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Different Types of Piston Pumps

Hydraulic piston pumps are an essential part of fluid control systems. There are many types of piston pumps, each one offering a variety of applications. In any facility, the piston pump machinery should be monitored at all times. In the event of its failure, operations will quickly halt. As such, it is critical that facility managers understand the essentials of piston pumps and how they operate. This blog will serve as a guide to piston pumps and their varying types.

A hydraulic piston pump is a type of reciprocating positive displacement pump that generates pressure to aid in the flow of fluids. It is powered by a hydraulic drive mechanism that helps funnel a fluid, like water, down a cylindrical chamber. These reciprocating pumps feature an outer diameter seal with a piston rod attachment and their function is to create pressure by distributing energy into the pumped fluid resulting in a pressurized fluid cylinder. Piston pumps are best suited to applications that require high fluid flow rates and low pressure, where fluid can be discharged at a high rate with minimal effort. Despite this, they also are capable of creating high pressure, up to 10,000 pounds per square inch.

There is a variety of piston pumps available, each one best applied in a unique situation. The five most common types of piston pumps are axial, inline, bent axis, radial, and plunger. Axial pumps, also known as propeller pumps due to their propeller design, push fluids in a spiral-like motion along the axis. Axial piston pumps have a wide range of applications, and can operate in temperatures as high as 248 degrees Fahrenheit. Pumps of this type are ideal for producing high flow rates. Inline piston pumps are known for their high efficiency and ability to manage high flow rates, making them ideal for water pressurization. They operate similarly to bent axis pumps but with less rotary capability. Despite this, their ability to produce high pressure makes inline pumps a very reliable option in many uses.

Bent axis piston pumps are similar to an axial pump, but offer greater flexibility. They can bend up to 20 degrees more than an inline pump at 40 degrees, and this design allows them to spin at faster rates than inline piston pumps. Bent axis pumps function by bending the cylinder block on its axis, causing the pump to turn at an angle. Radial piston pumps push the flow of fluid outward to distribute the energy into fluid systems. They create extremely high magnitudes of pressure, making them very reliable and efficient in hydraulic applications. Radial piston pumps are integral in applications such as rig testing, machinery, and energy generation.

Finally, plunger pumps are cylindrical-shaped positive displacement pumps. Plunger pumps produce energy that helps pump fluid due to the plunger’s reciprocating motion. While pumps of this type are extremely durable and highly reliable, meaning you can count on them to work for long periods of time, they also cost the most of any type. Their reliability and long service lives are a main reason why plunger pumps are the most widely used type of piston pump. They are also useful in reaching high pressures in small capacities, and are ideal for many applications ranging from reverse osmosis to pressure washing.


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