Magnetically Coupled
      Air Cylinders

Magnetically coupled cylinders are air cylinders designed to fill a specific need!

Unlike other types of rodless air cylinders such as band cylinders or cable cylinders which have the cylinder carriage mechanically attached to the piston, there is no mechanical connection between the carriage and the piston inside a magnetically coupled air cylinder barrel.

Instead, a magnetically coupled, rodless air cylinder will have a strong rare-earth magnet as part of the cylinder piston. Another similar high-strength magnet will be part of the cylinder carriage. The attraction between these two magnets is what allows the carriage to be propelled along outside the cylinder barrel by the compressed air driven piston inside the cylinder barrel.

Magnetically Coupled Air Cylinder

In the drawing above I focus on the piston inside the cylinder barrel, conceptualizing the magnet built in as part of the piston assembly.

Each manufacturer of magnetically coupled air cylinders will have their own design, of course, the drawing is to show concept, not engineering details.

The sketch below shows the carriage on the cylinder to the left, and then an end view of the carriage, with the magnet as part of the carriage itself.

Magnetically Coupled Air Cylinder

Coupling Force

Depending on the manufacturer, there may be a single magnet on the piston and in the carriage, or multiple magnets, each unique to that manufacturers design, and to the designed in coupling force.

It is necessary to select the cylinder that provides the coupling force between the carriage and piston that suits the mass of the load and the speed that the mass is desired to be moved.

Mounting Styles

Mounting styles of the magnetically coupled cylinders vary too. The simplest is the cylinder with a threaded tang on each end. These tangs fit through a hole in the boss, and then a jam nut is threaded on clamping the cylinder in place.

Different styles offer variations on plumbing, with air ports in the end or on the sides of the end caps.

Make careful note of how you want to install the magnetically coupled cylinder in your application. That detail might determine the manufacturer of the mounting style you need.


Benefits of the magnetically coupled design include...
  • leak proof, making them ideal to use in areas where compressed are leaks would be a problem
  • many can be used for low pressure hydraulic service
  • re-coupling of carriage to piston simply requires moving the carriage to where the piston is located inside the barrel


Negatives of the magnetically coupled design include...
  • high speed carriage movement combined with rapid or hard deceleration can uncouple the carriage from the piston
  • the carriage has no mechanical connection to the cylinder itself, therefore, an external load and carriage guidance system is almost always required
  • tend to be higher cost solutions over other rodless cylinders


What are some of the things you need to know to select the appropriate magnetically coupled air cylinder?
  • the weight and size of the load you wish to move
  • how will the carriage be supported
  • distance the load will be moved
  • the speed required in distance per second
  • load deceleration and stopping
  • is position sensing required
  • how will the cylinder be mounted