What are NFPA Cylinders for Pumps?

Blog | January 15th, 2019

Much like any other engineering discipline, hydraulics technology is rife with acronyms. The latest of which, NFPA cylinders, requires decoding. NFPA, strictly speaking, isn’t a descriptive acronym, it’s a shorthand way of referring to a regulatory body, one that’s known as the National Fluid Power Association. Equipped with many resources, one of this regulatory body’s jobs is to govern fluid-powered cylinder design practices.

What Are NFPA Cylinders?

Just to review the basics, fluid cylinders deliver linear force. Now, since this is a familiar system transition point, it carries a number of ports, mounting options, and package dimensions. Imagine, just for a moment, a non-standard hydraulic cylinder. In absolute chaos, differently sized ports and mounting configurations would clash. That’s a pretty terrible prospect, right? Enter NFPA standardized cylinders, actuating linear force manipulators that always use a set port size or mounting style. The gains are obvious. Internationally speaking, one NFPA cylinder can quickly replace a defective model. Downtime is minimized, the mobile hydraulic equipment comes back online quickly, and the work progresses without nary an interruption.

Demonstrable Broad Industry Appeal

One manufacturer has gone out of business. Their NFPA approved cylinders and actuators have seen their day, so the equipment pump is probably obsolete. Not so fast, don’t take the pump out of service just yet. Because of the NFPA stamp, parts can be exchanged even when they’re fabricated by a different manufacturer. After all, those parts designers and distributors tend to be National Fluid Power Association members, which means they’ve agreed to adhere to the same standard port sizes, piston seal types, and rod/bore diameter combos. It’s a win-win situation for the fluid power industry, with the distributors, and equipment repairers winning out big in every conceivable way.

NFPA Quality-Assured Cylinder Architectures

Even if a set of parts is identically shaped and formed, that level of port and part equivalence proves little. The cylinders also must exhibit a predetermined set of serviceable features, again, as decided by the association. Headlining those features, a robust structure ranks high. Made of stainless steel, top-grade aluminium, or some other structurally durable alloy, the actuator housings and piston components can be identified by their square end caps and a quartet of tie rods. No matter a manufacturer’s usual design choices, those material and product-forming stylings are maintained.

That’s quite a test of parts equivalency. The standards also go beyond style and form parity. NFPA cylinder, be they designed for pneumatics applications or hydraulics systems, consistently carry heavy fluid loads. For air-powered systems, a 250-PSI load isn’t at all unusual. Likewise, hydraulically pumped cylinders, built to meet the above specs, are capable of handling 5000-PSI loads.

Mobile Hydraulic Specialties Pty Ltd

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Keysborough, Victoria, 3173

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