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How does the rodless cylinder work

A rodless cylinder is often a pneumatic component capable of moving a load in a linear path with compressed air. Whereas a regular pneumatic cylinder uses a rod to push or pull the load from the piston, a rodless cylinder moves the load alongside the piston. This provides the key advantages of obtaining the identical stroke length in significantly less space, no rod buckling to stress about with higher loads or lengthy strokes, and it delivers exactly the same force in each instructions. The rodless cylinder is most normally used for applications like material handling, loading, lifting, net cutting, and so forth. Figure 1 shows an example of a rodless cylinder.

ep 1 Rodless cylinders
Figure 1: Rodless cylinders

Rodless cylinder types

You will discover 3 main rodless cylinder styles, which all refer to how the piston is linked on the carrier to allow motion in the load.

Magnetic: There’s a magnetic connection involving the piston and carrier. This allows for any leak-free cylinder. Nonetheless, you need to worry about de-coupling and carrier rotation.
Cable: There’s a cable linked towards the piston and by a pulley on each end then connects towards the carrier. This can be a really very simple design and style, nonetheless, cable wear leads to inconsistent positioning and leaks can come about from stretched cables.
Slotted: There’s slot inside the cylinder’s length with an inner and outer metal band (Figure two red portion) to prevent any leakage. This provides the carrier a direct mechanical connection towards the piston. This allows them to get by far the most versatile and extensively utilised, so we will be discussing this design in this post and it could possibly be viewed in Figure 2.

ep 2 A rodless cylinder with a slotted design and red bands
Figure 2: A rodless cylinder with a slotted design and red bands

How does a rodless air cylinder work?

The key parts of a rodless cylinder could be witnessed in Figure three. An internal piston (A) moves inside the cylinder barrel (E) and is driven by compressed air. Based on the air stress on just about every port, the piston moves in either path along the length with the cylinder. The piston is attached to a carrier. This carrier supports the mounted load and moves together with the piston. The metal bands (D) make it possible for the carrier to move back and forth when producing a reputable sealing with the cylinder slot. Under the carrier, the bands are bended away from the slot to permit a connection concerning piston and carrier. You will find adjustable end-cushioning on the two ends (B) to prevent any tough stops just after complete travel length in the finish caps (C). Figure four exhibits a slotted rodless cylinder style and design and the way the mechanical connection is manufactured through the bands.

ep 3 Components of a rodless cylinder
Figure 3: Components of a rodless cylinder: aluminum piston with integrated magnets (A), adjustable end-cushioning on both ends (B), end caps (C), corrosion resistant steel outer and inner band (D), and the cylinder barrel (E)
ep 4 A slotted rodless cylinder piston
Figure 4: A slotted rodless cylinder piston to carrier (red) mechanical connection with bands (grey)

Load consideration

Appropriately knowing how loads have an effect on a rodless cylinder ensures right function. With distinctive weights, excess weight spot, and pace, a second is often formed that wants to be accounted for. A moment is usually a force that leads to a entire body to rotate all around a specific level or axis. Figure five displays the 3 moments to consider (talked about under) in conjunction with formulas on how to determine them. We will then use this calculated second force to your rodless cylinder’s published bending moments (typically they list the utmost) to ensure our forces are underneath this restrict.

  • Pitch (Ma): Can handle these moments effectively, and in many cases superior the longer the carrier is. The acceleration and deceleration force have an impact on this moment.
  • Roll (Mr): Pretty sensitive to these moments. An off-centered load may cause these moments.
  • Yaw (Mv): Somewhat sensitive to these moments, but are significantly less widespread.

Moment = Force x Distance
Force = Typically just the load’s weight
Distance = Distance from the center of mass of the load to the center of mass of the carrier.

ep 5 A example on how a moment is created and calculated
Figure 5: A example on how a moment is created and calculated

Ma = F x Ha Mr = F x Hr Mv = F x Hv

Acceleration & deceleration

As opposed to a normal pneumatic cylinder using a rod, a rodless cylinder should support the resulting moments from acceleration and deceleration. Think about this like a “jerk”, and that is the exact same force you are feeling after you accelerate/slow down in a auto you jerk back/forward while in the auto because of the moment of force. The force in these equations is equal towards the mass multiplied through the acceleration (or deceleration). If it is a deceleration force, you’ll need to take into account the adjustable cushioning at the finish in the stroke length. More forces also can influence the total force in either path, like friction and breakaway forces.

Vertical mounting

Vertical applications have two additional critical concerns regarding the load. Initially, you’ve got to battle against gravity (or with gravity) when moving the load and holding the load. In addition, in the event you are holding the load, you’ll want to make certain the pneumatic cylinder will not leak air and the air supply is continuous to prevent any motion as soon as in position due to gravity.

Additional components

A rodless cylinder requires the following pneumatic systems/components for effective operation:

  • Pneumatic air supply: To supply clean and compressed air that drives the rodless cylinder.
  • Pneumatic solenoid valve: To control the flow of compressed air.
  • Pneumatic hose: To supply compressed air to ports, valves and other devices.

Advantages / disadvantages of a rodless cylinder

Rodless cylinder differ from standard cylinders and provide several benefits in comparison.

  1. Smaller sized footprint for equivalent stroke length creating them perfect for applications with restricted area.
  2. Ability to greater assistance higher loads and moment forces.
  3. Without rod, they reduce the danger of rod bending and buckling.
  4. Very same force in each instructions.

Rodless cylinders also have couple of down sides:

  1. Vulnerable to environmental dust and debris.
  2. Load movement is fixed on the length from the cylinder.
  3. Inner and outer bands may wear overtime as they stretch.
  4. Air leaks because of band dress in can lead to loss of air pressure.



Rodless cylinders, due to its many advantages are used in various industries. Some common applications include:

  • Automotive
  • Manufacturing
  • Robotics
  • Food and beverage
  • Packaging
  • Commercial sewing
  • Warehouse lifting
  • Printing
  • Spray painting
  • Tire fabrication
  • Optical sorting

Selection criteria

The following criteria need to be viewed as when selecting a rodless cylinder:

  • Stroke velocity: This is the speed at which the piston moves within the cylinder. This would depend upon the air strain supplied at each port as well as load.
  • Carrier Load: The carrier has to be ready to help and move the mounted load securely and effectively.
  • Dead length: It is the length of cylinder that are not able to be made use of as a result of internal parts and room required for end-of-stroke. This is demanded to find out the working cylinder length demanded for application.
  • Cylinder length: This is the actual operating stroke distance, which is the distance that the load will travel.
  • Air strain: As the piston is driven my compressed air, there must availability of continual air stress through the entire application.
  • Bore Dimension: Bore dimension may be chosen according to your capacity assortment expected for your application. For a cylinder to carry out at greatest capacity, bigger bore size must be considered.


How does a rodless cylinder do the job?

A rodless cylinder includes an inner piston which moves in the cylinder driven by compressed air. The piston is connected to a carrier, which supports the load and moves it within a linear direction with all the piston.

How do you determine air cylinder force?

The force exerted while in the cylinder would be the products of air strain applied and usable piston region.


Where, F may be the air cylinder force(lbs); P is air pressure(psi); A is cylinder bore area (in2).

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