» Articles » Single-acting cylinders vs double-acting cylinders – what are the differences?

Single-acting cylinders vs double-acting cylinders – what are the differences?

Choosing a cylinder type to suit individual application systems can be a difficult task. In this article, PIF spoke to leading pneumatics cylinder supplier, API Pneumatic UK , to understand the key differences between two of the most common cylinder types; single-acting and double-acting cylinders.

The key difference between single-acting and double-acting cylinders

Simply, both cylinder types transfer hydraulic fluids or an output force in directions. Although, double-acting cylinders are capable of delivering more complex properties than single-acting cylinders. That said, each cylinder type has advantages and qualities that make them applicable to certain application types:

Single-acting cylinders

The working principle of single-acting cylinders is to transfer hydraulic fluids or an output force in one direction only. Within the cylinder, the piston rod can push outwards but cannot pull back, therefore requiring a force in the opposite direction to return the rod back to its original position. Traditionally, single-acting cylinders can be complemented with a secondary component e.g. pump, motor or internal springs. As single-acting cylinders only work in a singular direction, there are two forms of single-acting cylinders available on the market; pull or push.

Advantages of single-acting cylinders

  • Reliable
  • Simple
  • Compact
  • Economical

Double-acting cylinders

By comparison, double-acting cylinders offer greater complexity. Unlike single-acting cylinders, they are capable of transferring hydraulic fluids or output forces in both extending and retracting directions. Ports are positioned at both ends of the cylinder allowing the piston rod to move both forwards and backwards. This movement is caused by the ports alternating which end receives the pressure, producing thrusts and performing push and pull motions. As double-acting cylinders have pressing and pulling power without external power sources, they can cater to greater industrial systems. As such, they are the most commonly used cylinder type on the market.

Advantages of double-acting cylinders

  • Energy-saving
  • Accurate
  • Precision
  • Push and pull motions

Applications for single-acting cylinders and double-acting cylinders

API UK’s single-acting cylinders are commonly used for clamping, hydraulic rams, pumps reciprocating engines and punching and positioning applications. Whilst API UK’s double-acting cylinders are often used for large scale engines, industrial furnaces, digging machines, and lift shafts.

PIF found out an exclusive top tip from API UK; for anyone looking to purchasing a pneumatic cylinder, weigh up the amount of control desired vs affordability when making the decision about which cylinder type to purchase.

API Pneumatics as suppliers for single-acting and double-acting cylinders

API UK’s double-acting cylinders are more suitable for complex applications including heavy lifting in one direction. Alternatively, single-acting cylinders have more suitability for simple applications which require reliability and simplicity.

As a leading pneumatics cylinder manufacturer and supplier, API UK offers a broad portfolio of single-acting and double-acting cylinders, at affordable prices and offer prompt turnaround periods. API UK are specialists in high quality, high-performance cylinders and supply cylinders to an array of industries, with quick turnarounds on all products within their pneumatic cylinder range.

For more information about single-acting and double-acting cylinders visit API Pneumatic UK’s portfolio of of cylinder supplies. Alternatively to discuss individual requirements, get in touch with one of API Pneumatic UK experts at [email protected].

Company Profile

API Pneumatic UK

API Pneumatic UK is a manufacturer of high-quality pneumatic cylinders, valves, airline equipment and bespoke control panels.

Get the latest process industry news

Interested in receiving even more industry-leading news from Process Industry Forum delivered directly to your inbox? Then sign up to our free newsletter. Bringing you the latest news, trends, innovations and opinion from across the process industry, our exclusive newsletter gives you all the industry insights of the moment in one, easy-to-digest bulletin. Stay ahead of the competition with regular process industry news instalments from PIF.