When operating a fluid system, it is crucial that there are means for fluids to optimally move between reservoirs, power sources, and other areas. With the use of fluid lines, fluids may be transported wherever needed, and fittings serve as the connection points for each line. As hydraulic fluid lines and fittings may vary in their type, shape, material, and more, it is important that one is familiar with the basics of such components before they make a purchasing decision.
When discussing fluid lines specifically, such parts may come in one of three types, those of which are pipes, tubing, and hoses. Pipes are best when a rigid solution is needed, while hoses are quite flexible and can be adjusted as desired to manage a given path. Meanwhile, tubing falls between the two with a semirigid construction that permits a small amount of flexibility. To determine which type of fluid line that one may require, factors such as fluid types, system pressures, and locations are important. While the rigidity of a heavier pipe may be beneficial for a stationary fluid system that demands integrity, applications such as aircraft will necessitate lighter options to minimize the overall weight of the vehicle.
Alongside the flexibility of different fluid line options, there are also various important measurements of all hydraulic fluid lines that one should pay attention to. Generally, any tubular product should be inspected in regard to its outside diameter (OD), inside diameter (ID), and wall thickness. While some piping can be measured by its nominal ID and wall thickness, others utilize the actual OD and wall thickness. The ID of hydraulic fluid lines can be extremely important to know, as it is directly tied to the rate of flow as the internal diameter will determine the amount of fluids that can move through the line at one time without facing excessive friction and heat. While small openings tend to ensure a higher velocity of flow as compared to larger openings, too small of an opening can cause power losses as the fluids are faced with turbulence and friction.
In terms of construction materials, hydraulic fluid lines will typically be made from steel, copper, brass, aluminum, or stainless steel. Meanwhile, a flexible hose may utilize less rigid materials such as nylon, polyurethane, PVC, or synthetic rubbers. As each material holds its own advantages and disadvantages for certain applications, it is important that one takes the time to find the best fit. For instance, steel pipes and tubing are often inexpensive while providing ample strength for high pressures. Despite this, steel is at risk when exposed to corrosion due to its low resistance. On the other hand, a material such as aluminum will provide ample corrosion resistance and low weight at the cost of some rigidity. Regardless of what material is chosen, all hydraulic fluid lines should be correctly installed and maintained for their health and operability.
During the installation phase, one must make sure that all sections are securely anchored to mitigate the negative effects of vibration, and all lines should be short with a low amount of bends. Having long stretches of straight lines can also be detrimental as well, possibly causing increased vibration and wear. If any hydraulic fluid lines need to be cut, deburred, bent, or otherwise physically changed, always use the correct tool types and practice ample care so as to not damage any assembly components.
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