A hydraulic cylinder (also called a linear hydraulic motor) is a mechanical actuator that is used to give a unidirectional force through a unidirectional stroke. It has many applications, notably in construction equipment (engineering vehicles), manufacturing machinery, and civil engineering.
Tie rod style hydraulic cylinders use high strength threaded steel rods to hold the two end caps to the cylinder barrel. They are most often seen in industrial factory applications. Small bore cylinders usually have 4 tie rods, and large bore cylinders may require as many as 16 or 20 tie rods in order to retain the end caps under the tremendous forces produced. Tie rod style cylinders can be completely disassembled for service and repair, and they are not always customizable.
Welded body cylinders have no tie rods. The barrel is welded directly to the end caps. The ports are welded to the barrel. The front rod gland is usually threaded into or bolted to the cylinder barrel. That allows the piston rod assembly and the rod seals to be removed for service.
Welded body cylinders have a number of advantages over tie rod style cylinders. Welded cylinders have a narrower body and often a shorter overall length enabling them to fit better into the tight confines of machinery. Welded cylinders do not suffer from failure due to tie rod stretch at high pressures and long strokes. The welded design also lends itself to customization. Special features are easily added to the cylinder body, including special ports, custom mounts, valve manifolds, and so on.
The smooth outer body of welded cylinders also enables the design of multi-stage telescopic cylinders.
Welded body hydraulic cylinders dominate the mobile hydraulic equipment market such as construction equipment (excavators, bulldozers, and road graders) and material handling equipment (forklift trucks, telehandlers, and lift-gates). They are also used by heavy industry in cranes, oil rigs, and large off-road vehicles for above-ground mining operations.