A Hydraulic Manifold (sometimes referred to as a Hydraulic Valve Block) is a component which regulates the fluid flow between actuators, pumps, valves and other components within a hydraulic system. It acts in a similar manner to a switchboard in an electric circuit in that it allows the operator to control the movements of liquid between different parts of the system. This consolidation of components reduces the number of fittings and assembly time. There are 3 main ways in which hydraulic manifolds are manufactured.
Drilled Metal Block Manifold
This design of Manifold is as described, a single metal block (often Steel, Aluminium or Cast Iron) is drilled into so as to produce the passages. This limits somewhat the functionality of the manifold as only straight passages can be produced.
A Laminar Manifold is custom designed for a specific application, and consists of several layers of plates/metal which all have fluid passages machined through them. These individual layers are then stacked together and brazed to form a single piece. The advantage of this technique is that internal passages can be cut in contoured shapes as large as necessary, meaning nearly any flow rate can be accommodates without pressure drop. A laminar Manifold can handle pressures up to 10,000 PSI and is most often constructed out of steel. The only disadvantage in the bespoke nature of a laminar manifold is that they are not readily adaptable to other applications.
A modular manifold system consists of several different Manifold Blocks and is a very adaptable system. A modular system is able to encapsulate both cartridge and sub-plate mounted valves. End plates seal off the assembled manifold with dividers and spacer plates between the basic building blocks, which also allow different sections to be blocked off as desired. Flow rates and pressure may be limited with modular manifold systems.
Advantages of Manifold Systems
A manifold is a much simpler and effective way of regulating flow and can replace a significant amount of tubing and valve bases whilst taking up minimal space. Bronte Precision manufacture a wide range of complex bespoke manifold systems for various applications are a based in Bradford, West Yorkshire.