An accumulator is a storage reservoir containing an incompressible hydraulic fluid that is pressurized by an external source of mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is often supplied by an engine, a spring, and a compressed gas. Accumulators offer a number of benefits, some of which will be outlined in this blog.
One of the most essential functions of accumulators is their ability to store energy. Usually serving cyclic operations, the accumulator discharges in times of high demand and recharges during periods of low demand. For instance, they find use in plastic injection-molding machines, where high pressure and clamping force are required for a short interval of the entire manufacturing process.
Accumulators are also utilized to supplement pump flow during peak demand. Without an accumulator, the pump and motor must be calibrated to operate under peak power requirements. With an accumulator, the system can be sized for average demand, permitting a smaller pump to recharge the system during periods of low demand.
Another major benefit of accumulators includes the role they play as emergency backup units. Since accumulators can consistently maintain a high-pressure charge, they often serve as emergency power sources if a machine loses electric power or a pump fails. When units are properly sized, they can provide the necessary flow and pressure to carry out numerous tasks, such as retracting a cylinder, closing a valve, opening a mold, or moving a machine to a safe position.
As many industrial operations experience vibration and shock, accumulators are designed to resist such stressors. In particular, pumps of the piston and gear variety produce pressure pulsations in hydraulic circuits. Large pressure spikes in such circuits are quite common, with a majority occurring as a result of impacts of excavator buckets, sudden valve closures, and quick deceleration of large cylinders.
Moreover, hydraulic fluid transmits shocks and pulses through accompanying hoses and tubing that can have a negative impact on downstream components. To mitigate vibration in such instances, a small accumulator can be mounted near the outlet of the pump to absorb pulsations, minimize vibration, and provide smoother operation. By reducing system shocks, operations can run with ease and maintenance costs can be decreased. Furthermore, they reduce hydraulic system noise levels.
For operations that necessitate leakage compensation, accumulators are a great choice. As some hydraulic systems must maintain pressure and force where there is no flow, an accumulator can keep constant pressure even if the fluid slowly leaks internally. It is only when circuit pressure drops below preset limits will the pump fire up and recharge the accumulator.
Temperature compensation is another incredible benefit of accumulators as temperature fluctuations can cause hydraulic fluid temperatures to peak and plummet which affects the system’s overall pressure. More than that, an accumulator can compensate for temperature-related differentials in a closed hydraulic system. They are able to do this by adding or reducing the quantity of fluid in a circuit.
Finally, accumulators are often opted for in a wide range of operations due to their fast response times. Specifically, bladder and diaphragm accumulators have instantaneous response times, supplying fluid to fast-acting servo and proportional valves. It is important to note that accumulators must be maintained and routinely checked, ensuring that they are working optimally. If you find yourself in need of accumulator parts or other related items, rely on Methodical Purchasing to source everything you need.
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