Solutions in Motion™

    Cylinder Force Calculator: How to Determine Force Required for your Application

    Posted by Troy Branham on Feb 14 ,2018

    DURATRKCylinder4DTF25096160719104549-1.jpgWhen choosing cylinders for industrial applications, you have to know the amount of force required to perform the job at hand. Cylinders can move, slow, or hold a load, rapidly and repeatedly, if needed. The force required depends on the load itself – its weight and movement angle, among other factors. As they say, you have to do the math. But using a cylinder force calculator would make it much easier.

    We have created four charts to help you. Simply choose the chart that corresponds to the type of cylinder you expect to use.

    Note: W.C. Branham makes cylinders in both metric and imperial sizes, so there are separate charts for each.

    Using the Cylinder Force Calculator

    The formula to determine cylinder output force is: F = A x P


    • F = cylinder force (lbs)
    • A = cylinder bore area (in^2)
    • P = Pressure applied (lbs/sq-in)

    Note that these calculations provide theoretical force output values. They don’t consider the loss of force due to the cylinder’s internal friction. The typical break-away pressure needed to overcome force lost due to friction is 5-8 PSI. Your goal is to achieve a force that is high enough to give you a margin of error, without overdoing it. As always, we welcome questions, so don’t hesitate to give us a call.

    Rodless Cylinders — Equal Force in Both Directions

    Below you will find a force table to determine the general force required for rodless cylinders that have equal force in both directions. These double-acting cylinders are good choices for a wide variety of movements such as lifting, lowering, clamping, sorting, knifing, or punching.


    Rod Cylinders — Unequal Force

    Below you will find both the imperial and metric tables to determine the general force required for rod cylinders that have unequal force because the rod is on the retract side. These single-action cylinders either extend or retract and are good choices for actions such as clamping, ejecting, or activating flaps or levers. 

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    Cable Cylinders — Equal Force in Both Directions

    Below you will find the table to determine the general force required for cable cylinders, which have equal force in both directions.


    Find these tables helpful? Download your own copy.

    If you came across this blog but didn't have all of your measurements handy, not to worry. We've made all of the tables available for download here. Want a customizable copy? We've also created and editable spreadsheet. As always, if you have any questions we're happy to guide you in the right direction. No question is too small. Contact our team of experts today

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    Topics: Pneumatic Actuators, rodless cylinders, Pneumatic Cylinders