Solutions in Motion™

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

    Posted by Troy Branham on Dec 18 ,2019


    When choosing actuators for industrial applications, you have to know the amount of force that will be 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. An air cylinder force calculator can help you spec exactly the right actuator for the job.

    You could do the math by hand, but why bother? Using a pneumatic cylinder force calculator saves time and prevents mistakes. We’ll walk you through it below. But you don’t have to memorize all this, you can download the calculation tables here. That way you’ll always have an air cylinder force calculator handy whenever you need one. More good news? We welcome questions here at W.C. Branham, so don’t hesitate to give us a call for calculation assistance.

    Here’s how the pneumatic cylinder force calculator works

    We have created three calculation charts, each of which corresponds to the type of cylinder you expect to use. W.C. Branham makes cylinders in both metric and imperial sizes, so there are separate charts for each.  The original blog says 4 charts but there are only three types of cylinders illustrated. Also, there is only 1 chart that shows both metric and imperial options. Shouldn’t there also be an imperial version for rodless dual-action and a metric chart for cable cylinders?

    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 do not 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. (Overkill won’t benefit your application, and it will waste money.)

    Rodless Cylinder Force Calculator — Equal Force in Both Directions

    Use the table below to determine the general force required for rodless cylinders that will need to apply equal force in both directions. These double-acting cylinders are good choices for a wide variety of back-and-forth or up-and-down sequential movements such as lifting, lowering, clamping, sorting, knifing, or punching.


    Rod Cylinder Force Calculator — Unequal Force

    Use either the imperial and metric table below to determine the general force required for rod cylinders that apply unequal force in each direction. These single-action cylinders either extend or retract, using gravity or spring action to return. They are good choices for actions such as clamping, ejecting, or activating flaps or levers.

    TABLE 3

    TABLE 4

    Cable Cylinder Force Calculator — Equal Force in Both Directions

    Use the table below to determine the general force required for cable cylinders, which apply equal force in both directions.


    Get a customizable pneumatic cylinder force calculator

    Along with downloading the basic calculation tables illustrated above, you can also use this editable spreadsheet to tailor calculations for each project. 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!

    cylinder force calculator

    Topics: Pneumatic Actuators