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Actuators Blog

Interchangeability Standards Take the Guesswork Out of Replacing an Actuator

Sometimes a machine builder may prefer to replace an actuator with an easier-to-obtain unit or one with more desirable features. In order to help simplify the transition, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and National Fluid Power Association (NFPA) developed standards for cylinder interchangeability. These standards offer the assurance of knowing that a replacement cylinder will be dimensionally compatible across other compliant brands, and machine builders are not bound to one supplier’s products when modifying a machine. That means customers can obtain replacements that have the same form, fit and function as the original, and they can upgrade equipment faster. Interchangeability standards typically specify:

  • Piston rod-type cylinders.
  • Standard bore sizes and piston rod diameters.
  • Standard cylinder strokes.
  • Piston rod end thread sizes.
  • All cylinder dimensions that are relevant for customer interfaces, such as length, port thread and mounting dimensions.
  • Accessory dimensions, in some cases.

Not all actuators are created equal. For example, different manufacturers may use different materials in cylinder construction, and the scope of standard features or options can vary. Different manufacturers will also have various price points.

You may also encounter de facto industry standards, which typically develop around a product that achieves good market share and is replicated by other manufacturers. Fabco-Air’s Original Pancake® cylinder is one such example.

Fabco’s varied actuator lineup includes many interchangeable cylinders. Examples include the rugged, high-performance NFPA Series available in a full offering of features and mounting styles, and the cost-optimized FCQN Series, OEM-NFPA, which integrates many of the features as a standard offering. There’s also an ISO 6431 cylinder — the FAQ2R — featuring a hard-anodized aluminum body. If space is a concern, the popular Pancake® II and our stainless steel F Series are also interchangeable.

Stress-Free Cylinder Replacement

NFPA and ISO standards eliminate the worry of choosing an air cylinder that doesn’t meet your size or function expectations. For even more assurance, it also pays to work with a manufacturer that offers cylinders that both comply with these standards and come in a variety of sizes, mounting styles and constructions. Fabco-Air’s experts can review your requirements and help you select the interchangeable actuator that best meets your needs, making cylinder replacement quick, easy and stress-free.

For more information about specifying pneumatic cylinders, download our white paper.

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Actuators Blog

Interchangeable Pneumatic Actuators: An Overview

When you need a pneumatic actuator, you’ll find an overwhelming range of products available from various manufacturers. But because no two applications are alike, you must weigh a lot of considerations before selecting and ordering an actuator. Basic considerations should include the size and mounting options as well as any specific features that will help satisfy your needs. This blog post — the first in a series on interchangeable actuators — provides a brief overview of four common cylinder styles:

Compact cylinders. As the name suggests, compact cylinders are desirable for installations with limited space as well as those with small loads or very small lateral forces acting on the piston rod. Lightweight and repairable compact cylinders have some of the smallest bore sizes available, from 1/4 up to five inches, and strokes are typically less than four inches. Compact cylinders have two common styles, including tie rod construction with round or square end caps, and extruded profiles with square bodies. These cylinders are usually mounted via through-holes or tapped threaded holes, or via rear-pivot.

Optional features include a choice of male or female rod threads, single-acting versions, magnetic piston for use with sensors, bumpers to reduce noise, double rods, non-rotating types for maintaining a specific orientation and seals for harsh environmental conditions.

Round body cylinders. Inexpensive cylindrical shaped cylinders are designed with small widths for applications with limited installation space or small to medium load requirements. They have similar optional features as compact cylinders. Round body cylinders are typically used for moving, holding, lifting and pushing-type use cases, or applications with minimal lateral forces acting on the piston rod. Mounting can be achieved via an integrated front-facing nose thread or a rear pivot pin or hole. Lightweight round body cylinders come with small bore sizes from 5/16 to three inches, and strokes can range from less than 10 inches to more than 50 inches. Some round body cylinders are not repairable.

Tie rod cylinders. When you need a more durable cylinder, tie rod cylinders can meet the requirements thanks to their large integrated piston rod bushings. Tie rod construction accommodates the large bores — up to 12 inches or larger — that provide thousands of pounds of forces. Strokes can typically range from less than 8 inches to more than 100 inches. Offered with a wide variety of mounting styles, repairable tie rod cylinders are designed for medium to heavy loads and applications in which medium lateral forces act on the rod.

Profile cylinders. These cylinders offer many of the same features and specifications as tie rod cylinders, but their aluminum profile limits bore sizes to approximately five inches. Profile cylinder construction offers some advantages, including integrated slots to house a sensor without it protruding from the body, a smooth shape and appearance as well as lower costs.

Make Cylinder Selection Less Challenging

Pneumatic actuators are well-known for delivering reliable, accurate motion, making them well-suited for use in a wide range of machines and systems across many industries. Future blog posts in this series will review interchangeability standards and the factors to consider when choosing a cylinder that meets specific objectives. Taken together, this overview of the different types of cylinders to choose from, along with our upcoming posts on interchangeable pneumatic cylinder basics, will make cylinder specification considerably less challenging.

For more information about specifying pneumatic cylinders, download our white paper.

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Actuators Blog

A Compact, Durable Cylinder With World-Class Value and Versatility

It’s no secret that Fabco-Air is well-known for its high-performance compact air cylinders in imperial dimensions. However, there may be situations where you need the same short strokes, high quality and rich set of features you’ve come to expect from a compact Fabco-Air cylinder, but in a metric-size unit. That’s why we offer the Global™ Series of compact cylinders in a broad array of models and options.

This true metric interchange cylinder delivers short strokes and fits into tight spaces — just like its domestic counterpart, the Original Pancake®. Featuring durable and rigid anodized aluminum extrusion construction, the Global Series features oversized hard chrome stainless steel piston rods and an extra-long piston rod bearing. The rod bearing’s non-metallic composite gives it exceptional load-bearing capability along with corrosion and moisture resistance and very low friction. An optional magnetic piston provides position sensing with mid-stroke signaling and exact end-of-stroke sensing. Additional features include:

  • Pre-lubed with Magnalube-G® grease for a long lifetime.
  • A wide range of mounting options.
  • Multiple dovetails to accommodate multiple switches without the need for mounting brackets.

Cylinders Designed With Versatility in Mind

The Global Series cylinder was designed to offer exceptional versatility. It comes in 10 bore sizes ranging from 12 to 100 millimeter diameters, standard strokes are from five to 150 millimeters in length, and it is available in a wide variety of configurations. And, the family is interchangeable with many square, compact actuators from manufacturers worldwide. Thanks to its interchangeability, combined with its metric dimensions, the Global Series is an ideal choice for machine builders who want to make their products available to regions that use metric measurements, interface their cylinder with other metric components in a system or to simply streamline their design process.

In addition to standard cylinders, the Global Series includes two variants:

  • GT Series cylinders with anodized aluminum tool plate.
  • Global Series stopper cylinders for conveyor applications.

Metric Interchange Without the Sacrifice

When a machine design calls for a compact cylinder in metric dimensions, the Global Series gives you that option without sacrificing features and performance. And, if a standard Global Series cylinder doesn’t match all your requirements, Fabco-Air can create a custom special and get it to you just as fast as our off-the-shelf products.

For more information about Fabco-Air’s Global Series cylinders, please visit our product page.