Piston-Function, Characteristic, Uses, Advantages, Disadvantages, Different types of Piston, PDF

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Briefly explained :

A piston is cylindrical in shape and forms the movable portion of the combustion chamber.

A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pumps, gas compressors, and pneumatic cylinders among other similar mechanisms.

In an engine, it’s purpose is to transfer force from expanding gas in the cylinder to the crankshaft via a piston rod and connecting rod. or 

The force due to this pressure is transmitted to the connecting rod via the piston.

The below diagram or GIF showed that how the piston works in the cylinder.


The connecting rod helps to change the reciprocating motion of a piston into a revolving motion at the crankshaft.

Pistons are commonly made of a cast aluminum alloy for excellent and lightweight thermal conductivity. (Thermal conductivity is the ability of a material to conduct and transfer heat). 


Movement of the piston is in the cylinder and transfer force of expanding gas via connecting rod to the crankshaft and from crank to piston in reverse direction.

The compressing gas allows injection of fluid in the cylinder.

This also acts as controlling the valve.

It serves as a heat transfer medium to the cylinder walls.

It acts as a guide to the small end of the connecting rod.piston


The piston should be strong enough to sustain:

  • Hammering effect of combustion gas pressure,
  • Fluctuating load and
  • A high temperature of the gases.

The piston should be:

  • Light in weight
  • silent in operation and
  • Mechanically strong.

Due to the lightweight:

  • Inertia losses and
  • The inertia loads reduce on the bearing, due to change in motion.

Application or uses of Piston:

  • Reduced inertia also improves the mechanical efficiency of the engine.
  • It compresses the fluid inside the cylinder hence increases the pressure and temperature of the fluid inside the cylinder.
  • It also provides the direction.

Advantages of Piston:

  1. Mechanical simplicity
  2. Flexibility and reliability
  3. Power to weight ratio
  4. Multi-fuel capability
  5. Low turbine operating temperature
  6. Less vibration and noise
  7. Less maintenance
  8. Easy to start the piston
  9. Highly suitable for waste heat recovery
  10. Give a high degree of maneuverability
  11. Less manufacturing cost
  12. Low NOx emissions
  13. It offers the HCCI combustion process
  14. Internally balanced
  15. Modularity

Disadvantages of Piston:

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Stability of fuel supply
  • Poor part load efficiency
  • High combustion rate
  • Reduction gearing is require

Different types of Piston:

  • Taper
  • Cam ground 
  • Special alloys 
  • Wire wound 
  • Autothermic 
  • Bimetal 
  • Cast steel 
  • Tinned 
  • Oil cooled and
  • Two-piece pistons


  • This is sometimes turned taper, the diameter of the crown side is smaller than the skirt end.
  • As higher temperature occurs towards the crown, that sides expand more than the skirt, due to which it’s diameter becomes uniform under running conditions.

Cam ground:

  • Cam ground, such that they have an elliptical section instead of the circular one.
  • The minor diameter of the ellipse lies in the direction of the piston-pin axis.

Special alloys:

  • The special alloy having a low coefficient of expansion.

Other articles:

“Reciprocating Pump-Main Parts, Working Principle, Application, Advantages, and Disadvantages, PDF

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5 thoughts on “Piston-Function, Characteristic, Uses, Advantages, Disadvantages, Different types of Piston, PDF

  1. Please explain the process of lubrication on the surface of piston and cylinder wall Vs Tribological erosion mechanism.
    With regards

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