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Valve Function Explained

Valve function outlines the number of flow paths a valve has as well as the positions of a valve. The flow paths or ports are referred to as ways in the valve function. The number of positions is how many different positions that valve can be in.

2/2 Valves

A 2-way 2 position valve is known as a 2/2 valve. A basic example of a 2/2 valve is a ball valve. A basic ball valve has two ports (in and out) along with two positions (open or closed).

3/2 Valves

3-Way 2 Position Valves A 3-way 2 position valve is known as a 3/2 valve. A basic example of a 3/2 valve is a pilot valve like the E310A-1W012 10 mm valve from Clippard. A pilot valve is used to send a pressure signal when actuated and exhaust that signal when de-actuated. This valve has 3 ways (in or supply, output, and exhaust) along with 2 positions (closed—pressure blocked with the outlet vented to atmosphere, or open—pressure connected to outlet and the exhaust blocked).

4/2 Valves

4-Way 2 Position Valves A 4-way 2 position valve is known as a 4/2. These valves are common in double acting cylinder applications where they are always supplying pressure to one side of the cylinder while venting the opposite side to atmosphere.

5/2 Valves

5-Way Valves A 5-way valve is essentially the same function as a 4/2, but with the added benefit of independent exhaust paths for each output port. This is most commonly not referred to as a 5-way, but a fully ported four way valve. This allows the designer to have specific controls on the exhaust paths for either the extend and the retract exhaust paths. Some manufacturers do not reference 5/2 or 4/2 when offering a 4-way valve and although the differences are subtle, it may be import to your specific application.

6/2 Valves

6-Way Valves Less common but still needed in specific applications, the 6-way valve is similar to having two 3-way valves mechanically tied within a single valve. Applications that require fail safe feature that assure that both valves will actuate at the same time are ideal for this function.

3 Position Valves

Some valves may have 3 positions in their function, which allows all ports to be blocked or open to atmosphere. These can be electronic valves or manual control valves that are spring centered with no power. These valves are not very common and are used for specific applications to either lock in a specific position of a cylinder or to open paths to atmosphere allowing the cylinder to be mechanically or manually positioned.
3 Position Valves

For help selecting the best valve for your application, call 877-245-6247 or contact your local distributor.

By Mike Kettering • Technical Sales Specialist • Clippard