Hydraulic machinery uses the power of liquid pressure to drive physical action. It relies upon Pascal’s law, which states that pressure applied to a fluid inside a closed system will inherently apply all of that pressure outwards. It can be immensely powerful when the outward pressure exerted by fluid in a closed system is channeled. Modern hydraulics was pioneered in 1795 by Joseph Bramah, who invented the hydraulic press. Early hydraulic systems were immensely important in dockyards and steel mills, where they proved to be far more efficient than steam engines. Here are some fascinating uses of hydraulics in machinery.
Recycling compactors – otherwise known as baling machines – are designed to compress recyclable material into dense cubes known as bales. Bales are far easier to store and transport than loose material and are therefore considered an industry-standard in recycling. Baling machines use hydraulic rams to exert huge amounts of force upon a material, essentially crushing it into flattened shapes. There are several popular configurations: horizontal, twin ram, vertical, and auto tie. These all use hydraulic rams in slightly different ways in order to deal with different kinds of material.
Construction vehicles such as front-end loaders need to be extremely powerful and reliable. The safety of construction workers completing a project rests upon the ability of the machinery they are using to complete heavy lifting tasks without fail. Most mechanized construction vehicles use hydraulic systems to control digging arms, drills, and bulldozer blades. The efficiency of a closed-loop hydraulic system makes it perfect for construction equipment. Any leaks in a hydraulic system can make it incredibly dangerous – such is the pressure needed to drive heavy machinery.
Some elevators make use of hydraulic pistons in order to operate. These hydraulic elevators are only useful in buildings a few stories tall. Hydraulic elevators are commonly used when there is no space in a building for a complex winch system. Elevators designed to fit inside the homes of people with disabilities are often hydraulically driven. Hydraulic elevators rely upon a single-piston positioned below the elevator cab.
Brakes are undoubtedly one of the essential parts of a car. Cars move quickly and are extremely heavy, which means that they need a very powerful braking system in order to be safe. Almost all car brakes are hydraulic. Some trucks and farm machinery vehicles use compressed air brakes instead, which give off a distinctive hissing noise. When you press the brake pedal in your car, you are actually depressing a piston into a reservoir of hydraulic brake fluid. The pressure you exert with the piston is transferred down hosepipe like lines and exerts a force upon ceramic brake pads, which clasp onto metal brake disks. Hydraulic systems are very efficient ways of transferring force, which makes them perfect for brakes. Force travels down brake lines very quickly indeed. This is the reason why car brakes feel like they are being applied instantly as you push the pedal.