We've all been there — you need more force from a cylinder, but don't have the time or money to redesign and/or tear down your machine. So, what are your options? One quick fix to explore is a booster. A booster provides additional power to an existing under-performing application.

There are three common situations where additional linear-actuation force may be required, and where the addition of a booster can effectively solve the problem:

  • You have inadequate plant or machine air pressure.

  • You have a heavy-duty motion application that requires more than normal force.

  • You need to compensate for pressure loss.

Inadequate air pressure

With only 80 psi available throughout most plants, some functions just can't be accomplished. For example, when a manufacturer of water bottles performs integrity tests, the vessels must to be pressurized to 175 psi to ensure quality. By adding a booster, you can double, triple, or even quadruple an actuator's force, easily meeting the application demands.

Heavy-duty applications

It's not unusual for a machine designed for a certain workload to take on tasks requiring greater exertion. From clamping to tube bending, there are a wide variety of specialty applications that, at times, require additional force to do the job right.

In the case of a machine designed to form 1/8-in. metal strips, switching to a 3/16-in. product was more than it could handle. It needed help, which it received from a booster, and by taking advantage of the fact that most cylinders are rated for pressures higher than that nominally available. Sometimes, intensifying air pressure (with a booster) is all it takes to resolve problems caused by inadequately sized actuators.

Dealing with pressure loss

When consistent pressure is of the utmost importance, a booster is a must. Pressure drop can occur during peak periods of compressor demand, and without a solution, some applications may suffer. For example, in a newspaper printing operation, pressure on the rolls must remain at a constant 75 psi for uniform ink distribution. Without a booster to act as a failsafe, pressure drop could compromise quality and lead to waste.

Things to keep in mind

Many directional control valves are rated at 100 to 125 psi max. When using a booster, this limit can be easily exceeded, resulting in blown-out seals. So, before you implement a booster solution, be sure to check your specs to avoid component failure. Many Bimba cylinders, including the Original Line, are rated to 150, 200, and 250 psi to handle the additional force.

Boosters are typically not designed for continuous duty. A reservoir should be incorporated downstream with a capacity based on actuator size and duty cycle.

Bimba boosters are designed to start, shut off (at maximum pressure output), and restart (when downstream pressure drops) automatically.

If a booster solution is not an option, there are other ways to compensate for a lack of force. One way is to stack multiple pistons to create more area within the same bore. This multi-stage approach will increase overall length, which may be a problem, depending on space constraints. Bimba's Flat-1 and TRD multiple power cylinders, including the F02, FO3, and FO4, are commonly used for such applications.

Bottom line: When you need more force, but don't want to redesign your machine, a booster can be a quick, cost-effective solution.