An integrated hydraulic circuit is a steel or aluminum block that is machined to accept cartridge-style valves. These blocks combine the functions of several hydraulic components into a single manifold that reduces the size and complexity of hydraulic circuits.
In the past, integrated hydraulic circuits have been used very effectively in mobile systems, where the number of units justifies the upfront investment in engineering and machine setup. Mobile systems greatly benefit from the reduced weight and fewer connection points that these manifolds provide.
In recent years, the industrial market has begun to realize the advantages that integrated circuits allow. While not all advantages that the mobile equipment market values are applicable to the industrial market, the industrial market does value the reduction in connection points and smaller envelope size.
There was a time when no one would consider a custom manifold unless order quantities were in the hundreds. Now, with changes that have been made to setup requirements for machine tool operators, short run manifolds have become an excellent solution for many systems. Advancements in 3D drafting and printing have made custom circuit design more efficient and affordable. As such, it is now reasonable to design and manufacture a custom hydraulic manifold for a single application or prototype. Additionally, by customizing blocks with multiple gauge and test ports, you can now effectively “see inside the block” when troubleshooting problems.
Even though the cost of standard components may seem to be less than that of a short-run custom manifold, this comparison often does not account for the cost of connectors, hose and the time required to assemble these parts. A custom solution becomes the more economical choice once all costs are factored.
Integrated circuits require that all engineering must be completed upfront, a requirement that can be seen as both an advantage and disadvantage to employing the use of integrated circuits. This can delay the manufacturing of the manifold, because each decision regarding orientation and porting must be decided during the design phase. Once the design is approved, however, there are no other design decisions to make at the time of assembly, causing the manufacturing process to speed up.
Integrated circuits are a growing part of industrial hydraulics, and the innovation and efficiency they bring will drive the industry forward.
For more information on custom manifolds or to ask me a question about your custom system, please join the conversation by writing a comment in the section below.
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