Fluid Power Components

A fluid power component is one that uses fluids to move something in order to complete a task. Fluid power consists of hydraulic and pneumatic technologies which use a fluid (liquid or gas) to transmit power from one location to another. Fluid power should not be confused with hydropower which uses power derived from moving water.

Hydraulics are a perfect example of a fluid powered component. When one cylinder is compressed it moves the fluid into another cylinder causing it to move (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). Hydraulics are used in everyday devices such as the brakes on a car, gas pumps, and carnival rides. They are extremely efficient in transferring energy in a linear motion in a confined space.

The use of syringes connected with tubing is the most popular tactic for creating a simple fluid powered component. With a little creativity, by using different sized syringes or connecting multiple syringes together, teams can create unique systems. For example, cylinders (syringes) can be secured to the machine; one of the cylinders would serve as the pump, the other attached cylinder would serve as the actuator that causes the next step.

The fluid power component must be activated by a step in the machine design, such as a weight that is triggered or released applies pressure to an extended cylinder plunger which results in the movement of the actuator plunger on a second cylinder. At no time during the run of the machine can the cylinder pump or the actuator be triggered or manually operated by a team member. This would be considered a Human Intervention and result in a penalty.