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Three way valves and double acting cylinders

| written by twg

One of the more popular tactics of the last few years for manufacturers has been to use three-way valves as an alternative for control of double acting cylinders as opposed to going the traditional four-way valve route.


The reason for this is that four way valves are basically just two three-way valves in a common body. In separating the three-way valves into their own area has offered a myriad of benefits and ways to save cost and improve productivity.


Here’s a few examples:


  • Three-way valves are almost always smaller and lighter than four-way valves. This is important, because it allows the mounting of three-way valves closer to or on a double acting cylinder. This means that the air-lines are shortened and that lessens the amount of air consumption. What happens as a result is that you get a faster response overall than if you simply just used a four-way valve.


  • If you have a mounted cylinder that’s designed vertically where gravity can work its magic then you really only need a three-way valve. Gravity basically does all the work here as it extends and retracts the double-acting cylinder. The three-way is all that’s needed to power the other end of the cylinder.


  • Another way to use a three-way valve in a similar way to the above examples is if the cylinder is extended or retracted by low pressure from an air regulator. This method can be extremely beneficial because it greatly reduces the overall wear and tear on your process. Mechanical spring return cylinders -for example- have a short enough life span as is – and this process will greatly help reduce the overall reliability and life cycle of those components.


  • Another way three-way valves are being used is in consort with each other. One three-way valve working on one side of the double acting cylinder with another, complimentary three-way valve working on the other side. This benefit works similarly to example-1 – where air lines are shortened and overall air consumption is reduced – which means faster responses and the always valuable cost-savings of not having to deploy a four-way valve.


Here are Diffley-Wright, we’re totally committed to help you find the solutions that make your business more efficient. If you’re looking for a complete solution, give us a call today!