Interactive designer configures pneumatic systems

Aug. 8, 2002
New engineering tools and components speed pneumatic-system design and boost productivity.

An online Interactive Designer aids in sizing and selecting Bosch Rexroth's Rexmover rodless cylinders. The program also handles standard cylinders, shock absorbers, rotary actuators, and clamping devices.

A related area of the Interactive Designer is a configurator that lets users electronically build valve manifolds and cylinders to meet their requirements. Users select product features and the program generates a single product number and price for the complete package.

Online catalogs are relatively routine these days, but pneumatic system designers can turn to Bosch Rexroth's Web site ( to not only see the company's offerings, but actually size and select components and configure a system. The site determines what products are appropriate for an application, given data on required performance.

To use the system, users first click on Product Calculation Programs. Currently five online calculation programs handle piston-rod cylinders, clamping devices, shock absorbers, rotary actuators, and the company's Rexmover rodless cylinders.

For instance, selecting piston-rod cylinders brings up a configuration menu along with animated graphics that show the general system layout and key design variables. The user first selects cylinder type, orientation (up, down, or horizontal, with or without guidance), and whether force is push or pull.

The next data inputs are attached mass, supply air pressure, and stroke length. The menu prompts for variables such as required stroke time, pressure drop, hose or tubing length, and the user can optionally specify cylinder diameter.

Icons in this section help clarify details. For instance, the interactive designer explains that the default value for pressure drop is 1 bar, a good compromise between small losses and reasonable valve size. However, users are free to select a value between 0.5 and 2 bar. This section also includes a detailed schematic of the system and nomenclature that defines all variables.

The calculation program attempts to select cylinder diameters based on stroke times. But it also looks for cylinders that can stop the mass without an external shock absorber. If a user decides to add a shock absorber or other cushioning, smaller cylinders are possible.

The program also selects the smallest possible tubing ID that meets pressure-drop requirements. Larger-diameter tubing permits smaller valves.

With all data input, the system calculates and recommends cylinders (and valves) that meet the requirements, and briefly describes each. Clicking on a product item number brings up computational details for the cylinder, including steady-state velocity, inlet and outlet flow capacity for cylinder and valve, and tube flow capacity and diameter.

It also includes a photo of the product, a detailed drawing, and a wealth of technical information. The latter includes parameters such as construction materials, dimensions, and accessories that can be ordered. It also recommends the types of applications for which the product is best suited.

A related area of the Interactive Designer section is the Product Configurator. It lets users configure valve manifolds and cylinders. The process begins by selecting the appropriate product family, such as conventional or rodless cylinders, or one of 11 different types of valve manifold. Users select features as required, while the configurator continuously validates these options. When complete, the program gives a single product number and price for the entire package.

Another benefit is shorter lead time, because once the product is configured, the bill of material automatically loads into the company's computer database, ready for a potential customer order.

The Interactive Designer includes a library with 2D CAD files in .dwg for AutoCAD and .dxf for other systems, and 3D files for Pro/Engineer and STEP. It also contains a product catalog and an inquiry basket for online pricing, availability, ordering, and order status.

The Designer is one section of the company's pneumatics Web site which also contains news and new-product information, training and employment opportunities, and links to other Bosch Rexroth technologies, including mobile and industrial hydraulics and electric drives and controls. Users can also access these tools at, the main U.S. site.

Sponsored Recommendations

The Digital Thread: End-to-End Data-Driven Manufacturing

May 1, 2024
Creating a Digital Thread by harnessing end-to-end manufacturing data is providing unprecedented opportunities to create efficiencies in the world of manufacturing.

Medical Device Manufacturing and Biocompatible Materials

May 1, 2024
Learn about the critical importance of biocompatible materials in medical device manufacturing, emphasizing the stringent regulations and complex considerations involved in ensuring...

VICIS Case Study

May 1, 2024
The team at VICIS turned to SyBridge and Carbon in order to design and manufacture protective helmet pads, leveraging the digitization and customization expertise of Toolkit3D...

What's Next for Additive Manufacturing?

May 1, 2024
From larger, faster 3D printers to more sustainable materials, discover several of the top additive manufacturing trends for 2023 and beyond.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!