What is Hydraulics?

What is hydraulics and what does it mean to me? Hydraulics is a huge part of all of our lives. Hydraulics? Yes, seriously. You may think of hydraulics about as often as you think of thermonuclear fusion, but whether or not we realize it, on a daily basis many of the items we use either utilize hydraulics to function, or they were made by machines which operate using hydraulics.

Pascal's hydraulic principle

Bramah’s press was based on Pascal’s hydraulic principle.

How about a little history? Way back in 1795, just a few short years before the internet was invented, Jospeh Bramah was granted a patent for his new invention: the hydraulic press. This was the very beginning of hydraulics as an application of industry, and Bramah’s model is still widely used.

Okay, so what is hydraulics? According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, hydraulics is “a branch of science that deals with practical applications (as the transmission of energy or the effects of flow) of liquid (as water) in motion.” Theory is all well and good, but practically applying this to its everyday uses is where the rubber meets the road, and that takes place within hydraulic systems.

In layman’s terms, hydraulics and hydraulics systems are about applying force at a certain point which is transmitted as energy from that point to another via an incompressible fluid of some kind. This fluid can be a type of oil or a synthetic fluid, depending upon the application. The pressurization of this fluid allows this energy’s power to operate various devices or types of machinery.

Okay, so what types of machinery, you ask? Well, here’s an application of hydraulics which might not readily come to mind: a garbage truck press. The sheer volume of garbage that goes into these trucks must be compacted, and a large hydraulic press makes that possible. Whether a rear or side loading truck, hydraulic pressure is created and using a moving plate or shovel it compresses the garbage against a moving wall. “Pack-on-the-go” hydraulics allows drivers to compact the garbage while driving, reducing route times and allowing greater efficiency.

So, next time the question, “What is hydraulics?” comes up, you will be the go-to guy (or gal, as the case may be). Next time, we’ll take a closer look at hydraulic systems and how they work, just like the one that keeps your neighborhood garbage-free.

Follow this link if you are looking to buy hydraulic cylinders or any other components.

  1. Interesting post, above all, for those who have no idea of the meaning and fields that hydraulics involves. I also know that hydraulics concerns engineering, oleodynamic and thermohydraulic sector as well, dealing with everyday house’s problems. In other words, hydraulics is the liquid version of pneumatics, because as you said above, hydraulics focuses on engineering solutions.

  2. Thank you! This was very helpful for my studies!

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