For long-term readers of the blogs on here, you may remember one of my earlier posts where I pondered how to explain the industry I work in to my friends and how it was one surefire way to bore an acquaintance into oblivion...
Ever since, I've tried to find interesting visual ways to explain to people what hydraulics and pneumatics are. A recent and rather unsuccesful way was when I went to the recycling centre with my girlfriend: Imagine my surprise when I enthusiastically pointed out the hydraulic cylinder on a Digger's arm, just to be subesquentially met with a stare that I can only assume questioned her life choices...
I admit, to an outsider or someone who isn't interested in engineering, that was probably the lamest thing ever, so this list will hopefully bring my redemption and also serve a big ol' "Jokes on you!": here's 5 things that you've probably enjoyed a couple times in your lifetime that you were blissfully unaware were hydraulic or pneumatically powered:
1. Live Gigs
Ever been at a gig and the acts come up on stage from below on lifts?
Were there big light rigs above them moving up and down?
Did the drum machine lift off on a platform and start spinning?
Lastly, did you see these feats and think "wow!"?
If so, I've got news for you... that's done by hydraulics.
Typically on the bigger budget concerts there'll be a lot of stage theatrics that uses hydraulics due to its ability to move considerable weight... and I'm not just on about the artists' egos! If parts of the stage move, as a rule it'll usually be hydraulics.
Cool, huh? It's hydraulics... you nerd!
2. Fair Ground Rides
Fair ground? More like HYDRAULICS PLAY GROUND!
Basically all the rides that lift you up and throw you around are powered by all sorts of hydraulic pumps, motors and actuators. If the rides weren't hydraulically powered, they would be a lot slower and rather boring...
Do you want to go to the fair ground and have an out-of-shape man push you around a waltzer at a rather slow and awkward pace? Didn't think so... thanks hydraulics!
Do you ride hydraulic machines with your friends? Get a life!
3. At the Races
More specifically, in the pits!
Have you ever watched a pit crew change a car's tyres in lightning speed, complete with the cool noises that the tools make as they remove the wheels? Those noises are caused by compressed air moving the tools at high speeds; I'm sorry to break it to you, but you're enjoying pneumatics!
Staying up late to watch pneumatics on the TV? Where did it all go wrong?
Unless you live in a 2nd century village and trade your services between eachother, you've probably used some gold, silver and copper coins as well as some coloured and holographed paper to trade for some of your most valuable possessions.
Some of you like to collect said coins and put them in books whilst some of you enjoy songs with lyrical content pertaining to the artist's fiscal accruement. Money is a big part of any 21st century person's life and guess what? You're all sad! The little tokens that society have assigned monetary value to are made by hydraulics and pneumatics... the coins are cut out of sheet metal using hydraulic cutters and the note paper is cut to size from massive rolls using pneumatic knives usually.
(if you actually want to see how coins are made, the Royal Mint Museum have some interesting videos aimed at Key Stage 2 students...)
Look at your stacks of pneumatically made money? No thanks.
Although some of you might not actually enjoy the plane ride itself, I'd wager you certainly enjoy the holidays abroad that are made a lot easier to achieve by those big iron birds!
(Parallels of mob wives and fur coats spring to mind, but I won't digress...)
Whilst I can't say it's a staple on all types of flight craft, commercial air liners use a lot of hydraulics in some of their most important functions; particularly on the steering, the landing gear and the braking systems. Next time you're on a plane and you see the flaps on the wings move up and down, that's friendly old hydraulics helping you defy gravity.
Come fly with me.... and my hydraulic system. :|
Don't you see? There are so many awesome and cool things in the world that are secretly hydraulic or pneumatic... (see? SEE? I am cool really!)
Yes, this blog did take me nearly half a year to complete; what's your point?