How do hydraulics work?

A common question we get asked is: How do hydraulics work?

Interestingly enough, hydraulics aren’t a new invention. Their origin dates back to the seventeenth century, when Blaise Pascal’s studies led to the invention of the hydraulic press. Our company, for example, has been building hydraulic rams for over fifty years, based on those same basic principles.
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Today, we have hydraulic systems in equipment and machinery all over the world. There are hydraulic systems in everything from cars to huge industrial machines to ships and aircraft. The beauty of hydraulic power is that it’s easy to control, machinery operators can use it safely, and it’s very reliable. This is why it’s ideal for industrial applications. We offer the best guarantee on the market.


So how do hydraulics actually deliver power? There are many types of hydraulic systems made up of numerous parts, but they all essentially work in the same way. 


These components make up a hydraulic system. 

  • Reservoirs: These contain the hydraulic fluid. 
  • Hydraulic pumps: The pump pushes the hydraulic fluid through the system. Once the system has fluid, it converts mechanical energy into hydraulic power. 
  • Motors: These are used to power the hydraulic pump. 
  • Valves: These control the flow of hydraulic fluid and are also used to relieve pressure in the system. 
  • Cylinders: Hydraulic cylinders, which are also known as rams, convert hydraulic power back into mechanical power. 


As per the first original hydraulic press, the theory remains the same. The system multiplies a small force acting on a small area (with the pump) into a larger force over a larger area (in the cylinder) using the same amount of pressure at both locations. 

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In application, the pump pushes hydraulic fluid through the system, which creates hydraulic fluid power. This then passes into the cylinder or ram through the valves, where the hydraulic power gets converted back to mechanical energy. 


Hydraulic cylinders are the key component of any system, providing the supply and transmission of the required energy to power machinery. This is why bigger machines need rams that deliver more power. 


Cylinders get power from pressurised hydraulic fluid, which can’t be compressed. Hydraulic fluids are commonly developed with mineral oil or water to achieve this state. The pump delivers the fluid to the cylinder, and when the piston moves back and forth, it generates tremendous amounts of power. 


Naturally, we’ve refined hydraulic systems over the many years since their inception. Now we have hydraulic systems that deliver as much as ten times the power of an electric motor, still using these same basic principles. This is why you see them in almost every piece of machinery designed for heavy-duty applications involving lifting, pushing and pulling. And even though the basic principles remain the same, we’re continually looking for new ways to make hydraulic cylinders even better. 

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