To enable simulation of tiny hydraulic systems, including predicting system efficiency, it is necessary to determine the effect of the hydraulic cylinder piston seal. For tiny cylinders whose bore is less than 10 mm, O-ring seals are convenient. Simplified models for the O-ring were used to describe piston leakage and friction and based on the models, the force and volumetric efficiencies for tiny cylinders were predicted for a range of steady state operating conditions. To validate the models, a test stand was constructed to collect experimental data for 4, 6 and 9 mm bore cylinders, which were in the form of a vertical ram with a single O-ring seal. The ram was fully extended and put under load. A needle valve was then cracked to cause the ram to descend at different speeds. Pressure, load and velocity were recorded and the data used to calculate cylinder efficiencies, which were then compared to model predictions. The model and the experiment showed essentially zero leakage. The experimental force efficiency had good agreement with the model over a range of operating conditions. The study showed that simple O-ring models for tiny hydraulic cylinders suffice for building system level simulation models.

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