Fluid Power Systems

Faster than a speeding bullet — almost; more powerful than a locomotive — most definitely; able to leap tall buildings in a single bound — certainly possible; and unnoticed by the casual observer.

Fluid power systems should have a Superman logo inscribed on them. This pervasive, hidden technology is based on a simple principle that leads people to think that implementation of fluid power is just a “select, assemble, and run” task. Nothing could be more untrue!

Unfortunately, fluid power is often considered a specialist subject. In applications where large forces/torques are required, with a fast response time and high accuracy, hydraulic control systems are essential. They have a more competitive power-weight ratio than electrically-actuated systems, which are limited by magnetic saturation, and they excel in environmentally- difficult applications. In addition, the hydraulic medium is mechanically stiffer than the electromagnetic medium. Self-lubrication and inherent heat transfer are also advantages. Fluid power applications are numerous, e.g., vehicle steering, braking, and suspension systems; industrial mechanical manipulators and robots; and actuators for aircraft and marine vessels, to name a few. They are all multidisciplinary systems and require a systems approach to design and implement. Engineering background required includes fluid mechanics, electro-mechanics, system dynamics, computer control systems, and electronics — a mechatronics background.

This module covers hydraulic cylinders, motors, control valves (pressure, flow, direction), proportional and servo-valves, pumps, and transmission lines, all integrated into a fluid power system. Pump-controlled and valve-controlled systems are studied in industrial applications.

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