These are simple two position Open/Shut valves using a poppet and seat. Figure 4.46 shows the construction and symbol for a normally open (pilot to close) valve. A normally closed (pilot to open) valve can be constructed as Figure 4.47.
Because a cartridge valve is a two position valve, four valves are needed to provide directional control. Figure 4.48 shows a typical circuit for moving a cylinder. Note these are operated in pairs by a solenoid operated two position valve; 2 and 4 cause the cylinder to extend and 1 and 3 cause the cylinder to retract. As drawn the cylinder will drive to a fully extended or fully retracted position. If the cylinder was required to hold an intermediate position the single two position solenoid valve would be replaced by a three position centre blocked valve with one solenoid for extend and one for retract.
At first sight this may be thought over complex compared with the equivalent spool valve circuit, but cartridge valves have some distinct advantages. Because of their construction they have very low leakage and can handle higher flows than spool valves of a similar size. They are also modular and are connected by screwing into a pre-drilled manifold. This provides high reliability and easy fault diagnosis and replacement. They are commonly used on mobile plant and with water based fluids where leakage can be a problem.