Q&A / AHP Merkle Can damping increase the performance of a hydraulic cylinder?

Author / Editor: Barbara Schulz / Barbara Schulz

Germany-based AHP Merkle has optimised the damping in hydraulic cylinders and introduced a linear damping concept, an innovative and ground-breaking new solution, the company claims. We wanted to learn more and talked to Development Engineer Philipp Santen.

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Philipp Santen at the company's specifically designed, very solid end position test bench.
Philipp Santen at the company's specifically designed, very solid end position test bench.
(Picture: AHP Merkle)

Philipp, you were significantly involved in the development of linear damping. What was the motivation for this project?

Customers are increasingly demanding ever more powerful hydraulic drives and at the same time aim to further shorten cycle times. Our high-quality cylinders have an enormous power density. They are designed to move large masses at high speed. However, damping can quickly become the limiting factor here, because an accelerated mass must be decelerated again in its end position – a fact that is often neglected. Exceeding the damping limit here can lead to damage to the cylinder, a shorter service life of the cylinder and in the worst case a failure of the entire system. With the new linear damping, we eliminate these restrictions. The customer can specifically design the cylinder and thus the damping capacity for his specific application. Our intention was to develop a solution that would make the big unknown factor – damping – calculable and thus easier to grasp. This in turn makes it possible to increase the efficiency of the cylinder and the entire system.

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Linear damping is a brand-new innovation. Among other benefits, you also promise greater efficiency and performance of the cylinder. What is the secret of linear damping?

It is very simple: The secret lies in the way it [the damping] is delayed. Linear damping achieves the almost fastest possible deceleration with little load for the cylinder. It does the same damping work, but in the shortest possible time. This increases the performance and efficiency of the cylinder.

In which applications can linear damping fully utilise its potential?

I see many possible applications. Firstly, it can generally be used wherever large masses need to be moved quickly. Depending on cylinder size, we talk about weights of a few kilograms up to several tonnes. Secondly, linear damping is advisable if you want to reduce an application's cycle time. The faster movement and shorter deceleration help to save time. So far, speeds of 0.1 to 0.5 metres per second were considered benchmark values. Now, with the new linear damping, speeds of up to 1 metre per second can be safely decelerated. And finally, linear damping is useful for synchronised cylinders, since it ensures synchronous deceleration, that is, the same shock-absorbing characteristics of all cylinders. Thus, you have no distortion in the form.

Another advantage of the new damping is that it requires no manual set-up. What exactly does this mean for the user?

For the user, this offers the great advantage that he can calculate the cylinder according to his application parameters and then simply installs the delivered cylinder. There is no need for manual damping adjustment via a dampening screw on the cylinder. This not only eliminates potential configuration errors, it also saves a lot of time!

And there is another advantage: The fact that no adjustment is required on the cylinder itself increases design flexibility. The cylinder can be mounted where it fits best, because no access to an adjusting screw on the cylinder is required.

You mentioned that the cylinder is calculated according to application parameters. What assistance and tools do you offer your customers for the calculation and design of the cylinder?

We have illustrated the five steps required for calculation and design of the cylinder in a step-by-step guide that can be requested as a PDF catalogue from our website. Furthermore, we will soon release an update of our app, ahp.cad. The new functionality of ahp.calc makes determining the right cylinder a breeze. Customers only need to enter their application parameters and the desired cylinder type, and ahp.calc makes all necessary calculations and indicates whether the damping is suitable or not. In this context, it is perhaps also noteworthy that we offer useful training and workshops through our training programme at the "AHP Technikum". Linear damping will be a focus topic during our practice days. And when push comes to shove, we remain true to our promise: We are only a phone call away and always happy to help.

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