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For actuator applications, we offer the following check sheet as a guide to arrive at a final design which is neat and functional. In most actuator applications, input pressure and the desired output thrust are known from the start. Internal dimensions are then easily determined since thrust is the product of net piston area times applied pressure. A good rule of thumb is to select piston area slightly oversize since system pressure can be more easily reduced than making room for a larger actuator.
Once the internal configuration is determined, there are many choices for external consideration.