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Hydraulic Pressure Intensifiers Explained – What Are They & How Do They Work?

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In a lot of hydraulic machinery, the pressure will typically be around 80 PSI to 100 PSI and this may not be sufficient enough to operate certain spool valves or mechanisms. To cater to this need for a higher pressure for a relatively short time, pressure intensifiers are used and can increase pressure from 100 PSI to 60,000 PSI using a very small volume of fluid.

This article will provide you with all the relevant information on hydraulic pressure intensifiers, their common applications, and how they could help you!

Table of Contents

What Are Hydraulic Pressure Intensifiers?

Hydraulic pressure intensifiers otherwise referred to as hydraulic pressure boosters are designed to generate a high pressure from a low-pressure hydraulic power source. They always work powered by a pump operating at a set pressure, this then allows the intensifier to simply generate a higher output pressure.

There are a few different types of hydraulic pressure intensifiers based on the medium of the hydraulic fluid used and the number of strokes used to intensify the pressure. There are single-stroke, differential cylinder intensifiers, oil-oil intensifiers, air-air intensifiers, and oil-air intensifiers.

In recent years, developments have led to combinations of the above types being produced. Hydraulic pressure intensifiers were originally found to be used for CNC machines, but nowadays they will typically be more common in hydraulic power packs.

Hydraulic Pressure Intensifiers

How Do Hydraulic Pressure Intensifiers Work?

Hydraulic devices are very important in the case of hydraulic machines, mainly hydraulic presses, which require water or hydraulic fluid at very high pressure which cannot be obtained from the main supply directly.

The three main parts of the hydraulic intensifiers are:

  1. Fixed ram
  2. Hollow inverted sliding cylinder
  3. Fixed inverted cylinder

A hydraulic intensifier consists of a fixed ram through which the water (under high pressure), flows to the hydraulic machine. A hollow inverted sliding cylinder, containing water under high pressure, is mounted over the fixed ram. The inverted sliding cylinder is surrounded by another inverted fixed cylinder which contains water from the main supply at a lower pressure.

In reciprocating intensifiers, they work based on a differential piston principle, where a large diameter piston pushes a small diameter piston, therefore increasing the pressure to a factor equal to the ratio of the larger diameter area divided by the smaller diameter area.

The outlet pressure will always be proportional to the supplied pressure. The movement of the intensifiers pistons is controlled by internal valves, and the piston speed can reach as high as 20 Hz when increasing the pressure. At this point, the hydraulic intensifier is continuously delivering flow to the high-pressure side. When the end pressure is reached, the piston movement will stop.

When the desired pressure is reached, the piston movement will stop. In case of a pressure drop on the high-pressure side, the intensifier will automatically start working to maintain the pressure.

Hydraulic Pressure Intensifier Designs

The design of the hydraulic pressure intensifiers is typically very compact, and they are very easy to install. They are generally offered as in-line models, which fit standard pipe clamps used throughout industries. They are also offered as flange-on models, cetop models, and cartridge-type intensifiers.

Despite their very compact design, the intensifiers have all the required high-pressure check valves integrated into their design. If they’re built into a bypass, they can be used in very high flow systems. Most commonly, these components are used in systems to help generate end pressures of between 1000 PSI and 7500 PSI, but in some models, they can go up to end pressures between 20,000 PSI and 60,000 PSI!

Where Hydraulic Pressure Intensifier Are Used

The most widely known solution to achieve high pressure is to create a power pack or HPU, where the pump will generate the required high pressure. This isn’t always suitable though as in this solution, the whole system must be designed for high pressure.

An alternative is adding a hydraulic pressure intensifier into the system designed for lower pressure, and get the higher pressure exactly where needed, and at the same time conserving energy and space. It doesn’t matter whether this system is existing or brand new, hydraulic pressure intensifiers can be installed.

An important thing to remember though is that when you’re using intensifiers, you will initially have the full pump flow supplied to the high-pressure side, e.g. to be able to move a cylinder rod into its position. After you have reached the pump pressure, the hydraulic pressure intensifier will automatically kick in and increase the pressure in the cylinder to the higher pressure required.

In a typical application, the intensifier is positioned between a directional valve and the cylinder when operating a clamping cylinder. It’s possible to allow the full pump flow to go straight through the integrated check valves in the intensifier, and the cylinder rod will move into position at the pump speed. To achieve this you must connect the P-port of the intensifier to the pump and the T-port to the tank.

The hydraulic pressure intensifier will automatically increase the pressure to the required end pressure when the cylinder has moved into position, and pump pressure has been established inside the cylinder. The cylinder, now filled with oil, will increase the pressure within a couple of seconds. In this situation, the intensifier will automatically maintain the pressure.

The directional valve on the pump side is activated to revert the cylinder rod by connecting pump pressure to the intensifier T-port and the P-port is connected to the tank. This will prompt a pilot signal to an integrated pilot-operated check valve (dump valve or POV), which opens, and creates a direct passage from the cylinder through the intensifier and back to the tank.

Hydraulic pressure intensifiers can work with any type of fluid used in standard hydraulic components, but cannot be operated with gases.

Why You May Need a Hydraulic Pressure Intensifier

Hydraulic pressure intensifiers are good for situations where you have low operating pressure in the system but need higher pressure in a precise location. They are compact solutions that can be installed into existing power sources, with standard tubing, hoses, and valves. Hydraulic pressure intensifiers are easy to accommodate, they do not need extra tubing or special parts.

Hydraulic pressure intensifiers can help provide energy savings for the total system along with lower costs for the total system and higher safety. They will help save cost and space with their installation, providing you with no need to buy expensive horsepower components. Hydraulic pressure intensifiers provide fast operation until the desired pressure is reached.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is use of hydraulic intensifier?

A hydraulic intensifier is a device that is used to increase the intensity of pressure of any hydraulic fluid or water, with the help of the hydraulic energy available from a power source of either a huge quantity of water or hydraulic fluid at low pressure. They always work powered by a pump operating at a set pressure, this then allows the intensifier to simply generate a higher output pressure for the system.

What is the difference between a hydraulic accumulator and a hydraulic intensifier?

Hydraulic accumulators are, as their name states, is basically a circuit for accumulating excess fluid and operating at a certain hydraulic fluid pressure. Hydraulic intensifiers are used to increase the pressure of the fluid for more load lifting and other higher power applications.

What is the application of the pressure intensifier?

Hydraulic intensifiers are used where the already installed pump is not sufficient enough to provide a high intensity of pressure as per the requirement of the application. Hydraulic intensifiers are used in specific locations to boost the pressure within the system. The hydraulic intensifier is most commonly used in applications that involve hydraulic cranes, hydraulic rams, hydraulic press, hydraulic lifts, etc where a high intensity of pressure is required to lift the loads.

How do you explain hydraulic pressure?

Hydraulic pressure is the force imparted per unit area of a liquid on the surfaces with which it has contact. Liquids are incompressible by nature, and as such, when a load acts upon it, the force is immediately transmitted to the contact surface. Hydraulic pressure is used in brakes, power steerings, clutches, farm equipment, and most heavy machinery. As with any type of pressure, it is a means of converting and/or concentrating mechanical energy to a more useful form or direction to power something.

If you have any questions regarding pressure intensifiers, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!

By Aidan Weeks

A passionate Mechanical Engineer with endless enthusiasm for fluid power - building off the back of over 18 years of high quality contribution and discussion stimulated by Bill Wade here at About Air Compressors. With both practical and theoretical experience in pneumatics and hydraulics, I'm putting my knowledge to work - and working my grey-matter through my research, assistance and publishing work here at About Air Compressors. Feel free to reach out any time! P.S. A HUGE shout out to Doug who really offers such great value to all visitors to About Air Compressors - once again, feeling like I'm standing on the shoulders of GIANTS by getting to work alongside such a great community

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