Welded Cylinders vs. Tie Rod Cylinders

What are the main differences between tie rod cylinders and welded cylinders?

Tie rod cylinders are less complex in terms of design and has limited options in terms of customizability. Generally, tie-rod cylinders are “off-the-shelf” items, readily available at any Farm and Fleet, but they come in fixed bore sizes and stroke lengths which can reduce one’s design options when developing new equipment. Tie rod cylinders are less durable than welded cylinders. The name “tie rod” comes from the way they’re made: bolts hold them together through two castings, one on each end of the barrel. A tie rod cylinder can be less costly than a welded cylinder, but will have a shorter service life. Aesthetically, tie rod cylinders are not as inconspicuous as a welded cylinder.

Welded hydraulic cylinders can be custom-engineered for each application, and do not use tie rods or other mechanical fasteners to hold them together. In its simplest form, an end cap is welded to base end of the barrel. At the rod end, welded cylinders are available in repairable and non-repairable versions: repairable - with a threaded, removable head; and non-repairable - with a welded fixed head. Welded cylinders have superior seal packages as standard, which can be important for life cycle expectancy and for durability in applications that involve contaminants and weathering. Visually, the superior look of a welded design can improve the appearance of the equipment on which it's installed.

Are there applications where tie rod cylinders are just as good as welded cylinders?

Agricultural equipment is one sector where, for commonality reasons, the tie rod design is widely and successfully used. OEM’s continue to break from this tradition however, and design-in welded cylinders on new equipment.

What about applications where space is a factor?

Welded cylinders will always be more narrow than the tie rod equivalent. The tie rod cylinder has end caps that are necessarily bigger than the barrel OD of the cylinder. Welded cylinders let a larger bore, higher capacity cylinder fit in the same space as a tie rod cylinder with a smaller bore and capacity.

Are there applications where welded cylinders are always better than tie rod cylinders?

Yes, the performance demands of the mobile market make welded cylinders a better choice. Applications ranging from auto lifts and man lifts to snowplows and truck equipment to material handling equipment to construction and mining equipment all benefit from the superior construction and durability of welded cylinders. Industrial Machinery can also benefit from the economy of using welded cylinders instead of the more expensive NFPA industrial cylinders often seen in these applications.

Is it practical to change from a tie rod cylinder to a welded cylinder?

Yes, because of customizability, a welded cylinder can be designed to be a fit, form and function replacement of any tie rod cylinder. Many long-term buyers of the tie rod design are upgrading to a welded cylinder.

What are the trends in cylinders?
Are buyers looking mainly for price, or features, or something else?

In many cases, the customizability and flexibility of welded cylinders allows OEMs to move to more sophisticated options like integrated valving and to very high-tech options like programmable smart cylinders with position sensing capability.