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Simplified Details Of Hydraulic System & Its Technology

Design of a simple Hydraulic metal sheet pressing/shaping machine

Simplified Details Of Hydraulic System & Its Technology


The Hydraulic system is one of the technologies that has helped the engineers to devise new ways of doing jobs with less effort. It is an applied science from the existing laws of fluid power using engineering and other science fields related approach.  In a clear definition, the hydraulic system is a modern technology found in most industrial machines and construction equipment making use of a liquid which can either be an oil, water or any other liquid to lift, lower, move or adjust loads or any part of a machine. Pneumatics system can be referred to as a brother to the hydraulic system because it makes use of air in its operation unlike the hydraulic that uses liquid.

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The first industrial application of hydraulic theoretical idea was the invention of an industrial hydraulic press by Joseph Bramah in 1795. The hydraulic press was using the hydraulic cylinder to generate compressive force used to operate the mechanical lever. The technology helped Bramah to also develop the toilet flush system which has become the major way all the water flushing toilets are built to date.


The theory behind the hydraulic press is based on Pascal’s principle of pressure in a closed system, the principal said that the pressure and its distribution in any closed system is constant. Assuming a piston can be used as a pump to build and distribute pressure in a closed system like a piped vacuum. If a modest mechanical force is acting on a small cross-sectional area; the other part that may have a piston with a larger area will generate a corresponding large mechanical force. In other words, if small piston can push a large volume of fluid (liquid or air), the pressure generated will exact the same mechanical force to the larger piston forcing any load on it to be moved. The sizes of the pistons and their cylinders will determine the ratio of the traveling distances of the small piston versus the large piston. Since the larger the piston the less distance it can be moved by the small piston in a closed system.

Pascal’s law said “pressure on a confined fluid is transmitted undiminished and acts with equal force on equal areas and at 90 degrees to the container wall. A small effort force acts on a small piston, this creates a pressure which is transferred through the hydraulic fluid to a large piston”

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The uses of the hydraulic system have gone beyond industrial machines applications, to heavy-duty equipment in construction industries, making of some robotic arms, and maintenance tools applications such as hydraulic jacks, etc. categorically the uses of the hydraulic system can be highlighted as:

  1. The hydraulic system is used in the making of industrial machines to overcome mechanical force needed to carry out a particular operation. Some examples are the hydraulic press use in the bending and piercing of metal sheets, hydraulic hammers, etc.
  2. The hydraulic system has become a major technology for over 90 percent of all the heavy-duty construction equipment like the hydraulic breaker used in the breaking of rocks, and building demolition purposes, hydraulic cranes for the lifting and lowering of loads, excavators and self-loaders used by the construction industries make use of hydraulic technology for their operations.
  3. The hydraulic system has its use in the making of breaks and steering systems of all the modern vehicles. Thereby making breaks to be applied using small application of force and the steering of vehicles become easier due to the hydraulic lines in the steering system.
  4. The hydraulic system also finds its use in the modern toilets’ flushing system. The small application of force on the toilet flusher knob will move the small plastic piston in it to create a force that causes the entire water in the flusher to flow out into the toilet seater.
  5. Some special robots have the hydraulic system in their arms, necks, jaws, legs, and waist, etc to enable flexibility and help them to carry heavy loads and overcome large mechanical forces while in operations.
  6. Special industrial pumps are systematically operated through the hydraulic system to overcome large load resistance.
  7. The wings of modern air crafts, their landing gears, and control systems have hydraulic technology in them to enable the units to overcome heavy wind resistance coming from air flow through little application of force from electric motors which is usually activated through a button by the pilot.
  8. Water flow in dams and large streams can be controlled through proper designing and application of the hydraulic system.
  9. The lowering and raising operations of sand moving trucks are possible due to the hydraulic system in the arms below it.
  10. The hydraulic system is used for the calibration of oil rig valves and their pump alignments through direct hose connections.
  11. Modern laboratory equipment used for the testing of the strength of materials are made with the hydraulic system.

There are over hundred applications and uses of the hydraulic system which the few mentioned above are among.

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  1. It operates with low noise.
  2. It requires little application of force.
  3. It uses few parts to operate.
  4. It can be built as a unit and installed into a machine or equipment.
  5. The system can overcome heavy loads according to their designed limits.
  6. The hydraulic system can help reduce the machine size yet with greater mechanical efficiency.
  7. It is less problematic than non-hydraulic systems.
  8. It enhances the smooth running operations of the machines or equipment that has it.
  9. The applications of the hydraulic system are appearing to become almost unlimited in engineering designs.
  10. Enhanced safety and less mechanical failures have been associated with machines and equipment using the hydraulic system.


  1. Fluid leakages have been a major complaint in the hydraulic system.
  2. Gradual drop of force coming from leakages in the cylinders have made load suspension in the hydraulic system unsafe. An example is using hydraulic cranes for load suspension in the air for a long time.
  3. Hydraulic system will always need hydraulic fluid in the form of oil for refilling and changing purposes.
  4. Slow operational response. Hydraulic actions are slow in responding to commands or applied force when compared to links and lever controlled systems.
  5. The repair and maintenance can be tedious in the hands of an inexperienced hydraulic engineer.

Besides the above details of hydraulics, modern technology has shown that the system can be incorporated into every industrial machines and robot to be able in carrying out heavy tasks involving forces. Some aspects of industrial machines expected include; forging operations, molding works, metal drawing/rolling, and plastic deformation of metals, etc.



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