow leaving the cylinder’s rod end goes to tank. Just before the rod contacts the work, a limit switch deenergizes solenoid C1 on relief valve B , Figure 18-10. As valve B tries to close, pressure increases in the cylinder’s rod end, keeping the valve partially open. Backpressure from relief valve B quickly and smoothly slows cylinder descent. The cylinder continues to slow while the relief valve shuts. The cylinder does not completely stop because the pump forces it to extend after free fall.

Figure 18-11

Fig. 18-11. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder approaching work.


After deceleration, relief valve B acts as a counterbalance valve, as in Figure 18-11, so the load cannot run away. The cylinder extends at pressing speed to the work. This part of the stroke should be as short as possible to save time. Prefill valve F closes as the cylinder decelerates and allows pressure to build in the cap end. The slowdown is smooth and controlled — without shock or bouncing. This circuit decelerates the cylinder when commanded by an electrical signal at any point in its stroke.

Figure 18-12

Fig. 18-12. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder pressing.


Figure 18-12 shows the circuit while the cylinder is pressing. When the cylinder contacts the work, energize solenoid C1 on relief valve B again. Energizing the solenoid on the relief valve lets oil from the cylinder’s rod end flow to tank at minimal pressure. This allows the weight of the platen and tooling to add to the pressing force because they are no longer counterbalanced. Pressure increases in the cylinder’s cap end to perform the work.

Figure 18-13

Fig. 18-13 Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder decompressing.


Deenergizing solenoid A1 on directional valve A lets it center and decompress the cylinder, Figure 18-13 shows directional valve A centered, blocking the cylinder’s cap-end port and unloading the pump. At the same time, a signal to single-solenoid valve E in the cap-end line shifts it open. Trapped pressurized oil in the cylinder’s cap end flows to tank through an orifice, thus lowering pressure without shock. Pressure switch D indicates when pressure is low enough to shift valve A to retract the cylinder. (See Chapter 7 for an explanation of a decompression circuit. A decompression circuit keeps the cylinder from rapidly losing pressure and shocking the system.)

Figure 18-14

Fig. 18-14. Press circuit with NC solenoid relief valve for fast forward and deceleration to work. Shown with cylinder retracting.


To retract the cylinder, energize solenoid B1 on directional valve A to send oil to the cylinder’s rod end, as in Figure 18-14. Oil from the pump starts to retract the cylinder. Pilot oil opens prefill valve F to tank. Oil from the cylinder’s cap end flows to tank through the prefill valve and the main directional control valve. The cylinder retracts rapidly at low pressure.

Using solenoid relief valves as 2-way valves
High-flow (above 50 gpm) 2-way valves are not readily available for hydraulic circuits. To get around this problem, use a solenoid relief valve. Several circuits shown here are in use in many hydraulic applications.

For flows above 150 to 200 gpm, use slip-in cartridge valves (as explained in Chapter 4). Slip-in cartridge valves use simple directional controls to operate large poppets that can handle flows in excess of 600 gpm.

Figure 18-15

Fig. 18-15. NC solenoid relief valve used for high-flow bleed-off flow-control circuit. Shown at rest with pump running.

Figure 18-16

Fig. 18-16. NO solenoid relief valve used for high-flow bleed-off flow-control circuit. Shown at rest with pump running.


Figures 18-15 through 18-16 show the schematic diagram for a high-flow, on-off, bleed-off flow control circuit. Set the solenoid relief valve higher than system pressure so it never passes fluid unless vented. The normally closed bleed-off circuit shown in Figure 18-15 passes fluid when the solenoid is energized. Figure 18-16 shows a normally open solenoid-operated relief valve. With this valve, energizing the solenoid stops flow.

Figure 18-17

Fig. 18-17. NC solenoid relief valve used for high-flow bleed-off flow-control circuit. Shown at rest with pump running.

Figure 18-18

Fig. 18-18. NO solenoid relief valve used for high-flow bleed-off flow-control circuit. Shown at rest with pump running.


The circuits in Figures 18-17 and 18-18 show solenoid-operated relief valves bypassing large flow controls in a 2-speed circuit. Because there is backpressure downstream from the solenoid relief valve in this type circuit, use a valve with an external drain. (Backpressure at the outlet of a relief valve causes it to shut when internally drained.) Externally draining the relief valve eliminates backpressure at the vent port so it stays open when bypassing.

Solenoid reliefs used as shut-off valves do not cause as much shock as spool-type valves because relief valves cushion as they close.

Figure 18-19

ig. 18-19 NO solenoid relief valve for starting and stopping a large hydraulic motor. Shown at rest with pump running.


In Figure 18-19, a normally open solenoid-operated relief valve protects a large hydraulic motor from overpressure, and also starts and stops it for a single-rotation application. Energizing the solenoid on the relief valve blocks its vent, causing it to close. Closing is smooth because pressure builds to relief setting quickly, providing some fluid a path to tank while the motor comes up to speed. When the motor reaches full speed, the relief valve closes completely. The motor then continues at full speed at whatever pressure it takes to keep it rotating.

Deenergizing the solenoid on the solenoid-operated relief valve connects pump flow to tank and the hydraulic motor coasts to a stop. A brake valve (Chapter 12) would stop the motor quickly and smoothly if required.

Figure 18-20

Fig. 18-20. NO solenoid relief valve for starting a pressure-compensated pump at no load. Shown with pump just starting.


Figure 18-20 shows a normally open solenoid-operated relief valve that allows a large pressure-compensated pump to start at no load. A normally open solenoid-operated relief valve lets flow from the pressure-compensated pump go to tank until the electric drive motor is up to speed. A time delay or a flow meter with a flow switch energizes the solenoid on the relief valve to load the circuit. Deenergizing the normally open solenoid-operated relief valve unloads the pump any time to reduce power consumption, heat buildup, and noise.

Controlling a pilot-operated relief valve remotely
The system relief valve is normally located near the pump outlet on a typical hydraulic unit. The hydraulic unit could be at a distance from the operator, or cramped conditions could make the relief valve hard to get near. If an application’s relief pressure must change often, add a remote relief valve control to a pilot-operated relief valve for convenience.

Figure 18-21
Fig. 18-21. Simplified schematic of remote-operated relief valve.
Figure 18-22

Fig. 18-22. Complete symbol for a remotely controlled pilot-operated relief valve.


Figures 18-21 and 18-22 show a symbol for a remote relief valve setup. Figure 18-21 shows the simplified symbol; Figure 18-22 shows the complete symbol. All pilot-operated relief valves have a vent port. The vent port tees into the pilot line that connects system pressure to the direct-acting relief valve’s pilot section. The vent port tees in after the control orifice. With the vent blocked, the relief valve functions normally. With the vent open to atmosphere, the relief valve opens at the pressure of the internal main poppet or piston spring. This is usually between 20 and 70 psi. Figure 18-21 shows a small, direct-acting relief valve piped to the vent port of a pilot-operated relief valve. The small direct-acting relief functions the same as the pilot-valve section on the main relief. An operator can use the remote relief to adjust main system pressure from any convenient location within 10 to15 feet of the system relief valve.

To adjust a circuit with a remote relief valve, use the following procedure. First, set the main relief at minimum pressure and the remote relief at maximum pressure. Start the pump and check for obvious leaks and incorrect plumbing. Pressure is low during this part of the procedure. Next, slowly raise the main relief to maximum system pressure and lock it. Now, use the remote relief to set pressure to any setting less than the main relief. The operator can only adjust pressure to a level lower than the main relief setting. This is an important safety factor because it eliminates damage or injury from excess pressure caused by an inexperienced operator.

Most manufacturers recommend that the remote valve be located a maximum of 10 to 15 feet from the main relief. The greater the distance between the remote and main relief, the longer the response time of the main relief. An increase in response time allows higher pressure override, causing pressure spikes. Pressure spikes may cause premature pump, piping, or valve failure.

With a solenoid or manual valve to select more than one remote relief, it is easy to select multiple preset pressures.

Multi-pressure relief valves
Pilot-operated relief valves have a vent port. In Figures 18-21 and 18-22, the vent port is piped to a single, remote direct-acting relief for adjusting pressure remotely. Figures 18-23 through 18-25 show the vent port connected to directional valves and multiple remote reliefs. These circuits allow changes from maximum pressure to several preset or infinitely variable limits during a cycle.

Figure 18-23

Fig. 18-23. Using the vent port for three different solenoid-selected system pressures. Shown with no solenoids energized.


Figure 18-23 shows a pilot-operated relief valve with the vent port connected to a 3-position directional control valve. With the directional valve centered, it blocks the vent port on the relief to keep system pressure at the setting of the main relief. An open-center directional valve would vent the main relief, lowering pressure to a 20- to 70-psi range.

Some manufacturers offer a relief valve with the remote pilot heads and solenoid valve built into the valve body. This eliminates external piping but is less flexible than piping the vent of a standard pilot-operated relief valve to standard directional valves.

Figure 18-24

Fig. 18-24. Using the vent port for three different solenoid-selected system pressures. Shown with solenoid A1 energized.


In Figure 18-24, solenoid A1 is energized. This connects the vent to the left remote direct-acting relief, dropping system pressure to a maximum of 350 psi. Energizing solenoid A1 keeps pressure from going above the setting of the left direct-acting relief. The main relief valve always limits maximum system pressure.

Figure 18-25

Fig. 18-25 Using the vent port for three different solenoid-selected system pressures. Shown with solenoid B1 energized.


Figure 18-25 shows solenoid A1 energized, allowing system pressure to go to 700 psi. In this condition the right remote direct-acting relief controls system pressure. Set remote reliefs at any pressure lower than the main relief valve.

Figure 18-26
18-26. Using the vent port with a servo pressure controller for infinitely variable pressure.

Figure 18-26 shows a pilot-operated relief controlled by an infinitely variable proportional or servovalve. Using a variable-flow valve to control a pilot-operated relief valve gives infinitely variable pressure. The control signal may come from a rheostat, a programmable controller, or a computer.

Purchase an infinitely variable relief valve as an assembled unit or pipe one remotely. In each case, the pilot head relief controls maximum pressure, while the servo or proportional valve only sets a lower pressure.

Unloading relief valves
An accumulator circuit using a fixed-displacement pump must have some way to unload the pump after reaching maximum pressure. A normally open solenoid-operated relief valve controlled by a pressure switch is one way to unload a pump. Chapter 1 shows this circuit and explains its operation.

Some accumulator circuits use a special type valve called an unloading relief valve. This relief valve eliminates the need for electrical, high and low pressure switches and a solenoid-operated dump valve to unload the pump. Only a few manufacturers make an unloading relief valve. Two of these operate at preset pressure differentials and may not be suitable for some accumulator circuits. One manufacture makes an unloading relief valve with adjustable pressure differentials.

Several companies make a relief unload-and-dump valve combination with other features. Operation is the same as an unloading relief valve but includes a back-flow check valve and an accumulator dump valve in the same body. See Chapter 1, Figure 44, for an explanation of this accumulator unload and dump valve.

Figure 18-27
Fig. 18-27. Unloading relief valve in an accumulator circuit. Shown with pump just turned on.

Figures 18-27 through 18-30 schematically depict an unloading relief valve in an accumulator circuit. Figure 18-27 shows the circuit after the pump starts. Normally closed relief valve A forces fluid to the accumulator and the circuit. Pressure increases as fast as the pump fills the accumulator. When the accumulator and circuit reach set pressure of 3000 psi, pilot pressure opens relief valve A and unloads the pump to tank.

Figure 18-28

Fig. 18-28. Unloading relief valve in an accumulator circuit. Shown with system running at pressure.


In Figure 18-28, the accumulator is at pressure and the pump is unloading. The relief valve is fully open or vented because the control piston pushes the pilot control piston off its seat. Without a control piston, relief valves relieve excess pump flow at set pressure, generating a lot of heat. This unloading relief valve has a preset differential of 15% between unloading and reloading the pump.

Figure 18-29

Fig. 18-29. Unloading relief valve in an accumulator circuit. Shown with pump loading again after 15% pressure drop.

Figure 18-30

Fig. 18-30. Cutaway view of unloading relief valve.


When system pressure drops to approximately 2550 psi, as in Figure 18-29, its spring force reseats the pilot control poppet again. This forces pump flow into the circuit. This action repeats as long as the pump runs. With a tight circuit and the machine not cycling, the pump unloads approximately 80% of the time.

Figure 18-31
Fig. 18-31. Control piston before reaching set pressure.
Figure 18-32
Fig. 18-32. Control piston just at set pressure.
Figure 18-33

Fig. 18-33. Control piston while pump is unloading.


Figure 18-31 shows a cutaway view of an unloading relief valve. It is similar to a standard relief valve but has an extra control piston in its head. There is an approximate 15% difference in the area of the control piston and the pilot-control poppet seat. As pressure builds, it pushes against both sides of the control piston and against the pilot-control poppet. Nothing moves until pressure starts to force the pilot-control poppet off its seat, as in Figure 18-32. Pressure drop in front of the control piston lets it move and force the pilot-control poppet completely off its seat, Figure 18-33. Forcing the pilot-control poppet off its seat unloads the pump at 20 to 70 psi. The pilot-control poppet stays open until system pressure drops approximately 15%, then closes to force pump flow into the circuit again. When pressure rises to maximum, the pilot-control poppet is pushed off its seat and unloads the pump. This action continues anytime the pump runs.

 

 

Chapter 19: Rotary Actuator

Some machine actions require rotary motion for only a portion of a turn. Using a hydraulic motor to perform a partial-turn function is expensive and it is difficult to accurately stop a motor at a specified degree of rotation. A clevis-mounted cylinder, attached to an arm and keyed to a shaft, produces rotary action, but is limited to 90° or less. At 90° rotation, a cylinder/lever arrangement has half torque or less when it starts and nears the end of stroke. To obtain partial- or multiple-turn rotary action and/or accurate stopping of rotary output, use one of the rotary actuators shown in this chapter. Figure 19-1 pictures the symbols for air- and hydraulic-operated rotary actuators.

Fig 19-1

Fig. 19-1. Rotary actuator symbols.


Figure 19-2 provides simplified cutaway views of vane-type rotary actuators. The figure depicts both single- and double-vane-types. The vanes attach to an output shaft and have seals around their periphery. When fluid pressure on a given vane area pushes it through the body cavity, the output shaft turns with a given torque. The maximum rotation of vane rotary actuators is limited to approximately 280° in a single-vane model and approximately 100° in the double-vane configuration.

Fig. 19-2

Fig. 19-2. Vane-type rotary actuator.


A double-vane rotary actuator sends fluid to the push side of the opposite vane through drilled passages in the shaft, as shown by dashed lines and arrows. Pressurized fluid at the CW port turns the output shaft clockwise. Pressurized fluid at the CCW port turns the output shaft counterclockwise.

Most vane-type rotary actuators operate at lower pressure and torque limits of 2500 to 5000 in. lb. Some manufacturers do make units that operate at up to 3000 psi, with torque in excess of 700,000 in. lb.

Vane-type rotary actuators have no effective way of internally cushioning or limiting the degree of rotation. An external method must be used to limit rotation or cushion the load. Some manufacturers offer a valve and stroke-limiting package that makes rotation degrees adjustable and gives variable deceleration and cushioning. Check manufacturers’ catalogs for more information on these packages.

Fig. 19-3

Fig. 19-3. Rack-and-pinion rotary actuator with sealed output shaft.


Figure 19-3 illustrates one design of a rack-and-pinion type rotary actuator. This cutaway view shows a double-rack design that has fluid in the area where the pinion runs. This configuration requires a high-pressure shaft seal but assures that the rack and pinion is well lubricated. With fluid piped to the CW port, the output shaft turns clockwise. With fluid piped to the CCW port, the output shaft turns counterclockwise. This design works best in pneumatic or low-pressure hydraulic applications. The torque range usually does not exceed 2500 to 3500 in. lb.

The cutaway view in Figure 19-4 shows another style rack-and-pinion type rotary actuator. This design has opposing pistons with a rack gear as the piston rod. Fluid only enters the blind side of the piston so the pinion shaft never sees pressure. When fluid enters one of the piston cavities, that piston moves, pushing the rack gear to drive the pinion, and producing rotary output. With fluid piped to the CW port, the output shaft turns clockwise. With fluid piped to the CCW port, the output shaft turns counterclockwise.

Fig. 19-4

Fig. 19-4. Rack-and-pinion rotary actuator with low-pressure sealed shaft.


The rack-and-pinion design rotary actuators shown in Figure 19-4 are available with a second rack gear and pistons mounted on the opposite side of the pinion. This double-piston setup produces twice the torque in both directions of rotation.

Optional stroke limiters select a precise stopping point at any degree of rotation less than maximum. Also available are cushions that decelerate rotation speed near the end of the stroke. Cushions are adjustable and not affected by the stroke limiter option in the same rotary actuator. This type rotary actuator is available with an optional hollow output shaft.

Rack-and-pinion rotary actuators operate equally well on pneumatic or hydraulic pressure (up to 3000 psi). They generate torque up to 200,000 in. lb for air service, and up to 15,000,000 in. lb and higher for hydraulic service. Output shafts turn any number of degrees up to five rotations according to piston and rack gear size.

Fig. 19-5

Fig. 19-5. Simplified cutaway view of spiral -shaft rotary actuator.


Figure 19-5 shows a simplified cutaway view of a spiral-shaft rotary actuator. (There are several variations of spiral-type rotary actuators, but all function similar to this diagram.) The spiral-shaft rotary actuator has a keyed, non-rotating piston with a hollow rod. The hollow rod has a set of internal spiral grooves that mesh with the spiral shaft. The spiral-grooved shaft only has rotational movement and extends through the housing as an output shaft. With fluid piped to the CW port, the output shaft turns clockwise. With fluid piped to the CCW port, the output shaft turns counterclockwise.

One available option is a stroke limiter that allows a precise stopping at any degree less than maximum. Also available are cushions to decelerate rotation speed near the end of stroke. Some manufacturers make this type rotary actuator with an integral cylinder that adds linear movement to the output shaft.

The spiral-shaft rotary actuators in Figure 19-5 operate equally well on air or hydraulic power. They operate at pressures up to 3000 psi and produce torque up to 20,000 in. lb for air service, and up to 5,000,000 in. lb for hydraulic service. Output shafts normally rotate 360° with more turns available on special order.

Fig. 19-6

Fig. 19-6. Chain-and-sprocket rotary actuator.


Figure 19-6 shows a simplified cutaway view of a chain-and-sprocket rotary actuator. It consists of a large-diameter power piston with a roller chain attached to both sides. The roller chains go around a sprocket at both ends and attach to both sides of a smaller isolation piston. When pressurized fluid enters a port, it pushes against both pistons with equal force. Because the power piston has more area, it moves away from incoming fluid. The smaller isolation piston regenerates into the incoming pump flow. (To find the effective working area, subtract the area of the isolation piston from the area of the power piston.) With fluid piped to the CW port, the output shaft turns clockwise. With fluid piped to the CCW port, the output shaft turns counterclockwise.

Moving a load rapidly without shock
Raising a well-guided table 24 in. in 1.5 sec; then, after removing a part, lowering it in 1 sec is a challenge. The part cannot stand high starting forces and must stay on the table at the end of stroke.

Fig. 19-7

Fig. 19-7. Pictorial layout of rotary actuator that rapidly and smoothly lifts and lowers table without shock.

Fig. 19-8

Fig. 19-8 Schematic layout of rotary actuator that rapidly and smoothly lifts and lowers table without shock.


The schematic and pictorial layout in Figures 19-7 and 19-8 shows a way to move something -- such as a lift table -- through a fixed travel rapidly, with little shock. (For other ways to move this type load, using a straight cylinder, see Chapter 14.) The action here is similar to a crankshaft-type press, where the platen and tooling move rapidly and smoothly from top dead center, through bottom dead center, and back with little or no shock.

The layout in Figure 19-7 shows a hydraulic rotary actuator with a 6-in. arm attached to the output shaft. For a large table, choose a rack-and-pinion actuator with a through shaft and put an arm on both sides. Attach the 6-in. arms with pivot pins to 12-in. arms that also connect to the table with pivot pins.

Porting fluid to the right end of the rotary actuator makes the piston drive the rack gear, thus turning the pinion. The pinion starts at low torque and accelerates quickly. As the pinion turns, the table moves up -- slowly at first and then constantly gains speed until mid stroke. From mid stroke on, the table decelerates and actually stops just as the rotary actuator finishes its stroke. The action is fast and smooth without jerks. There is no need for position indicators, shock absorbers, or other devices to position the table. Use a rotary actuator with cushions to minimize shock.

Even though this is a running-away load on the return stroke, motion remains smooth. The schematic drawing in Figure 19-8 shows a counterbalance valve in the lowering line to produce hydraulic resistance that offsets the table and/or part weight. Set the counterbalance valve high enough to offset the weight and stop free fall. Setting the counterbalance valve too high uses excess energy, resulting in unnecessary oil heating.

If the load is resistive part way and running away the rest of the stroke, use a counterbalance valve with an external and internal pilot. The counterbalance valve in Figure 19-8, with internal piloting only, adds extra resistance even with a resistive load. This might cause the circuit to operate at higher pressure than needed and possibly stall. (See Figures 19-20-23, for a full explanation of a resistive, overrunning load circuit.)

With a 360° rotary actuator, action is like the cycle of a crankshaft-type press. For each direction the rotary actuator strokes, the table completes a lift or lower motion. This same mechanism and circuit can move a horizontal load with the same results

Some typical applications for rotary actuators
Figure 19-9 shows a I80° turnover station powered by a rotary actuator. The shaft of the turnover attaches directly to the actuator shaft without gearing or other devices. Because the load is resistive part way and running away for the rest of the stroke, use an internally and externally piloted counterbalance valve for good control. If speed is the same for the whole stroke, use a meter-out flow control in place of the counterbalance valve in a hydraulic circuit.

Fig. 19-9

Fig. 19-9. Turnover device.

Fig. 19-10
Fig. 19-10. Clamping device

The clamping device in Figure 19-10 allows the part to be loaded from the top without interference. This is an advantage for some machining operations. Calculate the downward force of the clamp arm by dividing its length into the torque of the output shaft. When using a 180° rotary actuator, the clamp arm is completely out of the way for loading.

Fig. 19-11

Fig. 19-11. Toggle mechanism


The toggle arms in Figure 19-11 rapidly move a platen to and from the workstation. The arms also multiply the force as they reach the work and get into a straight line. This mechanism only works when the closed height does not change for a given setup.

Fig. 19-12
Fig. 19-12. Valve actuator.

Many 90°-turn rotary actuators operate butterfly or ball valves at remote locations, as in Figure 19-12. With adjustable stops or control valve circuits, these actuators give partial movement to control product flow.

Fig. 19-13

Fig. 19-13. Agitator.


For an agitator drive, especially in an explosive atmosphere, use the rotary actuator setup shown in Figure 19-13. Select an air pilot-operated pneumatic or hydraulic directional valve and pneumatic limit valves to cycle the unit for explosion-proof applications.

Fig. 19-14

Fig. 19-14. Part-stop device


The swinging stop in Figure 19-14 holds parts on a conveyor while they stack up to a specified number. When the required parts have accumulated, the actuator swings the stop out of the way to let them pass.

Fig. 19-15

Fig. 19-15. Part-release device


Figure 19-15 shows a single-part release. As the rotary actuator swings through approximately 90°, it releases one part while holding back all others.

There are many applications where rotary actuators save time and cost over other fluid power devices. They are often not as expensive as the components they replace, and they reduce maintenance costs for the life of the machine.

More circuits for rotary actuators
To control rotary actuators consider all of the hydraulic-motor circuits in Chapter 12. Many cylinder circuits work well also, but a rotary actuator has the advantage of equal areas in both directions of travel. Note that these equal areas make it impossible to use a conventional regeneration circuit, but the flow-divider regeneration circuits shown in Chapter11 work well.

Fig. 19-16
Fig. 19-16. Dual cross-port relief valves

The circuit in Figure 19-16 shows a rotary actuator with cross-port relief valves to protect it from excess pressure when the valve centers with ports A and B blocked. If the rotary actuator has an overrunning load, sudden stops cause damaging pressure spikes. The dual cross-port relief valve shown in this example allows the actuator to decelerate quickly, without shock and its resulting damage.

Set the cross-port relief valves pressure so that it is equal to or higher than the system relief or pump-compensator setting. A pressure setting equal to the system relief valve gives a stopping distance equal to the distance it takes to accelerate the load. Higher pressure settings stop the load in less distance. Always set cross-port relief valve pressure lower than the actuator's maximum operating pressure.

Fig. 19-17
Fig. 19-17. Single cross-port relief with check valves.

In Figure 19-17, a single relief valve with four check valves gives the same cross-port relief function without having to make two adjustments. Otherwise, this circuit works the same as the one in Figure 19-16.

Fig. 19-18

Fig. 19-18. Gate-valve operator with 2-position directional valve and meter-out flow controls.

Fig. 19-19

Fig. 19-19. Gate valve operator with 2-position directional valve and meter-in flow controls


Flow control circuits shown in Figures 19-18 and 19-19 control the speed of the rotary actuator. All of the advantages and disadvantages of the different flow control circuits apply here as well as to cylinders. (See Chapter 10 on flow controls for the ways to control an actuator's speed.)

Resistive to over-running load application
In Figure 19-20, a turnover table driven by a rotary actuator starts off as a resistive load and goes to over-running at about mid stroke. This is not an unusual application for a rotary actuator. When speed of rotation is the same for the whole stroke, use a meter-out flow control circuit for this application. When using variable speed such as fast traverse and slowdown, use the counterbalance circuit shown and described.

Fig. 19-20

Fig. 19-20 Pictorial representation of resistive, overrunning load application with high-low pump circuit for rapid traverse and slowdown.


To make it possible to keep pressure high enough to move the load and also have a slow down at the end of travel, use the circuit shown in Figures 19-21 through 19-23. This circuit has both a high-volume pump and a low-volume pump for fast travel, but uses only the low-volume pump for slow speed. Normally open solenoid operated relief valve B unloads the high-volume pump near the end of the stroke. Counterbalance valves C and D slow the actuator when the high-volume pump unloads.

Fig. 19-21
Fig. 19-21. Fast traverse in resistive mode.

In Figure 19-21, both pumps lift the load rapidly. Energizing the solenoid on normally open solenoid-operated relief valve B and solenoid B1 on directional valve A sends flow from both pumps to the actuator. Fluid from both pumps raises the load through the resistive part of the cycle. (Note that gauges PG1 and PG3 indicate 650 psi.) The external pilot port of counterbalance valve C in the outlet line of the actuator senses that working pressure, causing it to open fully. Pressure at gauge PG2 shows 0-psi backpressure in the outlet line of the actuator, so there is no wasted energy. As long as the rotary actuator lifts the load, external pilot pressure keeps counterbalance valve C open, allowing free flow to tank.

Fig. 19-22
Fig. 19-22. High-low pump circuit for fast traverse and slowdown of a resistive, over-running load.

When the load goes over center, as in Figure 19-22, the rotary actuator tries to run away. When this happens, external pilot pressure to counterbalance valve C drops and it tries to close. When the counterbalance valve closes enough to restrict movement of the actuator, pressure at its inlet increases. The pressure increase is partially from the over-running load while the rest is from the pump pushing on the other side of the actuator piston. As the load goes over center and continues on, pressure at PG2 steadily increases while pressure at PG3 decreases. With a counterbalance valve creating resistance, it takes pump flow and its resulting pressure to keep the rotary actuator moving. Speed is as fast as pump flow dictates.

Fig. 19-23

Fig. 19-23. Slow down in over-running mode.

In Figure 19-23, the solenoid on normally open solenoid-operated relief valve B is deenergized near the end of the stroke. This unloads the high-volume pump at low pressure. Decreased flow to the actuator causes a pressure drop at its inlet and outlet. Counterbalance valve C again tries to close, holding the load back until the low-volume pump starts pushing it at a slower rate. Slow down is quick and smooth. This circuit allows the turnover to move rapidly during most of the cycle, while the slow down eliminates shock at stopping.

The schematic diagram shows two counterbalance valves to handle a load in each direction. If the carrier returns without a load, set counterbalance D lower, to reduce the energy requirement on the return stroke.

 

Chapter 20: Sequence Valve Circuits

Sequence Valves

There are times when two or more cylinders need to stroke in a planned sequence. With two or more cylinders controlled by a single directional valve, the cylinder with the lowest resistance always strokes first. If the actuator with the least resistance is first in the sequence, the circuit runs smoothly without other valving.

When the cylinder that must move first has the highest resistance, a single directional control will not work. A separate directional valve for each cylinder is one way to sequence such a circuit. Energizing one solenoid extends the first cylinder. When the first cylinder contacts a limit switch, it energizes a second solenoid, causing the next cylinder to stroke. With this type of sequencing circuit, the first cylinder may lose holding power when the second directional valve shifts. It may require other valves to make sure the first cylinder generates and maintains the force required both before and during the second cylinder’s stroke.

Another way to force fluid to take the path of greatest resistance is to use a pressure-control valve called a sequence valve.

Figure 20-1 shows the schematic symbol for an internally piloted sequence valve. A sequence valve symbol is similar to a relief valve symbol. The main difference is that a sequence valve always has an external drain line — and often has a bypass check valve for reverse flow.

Figure 20-1

Figure 20-1. Internally piloted sequence valve.


A sequence valve is a pressure-operated, normally closed, poppet or spool valve that opens at an adjustable set pressure. Some designs use a spring acting directly on the spool or poppet, others are pilot-operated. A sequence valve always has an external drain port to keep from trapping leakage oil. Trapped fluid modifies set pressure at best or keeps the valve from opening at worst. For reverse flow capabilities, use the integral bypass check valve shown in the symbol.

Sequence valves may be internally pilot-operated as in Figure 20-1.This is the standard arrangement for the pilot source. Fluid at the inlet port of the valve cannot pass to the secondary circuit or outlet port, until reaching set pressure. Upon reaching set pressure, the valve opens enough to let excess pump flow pass on to the second operation.

The primary circuit never drops below the sequence valve setting as long as the primary pressure is equal to or greater than the sequence pressure setting. Pressure at the outlet port of the sequence valve is that required to overcome resistance in the secondary circuit when it is not above relief valve or pressure compensator setting.

Figure 20-2 pictures the symbol for an externally piloted sequence valve. In some circuits the pilot signal to open the valve is from a source other than the line feeding it. An external pilot-operated sequence valve opens and allows flow when a remote operation reaches a certain pressure.

Figure 20-2

Figure 20-2. Externally piloted sequence valve


Sequence valves produce heat in a hydraulic system. With a pressure setting of 800 psi and resistance in the secondary circuit of 150 psi, there is a 650-psi pressure drop across the valve. This pressure drop results in heat, because its energy does not do useful work. Most sequence circuits require a heat exchanger, especially when they cycle rapidly.

Many older machines use sequence circuits because at the time they were designed there was a lack of understanding of electrical controls. Sequence circuits are unreliable and difficult to set up and maintain. Some older circuits have one directional valve and up to six sequence valves. With this many adjustments to make, it is hard to keep the cycle operating consistently.

Another potential problem with a sequence valve circuit is that actuator position cannot be assured. When a sequence valve shifts, the only sure thing is that pressure has reached a certain level. Pressure build up could be from a damaged or stalled cylinder or a kinked line. When it is necessary to positively locate an actuator, always use a limit switch or limit valve. When it is only necessary to know that pressure has built, a sequence valve in the line keeps fluid from the next action until the limit switch is contacted and pressure increases.

Figure 20-3 shows the symbol for a kick-down sequence valve. Its operation is different from a normal sequence valve. After a kick-down sequence valve reaches set pressure, flow passes through unrestricted. Pressure may have to reach 900 psi before flow passes through the valve, but when it starts passing, a kick-down sequence opens fully. A pressure drop of more than 50 psi across a kick-down sequence valve keeps it full open. (Note that a kick-down sequence valve causes less heat generation, but does not hold pressure on the primary circuit.)

Figure 20-3. Kick-down sequence valve.


Figures 20-14 through 20-17 show a circuit using a kick-down sequence valve operating two cylinders. A pilot-operated check valve, added to the inlet of the first cylinder, maintains pressure on the first cylinder while the second cylinder strokes at low pressure.

Another use for a kick-down sequence is unloading a pump after the circuit reaches maximum pressure. A kick-down sequence valve keeps unloading the pump until pressure drop across it falls below 50 psi. (See further explanation in conjunction with Figures 20-23.)

When using flow controls with sequence circuits, meter-in flow control is the only workable option. Chapter 10 covering flow controls, explains the reasons for this.

Figures 20-4 through 20-11 provide schematic drawings for a two-cylinder sequence circuit. One 4-way directional control valve controls both cylinders. The sequence is: cylinder1 extend, cylinder 2 extend, cylinder 2 retract, and cylinder 1 retract. Cylinder 2 will not extend until pressure at cylinder 1 reaches 600 psi.

A good feature of a sequence circuit: if cylinder 1 is a clamp, it does not matter how thick the part is. Cylinder 2 will not extend until cylinder 1 securely clamps any thickness part. On the other hand, if the clamp cylinder locks up for any reason before contacting the part, pressure will build and allow cylinder 2 to cycle. Any sequence circuit may fail to operate correctly at any time because of outside influences.

Two-cylinder sequence circuit
Figure 20-4 shows a two-cylinder sequence circuit at rest. The schematic drawing notes the valve pressure settings. Gauges are placed to show working pressures as the sequence progresses.

Figure 20-4

Figure 20-4. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


In Figure 20-5, solenoid A1 is energized and CYL1 is extending. Pressure on gauges PG1-2 and 3 show the pressure required (100 psi) to move CYL1. Even if CYL2 required only 25 psi to move, sequence valve E keeps fluid from it. CYL1 extends until it contacts a part.

Figure 20-5
Figure 20-5. Two-cylinder sequence circuit

When CYL1 makes part contact, Figure 20-6, system pressure increases rapidly. As pressure passes through 300 psi (as seen on gauges PG1, 2, and 3), CYL2 is still stationary. Pressure continues to climb at CYL1 until it reaches 350 psi. When pressure is 350 psi at CYL1, reducing valve (B) shuts and holds. Pressure in the rest of the circuit continues to climb until it reaches 500 psi.

Figure 20-6

Figure 20-6. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


When pressure reaches 500 psi, as shown in Figure 20-7, sequence valve Eopens enough to let excess pump fluid flow to CYL2. If pressure at CYL1 drops for any reason, sequence valve E shuts enough to keep system pressure at 500 psi or higher if possible. Now gauge PG1 reads 500 psi while gauges PG2 and 3 read 350 psi, and gauge PG5reads whatever it takes to move CYL2. Pressure at CYL2 changes with load variations.

Figure 20-7

Figure 20-7. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


When pressure on CYL2 is less than 500 psi, the pressure drop across sequence valve (E)generates heat. When pressure on CYL2goes higher than 500 psi, there is no energy loss, hence no heat. Because of reducing valve (B), pressure at CYL1 stays at 350 psi no matter how high system pressure climbs.

When CYL2 bottoms out, as in Figure 20-8, pressure at gauges PG1 and PG5 goes to 750 psi and the system relief valve starts dumping fluid to tank. Pressure at CYL1 stays at 350 psi because reducing valve (B) will not let it go higher. Reducing valve (B) prevents CYL1 from crushing the part while CYL2 does its work.

Figure 20-8

Figure 20-8. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


Energizing solenoid B1 on directional valve (A) , Figure 20-9, starts returning the cylinders to their at-rest positions. In this circuit, CYL2 retracts first, while CYL1 holds under pressure when the directional valve shifts. Pilot-operated check valve (C) traps oil in the cap end of CYL1 — note gauge PG3 — so it does not relax and release the part. Oil now goes to CYL2 and sequence valve (D) . CYL2 retracts first because it only takes 100 psi to move it, while the pressure setting at sequence valve (D) is 300 psi. Pressure at CYL2 changes as it retracts, but never goes higher than 200 to 250 psi.

Figure 20-9

Figure 20-9. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


When CYL2 fully retracts, system pressure increases rapidly, as seen in Figure 20-10. Pressure in the rod end of CYL2 finally increases to 300 psi. CYL1 still has approximately 350 psi in its cap end due to pilot-operated check valve (C) . (Pressure at CYL1 may drop due to leaks at seals or piping with the circuit described here.) With a short cycle time, pressure drop is minimal. If decreasing pressure is a problem, tee a small accumulator in the line between pilot-operated check valve (C) and the cylinder. See a leakage make-up circuit using an accumulator in Chapter 1, Figures 1-24 to 1-27.

Figure 20-10

Figure 20-10. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


When pressure reaches 300 psi in Figure 20-11, CYL1 starts to retract. Because of sequence valve (D) , pressure at the rod end of CYL2 stays at 300 psi. When oil passes through sequence valve (D) , it first sends a pilot signal to open pilot-operated check valve (C) . After valve (C) opens, CYL1 can retract. Pressure at the rod end of CYL1 is whatever it takes to stroke the cylinder home.

Figure 20-11

Figure 20-11. Two-cylinder sequence circuit.


Simple sequence circuit using modular valves
Figures 20-12 through 20-15 show a modular or sandwich-type sequence valve in a circuit. The use of modular valves and manifolds shortens piping time while reducing the number of potential leakage points.

Figure 20-12 pictures the system at rest. A fixed-displacement pump, unloading at no pressure through a tandem-center valve, is the power source. This circuit has some heat generation but makes sure the Clamp cylinder never goes below a certain pressure while the Work cylinder extends and retracts. Also, the Work cylinder cannot even try to extend until CYL1 makes a limit switch.

20-12
Figure 20-12. Sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.

In Figure 20-13, solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01 is energized. Pump flow goes to the Clamp cylinder, extending it to the work. Because this requires only low pressure and uses all the pump flow, there is no heat generation.

20-13

Figure 20-13. Sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


When the Clamp cylinder makes a limit switch, as in Figure 20-14, it energizes solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02. The modular sequence valve under DV02 assures that the Clamp cylinder sees at least 700 psi before the Work cylinder extends. If the Work cylinder only requires 450 psi to extend, the 300-psi energy loss generates heat. With this sequence circuit, Clamp cylinder pressure cannot drop below 700 psi while the Work cylinder strokes. Directional valve DV02, shifted by a limit switch, ensures that the Clamp cylinder contacts the part before the Work cylinder cycles.

Figure 20-14
Figure 20-14. Sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.

To retract the Work cylinder, deenergize solenoid A2 as in Figure 20-15. This directs oil from the pump to the rod end of the Work cylinder. The Clamp cylinder still has 700 psi on it to hold the part firmly while the Work cylinder returns home.

Figure 20-15

Fig.20-15. Sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


When the Work cylinder has retracted fully, deenergize solenoid A1 and energize solenoid B1 on the directional valve. The Clamp cylinder returns, DV01 deenergizes, and the cycle ends.

Adding more directional valves like DV02 and more modular sequence valves will ensure the proper pressure for more working functions. A single screw-in cartridge sequence valve — added to the bar manifold in the pump line between the clamp valve and the working cylinder valves — can eliminate multiple sequence valves. The extra cost of special manifolds for this arrangement is a good investment.

Sequence circuit with kick-down sequence valve
Figures 20-16 through 20-19 show a kick-down sequence valve in place of the standard sequence valve. With a kick-down sequence valve, add the modular pilot-operated check valve shown in the cap-end line of the Clamp cylinder. A pilot-operated check valve blocks pressurized fluid in the cap end of the clamp cylinder when the kick-down sequence valve opens.

20-16

Figure 20-16. Kick-down sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


In Figure 20-17, solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01 is energized. Pump flow goes to the Clamp cylinder through the pilot-operated check valve to extend the Clamp cylinder. Because this takes low pressure and all pump flow, there is no heat generation.

Figure 20-17

Figure 20-17. Kick-down sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


After the work is contacted, Figure 20-18, energize solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02. The modular kick-down sequence valve under DV02 causes 700-psi pressure to build in the Clamp cylinder before the Work cylinder extends. If the Work cylinder only requires 450 psi to advance to the work, system pressure drops to 450 psi with minimal heating.

Figure 20-18

Figure 20-18. Kick-down sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


The Clamp cylinder maintains force because the modular pilot-operated check traps 700-psi fluid in it. With a short cycle time, pressure drop is minimal. If decreasing pressure is a problem, tee a small accumulator in the line between the manifold and the cylinder's cap-end line. See a leakage make up circuit using an accumulator in Chapter 1, Figures 1-24 to 1-27.

To retract the Work cylinder, deenergize solenoid A2 as in Figure 20-19. This sends pump flow to the rod end of the Workcylinder. The pilot-operated check still maintains 700 psi or higher on the Clamp cylinder, holding the work firmly while the Work cylinder retracts.

Figure 20-19

Figure 20-19. Kick-down sequence circuit to maintain clamp force.


After the Work cylinder retracts fully, deenergize solenoid A1 and energize solenoid B1 on the directional valve, retracting the Clamp cylinder to its home position. Pilot pressure from port B opens the pilot-operated check valve, allowing trapped fluid to leave the cap end of the Clamp cylinder. After the Clamp cylinder returns, DV01 deenergizes and the cycle ends.

Pump unloading with kick-down sequence valve
Figures 20-20 through 20-23 show a kick-down sequence valve automatically unloading a pump at the end of a cycle. The kick-down sequence valve and a single-solenoid directional valve can replace an open- or tandem- center, 3-position valve unloading circuit. This circuit simplifies the electrical controls because it only uses one solenoid.

A punch cylinder application, using a single-solenoid, two-position, spring-return valve and a fixed-displacement pump could operate this way with little heat generation. Figure 20-20 shows the circuit at rest. The pump, unloading through kick-down sequence valve (A) at about 50 psi, is ready for a cycle.

Figure 20-20

Figure 20-20. Pump-unloading circuit with kick-down sequence valve — at rest with pump running.


Energizing solenoid A1 on directional valve (B), Figure 20-21, directs oil to the cap end of the punch cylinder. The cylinder extends at the pressure required to move it. Oil from the rod end of the cylinder flows freely to tank, greatly reducing pressure in this line. The pressure drop allows kick-down sequence valve (A) to close (or reset) for the retract cycle.

Figure 20-21

Figure 20- 21 Pump-unloading circuit with kick-down sequence valve — cylinder extending.


The cylinder extends until it meets the part. Pressure builds until the punch goes through the part. A limit switch then deenergizes solenoid A1 on directional valve (B) . Directional valve (B) spring returns to normal and cylinder travel reverses and retracts.

The cylinder retracts at the pressure required to move it, Figure 20-22. Kick-down sequence valve (A) stays closed because its setting is higher than the pressure retracting the cylinder. The cylinder retracts until the end of stroke or until it contacts a dead stop.

Figure 20-22

Figure 20-22. Pump-unloading circuit with kick-down sequence valve — cylinder retracting.


When the retracting cylinder stops, Figure 20-23, pressure builds in its rod end. When pressure reaches the setting of kick-down sequence valve (A) , the valve opens and unloads the pump to tank at approximately 50 psi. The circuit has returned to the conditions of Figure 20-20.

Figure 20-23

Figure 20-23. Pump-unloading circuit with kick-down sequence valve — pump just starting to unload.


A kick-down sequence valve is a unique component that can simplify the electrical control of systems with one or two cylinders. At the same time, there is minimal energy loss and heat generation.

CAUTION: When using any pressure-control valve, the only thing certain when they operate is that they have reached set pressure.

Pressure-compensated pump with self-adjusting overpressure relief valve
Some designers use a relief valve with a pressure-compensated pump to reduce pressure spikes as the pump rapidly goes from full flow to no flow. Figure 1-16 in Chapter 1 shows and explains a circuit using a pressure-compensated pump and a relief valve. Figures 1-17 to 1-19 show another circuit using an accumulator to protect the pump. The accumulator circuit almost eliminates pressure spikes — plus it gives faster actuator response at the start of a cycle. However, there are pressure-compensated pump circuits that need overpressure protection that an accumulator may not be capable of providing alone. The schematic diagrams in Figures 20-20 through 20-24 show a circuit with a cylinder opposed by a greater force than its pressure capabilities. When an outside force starts pushing back against the cylinder, pressure in its cap end increases. Without a relief valve in the circuit, pressure might easily exceed the rating of the valves, piping, pump, and cylinder. This happens because a pressure-compensated pump compensates to no flow at set pressure, but will not allow reverse flow to relieve pressure above its setting.

Figure 20-24

Figure 20-24. Pressure-compensated pump with safety relief valve — at rest with pump running.


Relief valve (A), installed anywhere in the pressure line, protects the system when set 150 to 200 psi higher than the pump compensator. The inlet to a pressure-compensated pump should never see a pressure higher than its compensator setting. Adding check valve (B) at the pump outlet assures that pressure at the pump never goes above the compensator setting. However, relief valve (D) may cause problems, as stated in Chapter 1, page ACC7. Figures 20-25 through 20-27 show an overpressure protection circuit that is less prone to problems.

Figure 20-25 shows internally piloted, externally drained, low-pressure sequence valve (A) teed into the pump outlet. (Valve (A) has a low-pressure spring rate between 50 and 250 psi.) The outlet of sequence valve (A) goes directly to tank. Isolation check valve (B) in the pump outlet line before the sequence valve keeps reverse flow and excess pressure away from the pump. Pilot line (C) from the pump outlet before check valve (B) goes to the external drain port of sequence valve (A).

Figure 20-25

Figure 20-25. Pressure-compensated pump with safety relief valve — cylinder extending and being pushed back.


With the circuit at rest and the pump running, system pressure is the pump compensator setting. Pump pressure at the internal pilot is trying to open sequence valve (A), but at the same time holding it closed through the external drain port. With a sequence-valve spring setting of 65 psi, it will not open to tank until pressure after check valve (B)goes at least 65 psi higher than pump compensator setting, as in Figure 20-26.

Figure 20-26

Figure 20-26. Pressure-compensated pump with safety relief valve — cylinder extending and being pushed back.


The main reason this overpressure relieving circuit is better than a circuit with a standard relief valve is that adjusting the pump compensator not only changes system pressure, but also automatically raises relief pressure. The pump never relieves to tank and the circuit always relieves when pressure in it increases more than the sequence-valve spring setting.

With this overpressure circuit there is no protection from pressure spikes when the pump compensator has to work quickly. Using the accumulator shown in the schematic diagrams protects the pump when it has to compensate rapidly. The accumulator also makes the circuit more responsive at cycle start.

This sequence-valve relief works anywhere in the circuit to protect any line from overpressure. Figure 20-27 shows a sequence valve teed into the cap end line of a cylinder with excess external force. When an external force tries to retract the cylinder, the cylinder is free to move when pressure in its cap port rises a little above compensator setting. Any other time the sequence valve stays closed because its inlet never sees pressure higher than compensator setting.

Figure 20-27

Figure 20-27. Pressure-compensated pump with safety relief valve — cylinder extending and being pushed back.


 

Chapter 21: Servovalve Circuits

Servovalve Circuits

When a cylinder or fluid motor application needs precise control of position, speed, or force, an on/off solenoid or proportional solenoid valve will not do the job. Some rolling mills control metal thickness to a tolerance of ±0.0005 in. This is with metal passing through the rolls at 2500 to 3000 ft/min and more. To hold these kinds of tolerances requires more than a go, no-go hydraulic control valve.

Servo directional valves are the only hydraulic valves capable of controlling oil flow and/or pressure rapidly and precisely. Servo directional valves are 4-way, 3-position spool valves with all ports blocked in the center position. Usually, servovalve spools are controlled by high-pressure pilot oil. Many spools have feedback sensing to give repeatable positioning from a given input.

Servovalve spools differ from on/off or proportional valve spools because they have no overlap in center condition. Spool overlap makes proportional valves (and the actuators they control) respond slowly. With no overlap or underlap, any servovalve spool movement gives immediate flow and actuator response. The more closely the spool and body lands match at all four sealing areas, the more responsive the valve. This type of spool is difficult to manufacture, which makes the valve expensive.

Servo systems control actuators to very close tolerances in regard to position, speed, or force. Often a single circuit uses a combination of these functions. A cylinder may have to rapidly approach the work piece, then penetrate it to precise depth at a controlled rate.

While servovalves are very fast and precise, their electronic control is what really makes a servo system work so well. When a signal to move a cylinder starts an action, feedback from its movement modifies valve input to make it match control input. Regardless of pressure drop, fluid viscosity, load, or friction, feedback signals modify valve-spool position to make the cylinder perform exactly as the input signal commands. The only time the actuator falls behind is when it is underpowered.

Figures 21.1 and 21.2 show the schematic symbols for a typical servovalve as established by the American National Standards Institute and the International Standards Organization. Both symbols have parallel lines on both sides of the position envelopes. These parallel lines indicate a valve spool with infinite positions. The symbol shows a blocked center (P to A, B to T and P to B, A to T), but the spool seldom shifts all the way to either of these positions. Spools can shift any amount in either direction, producing increasing or decreasing flow to and from the actuator to move it in either direction.

Figures 21.1

Figure 21-1. ANSI servovalve symbol.

Figures 21.2

Figure 21-2. ISO servovalve symbol.


Simple mechanical servocircuit
Figure 21.3 shows a simple mechanical servocircuit that controls rudder movement on tugboats. The rudder on a tugboat is big and directly in the prop wash, so the operator must have help in moving and controlling it. The lever-operated hydraulic valve in this circuit directs hydraulic power to move the rudder via a double-acting cylinder. If the valve is in the pilothouse, it does not show rudder position. Without knowing the rudder angle, engaging the propellers might be disastrous in some situations.

Figure 21.3

Figure 21-3. Simple manual rudder-control circuit -- at rest with pump running.


Figures 21.4 through 21.6 show an inexpensive manual rudder-control circuit. This circuit uses the same lever-operated control valve in Figure 21.3, but here it mounts on the rod of the double-acting cylinder. The operator controls the valve from the pilothouse with a lever called a “tiller.” A cable and pulley system connects the tiller to the valve. This all sounds a little crude but it works quite well on small boats.

21.4

Figure 21-4. Mechanical servo rudder-control circuit -- at rest with pump running.


The clevis-mounted double-acting cylinder attaches to the boat frame and the rudder lever. The lever-operated valve mounts directly to the cylinder rod so it moves with the rudder lever. When the operator moves the tiller to the right, as in Figure 21.5, the lever on the valve moves to the right. When the lever moves, it shifts the directional valve and ports oil from the pump to the cylinder's cap end and returns oil to tank from the rod end. The cylinder moves the rudder to the right as long as the operator keeps moving the tiller.

Figure 21.5
Figure 21-5. Mechanical servo rudder-control circuit -- rudder moving right.

When the operator stops moving the tiller, as in Figure 21.6, the directional valve, moving with the cylinder rod, catches up and centers. When tiller movement ceases, the rudder stops and holds. The rudder and tiller stay in this position until the operator steers in a different direction. At all times the operator knows rudder position by looking at the tiller angle.

Figure 21.6

Figure 21-6. Mechanical servo rudder-control circuit -- rudder stopped and holding.


The mechanical servosystem is nothing more than a force multiplier. In this case, the formerly hard-to-move rudder now moves with slight manual force. At the same time, the tiller position indicates the rudder angle because of mechanical linkage feedback.

An automobile power-steering system uses similar circuitry. Steering wheel movement shifts a directional valve that powers a cylinder to move the steering mechanism. When the steering wheel moves, front wheel angle changes. When steering wheel motion ceases the front wheels stop and hold.

The rudder control circuit shown here might be adapted to control a pressing action where cylinder movement follows the motion of the operator's hand. This gives accurate position with a great amount of force from the operator's intuitive feel.

Servovalves for accurate positioning of actuators
The schematic drawing in Figure 21.7 shows the general arrangement for a typical servocircuit that accurately controls cylinder position. When a cylinder must quickly go to many different locations with an accuracy of less than ±0.020 in., a servocircuit is the best way to control it.

Figure 21.7

Figure 21-7. Pressure-compensated piston pump with accumulators in an electrical closed-loop positioning circuit.


Notice that the hydraulic power unit has a pressure-compensated pump with accumulators. This arrangement holds constant pressure and has ample volume for short bursts of high flow. Without the accumulators, there is a sharp pressure drop when a cylinder starts moving. Fixed-displacement pumps and accumulators work also, but the power unit shown here is best overall.

Place the servovalve as close as possible to the actuator (preferably attaching it directly to it). Use rigid piping when the valve cannot mount directly on the actuator. Flexible lines between the servovalve and the actuator can negatively affect the accuracy and stability of the circuit.

Always install pressure filters in the lines to the servovalves. One pressure filter after the pump might be sufficient when the power unit is close to the valves. Separate filters are advisable when there is some distance to the servovalves. Use a cleanliness level of 1 to 5 µm in a servocircuit. Even normal pump-wear contamination quickly plugs orifices and sticks spools in most servovalves. Do not use a bypass-type pressure filter in a servovalve circuit. Even with a 125-psi bypass spring, contaminated fluid can get around the filter during a normal cycle. It is better to shut the machine down with a clogged filter than with a contaminated servovalve and a dirty filter.

Because the cylinders in this arrangement must stop accurately at many different locations, the circuit includes a feedback transducer at the cylinder rod. When the PLC commands the cylinder to go to a certain location, the PLC sends a signal to the servovalve control card. The servo control card sends an output to the servovalve that starts the cylinder moving. As the cylinder moves, the feedback transducer constantly sends position information to the servo control card. When the cylinder approaches the predetermined position, it slows and stops within a few thousandths of an inch of that location every cycle. Because electronic hardware controls the speed and position of the cylinder, fluid viscosity, load, pressure drop, or machine friction have no effect. The control card modifies the sevovalve shift to offset external or internal system changes as long as the actuator has ample power to overcome them.

In essence the electronics modify servovalve output according to actual actuator movement to get the desired accuracy. A servovalve controls oil flow as a 4-way directional valve would, but it has the ability to change flow continuously. Response time of the servovalve to the electronic controllers' changes is the important thing. Less-expensive, more dirt-tolerant servovalves offer less-accurate control.

With the circuit in Figure 21.7, cylinder positioning at any location within its stroke is attainable with repeatable accuracy to thousandths of an inch.

Servovalves for accurate control of position and velocity
The schematic diagram in Figure 21.8 shows servovalves controlling the velocity and position of a cylinder. The cylinder in this circuit has position and speed control, while the hydraulic motor only has speed control. All previous information about hydraulic power unit type, valve location, and filters applies to this circuit — or any other servo application.

Figure 21.8

Figure 21-8. Pressure-compensated piston pump with accumulators in an electrical closed-loop positioning and velocity circuit.


The cylinder in this circuit has accurate positioning as does the cylinder in Figure 21.7, but this cylinder has controlled speed as well. A milling operation requires accurate speed control but also may need depth control. When fast accurate positioning at multiple locations is important, use a servovalve.

When the PLC sends a signal to start the cylinder moving, it smoothly ramps up to any speed desired. A servovalve allows for accurate velocity change anywhere within the stroke when the controller calls for it. At the end of stroke, the cylinder decelerates rapidly and smoothly to an accurate stopping position, without shock. Again, the servovalve performs the 4-way function while the electronic controls change speed and position. The servovalve must respond fast enough to follow the controllers' outputs or the cylinder position and/or speed will not match the machine requirements.

The hydraulic motor in Figure 21.8 must turn at a constant rate regardless of load or changes in pressure drop or fluid thickness. Even with a pressure- and temperature-compensated flow control, motor speed varies as pressure changes. Internal slippage in the motor is greater at higher pressures, so speed decreases even with constant input flow.

With a servovalve feeding the hydraulic motor and a feedback device giving the servocontrol card continuous speed information, motor speed is consistent. The only time motor speed varies is when it stalls at relief valve pressure.

As before, electronics handles all input and modifications to get the desired speed. A servovalve controls oil flow as a 4-way directional valve does, but it also has the ability to change flow as needed. It is the response of the servovalve to the electronic controllers' changes that is most important. Less-expensive, more dirt-tolerant servovalves have less accuracy.

With the circuit in Figure 21.8, cylinder speed is fast, and the cylinder stops in a precise position without shock. The hydraulic motor maintains the set speed regardless of load or input fluctuations — until it stalls from lack of torque. All motions are repeatable.

Servovalves for accurate control of position and force
Figure 21.9 shows a schematic diagram with a servovalve controlling the force of an actuator. The vertical cylinder in this circuit has position control, while the horizontal cylinder has force control. All the information about hydraulic power unit type, valve location, and filters, applies to this circuit or any other servo application.

Figure 21.9

Figure 21-9. Pressure-compensated piston pump with accumulators in an electrical closed-loop positioning and force circuit.


The vertical cylinder in this circuit has accurate positioning like the cylinder in Figure 21.7, but this cylinder has controlled speed as well. An application might be a milling operation that requires accurate speed control but may need depth control as well. When fast, accurate positioning at multiple locations is important, use a servovalve.

When the PLC sends a signal to stroke the cylinder, it smoothly ramps up to any speed desired. A servovalve allows for accurate velocity change anywhere along the stroke when the controller calls for it. At the end of stroke, the cylinder decelerates smoothly, rapidly, and accurately to the commanded stopping position without shock. Again, the servovalve does the 4-way function while the electronic controls change speed and position. The servovalve must respond quickly enough to follow the controller's output signals or cylinder position and/or speed will not match the machine requirements.

The horizontal cylinder in Figure 21.9 must hold a constant force against a part, regardless of the load or other changes such as pressure drop or fluid viscosity. Even with a constant pressure source, fluctuations in cylinder friction, machine friction, or rod-end backpressure continuously affect cylinder force. To produce consistent cylinder force, use a servovalve to operate the cylinder and load-cell feedback to continuously modify the valve's spool position. Force stays exactly as set, regardless of system changes -- up to relief valve pressure.

As before, the electronics handle all the input and modifications to set and maintain the desired force. A servovalve controls oil flow as a 4-way directional valve, but has the ability to change flow as needed. It is the response of the servovalve to the electronic controller's changes that is most important. Less-expensive, more dirt-tolerant servovalves offer less-accurate control.

With the circuit in Figure 21.9, the vertical cylinder accurately reaches and maintains any position at any speed. The horizontal cylinder holds any force desired up to maximum pressure.

Stepper-motor-driven servovalves for cylinders
Figure 21.10 shows a simplified cutaway view of a stepper-motor-driven servovalve controlling a hydraulic cylinder. As it receives current pulses, the stepper motor turns in increments of a revolution. Stepper motors may require anywhere from 100 to 500 pulses per revolution. A stepper-motor drive is reliable and repeatable, and produces high torque.

Figure 21.10

Figure 21-10. Stepper-motor driven servovalve controlling a hydraulic cylinder.


This type servovalve is more dirt-tolerant than other designs. It does not require specific electronics, does not need feedback transducers, and is easy to troubleshoot. This valve may be a stand-alone unit for acceleration and/or deceleration circuits, or for controlling flow -- with or without feedback. Like other servovalves, it has little or no land overlap and a precisely fitted spool to reduce leakage. There are no control orifices to plug, so fluid cleanliness is not as important as with a standard servovalve.

Feedback to a stepper-motor-driven servovalve is mechanical and internal -- similar to the rudder control in Figures 21.4, 21.5, and 21.6. This means that when the cylinder meets resistance it cannot overcome, it will stall. When the cylinder stalls, there is no external feedback to show it has not made its complete stroke. Adding a limit switch or another external signal source helps this problem, but now the circuit resembles a standard on/off solenoid-valve setup.

The response of a stepper motor drive is a little better than the best proportional valves, but not equal to top-of-the-line servovalves.

In the cutaway view, a stepper motor drives a threaded shaft in a threaded spool. The spool can move in and out, but it cannot rotate unless the feedback ball screw in the piston rod turns. Electric pulses to the stepper motor turn the screw in the spool, making the spool shift. Spool shift ports fluid to the cylinder's cap end, making the cylinder extend. When the non-rotating piston and rod start forward, the internal ball screw turns the spool. The ball screw's mechanical linkage turns the spool in the reverse direction of the stepper motor, shifting the spool to stop cylinder movement. When the stepper motor turns, the cylinder extends. The faster the stepper motor receives pulses, the faster the cylinder travels. When the stepper motor stops turning and shifting the spool, the cylinder continues until the ball screw brings the spool back to center. Reversing rotation of the stepper motor reverses all the actions above, including cylinder direction.

From the above explanation, it is obvious that pulsing the stepper motor a certain number of times at a given rate strokes the cylinder to a certain position at a preset speed. If external forces try to move the cylinder out of its position, spool shift — caused by rotation of the ball screw in the piston rod — ports oil to offset these forces.

Stepper-motor-driven servovalves for motors
Figure 21.11 is a simplified cutaway view of a stepper-motor-driven servovalve controlling a hydraulic motor. As it receives current pulses, the stepper motor turns in increments of a revolution. Stepper motors may require anywhere from 100 to 500 pulses per revolution. A stepper-motor drive is reliable and repeatable, and produces high torque.

Figure 21.11

Figure 21-11. Stepper-motor driven servovalve controlling a hydraulic motor.


This type servovalve is more dirt tolerant than other designs, does not require specific electronics, does not need feedback transducers, and is easy to troubleshoot. It may be used as a stand-alone valve for acceleration and/or deceleration circuits or to control flow -- with or without feedback. Like other servovalves, it has little or no land overlap. It has a precisely fitted spool to reduce leakage. There are no control orifices to plug, so fluid cleanliness is not as important as with a standard servovalve.

Feedback to a stepper-motor-driven servovalve is mechanical and internal, similar to the rudder control in Figures 21.4, 21.5, and 21.6. This means that when the motor meets resistance it cannot overcome, it will stall. When the motor stalls, there is no external feedback to show it has not made its predetermined position. Adding a limit switch or other external means helps this problem, but now the circuit resembles a standard on/off solenoid-valve setup.

The response of a stepper-motor driven servovalve is a little better than the best proportional valves, but not equal to top-of-the-line servovalves.

In the cutaway view, a stepper motor drives a threaded shaft in a threaded spool. The spool can move in and out, but it cannot rotate unless feedback from the rotating hydraulic motor turns it. Electric pulses to the stepper motor turn the screw in the spool, making the spool shift. Spool shift ports fluid to the hydraulic motor, making it turn. When the hydraulic motor starts to rotate, it turns the spool. The mechanical linkage turns the spool in reverse of the stepper motor, shifting the spool to stop hydraulic motor rotation. When the stepper motor turns, the hydraulic motor rotates. The faster the stepper motor receives pulses, the faster the hydraulic motor turns. When the stepper motor stops turning and shifting the spool, the hydraulic motor continues to rotate until it brings the spool back to its center position. Reversing rotation of the stepper motor reverses all the actions above -- including hydraulic motor's rotation direction.

From the above explanation it is obvious that pulsing the stepper motor a certain number of times at a given rate, turns the hydraulic motor a certain number of revolutions at a preset speed. If external forces try to move the hydraulic motor from its off position, spool shift — caused by feedback rotation — ports oil to offset these forces.

 

Chapter 22: Synchronizing Circuits

Synchronizing Cylinder Circuits

Some machines with multiple cylinders require that the cylinder strokes be perfectly synchronized for the machine to operate properly. If all the loads, line sizes and lengths, and friction of the cylinders and machine members are identical, they may stroke at the same time and rate. While line sizes and lengths, and machine loading can be controlled to some extent, friction changes constantly. Thus, when cylinders have to stroke together, use some method to synchronize them.

One way of synchronizing cylinders is with external mechanical hardware. Some common mechanisms are racks and pinions, crankshafts, cables and pulleys, and chains and sprockets. The accuracy of these methods depends on the strength of the hardware and the position of the load. Mechanical methods are the most common way to accurately synchronize air cylinders. One advantage of mechanical synchronization is that the cylinders can operate anyplace in the stroke without getting out of phase. The accuracy of mechanical synchronization is about ±0.005 to 0.010 in. -- depending on load variation and strength of the mechanism used.

The most accurate way to synchronize hydraulic cylinders is with servovalves. Servovalves independently control each cylinder with electronic position feedback, and compare each actuator's position with all others. This is the most expensive way to synchronize cylinders but the most accurate. Actuator position within ±0.001 to 0.002 in. of each other is attainable using good servo practices. (This type of synchronizing also works well with cylinders that never go to a home position.)

This chapter deals with ways to synchronize cylinders by using other fluid power components. These circuits show how to arrange the components to hold multiple cylinder positions in close proximity to each other. The simplest circuit uses only flow controls to build resistance to hold the fast cylinder back. The accuracy of flow-control synchronizing is only fair to poor. Some of the more complex ways -- such as using tandem cylinders or a master-slave cylinder arrangement -- hold relative position as low as ±0.010 to 06 in.

To use fluid-power components to synchronize cylinders, all cylinders must come to a positive dead stop at the end of each cycle. Leakage in cylinder seals or valving causes minor position differences after each stroke. When the cylinders all bottom out or meet a positive, level stop, the error of each cycle cannot accumulate. This is the main reason not to use fluid-power synchronizing with cylinders that operate only in mid-stroke.

When testing cylinder synchronization on a machine, always start the circuit with the cylinders detached from the machine. Cycle the cylinders without any load attached. This allows a safe time for air purging and valve adjustment. Any sudden or out-of-control moves will not affect machine members.

Synchronizing with flow controls
The circuit in Figure 22-1 has no controls except the directional valve. If the pipes are all the same relative size and all the same length; if the load is centered; and if friction of all parts is identical, the cylinders might travel exactly together. Some of these variables are controllable, but things like friction may change even during a single cycle. With the setup in Figure 22.1, the cylinders actually move one at a time until they hit end of stroke or bind up mechanically.

Figure 22-1
Figure 22-1. Two cylinders in parallel with equal loading. Synchronization is possible if everything matches perfectly.

With the off-center load shown in Figure 22-2, the cylinder farthest from the load would extend until it stroked out or locked up -- before the opposite cylinder starts to stroke.

Figure 22-2

Figure 22-2. Two cylinders in parallel with unequal loading. Cannot synchronize even when everything matches perfectly.


Adding meter-out flow controls to each cylinder port, as in Figure 22-3, adds variable resistance for each cylinder. The added resistance may need to be changed throughout the day because of many factors that affect cylinder movement.

Figure 22-3

Figure 22-3. Meter-out flow-control circuit for synchronizing. Flow controls can compensate for mismatched parts and loading.


Flow-control synchronizing circuits work with air or hydraulic cylinders. For air cylinders, the problem of compressibility increases potential instability. However, without going to a mechanical or hydraulic option like the tandem-cylinder circuit described in Chapter 3, it is the only way to synchronize air cylinders using fluid power alone.

With flow controls, the cylinders stay reasonably synchronized only if load position does not change. If the load moves, cylinder force must change to maintain synchronization. If load position change is infrequent, resetting flow controls is an option.

Figure 22-4

Figure 22-4. Meter-out flow-control circuit for synchronizing. May allow platen to drift when stopped in mid-stroke with unbalanced load.


Even with hydraulics, another problem with uneven loads is what happens if the cylinder does not stroke all the way. If the cylinder stops in mid stroke, as in Figure 22-4, oil from the loaded cylinder can transfer to the opposite cylinder and throw the platen out of synchronization. Figure 22-5 shows pilot-operated check valves added to the cap-end lines to overcome oil transfer during mid-stroke stopping. With these check valves in place, oil cannot transfer when the cylinders stop in mid-stroke, so the cylinders maintain their positions.

Figure 22-5

Figure 22-5. Meter-out flow-control circuit for synchronizing -- with pilot-operated check valves to stop cylinder drifting after mid-stroke stop.


Another problem with flow-control synchronization is the maximum lifting force. With two identical cylinders positioned parallel to each other, the platen should be able to lift twice each cylinder's force. However, this is only true if the load is centered. With a double load positioned over one cylinder, that cylinder would stall while the opposite cylinder tries to extend. When using flow-control synchronization, size each cylinder to carry the whole load if the load might get off center.

When controlling hydraulic cylinders, it is best to use pressure-compensated flow controls. Pressure-compensated flow controls maintain a constant flow when load differences cause a change in pressure drop.

Double-rod end cylinders in series

Figure 22-7 shows a fairly accurate way of synchronizing cylinders using double-rod end cylinders piped in series. Oil from the directional valve extends the first cylinder, the first cylinder's top port supplies oil to extend the second cylinder, and the second cylinder's top port connects to the other port of the directional valve. In this arrangement, oil trapped between the cylinders must have a means of replenishing or draining. As this circuit operates, cylinder seal leakage either depletes the trapped volume or adds to it. Either situation alters synchronization adversely.

Figure 22-6

Figure 22-6. Meter-out flow-control circuit for synchronizing. Can only raise a load equal to the force of one cylinder.

Figure 22-7

Figure 22-7. Synchronizing circuit with double-rod end cylinders in series flow -- at rest with pump running.


In Figure 22-7, when 2-position, spring-centered, single-solenoid, tandem-center leveling valve D is deenergized, it allows oil to flow from cylinder (A) to cylinder (E). The valve is deenergized while the cylinders extend and retract to do work. (Figure 22-10 shows how the cylinders are leveled at the end of a cycle.)

Energizing solenoid A1 of the main directional valve, as in Figure 22-8, sends oil to cylinder (A) , causing it to extend. Oil from the opposite end of cylinder (A) flows through leveling valve (D) to the push end of cylinder (E). Oil from the opposite end of cylinder (E) flows to tank through the main directional valve. When the trapped volume is completely full and if all seals do not leak, the cylinders synchronize nearly perfectly, regardless of load position.

Figure 22-8

Figure 22-8. Synchronizing circuit with double-rod end cylinders in series flow. Cylinders are extending.


To retract the cylinders, energize solenoid B1 of the main directional valve as in Figure 22-9. This sends oil to the retract side of cylinder (E). Oil from the opposite end of cylinder (E) flows through leveling valve (D) to the top of cylinder (A). Oil from the opposite end of cylinder (A)flows to tank through the counterbalance valve and main directional valve.

Figure 22-9

Figure 22-9. Synchronizing circuit with double-rod end cylinders in series flow. Solenoid B1 energized, cylinder retracting.


Figure 22-10 shows how the cylinders maintain synchronization as they cycle. When the platen nears bottom, it contacts limit switches B and F. If the switches make simultaneously, no leveling occurs. If one limit switch makes before the other, the cylinders obviously are out of synchronization, so solenoid C1 on the leveling valve energizes. With solenoids B1 and C1 energized, pump oil flows to the retract sides of cylinders (A) and (E), forcing them to retract fully. Cylinders (A) and (E) can retract because the extend sides of both cylinders have a direct path to tank. When both limit switches make, the leveling valve and retract solenoids deenergize. (This leveling circuit also works for horizontally mounted cylinders.)

Figure 22-10

Figure 22-10. Synchronizing circuit with double-rod end cylinders in series flow. Solenoids B1 and C1 energized, cylinders leveling.


With series cylinder synchronizing, load placement is not important. The cylinders stay level regardless of load position or weight. The only things a heavy off-center load might cause are more seal leakage, or oil volume changes due to compressibility.

It is important to note that, because the cylinders are in series, they each have to be able to lift the total load. No matter the load placement, or the number of cylinders in series, each one must be capable of lifting the entire load. At the same time only one cylinder's volume is considered when calculating pump flow.

Other ways to use cylinders in series
To save cost, reduce potential leakage at the extra rod seals, and eliminate space needed for the second rod, use the circuit in Figure 22-11. The cylinders in this circuit oppose one another, so one extends while the other retracts. This is one way to synchronize single-rod cylinders in a series circuit. Connecting identical rod end volumes together allows series synchronization the same as double-rod end cylinders. Space for the top cylinder could be a problem on some machines so the circuit in Figure 22-12, although more expensive, works equally well. (Use the same tandem-center valve makeup circuit as seen in Chapter 21, figures 7-10 to level the cylinders after each stroke.)

Figure 22-11

Figure 22-11. Alternative cylinder positions for a series-flow synchronizing circuit using single-rod end cylinders.


Mounting is more conventional using three single-rod cylinders piped as in Figure 22-12. The only purpose of cylinder (B) is to connect equal areas. This design is still less expensive than two double-rod cylinders and it has one less leak source. This circuit requires make up valves that allow cylinder (C) to retract, cylinder (A) to retract without cavitation, and cylinder (B) to stroke if the other two do not reach home position simultaneously.

Figure 22-12

Figure 22-12. Alternative cylinder positions for a series-flow synchronizing circuit using single-rod end cylinders.


Figures 22-13 through 14 show how to attain reasonable synchronization with a set of equalizing flow controls on single-rod end cylinders in series. The cylinders are extending in Figure 22-13. Oil from the directional valve goes through needle valve (C) to the cap end of cylinder (B), thus controlling its speed. At the same time, some bleed oil from the directional valve goes through needle valve (D) to the cap end of cylinder (A). Set needle valve (D) to make up for lower oil volume as it transfers from the rod end of cylinder (B) to the cap end of cylinder (A). Without needle valve (D), cylinder (A) would lag every cycle and be out of synchronization. Changing flow at needle valve (C) means readjusting needle valve (D) also. Both needle valves work best if they are pressure compensated. This is a problem in this circuit because there is bi-directional flow. Refer to Chapter 10, Figure 10-4 to see a pressure-compensated needle valve piped for bi-directional flow.

Figure 22-13
Figure 22-13. Alternative cylinder in series flow synchronizing circuit using single-rod end cylinders. Solenoid A1 energized, cylinders extending.

To retract the cylinders, the directional valve shifts as in Figure 22-14, porting oil to the rod end of cylinder (A). As cylinder (A) retracts, oil from its cap end transfers to the rod end of cylinder (B). Excess oil volume from cylinder (A) goes directly to tank through needle valve (D). Needle valve (C) controls the up and down speeds of the platen.

Figure 22-14

Figure 22-14. Alternative cylinder in series flow synchronizing circuit using single rod end cylinder. Solenoid B1 energized, cylinders retracting.


Each cylinder in a series circuit must be powerful enough to lift the entire load. When load position changes, it affects synchronization due to the resulting change in pressure drop across needle valve (D). An off-center load that is too heavy for one cylinder to lift still allows oil transfer through needle valve (D), throwing the platen out of synchronization. Add pilot-operated check valves (E)if the cylinders must stop in mid stroke. Without these pilot-operated checks, oil transfer through needle valve (D) allows the cylinders to drift.

Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit

Figures 22-15 through 18 illustrate a common way of synchronizing cylinders. Many designers use this circuit and consider it to be one of the best ways to synchronize cylinders. It is reasonably accurate, but may allow the cylinders to get out of phase in certain conditions.

Figure 22-15
Figure 22-15. Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit -- at rest with pump running.

The two pumps in Figure 22-15 have identical flow. They are attached to two double-solenoid, spring-centered valves that are piped to two matching cylinders. Both pumps have a relief valve set at the same maximum pressure. Because both pumps have the same flow and both cylinders use the same volume, the cylinders will stroke at approximately the same rate.

The cylinders are shown extending in Figure 22-16. Energizing solenoids A1 and A2 on the directional valves simultaneously causes the cylinders to extend at the same rate. If one cylinder's load needs more pressure, the pump for that side continues to feed nearly the same flow until the relief valve dumps.

Figure 22-16

Figure 22-16. Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit. Solenoids A1 and A2 energized, cylinders extending.


To retract the cylinders, energize solenoids B1 and B2 on both directional valves simultaneously, as in Figure 22-17. The cylinders retract at the same rate.

Figure 22-17
Figure 22-17. Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit. Solenoids B1 and B2 energized, cylinders retracting.

Should the cylinders get out of phase, Figure 22-18 shows how they re-synchronize. Because a separate pump and valve control each cylinder, separate limit switches drop out the retract solenoids after the cylinders reach home. This leveling happens automatically during each cycle, so position errors do not accumulate.

Figure 22-18

Figure 22-18. Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit. Solenoid B1 energized, cylinder (A) leveling.


A major problem with this synchronizing circuit is the difficulty of finding two identical pumps. Even pumps manufactured at the same time often have slightly different flows. Any flow variation of the pumps lets the cylinders get out of phase. Another problem is efficiency. As pressure climbs, pump efficiency allows more slip oil, valves leak more, and some cylinder seals bypass more. All of these losses add up to poor performance especially if the cylinders have long strokes.

On top of that, what happens if one solenoid is sluggish or fails to operate? This makes one cylinder start late or not start at all. Starting late causes the cylinders to be out of phase; not starting at all may damage the machine.

This circuit has the same force problem as a flow-control synchronizing circuit. Each cylinder has to be able to lift the entire load. If the load on this circuit gets too heavy for one cylinder, its pump dumps across the relief valve and the cylinder stops. Again the other cylinder continues extending until it damages itself or the machine.

Double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit improvement
The circuit changes shown in Figure 22-19 overcome most of the problems mentioned about Figures 22.-5 through 18. Instead of two cylinders as before, use two or more pairs of cylinders. Connect half of the cylinders to each pump/valve combination. Pipe port A of directional valve (E) to the caps of cylinders (A) and (C). Hook port B of directional valve (E) to the rod ports of cylinders (B) and (D). Pipe port A of directional valve (F) to the cap end of cylinders (B) and (D) with its B port hooked to the rod ports of cylinders (A) and (C). Piping the circuit this way uses one pump and valve to extend two cylinders, while this same valve retracts the cylinders extended by the other pump and valve.

Figure 22-19

Figure 22-19. Modified double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit. Solenoid A1 on left-hand valve shifted to show condition if solenoid A2 is sluggish or fails to shift.


Should a solenoid fail, as in Figure 22-19, the platen will not move because, while cylinders (A) and (C) may be trying to extend, oil from their rod end ports cannot get back to tank through valve (F). Also, blocked inlet flow to cylinders (B) and (D) at valve (F) prevents them from stroking -- although leakage past the spool in valve (F) may allow minor movement.

After both directional valves shift and the cylinders are stroking as in Figure 22-20, the pairs of cylinders try to stay level. If pump (G) produces higher flow, cylinders (A) and (C) try to run ahead. Because cylinder (B) is between them, it will either hold the other cylinders back or be dragged along by them. The platen must be strong enough to transmit this differential cylinder loading without flexing.

Figure 22-20

Figure 22-20. Modified double-pump-and-valve synchronizing circuit. Solenoids A1 and A2 energized, cylinders extending.


This circuit is less load-sensitive because the load is always over a pair of cylinders operated by different pumps. Both pumps will relieve to tank before the load stops moving. However, the lightly loaded cylinders can move ahead in relation to the stiffness of the platen and the distance between cylinders.

Use only one limit switch for this cylinder arrangement. To re-phase the cylinders, shift both directional valves to send the cylinders to home position. One relief valve bypasses fluid until the lagging cylinders reach the positive stop.

Spool-type flow-divider synchronizing circuit

Spool-type flow dividers split flow from a single conductor into two separate flows. The split flows may be at different rates if needed, but for cylinder synchronization, they usually are equal. Spool-type flow dividers basically consist of two pressure- compensated flow controls in one body. In this arrangement, each flow control's pressure drop modifies the opposite flow output. Because these flow controls constantly look at each other's pressure drop, they split flow relatively well. (Most manufacturers claim about ±5%, depending on the pressure differential at the outlets.)

One problem with spool-type flow dividers is that they do not allow reverse flow. Even if they did, there would be no guarantee of equal flow. A spool-type flow divider/combiner allows forward and reverse flow, and equally splits or combines the two flows. Normally a flow divider/combiner is the component of choice in cylinder synchronizing circuits. Figure 22-21 shows a spool-type flow divider/combiner synchronizing circuit. It is similar to a double-pump circuit, but only uses one pump and valve. Flow is split downstream from the single directional valve.

Figure 22-21
Figure 22-21. Spool-type flow-divider/combiner synchronizing circuit -- at rest with pump running.

In Figure 22-22, the cylinders are extending. Shifting solenoid A1 on the directional valve sends oil to the flow divider, which sends half pump flow to each cylinder. Even when there is a pressure difference at the cylinders, flows are close to equal. The cylinders extend at about the same rate even with an off-center load. Each cylinder must develop enough force to lift the load above it. If one cylinder reaches its force limit and stops, the opposite cylinder tries but does not completely stop -- due to internal leakage past the flow divider spool. (Figure 22-24 shows the condition of the flow divider when cylinder (B) stalls as it retracts.)

Figure 22-22

Figure 22-22. Spool-type flow-divider/combiner synchronizing circuit. Solenoid A1 energized, extending.


Figure 22-23 shows the circuit after energizing solenoid B1 on the 4-way directional valve. Oil flows to the cylinder rod ends while fluid from the cylinder cap ends combines equally at the flow divider and flows on to tank. The flow divider holds back the cylinder that wants to get ahead -- thus maintaining synchronization. When the cylinders reach bottom, they re-phase automatically if the directional valve is left in the down mode long enough. Internal leakage in the flow divider spool allows the lagging cylinder to continue stroking. (Some flow-divider brands have integral bypasses that operate when the pressure differential reaches a pre-set limit.)

Figure 22-23

Figure 22-23. Spool-type flow-divider/combiner synchronizing circuit. Cylinder (B) bound up.


Because the flow divider has a common path internally, fluid can flow between the cap end ports. If the cylinders need to stop in mid-stroke, always use pilot-operated check valves (C) to prevent oil transfer. Control an overrunning load with counterbalance valve (E) between the flow divider and directional valve.

Spool-type flow dividers waste energy. Notice the gauge reading at each cylinder as it extends, PG2 shows 800 psi while PG3 reads 300 psi. In this situation, gauge PG1 at the pump reads 800 psi. The 500-psi drop across the right side of the flow divider generates heat when the cylinders extend.

Figure 22-24

Figure 22-24. Spool-type flow-divider/combiner synchronizing circuit. Solenoid B1 energized, retracting.


Spool type flow dividers only split flow into two outputs. It would take three spool-type flow dividers to split flow four ways.

Motor-type flow divider synchronizing circuit
Motor-type flow dividers do not waste energy and are more versatile. One motor-type flow divider can splits flow from a pump and run two or more cylinders in unison. Plus, they offer multiple outlets -- up to ten or more -- and can pass unequal flows when required.

A motor-type flow divider consists of two or more hydraulic motors in one housing. The motors have a common shaft. Thus, when one motor turns, all motors turn. The motors share a common inlet but have separate outlets. Fluid from the pump enters all motors at once, rotating then in unison. If the motors are the same size, output from each section is an equal portion of inlet oil. Because a mechanical motor -- instead of an orifice -- splits flow, there is no energy loss due to different outlet pressures. Figure 22-25 shows a motor-type flow divider synchronizing two cylinders. The flow divider is installed between the directional valve and the cylinders in this circuit.

Figure 22-25

Figure 22-25. Motor-type flow divider synchronizing circuit -- at rest with pump running.


In Figure 22-26, solenoid A1 is energized to shift the 4-way directional valve. This sends oil to the flow divider, which sends equal volumes to each cylinder. The accuracy of motor-type flow dividers depends on the amount of pressure difference at the outlets. The motors have internal slippage that increases as pressure drop increases. The greater the pressure difference, the greater the flow difference and loss of synchronization.

Figure 22-26

Figure 22-26. Motor-type flow divider synchronizing circuit. Solenoid A1 energized, extending.


In Figure 22-27, the cylinders are retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 on the directional valve sends oil from the pump to the cylinders' rod ends. As the cylinders retract, oil flows from the cylinders' cap ends through the flow divider to tank. The flow divider combines the cylinder flows and maintains synchronization when the cylinders travel freely.

Figure 22-27

Figure 22-27. Motor-type flow divider synchronizing circuit. Solenoid B1 energized, retracting.


If one cylinder binds up and stops traveling, as in Figure 22-28, all oil from the pump goes to the free-moving cylinder. The flow divider section that is not getting oil from the stopped cylinder continues to turn and cavitate, causing the free cylinder to retract at twice speed. When there is a chance of cylinder binding, install a motor-type flow divider at both ends of the cylinders. A flow divider on the rod end forces the binding cylinder to synchronize or stalls them both.

Figure 22-28

Figure 22-28. Motor-type flow divider synchronizing circuit. Cylinder (B) bound up.


The internal slip of motor-type flow dividers is usually sufficient to level the cylinders. Another option is integral relief valves that allow fluid to bypass a motor at a predetermined adjustable pressure.

As mentioned, an advantage of motor-type flow dividers is that they waste little energy. Notice the gauge values in Figure 22-26. The left cylinder requires 900 psi, while the right cylinder only needs 300 psi. With those conditions, the inlet pressure to a spool-type flow divider has to be 900 psi. With a motor-type flow divider, the inlet pressure only has to be 600 psi. Because the motor-type flow divider has a mechanical link through a common shaft, energy transfer between sections lowers the required pressure at the inlet.

Another advantage is that motor-type flow dividers with two, three, even ten or more outlets are common. Instead of stacking 2-outlet spool-type dividers, use only one multiple-outlet motor-type flow divider for many circuits.

One caution: motor-type flow dividers will intensify outlet pressure as they operate. (See Chapter 11 for an explanation of motor-type flow divider intensification.) With a 2-outlet equal-flow divider, if relief valve pressure is over half the maximum rated pressure of any component it feeds, install a relief valve at each outlet. The outlet relief valves protect the cylinders, valves, and lines from excess pressure.

Master-and-slave cylinder synchronizing circuit
Figures 22-29 through 32 show one of the most accurate ways to hydraulically synchronize cylinders. Figure 22-29 shows the circuit at rest. Cylinder (C) -- mechanically linked to two cylinders (D) -- provides the driving force. The (D) cylinders have the same bore, stroke, and rod diameter as working cylinders (A) and (B). One cylinder (D) connects to cylinder (A), while the other cylinder (D) connects to cylinder (B). In case of external leakage, makeup check valves (H) let oil into the dead areas of cylinders (A), (B), and(D) at low pressure. A 75-psi backpressure check valve in the tank line gives sufficient pressure to make sure the trapped oil volume stays full. Leveling valves (J) through (M) retract the cylinders to home position when they get out of phase. Limit switches (F) and (G) indicate cylinder home positions and operate the leveling valves when the cylinders get out of synchronization. Counterbalance valve (E) stops the cylinders from running away while they retract.

Figure 22-29

Figure 22-29. Master-and-slave-cylinder synchronizing circuit -- at rest with pump running.


Force from cylinder (C) is enough to do the whole operation by itself. This cylinder produces all the force and passes it on to slave cylinder (D), then to the working cylinders (A) and (B).

The location of the load on the platen affects synchronization only slightly. Energy transfer from the master/slave linkage moves the same volume of oil regardless of pressure. Cylinder (A)operates at twice pressure with the load above it as with a centered load. To protect the cylinders from overpressure, set the relief valve for no more than half the cylinder pressure rating.

Figure 22-30 shows solenoid A1on the 4-way directional valve shifted to extend cylinder (C). Cylinder (C) pushes cylinders (D), and oil from the cap ends of cylinders (D)flows equally to the cap ends of cylinders (A)and (B). Oil from the rod ends of cylinders (A)and (B)returns to the rod sides of cylinders (D). Cylinders (A)and (B) extend in unison if cylinder (C) has enough power to do the job. If one working cylinder stalls, both stop.

Figure 22-30

Figure 22-30. Master-and-slave-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoid A1 energized, extending.


To retract the working cylinders, energize solenoid B1 on the 4-way directional valve as in Figure 22-31. Cylinder (C) then retracts and pulls both slave cylinders (D) back, forcing working cylinders (A) and(B) to retract also.

Figure 22-31

Figure 22-31. Master-and-slave-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoid B1 energized, retracting.


If the working cylinders get out of synchronization, the circuit diagram in Figure 22-32 shows how they level. While solenoid B1 on the 4-way directional valve stays shifted, energize solenoids A2 through A5 on directional valves (J) through (M). This directs pump oil to the rod sides of cylinders (A), (B) and(C), and to the cap sides of both (D) cylinders. At the same time, oil from the cap sides of cylinders (A), (B) and(C) and the rod sides of both cylinders (D) flows to tank. In this condition, the pump forces all cylinders to their home positions, ready for the next cycle.

Figure 22-32

Figure 22-32. Master-and-slave-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoids B1, A2, A3, A4, and A5 energized, leveling.


This circuit is an accurate but expensive way to synchronize cylinders. One advantage is that the master and slave cylinder can be located remotely, to leave the work area less cluttered. Also, energy transfer minimizes the required cylinder size and still handles off-center loads.

Tandem-cylinder synchronizing circuit

Figure 22.-3 shows another very accurate way to synchronize cylinders. The tandem cylinders in this circuit must meet in center even when they run into unequal forces.

Tandem cylinders consist of two cylinders in one housing. They have four ports and the back cylinder is single-rod end while the front cylinder is double-rod end. Because the front cylinder is double-rod end, it has equal areas and volumes on both sides of the piston.

Notice the 4-way directional valve supplies the single-rod cylinders in a conventional manner. The double-rod cylinders have the front port of the left cylinder connected to the back port of the right cylinder and the front port of the right cylinder connected to the back port of the left cylinder.

The tandem cylinders move in unison and transfer energy because hydraulic flow ties them together. If either cylinder stalls, both cylinders stop. Before the cylinders stop, energy transfers through the tandem cylinders and tries to force the lagging cylinder to do its work. The lagging cylinder may see as much as double force before stalling.

Figure 22-33

Figure 22-33. Tandem-cylinder synchronizing circuit -- at rest with pump running.


The two check valves (C), fed from a 75-psi backpressure check valve in the tank line, allow makeup oil into the trapped volume of the tandem cylinders. The pump makes up for leakage in the trapped volume through check valves (C). Makeup pressure is equal on both sides of both cylinders so the 75 psi has no effect on them. Always furnish bleed ports at both ends of the tandem cylinders to purge any trapped air.

The 2-way, normally closed directional valve (D) between the tandem cylinder connecting lines opens to level the cylinders at one end of the stroke. Leakage at the cylinder piston seals may allow the cylinders to get out of phase. Valve (D) opens when limit switches (E) and(F) do not make simultaneously as the cylinders retract. When one limit makes first, valve (D) opens and allows fluid transfer from one end of the double-rod end cylinder to the other, until both limits make.

In Figure 22-34, solenoid A1 of the 4-way directional valve is energized and the cylinders extend. As they extend, oil transfer in the tandem cylinders maintains near perfect synchronization. If either cylinder tries to lag, power transfers hydraulically through the tandem cylinder lines to keep them in unison. When the load is too great for both cylinders, they stall.

Figure 22-34

Figure 22-34. Tandem-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoid A1 energized, cylinders extending.


Figure 22-35 shows the cylinders retracting. Energizing solenoid B1 of the 4-way directional valve sends fluid to the rod ends of the single-rod cylinders. As the cylinders retract, the double-rod end cylinders cross piping keeps the machine in synchronization, the same as when they extend.

Figure 22-35

Figure 22-35. Tandem-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoid B1 energized, cylinders retracting.


When the cylinders get close to home, they level or re-phase when necessary, as pictured in Figure 22-36. Limit switches (E) and (F) both have to make to center the 4-way directional valve. If one limit switch makes early, solenoid C1 of 2-way directional valve (D)energizes, allowing the lagging cylinder to transfer oil until it makes its limit switch.

Figure 22-36

Figure 22-36. Tandem-cylinder synchronizing circuit. Solenoids B1 and C1 energized, cylinder (A) leveling.


This synchronizing circuit works equally well with air as the power source to the single-rod end cylinders. Use oil in the tandem cylinders because it does not compress. Oversize the oil flow lines for a velocity of 2 to 4 fps to maintain a reasonable speed. Install a makeup oil tank with check valves to feed the tandem cylinders when necessary.

 

 

Chapter 23: Sample Actual Circuits

High-efficiency circuit operates 100-ton trim press

Figure 23-1 is a schematic circuit diagram for a 100-ton trim press, shown at rest with the pump running. This press has a 24-in. total stroke with a 1.0-in. high-tonnage stroke. It completes a dry cycle in about 10 seconds.

Pump PUMP01 is rated at 13 gpm. Its compensator is set at approximately 3000 psi. Output from the pump flows through flow meter FM01 to directional valve DV01, which has ports "P," "B," and "T" connected in center position. From there, fluid flows to backpressure check valve CK02 and 3-micron filter RF01. Pressure at gauge PG01 holds between 75 and 100 psi with the press at rest, providing ample pilot pressure for directional valve DV01.

Figure 23-1

Port "A" on directional valve DV01 connects to the cap ends of two 3.25-in. bore double-acting cylinders CYL01 and the extend side of double-rod end cylinder CYL02. The rod sides of these cylinders connect to port "B" on the directional valve.

Directional valve DV02 supplies pilot pressure to sequence valve SEQ01 and two pilot-operated check valves POCK01 for cylinder regeneration during fast advance. Directional valve DV02 also decompresses the cylinders before retracting.

Externally piloted sequence valve SEQ01 connects the cap and rod ports of the 3.25-in. bore cylinders in a regeneration circuit for a fast advance stroke.

Check valves POCK01 allow oil to flow from one end of the double-rod end cylinder to the other during fast advance and retract. Shuttle valve SV01 directs pilot pressure to the pilot-operated check valves from two sources.

Counterbalance valve CB01 holds the platen in position at rest, and keeps it from running away during the high-tonnage advance stroke. (Because it has an external pilot, set it one time for all platen and tooling weights.) External piloting also eliminates all cylinder rod-end backpressure during the high-tonnage portion of the cycle.

Check valve CK01 allows oil out of double-rod end cylinder CYL02 during the high-tonnage stroke, but prevents flow from entering it as the platen retracts.

Pressure switch PS01 ends the pressing cycle at a set tonnage. After the pressing cycle is completed, pressure switch PS02 keeps directional valve DV01 from shifting until the cylinders decompress.

Platen extending rapidly — Energizing solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01 and solenoid A2 on directional valve DV02 moves the cylinders to the positions shown in Figure 23-2.

Figure 23-2

Pump flow goes to the cap ends of cylinders CYL01 and they begin to extend. At the same time, pilot pressure opens sequence valve SEQ01 and pilot-operated check valves POCK01. Oil now regenerates from the rod ends of the 3.25-in.-diameter cylinders through SEQ01 to their cap ends for high speed at low volume. Oil in the bottom of CYL02 transfers to the top, keeping it full, ready for high-tonnage pressing.

The pressure setting of counterbalance valve CB01 is high enough to make sure oil regenerates during this portion of the cycle, but low enough not to waste energy after regeneration is disabled. (About 400 psi works well on presses in this type of service.)

The platen extends at approximately 7.5 ips for about 3.1 sec. to produce 23 in. of travel.

Platen at full tonnage — A limit switch or encoder indicates that the platen is in close proximity to the part and the circuit shifts as shown in Figure 23-3.

Figure 23-3

Solenoid A1 on directional valve DV01 stays energized, but solenoid A2 on DV02 deenergizes.

Now sequence valve SEQ01 and pilot-operated check valves POCK01 close. The 3.25-in.-diameter cylinders no longer regenerate, so forward speed slows.

The double-rod end cylinder can still transfer fluid through the pilot-operated check valves so the platen does not slow to pressing speed until it contacts the work. Counterbalance valve CB01 opens during the slow-down part of the cycle, letting fluid go to tank, but not allowing the platen to run away.

At contact with the work, pilot-operated check valves POCK01 close, so pump flow goes to all three cylinders. Forward speed slows to approximately 0.6 ips, so it takes about 1.75 sec. to travel 1.0 in. Force during this portion of the stroke is more than 237,000 lb at 3000 psi.

Externally piloted counterbalance valve CB01 opens fully during the trimming part of the cycle to eliminate all backpressure on the cylinders.

During part trim, oil from the bottom of the double-rod end cylinder flows to tank through check valve CK01 and counterbalance valve CB01 along with fluid from the other two cylinders.

When pressure reaches the setting on pressure switch PS01, directional valve DV01 deenergizes to unload the pump and set up for decompression.

Cylinders decompressing — At the end of the high-pressure trim cycle, there may be a lot of stored energy in the cylinders and piping. (Also, if the tie rods on the press stretch, more energy is stored.) If directional valve DV01 shifts immediately to retract the cylinders, stored energy would send oil to tank with enough velocity and force to damage pipes and valves. In a short time, shock damage to plumbing and components could make the machine inefficient and messy.

To avoid this, after trimming the part, the circuit changes as shown in Figure 23-4. Directional valve DV01 centers to unload the pump and block oil in the cylinders' cap ends. Energizing solenoid B2 on directional valve DV02 opens a controlled flow path from the cap end of the cylinders to tank. Stored energy dissipates rapidly through this path to tank without decompression shock.

Figure 23-4

This adds time to the overall cycle, but greatly increases machine life and reliability. (Always figure in the added time of decompression when designing a circuit with stored energy.) Decompression can take from 0.25 to 2.00 sec., depending on fluid volume and pressure. Offset the added cycle time with a faster cylinder stroke.

When pressure in the cap-end line of the cylinders reaches approximately 300 psi, pressure switch PS02 energizes solenoid B1 of directional valve DV01 to retract the platen.

Platen retracting at high speed — After the cylinders decompress, solenoid B1 on directional valve DV01 energizes as shown in Figure 23-5. Pump flow goes to the rod ends of 3.25-in.-diameter cylinders CYL01 through the bypass check valve on counterbalance valve CB01 to retract the platen.

Figure 23-5

Check valve CK01 blocks pump flow from the bottom of double-rod end cylinder CYL02 during the retract cycle.

Pilot oil from the cylinder rod end line opens pilot-operated check valves POCK01 through shuttle valve SV01. This action opens a path for oil transfer from top to bottom of the double-rod end cylinder.

The platen retracts at a rate of approximately 4.75 ips, and travels 24 in. in about 5 sec. Oil in the double-rod end cylinder transfers from top to bottom through pilot-operated check valves POCK01 to keep it full for the next cycle.

It appears the double-rod end cylinder keeps the same fluid in it all the time -- and might overheat. In actual operation, this cylinder gets some fresh oil from the pump and sends an equal amount to tank during each cycle. If the high-force stroke of the cycle is 0.5 in., cylinder volume is replaced completely every 48 cycles.

The reason for a circuit design such as shown here is to reduce pump displacement as well as valve and piping size while maintaining a fast cycle. A conventional cylinder regeneration and hi-lo pump circuit requires approximately 70 gpm to meet the cycle time of this circuit.

Another fast-cycle option is a prefill valve and a cylinder with a 9.0-in. oversize rod. This circuit could meet or exceed the above cycle time. A prefill circuit lets the platen lower from its own weight, so the extend part of the stroke could be faster.

This schematic diagram uses several of the basic circuits shown in other parts of this manual. Refer to the appropriate sections for a refresher on different valve functions and use.

High-efficiency circuit operates increment feeder for cardboard sheets

The circuit diagrammed in Figure 23-6 cycles a cylinder slowly in incremental steps as it extends, and then drops it very quickly to pick up another load. Feeding sheets of paperboard or plywood onto a conveyor is a common use for this circuit.

Figure 23-6

A small (3-gpm), fixed-displacement pump sends oil through a flow meter, normally open 2-way directional valve (A), and a filter to tank. In the condition shown in the diagram, the pump unloads to tank at almost no pressure, continually filtering all flow.

The pump can be small because it only has to extend the cylinder a short distance each feed cycle. Because pump flow is immediately available, it is always ready to raise the load.

Check valve (D) keeps cylinder fluid from going to tank while the pump unloads. This same check valve allows free flow to the cylinder when required.

Normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve (S) protects the system from excess pressure and gives a high-flow path to tank to lower the table for another load. It also decelerates the cylinder as it nears bottom and eliminates shock damage to the hydraulic components and the machine.

Normally closed 2-way directional valve (E) and needle valve (F) give a slow-down bypass to the normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve to make sure the cylinder bottoms out smoothly.

Cylinder extending — Energizing solenoid C1 on directional valve (A) sends pump flow to cylinder (C), making it extend as diagrammed in Figure 23-7. This action takes place as fast as directional valve (A) shifts because the pump is at full flow. Cylinder (A) extends at 1.50 ips at a maximum force of 10,000 lb, as long as solenoid C1 stays energized.

Figure 23-7

If the cylinder meets a resistance that calls for more than 1500 psi, pump flow goes to tank through normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve (B) and the cylinder stalls.

Solenoid C1 shifts as often as necessary to raise the load.

When the table gets all the way up, a limit switch signals the control circuit to lower for another load.

Cylinder retracting at high speed — To lower the table fast, the valves shift as shown in Figure 23-8.

Figure 23-8

Solenoid A1 on normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve (S) energizes to vent it. This allows the valve to open with about 20-psi backpressure. The 0.75-in. valve in this circuit passes about 30 gpm at 20- to 30-psi pressure drop, so the cylinder retracts rapidly from machine weight. On this particular machine, the weight gave it a speed of approximately 12 ips or about a 5-sec lowering time. Increasing load-induced pressure on the cylinder would make it even faster.

The solenoid on normally closed 2-way valve (E) also energizes during fast retract of the cylinder. It does not add much speed because its function is to let the cylinder descend slowly through the last 0.5 to 1.5 in. of travel. (Set the slow-down limit switch high enough to decelerate the cylinder before it hits bottom.) Fluid viscosity or weight changes give more or less flow to increase or decrease the slow-down distance.

Retracting cylinder slows down — The circuit in Figure 23-9 shows the valve positions as the retracting cylinder nears the end of stroke and makes the slow-down limit switch.

Figure 23-9

All solenoids are deenergized except C2 on normally closed 2-way (E). When solenoid A1 on normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve (S) deenergizes, the valve starts to close. When this happens, pressure from the load and high -flowing fluid builds to relief setting. The relief valve resists flow but does not close completely all at once (like a directional valve would). Backpressure at the cylinder causes it to decelerate smoothly and quickly with little or no shock.

With relief pressure set low, deceleration takes longer. With relief pressure set high, deceleration is quicker. In any event, cylinder slowing does not consistently stay the same.

Always position the slow-down limit far enough from end of stroke to decelerate the cylinder before it reaches bottom. This means it could stop before bottoming out when the only control is normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve (S).

Normally closed 2-way valve (E) provides another controllable flow path around the normally closed solenoid-operated relief valve. Set needle valve (F) to let the cylinder move quickly, but not fast enough to shock the machine when it reaches bottom. Use a cylinder cap-end cushion as a final shock absorber to shorten slow-down travel.

The slow-down part of the stroke is usually less than 2 in., so it poses no time problem.

After the cylinder bottoms out, solenoid (C2) on normally closed directional valve (E) deenergizes, ending the cycle.

Opposing trim cylinders with synchronous movement

Two cutter heads, driven by opposing cylinders, must meet near perfectly in center regardless of differing loads. If the cylinders are out of phase, parts can be damaged and the profiled cutters may break.

An original circuit used two pumps and directional valves to synchronize the cylinders. The machine was useable but parts often were under par and cutting tools had to be changed frequently.

The schematic diagram in Figure 23-10 shows the new circuit now on the machine. Now the cutters move almost perfectly in unison, and produce a better part with no tooling damage.

Figure 23-10

A single 30-gpm pump replaced two 21-gpm pumps with a cycle time decrease of 1.5 seconds.

Clamp cylinder (C) has an oversize rod and uses a regeneration circuit for fast, low-volume extension. Counterbalance valve (E) keeps the vertical clamp cylinder from running away. Sequence valve (J) assures that the part stays tightly clamped as trim cylinders (G) and (H) advance to the work.

Both directional valves (A) and (B) have pump-to-tank center conditions, so the pump unloads until they shift.

Check valve (N) prevents backflow to the clamp cylinder's rod end while the trim cylinders work.

Check valve (M) provides backpressure to supply pilot oil to both solenoid pilot-operated directional valves and makeup fluid to the tandem cylinders.

Two check valves (L) allow fluid into the double-rod end cylinder's trapped area to make up for leakage. Pressure here also keeps the seals energized to reduce leaks.

Normally closed 2-way directional valve (K) re-synchronizes the trim cylinders if they get out of phase. It operates automatically any time limit switches (F) do not make simultaneously.

Clamp cylinder (C) extending in regeneration — Energizing solenoid A1 on directional valve (A) starts clamp cylinder (C) forward, as seen in Figure 23-11. Oil from the rod end of cylinder (C) regenerates to the cap end and almost doubles its speed. (Because the cylinder needs minimum force to move to the part, a regeneration circuit such as this works well and uses a smaller pump.)

Figure 23-11

Set counterbalance valve (E) high enough to force rod end oil to regenerate through sequence valve (0) until the cylinder meets the work.

Clamp cylinder (C) advances at fast speed until it contacts the work. At work contact, pressure increases and opens counterbalance valve (E). This action drops backpressure on the rod end of cylinder (C), giving full force to clamp the part. When valve (E) opens, sequence valve (O) closes, shutting off the regeneration path.

Pressure must climb to 750 psi before oil can pass sequence valve (J) and flow on to trim cylinder valve (B). Sequence valve (J) makes sure the part has ample clamp force while the trim cylinders advance to the work. Pressure in clamp cylinder (C) never drops below 750 psi if sequence valve (J) is set correctly.

Cylinder (C) extended at full force, cylinders (G) and (H) extending in synchronization — After clamping the part, energize solenoid A2 on directional valve (B) as shown in Figure 23-12. Sequence valve (J) maintains 750 psi at the clamp cylinder but allows pump flow to go to the trim cylinders.

Figure 23-12

Trim cylinders (G) and (H) now advance in synchronization. They stroke together regardless of load difference until both cylinders stall at relief pressure. The reason trim cylinders (G) and (H) stay together is that oil from each of the double-rod end cylinders transfers to its opposing cylinder's opposite end. If one cylinder moves an inch, it is only because the opposing cylinder also moved that distance. If one cylinder needs to develop more force, energy from the opposing cylinder transfers to it. Neither cylinder stalls until resistance against it is greater than both cylinders can overcome.

In case of leakage from the double-rod end cylinders, backpressure check valve (M) forces pump fluid into the trapped area through check valves (L).

Except for piston or rod seal bypass, the trim cylinders always stay synchronized. In case they do get out of phase, normally closed 2-way directional valve (K) allows them to re-synchronize.

All cylinders retracting — After trimming the part, the valves shift to the positions shown in the schematic diagram in Figure 23-13. Energizing solenoids B1 and B2 on directional valves (A) and (B) directs pump flow to the rod end of cylinder (C). Pump flow goes around the bypass check in counterbalance valve (E) to the cylinder's rod end. Sequence valve (O) is held closed by its light spring and pressure from retracting cylinder (C).

Figure 23-13

Oil from the cap end of cylinder (C) goes through directional valve (A), check valve (N), and directional valve (B) to the rod ends of cylinders (G) and (H). The pump only has to retract cylinder (C). Return flow from cylinder (C) retracts the trim cylinders. This is possible because cylinder (C) has more than enough oil to fill the rod ends of the trim cylinders at the low force required to retract them.

All three cylinders continue retracting quickly because cylinder (C) has an oversize rod. When trim cylinders (G) and (H) bottom out, solenoid B2 on directional valve (B) deenergizes so clamp cylinder (C) can complete its retraction stroke.

When cylinder (C) bottoms out, the limit switch indicates the end of the cycle and deenergizes solenoid B1 on directional valve (A). Now the pump unloads because the circuit is back to the "At rest with pump running" condition.

Cylinders (G) and (H) stay synchronized because they must both make their limit switches (F) before directional valve (B) centers.

Cylinders (G) and (H) re-synchronizing — During each cycle, trim cylinders (G) and (H) return to make limit switches (F). If one limit switch makes first, that indicates the cylinders are out of synchronization. The schematic diagram in Figure 23-14 shows how the cylinders re-synchronize if this happens.

Figure 23-14

In the diagram, trim cylinder (H) is late making its limit switch. When this condition occurs, the control circuit automatically energizes solenoid C1 on normally closed directional valve (K). Because all cylinders are in the retract mode, pressure on the rod end of cylinder (H) keeps it retracting. It can move by itself because open directional valve (K) provides a flow path from back to front of the double-rod end cylinders during this part of the cycle.

When both limit switches (F) make, solenoid C1 on directional valve (K) deenergizes. Solenoid B2 on directional valve (B) deenergizes, letting it center, and allowing clamp cylinder (C) to keep retracting.

Because re-synchronizing is automatic, there is never a build up of stroke error, which could allow damage to cutters or parts.