What is rodless cylinder?

A rodless cylinder, also known as a linear actuator or slide cylinder, is a pneumatic or hydraulic device used to generate linear motion. It is designed to provide extended strokes without the need for a traditional rod extending from the cylinder. Instead, the cylinder’s piston is connected to an external carriage or slide mechanism through a sealed strip or belt.

rodless cylinder

The main advantage of a rodless cylinder is that it allows for longer strokes in compact spaces since the entire length of the cylinder can be used for linear motion. This makes it ideal for applications where space is limited, such as in automation systems, packaging equipment, and material handling systems.

Rodless cylinders typically consist of a cylinder barrel, a piston, and a carriage/slide mechanism. The piston moves back and forth inside the cylinder barrel, driving the carriage/slide along the length of the cylinder. The carriage is guided by bearings or slides, ensuring smooth and precise motion.

The connection between the piston and the carriage can be achieved through various mechanisms, such as a toothed belt, a magnetically coupled band, or an air cylinder with an integrated carriage. These mechanisms transfer the motion from the piston to the carriage while maintaining a sealed environment, preventing contaminants from entering the cylinder.

Rodless cylinders are available in different types and configurations, including belt-driven cylinders, cable-driven cylinders, and magnetically coupled cylinders. The specific design and features of a rodless cylinder may vary depending on the manufacturer and the intended application.

Overall, rodless cylinders offer a space-saving and versatile solution for generating linear motion, enabling precise and efficient automation in a wide range of industries.

Parts name of rodless cylinder


A rodless cylinder consists of several key components that work together to generate linear motion. The following are the main parts of a rodless cylinder:

Cylinder Barrel

The cylinder barrel is a cylindrical tube that houses the internal components of the cylinder and provides a sealed environment.


The piston is a cylindrical component that moves back and forth inside the cylinder barrel. It separates the cylinder into two chambers and generates the linear motion.

Sealing Strip/Belt

The sealing strip or belt is a flexible component that connects the piston to the external carriage or slide mechanism. It forms a sealed chamber for the piston and ensures the transfer of motion.

Carriage/Slide Mechanism

The carriage or slide mechanism is an external component that moves along the length of the cylinder barrel. It is connected to the sealing strip or belt and guided by bearings or slides.


Bearings or slides are used to guide the movement of the carriage. They provide smooth and precise motion, reducing friction and ensuring accurate positioning.

Drive Mechanism

The drive mechanism transfers the motion from the piston to the carriage through the sealing strip or belt. It can be a toothed belt, a cable, a chain, or a magnetic coupling, depending on the design of the rodless cylinder.

Fluid Ports

The fluid ports are openings in the cylinder barrel that allow the entry and exit of compressed air or hydraulic fluid. These ports are connected to the fluid supply system and control the actuation of the cylinder.


Seals, such as O-rings or other types of sealing mechanisms, are used to prevent fluid leakage between the piston and cylinder barrel. They ensure a sealed environment and maintain pressure.

These are the main parts of a rodless cylinder. However, it’s important to note that specific designs and manufacturers may have additional components or variations in terminology.

Material used for rodless cylinder

Rodless cylinders are constructed using a combination of materials to ensure their durability, functionality, and performance. The specific materials used can vary depending on the manufacturer, application requirements, and the type of rodless cylinder (pneumatic or hydraulic). Here are some common materials used for rodless cylinders

Cylinder Barrel

The cylinder barrel is typically made of aluminum, stainless steel, or composite materials. Aluminum is commonly used due to its lightweight nature and good corrosion resistance. Stainless steel provides higher strength and durability, making it suitable for heavy-duty applications. Composite materials, such as carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), are sometimes used to reduce weight while maintaining strength.


The piston is typically made of aluminum, steel, or composite materials. Aluminum pistons are lightweight and offer good corrosion resistance. Steel pistons provide higher strength and durability for demanding applications. Composite pistons may be used in specialized cases where weight reduction or specific performance characteristics are required.

Sealing Strip/Belt

The sealing strip or belt is typically made of elastomeric materials like rubber or polyurethane. These materials provide flexibility, durability, and sealing properties to maintain the integrity of the sealed chamber and prevent fluid leakage.

Carriage/Slide Mechanism

The carriage or slide mechanism can be constructed using aluminum, steel, or engineering plastics. Aluminum or steel is often used for their strength and rigidity. Engineering plastics, such as acetal (Delrin®) or nylon, are utilized for their low friction properties and resistance to wear.


Bearings or slides used for guiding the carriage are commonly made of materials such as steel, aluminum, or self-lubricating polymers. Steel or aluminum bearings provide robustness and load-bearing capabilities. Self-lubricating polymer bearings, such as PTFE or nylon-based materials, reduce friction and eliminate the need for external lubrication.


Seals used in rodless cylinders are typically made of elastomeric materials such as nitrile rubber (NBR), polyurethane (PU), or fluorocarbon rubber (FKM). These materials offer good sealing properties, chemical resistance, and durability to withstand the operating conditions of the cylinder.

How rodless cylinder work?

Rodless cylinders work by converting the linear motion generated by a piston inside the cylinder into a movement of an external carriage or slide mechanism. The key components and working principles of a typical rodless cylinder are as follows:

Cylinder Barrel

The cylinder barrel is a hollow tube that houses the piston and provides a sealed environment for the internal components.


The piston is a cylindrical component that moves back and forth inside the cylinder barrel. It is typically sealed with O-rings or other sealing mechanisms to prevent leakage of fluid (pneumatic or hydraulic) and maintain pressure.

Carriage/Slide Mechanism

The carriage or slide mechanism is connected to the piston and moves along the length of the cylinder barrel. It is guided by bearings or slides to ensure smooth and precise motion.

Sealing Strip/Belt

The connection between the piston and the carriage is established through a sealing strip or belt. This strip or belt is attached to the piston and extends along the length of the cylinder barrel. It is usually made of a durable material, such as rubber or polyurethane, and forms a sealed chamber for the piston.

Drive Mechanism

The drive mechanism transfers the motion from the piston to the carriage through the sealing strip or belt. Depending on the design, the drive mechanism can be a toothed belt, a cable, or a magnetic coupling.

Fluid Supply

In pneumatic rodless cylinders, compressed air is supplied to the cylinder barrel through ports, which actuates the piston and generates linear motion. Hydraulic rodless cylinders use hydraulic fluid instead of compressed air.

The working of a rodless cylinder involves the following steps:

Actuation: When compressed air (or hydraulic fluid) is supplied to the cylinder, it enters the cylinder barrel, applying pressure to one side of the piston. This pressure differential causes the piston to move in one direction.

Piston Motion: As the piston moves, it pulls or pushes the sealing strip or belt along with it. This transfers the linear motion from the piston to the carriage.

Carriage Movement: The carriage, connected to the sealing strip or belt, moves along the length of the cylinder barrel in response to the piston motion. The carriage is guided by bearings or slides, ensuring smooth and precise movement.

Reverse Motion: When the direction of the fluid pressure is reversed, the piston moves in the opposite direction, causing the carriage to move accordingly.

By controlling the flow of fluid to the cylinder, the rodless cylinder can be actuated in different ways, allowing for precise control over the position and speed of the carriage. This enables the rodless cylinder to perform various tasks, such as linear positioning, pushing, pulling, and lifting objects in automation and industrial applications.

How loads affect a rodless cylinder?

Loads can have a significant impact on the performance and operation of a rodless cylinder. Here are some key ways in which loads can affect a rodless cylinder:

Load Capacity

The load capacity of a rodless cylinder refers to the maximum weight it can handle while maintaining reliable operation. Exceeding the load capacity can lead to issues such as reduced speed, decreased accuracy, increased wear and tear, or even failure of the cylinder. It is important to ensure that the chosen rodless cylinder is adequately rated to handle the expected loads in the application.

Speed and Acceleration

Heavier loads require more force to move, which can impact the speed and acceleration of the rodless cylinder. The cylinder may experience slower speeds and longer acceleration times when handling heavier loads. It is important to consider the dynamic response and speed requirements of the application to ensure that the selected rodless cylinder can handle the loads within the desired performance parameters.

Power Requirements

Moving heavier loads requires more power from the pneumatic or hydraulic system driving the rodless cylinder. The power source must be capable of supplying sufficient pressure and flow to generate the necessary force for moving the loads. It is crucial to ensure that the power source, such as an air compressor or hydraulic pump, is appropriately sized to meet the load requirements of the cylinder.

Stability and Vibration

Heavier loads can introduce additional stability and vibration challenges. The carriage or slide mechanism of the rodless cylinder may experience increased vibrations and oscillations when moving heavy loads, affecting the overall system stability. Proper design considerations, such as the selection of suitable bearings, guiding mechanisms, and structural reinforcements, can help mitigate stability and vibration issues.

Wear and Tear

Handling heavier loads can accelerate wear and tear on the components of the rodless cylinder. Increased forces and friction can cause faster deterioration of seals, bearings, guiding mechanisms, and the sealing strip or belt. Regular maintenance, lubrication, and periodic inspection are important to identify and address any signs of wear to ensure the longevity and reliability of the cylinder.

Precision and Accuracy

Heavier loads can impact the precision and accuracy of the rodless cylinder’s positioning. The increased forces and potential deflection under load may result in decreased positional accuracy. It is essential to consider the required level of precision and accuracy in the application and choose a rodless cylinder that can maintain the desired positioning performance under the anticipated load conditions.

Proper selection, sizing, and configuration of the rodless cylinder based on the expected loads are crucial to ensure optimal performance, longevity, and safety of the system. Manufacturers provide load capacity charts and guidelines to assist in choosing the appropriate rodless cylinder for specific load requirements.

How rodless cylinder select?

When selecting a rodless cylinder for a specific application, several criteria should be considered to ensure optimal performance and compatibility. Here are some key selection criteria for rodless cylinders:

Load Capacity

Determine the maximum weight or load that the rodless cylinder will need to handle. Consider both static and dynamic loads, as well as any potential variations or impact loads. Choose a cylinder with a load capacity that exceeds the anticipated maximum load to ensure safe and reliable operation.

Stroke Length

Determine the required stroke length, which is the maximum distance the rodless cylinder needs to travel. Consider factors such as the overall system layout, space limitations, and the specific application’s requirements. Ensure that the selected cylinder provides a stroke length that meets or exceeds the application’s needs.

Speed and Acceleration

Consider the desired speed and acceleration requirements of the application. Evaluate the cylinder’s speed capabilities and acceleration characteristics to ensure that it can meet the necessary performance parameters. Take into account the load capacity and the effects of the load on the cylinder’s speed and acceleration.

Precision and Accuracy

Evaluate the required precision and accuracy of the positioning or movement in the application. Consider the cylinder’s ability to maintain positional accuracy under different load conditions. Look for features such as low backlash, high repeatability, and suitable guiding mechanisms to achieve the desired precision.

Operating Environment

Consider the environmental conditions in which the rodless cylinder will operate. Evaluate factors such as temperature range, moisture, dust, chemicals, and potential exposure to harsh or corrosive substances. Choose a cylinder with suitable materials, seals, and coatings that can withstand the operating environment effectively.

Operating Medium

Determine whether the rodless cylinder will be powered by compressed air (pneumatic) or hydraulic fluid (hydraulic). Consider the available power sources, the required force output, and the overall system compatibility. Ensure that the cylinder is compatible with the chosen operating medium and that the power source can deliver the necessary pressure and flow.

Mounting and Integration

Assess the mounting and integration requirements of the rodless cylinder within the overall system. Consider the available space, mounting options, and compatibility with other system components. Ensure that the cylinder’s dimensions, mounting features, and connections align with the system requirements.

Maintenance and Serviceability

Evaluate the ease of maintenance and serviceability of the rodless cylinder. Consider factors such as access to components, availability of spare parts, and ease of disassembly and reassembly. Choose a cylinder from a reputable manufacturer that offers good support and provides readily available maintenance resources.

Cost Considerations

Evaluate the overall cost of the rodless cylinder, considering both the initial investment and long-term operating costs. Take into account factors such as the cylinder’s performance, reliability, maintenance requirements, and expected lifespan. Consider the value provided by the cylinder in relation to the specific application requirements and budget constraints.

By carefully considering these selection criteria, you can choose a rodless cylinder that meets the needs of your application, ensuring optimal performance, reliability, and longevity. Consulting with experienced suppliers or manufacturers can also provide valuable guidance in selecting the most suitable rodless cylinder for your specific requirements.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Rodless cylinders offer several advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore them:


Compact Design: Rodless cylinders are designed to provide extended strokes without the need for a protruding rod. This compact design allows for space-saving installations in applications where space is limited.

Longer Strokes: Since the entire length of the cylinder can be utilized for linear motion, rodless cylinders offer longer strokes compared to traditional cylinders with rods. This makes them suitable for applications requiring extended travel distances.

Versatility: Rodless cylinders can be used in a wide range of applications due to their versatility. They can be employed in automation systems, material handling equipment, packaging machinery, and other industrial applications where linear motion is required.

Smooth and Precise Motion: Rodless cylinders are often equipped with bearing or slide mechanisms to guide the carriage. This results in smooth and precise linear motion, allowing for accurate positioning and control.

Protection Against Contaminants: The sealing strip or belt used in rodless cylinders helps maintain a sealed environment. This protects the internal components from contaminants, such as dust, dirt, or moisture, ensuring reliable operation and longer lifespan.


Cost: Rodless cylinders can be more expensive than traditional cylinders with rods. The additional components, such as the sealing strip, carriage mechanism, and guiding elements, contribute to the overall cost.

Complex Design: The design and construction of rodless cylinders can be more intricate compared to traditional cylinders. This complexity may require additional maintenance and can make troubleshooting more challenging.

Load Limitations: Rodless cylinders may have limitations in terms of maximum load capacity. The absence of a rod can result in reduced load-bearing capabilities, depending on the specific design and construction of the cylinder.

Higher Friction: The sliding or rolling contact between the carriage and the guiding elements may introduce higher friction compared to traditional rod-style cylinders. This can slightly impact the overall efficiency of the system.

Installation and Alignment: Installing and aligning a rodless cylinder correctly can be more time-consuming and demanding than traditional cylinders. Proper alignment is crucial to ensure smooth and reliable operation.

It’s worth noting that the advantages and disadvantages of rodless cylinders can vary depending on the specific application requirements, design, and quality of the cylinder chosen.


Rodless cylinders find application in a wide range of industries and automation systems where linear motion is required. Here are some common applications of rodless cylinders:

Material Handling Systems: Rodless cylinders are employed in various material handling applications, including assembly lines, transfer systems, and loading/unloading systems. They can move objects, lift or lower platforms, and perform pushing or pulling actions with accuracy and reliability.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs used in warehouses, factories, and distribution centers rely on rodless cylinders for their linear motion needs. They enable AGVs to navigate, transfer goods, and perform tasks like lifting or tilting platforms for loading/unloading operations.

Factory Automation: Rodless cylinders play a significant role in factory automation systems, where they are used in robotic arms, gantry systems, and other automated machinery. They provide the necessary linear motion for precise positioning, material handling, and assembly processes.

CNC Machines: Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, including CNC routers, milling machines, and laser cutting machines, employ rodless cylinders for the linear movement of tool heads or workpieces. They enable precise machining and fabrication processes.

Automotive Industry: Rodless cylinders are used in various applications in the automotive industry, including assembly lines, robotic welding systems, and paint booths. They assist in tasks such as part positioning, door and hood opening/closing, and precise robotic movements.

Aerospace Industry: Rodless cylinders find application in the aerospace industry for tasks like aircraft assembly, component handling, and material transfer. They contribute to the accuracy and efficiency of processes in aircraft manufacturing and maintenance.

Industrial Machinery: Rodless cylinders are employed in a wide range of industrial machinery, such as presses, cutting machines, textile machinery, and conveyors. They enable linear motion for various processes and operations, enhancing productivity and precision.


What are the uses of rodless cylinders?
This provides the main advantages of having the same stroke length in less space, without worrying about rod buckling under high loads or long strokes, and delivers the same force in both directions. The rodless cylinder is most commonly used for applications such as material handling, loading, lifting and web cutting.

How do stemless actuators work?
A rodless cylinder consists of an internal piston that moves inside the cylinder powered by compressed air. The piston is attached to a support that supports the load and moves it in a linear direction with the piston.

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By Aditya

Hi, I’m Aditya Sharma, a professional blogger from Gurgaon, India and I launched this blog called aadityacademy on July 2021. aadityacademy.com is a mechanical Project-oriented platform run by Aditya sharma and I got the motivation to start aadityacademy blog after seeing less technical education information available on google.

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