Directly Operated Proportional Directional Valve

In connection with this valve, the points applicable to the following proportional directional valves will also be discussed by way of example such as hysteresis, repetition accuracy, control spool, basic principles tor characteristic curves and the time characteristics of the control spool.

The proportional solenoid acts directly on the control spool in the same way as a conventional directional control valve.

Stroke-Controlled Proportional Solenoid

In the case ol the stroke-controlled solenoid (Fig 10). the position of the armature is controlled by a ciosed-loop control circuit and maintained irrespective of the counter-pressure. provided it is within the rated working range of the solenoid.

With the stroke-controlled solenoid, the spools of proportional directional, flow as well as pressure control valves can be directly operated, and be controlled in any stroke position The stroke ot the solenoid is between 3 and 5 mm depending on the size.

As already mentioned, the stroke-controlled solenoid is primarily used for directly operated 4-way proportional valves.

In conjunction with the electncal feedback, the hysteresis and the repetition error of the solenoid are maintained with very tight tolerances. In addition, any flow forces. which occur at the valve spool are compensated (or {relatively small solenoid force in relation to the interfering forces).

In the case of pilot operated valves, the controlled hydraulic pressure is applied to a relatively large control area. The available positioning forces are therefore considerably greater and the percentage effect of interfering forces is not so marked. For this reason, pilot operated proportional valves can be implemented without electrical feedback.

Proportional Solenoids

Proportional solenoids represent the linking element between electronic and hydraulic. The proportional solenoids are a form of DC linear solenoids. Proportional to the electrical current as the input variable, the produce force and travel as the output variable.

Corresponding to the practical application, a differentiation is made between:

- Solenoids with comparatively linear stroke/current relationship over a reasonably long stroke length, the so-called “stroke controlled solenoid”.
- Solenoid with particularly defined force/current relationship over a very short stroke, the so-called ” force controlled solenoid”.

Only DC linear solenoid can be used for the current-proportional changes in the output variable force and stroke. Due to their stroke dependent current consumption, AC solenoid must assume their final stroke position as soon as possible.

Hydraulic Time delay valves

Pneumatic time delay valves (Figure 4.28) are used to delay operations where time-based sequences are required. Figure 4.28a shows construction of a typical valve. This is similar in construction to a 3/2 way pilot-operated valve, but the space above the main valve is comparatively large and pilot air is only allowed in via a flow reducing needle valve. There is thus a time delay between application of pilot pressure to port Z and the valve operation, as shown by the timing diagram in Figure 4.28b. The time delay is adjusted by the needle valve setting.

The built-in check valve causes the reservoir space above the valve to vent quickly when pressure at Z is removed to give no delay off.

The valve shown in Figure 4.28 is a normally-closed delay-on valve. Many other time delay valves (delay-off, delay on/off, normally- open) can be obtained. All use the basic principle of the air reservoir and needle valve.

The symbol of a normally-dosed time delay valve is shown in Figure 4.28c.

Hydraulic Restriction check valves

The speed of a hydraulic or pneumatic actuator can be controlled by adjusting the rate at which a fluid is admitted to, or allowed out from, a device.

A restriction check valve (often called a throttle relief valve in pneumatics) allows full flow in one direction and a reduced flow in the other direction. Figure 4.24a shows a simple hydraulic valve and Figure 4.24b a pneumatic valve. In both, a needle valve sets restricted flow to the required valve. The symbol of a restriction check valve is shown in Figure 4.24c.

Figure 4.24d shows a typical application in which the cylinder extends at full speed until a limit switch makes, then extend further at low speed. Retraction is at full speed.

A restriction check valve V 2 is fitted in one leg of the cylinder. With the cylinder retracted, limit-operated valve V 3 is open allowing free flow of fluid from the cylinder as it extends. When the striker plate on the cylinder ram hits the limit, valve V 3 closes and flow out of the cylinder is now restricted by the needle valve setting of valve V 2. In the reverse direction, the check valve on valve V 2 opens giving full speed of retraction.

Hydraulic Pilot-operated check valves

The cylinder in the system in Figure 4.22 should, theoretically, hold position when the control valve is in its centre, off, position. In practice, the cylinder will tend to creep because of leakage in the control valve.

Check valves have excellent sealage in the closed position, but a simple check valve cannot be used in the system in Figure 4.22 because flow is required in both directions. A pilot-operated check is similar to a basic check valve but can be held open permanently by application of an external pilot pressure signal.

There are two basic forms of pilot-operated check valves, shown in Figure 4.23. They operate in a similar manner to basic check valves, but with pilot pressure directly opening the valves. In the 4C valve shown in Figure 4.23a, inlet pressure assists the pilot. The symbol of a pilot-operated check valve is shown in Figure 4.23c.

The cylinder application of Figure 4.22 is redrawn with pilot operated check valves in Figure 4.23d. The pilot lines are connected to the pressure line feeding the other side of the cylinder. For any cylinder movement, one check valve is held open by flow (operating as a normal check valve) and the other is held open by pilot pressure. For no required movement, both check valves are closed and the cylinder is locked in position.

Hydraulic Pilot-operated valves

With large capacity pneumatic valves (particularly poppet valves) and most hydraulic valves, the operating force required to move the valve can be large. If the required force is too large for a solenoid or manual operation, a two-stage process called pilot operation is used.

The principle is shown in Figure 4.16. Valve 1 is the main operating valve used to move a ram. The operating force required to move the valve, however, is too large for direct operation by a solenoid, so a second smaller valve 2, known as the pilot valve, has been added to allow the main valve to be operated by system pressure. Pilot pressure lines are normally shown dotted in circuit diagrams, and pilot ports on main valves are denoted Z, Y, X and so on.

In Figure 4 16, pilot port Z is depressurised with the solenoid deenergised, and the ram is retracted. When the solenoid is energised valve 2 changes over, pressurising Z; causing valve 1 to energize and the ram to extend.

Although pilot operation can be achieved with separate valves it is more usual to use a pilot/main valve assembly manufactured as a complete ready made unit. Figure 4.17 shows the operation of a pilot-operated 3/2 pneumatic valve. The solenoid operates the small pilot valve directly. Because this valve has a small area, a low operating force is required. The pilot valve applies line pressure to the top of the control valve causing it to move down, closing the exhaust port. When it contacts the main valve disc there are two forces acting on the valve stem. The pilot valve applies a downwards force of P x D, where P is the line pressure and D is the area of the control valve. Line pressure also applies an upwards force P x E to the stem, where E is the area of the main valve. The area of the control valve, D, is greater than area of the main valve E, so the downwards force is the larger and the valve opens.

When the solenoid de-energises, the space above the control valve is vented. Line and spring pressure on the main valve causes the valve stem to rise again, venting port A.

A hydraulic 4/2 pilot-operated spool valve is shown in Figure 4.18. The ends of the pilot spool in most hydraulic pilot-operated valves are visible from outside the valve. This is useful from a maintenance viewpoint as it allows the operation of a valve to be checked. In extreme cases the valve can be checked by pushing the pilot spool directly with a suitably sized rod (welding rod is ideal !). Care must be taken to check solenoid states on dual solenoid valves before attempting manual operation. Overriding an energised AC solenoid creates a large current which may damage the coil, (or blow the fuse if the solenoid has correctly installed protection).

Hydraulic Rotary valves

Rotary valves consist of a rotating spool which aligns with holes in the valve casing to give the required operation. Figure 4.15 shows the construction and symbol of a typical valve with centre off action.

Rotary valves are compact, simple and have low operating forces. They are, however, low pressure devices and are consequently mainly used for hand operation in pneumatic systems.

Hydraulic Combination pumps

Many hydraulic applications are similar to Figure 2.16, where a workpiece is held in place by a hydraulic ram. There are essentially two distinct requirements for this operation. As the cylinder extends or retracts a large volume of fluid is required at a low pressure (sufficient just to overcome friction). As the workpiece is gripped, the requirement changes to a high pressure but minimal fluid volume.

This type of operation is usually performed with two separate pumps driven by a common electric motor as shown in Figure 2.17. Pump P1 is a high pressure low volume pump, while pump P2 is a high volume low pressure pump. Associated with these are two relief valves RV 1 and RV 2 and a one-way check (or non-return) valve which allows flow from left to right, but blocks flow in the reverse direction.

A normal (high pressure) relief valve is used at position RV 1 but relief valve RV 2 is operated not by the pressure at point X, but remotely by the pressure at point Y. This could be achieved with the balanced piston valve of Figure 2.6. In low pressure mode both relief valves are closed and both pumps P1 and P2 deliver fluid to the load, the majority coming from pump P2 because of its higher capacity.

When the workpiece is gripped, the pressure at Y rises, and relief valve RV 2 opens causing all the fluid from pump P2 to return straight to the tank and the pressure at X to fall to a low value. Check valve CV 1 stops fluid from pump P1  assing back to the tank via relief valve RV 2, consequently pressure at Y rises to the level set by relief valve RV 1.

This arrangement saves energy as the large volume of fluid from pump P2 is returned to the tank at a very low pressure, and only a small volume of fluid from pump P1 is returned at a high pressure. Pump assemblies similar to that shown in Figure 2.17 are called combination pumps and are manufactured as complete units with motor, pumps, relief and check valves prefitted.

Rack and Pinion Rotary Actuator

referred to as limited rotation cylinders, of the single or multiple, bidirectional piston are used for turning, positioning, steering, opening and closing, swinging, or any other mechanical function involving restricted rotation. Figure 10-10 shows a typical rack-and-pinion double piston actuator.

The actuator consists of a body and two reciprocating pistons with an integral rack for rotating the shaft mounted in roller or journal bearings. The shaft and bearings are located in a central position and are enclosed with a bearing cap. The pistons, one on each side of the rack, are enclosed in cylinders machined or sleeved into the body. The body is enclosed with end caps and static seals to prevent external leakage of pressurized fluid.

Only a few of the many applications of actuating cylinders were discussed in the preceding paragraphs. Figure 10-11 shows additional types of force and motion applications.

In addition to its versatility, the cylinder-type actuator is probably the most trouble-free component of fluid power systems. However, it is very important that the cylinder, mechanical linkage, and actuating unit are correctly aligned.
Any misalignment will cause excessive wear of the piston, piston rod, and seals. Also, proper adjustment between the piston rod and the actuating unit must be maintained.