This paper presents the development of an energy efficient low power stepper converter. A prototype with a hydraulic output power of ≈600 W was designed, manufactured, investigated and improved. The converter consists of a hydraulic cylinder piston unit controlled by a fast switching valve to displace a defined fluid quantum by the limited forward stroke of the piston in its cylinder. The displaced fluid generates a precise, incremental motion of a load cylinder which should be controlled. Energy saving is achieved by storing the pressure surplus intermediately in the kinetic energy of the piston to displace a part of the fluid quantum without hydraulic energy from the supply line. Energy recuperation can be done in a similar way. Simulations and experiments showed two main efficiency improvement measures of the first converter prototype. The weak points were the commercially available check valves and the used guidance system for the pistons. The second part of the paper reports about the development of a fast check valve and of a combined hydrostatic hydrodynamic bearing system based on the elastic deformation of plastics. The theoretical and experimental results show a significant improvement of the energy efficiency, the potential of this drive technology and further improvement potential. Expressed in terms of numbers an energy efficiency increase compared to a resistance control up to 30% and a maximum recuperation energy efficiency over 60% were measured.
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