Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy website

Hydraulic Manifold Design: The Basics

A hydraulics manifold is a device that distributes hydraulic fluid from one source to the individual components of machinery, such as cylinders in a construction equipment. The hydraulics manifold consists of a base plate that supports all necessary components and provides a place for mounting valves, fittings, etc., as well as ports for connection of cartridge valves, pipes, and other equipment.

Hydraulic manifold material selection chart

Hydraulic manifolds are designed to optimize hydraulics system performance by ensuring that all of the hydraulic fluid from one source is efficiently used before it reaches a point where its pressure drops below desired levels or flows too slowly for effective operation. Manifolds also simplify piping because hydraulically powered components can have tens of hoses and pipes. All of this simplification results a hydraulic integrated circuit (HIC) that enables multifunctional hydraulic manifold.

In general the benefits of custom manifolds are as follows:

- Space savings

- Flexibility

- Fewer leaks

- Shorter Assembly time

- Cost efficiency

- Ease of service

- Optimized performance

Important to know some tips before starting design of manifolds

  • Thickness Valve Block
    The initial thickness of the valve block is set to be 5 times of the maximum diameter of the valve port, then gradually reduced according to the specific requirement.
  • Drilling Oil Holes
    The deep, inclined and process holes must be as less as possible, the large flow chamber should be taken into account first, and then is the pilot chamber.
  • Wall Thickness Of Each Port
    Safety wall thickness between the oil chamber shall not be less than 3~5mm, and the deflection of the drill within the allowable range shall be considered.
  • Oil Chambers
    The flow rate of hydraulic oil in the chamber should not be higher than 12m/s, and the oil return chamber should be 20-40% larger than the inlet chamber.

Material Selection of Manifold Blocks

Hydraulic manifold blocks are usually made from cast iron and aluminum.

There are various manifold material selection advises but as a rule of thumb

For working pressures

  • 3200 psi/220 bar and lower, the block material is selected 6061 T6 (or T651) aluminum
  • Greater than 3200 psi/220bar, the block material is selected ductile iron (E.g. (Durabar) Grade 65-45-12 ASTM A 536)

with proper material thickness for the working pressure.

Aluminum Surface Finishing
Clear Anodizing manifold finishing

Clear Anodizing of aluminum alloys in accordance with MIL-A-8625F Type II Class I (not dyed). This is an electrolytic process that provides for increased corrosion resistance. The dimensional increase on the original surfaces (per side) shall be between 2 and 20 µm.

Black Anodizing manifold finishing

Black Anodizing of aluminum alloys in accordance with MIL-A-8625F Type II Class II (dyed and sealed). This is an electrolytic process that provides for increased corrosion resistance. The dimensional increase on the original surfaces (per side) shall be between 2 and 20 µm.

Cast Iron surface finishing
Dewatering Oil manifold finishing

Dewatering Oil offers limited corrosion protection during shipping and storage. Amount of corrosion protection is minimal and varies depending on the environment it is stored in. This is the standard option for custom integrated packages.

Chemical Blackening

Chemical Blackening – Black oxide coating offers limited corrosion protection during shipping and storage. Amount of corrosion protection is minimal and varies depending on the environment it is stored in. Chemical blackening is standard on three-letter bodies.

Trivalent Clear Zinc with Top Sealer

Trivalent Clear Zinc with Top Sealer is rated for 96 hours of protection per salt fog test per ASTM B117 or ISO 9227 5% saline. Trivalent Clear Zinc with Top Sealer is RoHs compliant.

Clear Zinc Nickel with Top Sealer

Clear Zinc Nickel with Top Sealer – SAE AMS 2417, composition contains 10% to 20% Ni, with clear trivalent chromate treatment is rated for 1000 hours of protection per salt fog test per ASTM B117 or ISO 9227 5% saline. Clear Zinc Nickel is RoHs compliant.

Best Design Tools for Hydraulic Manifolds

There are several tools in the market for designing a manifold block and assemblies with cartridge valves integrated into it. Some of them are package programs belonging to individual companies, such as Famic Technologies' Automation Studio™ , Vest Inc.'s MDTools, Paro's HydroMan, as well as cartridge valve manufacturer tools, such as Sun's Quick Design, Hydraforce's I-Design.

Package Programs
Free Design Tools

While package programs are offering full flexibility of designing different manufacturer's products from built-in libraries but costly to use them, whereas cartridge manufacturers are offering free quick design tools but only letting you use their own products in the design, so no flexibility. Nevertheless, when need a quick design to initiate the design work or prepare an initial quotation for customer, quick design tools are very handy.

But in order to design a detailed and complex manifold with all assembly and manufacturing drawings to be exported, then package programs are the best tools to use.

Some experienced designers are also using Autodesk, Solidworks kind of general CAD tools, but they have all required libraries ready in their softwares that are prepared by themselves throughout their career.

Package Programs

1- Automation Studio™ Live Manifold- Features

Automation Studio™ Live Manifold is streamlined to quickly and correctly propose and implement systems. From quoting to final design, Automation Studio™ Live Manifold reduces processing times and produces a better final product quality.

3D Interface with Automation Studio Live Manifold software

The library is organized by component categories. It is displayed in the same format as the manufacturers' catalogues to quickly identify the desired components. A quick search feature facilitates component selection. Nominal values are already listed, reducing editing time. It also provides product configuration tools for all components in order to quickly obtain a price and minimize errors.

Dialog boxes specific to each product and vendor include a set of comprehensive drop-down menus, listing all compatible products for easy selection.Users have instant access to the PDF product specification datasheets, defined schematic information and engraving instructions.Adjustable dialog boxes reduce library search time when reconfiguring a product. Global parameter guidelines are consigned to a project, saving time during product configuration.

Exporting DXF schematics allows users to incorporate circuits into their own projects.Transfer all 3D elements into one folder, facilitating quicker mechanical designs.Send 3D designs to another mechanical software to finalize plans and then re-import them for final project archiving.

Open multiple projects simultaneously and share information to speed up the design process. Track changes and improve communication between all parties involved in the project

The “Print Report” function create a PDF output with all project details: complete bill of materials, 3D data and layout, manifold constraints, revision history, warnings regarding project completeness and components, prices, etc.Each step is validated as users are methodically guided through the development process.

Easily drag and drop components onto a virtual block for immediate validation, to modify options, to set locations and angles, to assign counterbores, etc.Lock components to specific faces or positions to illustrate constraints. Cavity and component collisions are immediately highlighted with placement possibilities.Export 3D blocks to your preferred mechanical design solution via XML (ProE, Solidworks, Inventor, etc.).

Simulate schematics for prototype testing. Component properties allow for functional block testing, saving costly errors at the early stage of manifold block design and prototyping.Use full colour 3D animations for demonstrations, to promote business and to help save money.

2- MDTools manifold design software

MDTools 3D manifold design software provides power tools to automate the manifold design, checking, documentation, and modeling process.

Quickly and easily design complex and error free manifolds with professional documentation, automated dimensioning, machining chart generation, and more.

Select the manifold design app software
per your preferred platform.

MDTools® 700 Series

For Autodesk® Inventor®  (64 bit)

MDTools® 900 Series

For SolidWorks®   (64 bit)

3- HydroMan - Flawless design of your 3D Hydraulic Manifold

HydroMan is a complete 3D hydraulic manifold design software package for the rapid design of complex hydraulic manifolds, and is equally effective for simpler designs. HydroMan is well-organized, efficient and extremely easy to use. With HydroMan, you can quickly and easily produce an error-free manifold design.


HydroMan is intended for the 3D design of your hydraulic manifold. It is a dedicated, stand-alone software solution with all the tools to help you to draw a flawless hydraulic manifold, however complex or simple the manifold.

Design your hydraulic manifold in no time. You do not need training or extensive knowledge of CAD-type software to use HydroMan. Reading a summary is sufficient to get you started to design your optimal manifold in a short amount of time.

Thanks to the combination of 3D and 2D, designing in HydroMan is easy and efficient. Smart Tools in our software will help guide you to a flawless design efficiently, identifying potential mistakes during the designing process, and providing a checklist for your circuits. Once your design is complete, HydroMan will generate the corresponding drilling list, production and assembly drawing, bill of materials and a checklist; all very efficient with just one click.

Free Design Tools

1- Sun Hydraulics - QuickDesign: The shortest distance between concept & solution

QuickDesign™ streamlines your custom design process, delivering complete designs in as little as ten minutes.

QuickDesign is the only free, browser-based integrated package design program in the hydraulics industry. And now it includes a new SmartConnect browser-based schematic tool that allows you to take your idea from product specification to design using drag-and-drop, point-and-click tools. Once you’re satisfied with your circuit, submit it and get a finished package design in as little as 10 minutes.

Happy with your design? Ready for a quote?

Contact your local distributor and receive a quote on your design right away. What could be easier?

Features of QuickDesign:
  • Free and available online from any connected computer
  • Integrated, easy-to-use SmartConnect schematic design tool
  • Completely automated manifold design from your schematic input
  • Web-based — doesn't require special software on your computer
  • Delivers complete assembly and manifold drawings, schematic,
    connection lists, drill lists and 2D/3D CAD files
  • Easy to use and allows you to iterate different designs by changing constraints
  • Works with circuits containing up to 15 cartridges
  • Develops a proprietary solution using your schematic design input
  • Allows you to select which faces you want to place features
    and components on
  • Provides a complete manufacturing package for purchase or contracting out
  • Enables specification of various coatings for both aluminum
    and ductile iron manifolds
Explore further:

> You can read more about the new QuickDesign program here.

> Or get started with a quick video tour.

> Detailed help can be found on the QuickDesign Help Page.

> Then take QuickDesign for a test drive.

> Or register here to start using QuickDesign now

> Existing users can login here

The fastest way to go from concept to solution is now also the easiest. QuickDesign with SmartConnect.

2- Hydraforce I-Design5

HydraForce's new i-Design Hydraulic System Design Software allows you to design hydraulic schematics, specify component placement of custom manifolds (HICs), and export and prove out your circuit concept in Automation Studios.  

Benefits of i-Design:

  • Hydraulic Schematic Drawing Capabilities – Robust schematic tool makes designing a hydraulic circuit easy.
  • Full 3D Rendering – 3D rendering and modeling capabilities allow you to conceive and optimize your manifold design.
  • Complete Valve Library – With the world's largest cartridge valve offering at your disposal, you can easily create a custom solution that fits your machines needs.
  • Compatible with Automation Studio - Create your schematic in i-Design and export it into Automation Studio to test your manifold design feasability and pressure drop.

Create custom manifold designs, speed through project development, and optimize the design of your machine with i-Design today!  The best part is, it is totally FREE!

Thank you for your interest in i-Design!

To Download the user manual, click here.

AR(Augmented Reality) View of Your manifold

After you finish designing your manifold, a state-of-the-art viewing method such as AR, can be used to review your design.

Augmented reality, or AR, refers to the technology that superimposes a digital object in a real-life environment.

Augmented reality gives a better feel for the product, and closes the imagination gap. With 3D, customers can explore all the details and functionalities of a product from the comfort of their home—and with AR they can see how it would look in their space.

Below is an example AR view for a HIC manifold.

Click AR badge on top right corner and scan the pop-up QR code or open this blog on iPhone, or Android and click on the AR badge in top right corner to see it in Augmented Reality.

Hydraulic Manifold Design: The Basics

We're on Instagram!

See More Photos