14 Types of Pistons and Their Uses

Types of Pistons

Pistons are a type of engine component that is used in the reciprocating engine.

In this article, we will cover different types of pistons in engines and how they are used.

What is a Piston

A piston is a part in an engine that moves up and down. This is done through the force of combustion in an engine’s cylinder. Pistons are the second most known component to engines, after spark plugs. Pistons are an essential part to most reciprocating engines, including car and motorcycle engines. 

Pistons can be made of metal or plastic, depending on the type of engine being used. They are a major component of internal combustion engines which have been around in many forms for more than one hundred years. There are different types of pistons depending on their shape or design type.

Types of Pistons Ring

Wiper ring piston

Wiper ring piston

Wiper ring pistons are probably the most known. Wiper ring pistons operate differently from other types because they depend on a wiper ring to create their sealing force. This type of piston is used in most four-stroke engines and are commonly found in fuel injected passenger car engines, especially those manufactured by General Motors for their V8 engine.

In these engines, a piston is pushed up and down by connecting rod journals that are attached to the crankshaft. Pistons being pushed up creates a vacuum in the cylinder which then causes the intake of fuel and air through an injection system or carburetor. When pushing it back down, it causes compression inside the cylinder to ignite the fuel and air mixture in a combustion process, causing the piston to move up. This is done over again after every power stroke in an engine cycle.

Compression Ring Piston

Compression Ring Piston

Compression ring pistons are a popular piston used in the internal combustion engine. This type of piston operates on a moving compression ring that slides from one side of the piston to the other.

A compression ring piston is typically found in an overhead valve engine, which is then connected to camshafts and a timing belt for operation. The camshafts then control the opening and closing of valves. This type of piston is commonly found in many passenger cars, trucks, locomotives, racing engines, marine industry engines, aircraft engines and more.

Oil Ring Piston

rings on piston

Oil ring pistons have a very unique sealing system which includes an upper and lower oil ring. This piston is commonly found in many engines that are mainly used on water vessels. It may not be used everyday, but when called upon to do the job, it does it’s task perfectly.

Piston Rings are a vital part of the piston seal in an engine and can be made from different materials depending on the type of engine. Most piston rings are made from steel, but they can come in different shapes and sizes depending on the application or use of the engine.

Scraper Ring Piston

Scraper Ring Piston

Scraper ring pistons are a design that has grooves and channels to help transfer heat away from the piston. They depend on lubricating fluids in order to avoid friction or burning of the cylinder wall. A vacuum is also created by these grooves when approaching compression, which causes the fuel and air mixture at the end of its cycle to ignite.

Scraper ring pistons have better lubrication for a more efficient running engine. They are commonly seen in diesel engines because of the large amounts of heat that is produced and are cooled by oil mist or water foams. Scraper ring pistons also come with different variations to its design that include plastic coatings, skirt coating (if it has skirts) and wiper coatings.

Standard Gasket Rings Piston

Standard Gasket Rings Piston

This type of piston is the most common among engine parts because it has a standard design that can be used in many engines. It has a skirt, which seals the combustion chamber. Gasket rings are commonly found in low-cost production and consumer grade engines however they can also be found within high powered production engines as well.

The gasket ring piston is designed to have a tight fit and has a skirt that absorbs shock. It is also slightly thicker than other types of pistons, which helps transfer more heat away from the engine in order to avoid corrosion or other problems.

Type of Aircraft Piston Engines

Rotary Piston Engines

Rotary Piston Engines

Rotary piston engines are seen in small aircraft and have been used for a long time. They are inefficient, but they produce high quality power because the rotary engine has more moving parts than other types of aircraft pistons.

A rotary piston is made up of several different circular disks called blades that work together to force air into the combustion chamber. Several blade pistons work in an engine to give it more power.

It is not a commonly used type of piston, but it has been the most common form of aircraft piston since rotary engines were first invented because it has no cylinder head and other parts that could easily damage themselves or cause accidents.

V-type Piston Engines

V-type Piston Engines

A V-type piston engine is best used in a helicopter since it can provide enough power for flight. The shape of the pistons alone causes air to move down and back up into the combustion chamber where fuel is mixed with it. This allows for higher pressure and more airflow than other types of aircraft pistons.

The V type also has an inner and outer cylinder which allows for more compression and power. Since the pistons move down and back up, it creates a vacuum that causes air to be sucked into the combustion chamber.

Reciprocating Piston Engines

Reciprocating Piston Engines

Reciprocating piston engines are used in aircraft for small and large planes. They work similarly to a reciprocating engine, but they do not use an explosion to get their power.

Reciprocating piston engines are very common in aircraft models because they do not need a special type of engine to function. They work well in all types of weather conditions, which is important when flying over water or mountains. A reciprocating engine is not as efficient in a combustion engine, but it is used more often than other types because they are the cheapest to manufacture. They can be mass produced and cost less than other piston engines do.

The main problems that reciprocating engines have is that they produce a lot of air pollution into the environment around them. The technology to make the engine run cleaner and reduce harmful chemicals in the air has been worked on for many years, but it is not perfected yet.

Radial Piston Engines

Radial Piston Engines


Radial piston engines are used in some larger aircraft. They use different cylinders to create a large circular motion that causes air to flow faster into the combustion chamber.

Radial piston engines have been used since the beginning of aviation. This is because it works well with larger, heavier planes and creates a lot of power with a small engine.

Radial piston engines are used in both military and commercial aircraft, but they have been replaced by rotary piston engines for several reasons. They aren’t as efficient because a lot of air must pass around the combustion chamber before it reaches the engine. Radial piston engines are more expensive to manufacture and purchase, so rotary engines became the commonly used type for aircraft.

In-line Piston Engines

In-line Piston Engines

In-line Piston Engines have main cylinders and connecting rods attached perpendicularly to cylinder heads. The top of the piston is connected to a crosshead, which in turn is connected to a crankshaft. Basically, the piston moves straight up and down in a cylinder.

In-line engines can have more than one piston per cylinder to increase power by increasing the number of combustion events per revolution of an engine’s crankshaft. In other words, it means that on each single revolution the engine makes a certain number of ignitions, which leads to an increased power of the engine.

Horizontally Opposed Engines

Horizontally Opposed Engines

Horizontally opposed piston engines are used in small aircraft because they produce less drag than cylinders mounted vertically.

The horizontal cylinder arrangement also makes it easier to cool the rear cylinder, which is important for aircraft since there’s a lot of hot air around the engine that can potentially cause problems.

Horizontal opposed engines have been adapted for use in automotive and marine environments as well, but they aren’t commonly used there because of their high prices. They offer the same power output without any additional weight, which is important for airplanes that have to be able to fly with a certain amount of fuel on board. Their cost is often too high to seriously consider using them over other types of engines.

Helicopter Piston Engines

Helicopter Piston Engines

Helicopters are another place where the horizontally opposed piston engine is used. The power generated from the engine moves both a main rotor blade and tip rotors that allow for movement of the helicopter in all directions.

The type of helicopter piston engine used depends on whether it has a single, dual, or triple rotor system. The power generated is used to move the blades and drive the transmission which allows for upward, downward, forward, back, left or right movement of the helicopter.

Helicopters are powered by piston engines because they have to be very light in order to put little strain on the aircraft during flight. Piston engines use less fuel than turbine engines, which makes them ideal for helicopters.

Helicopter piston engines are most often four stroke motors, but two stroke designs are also used. They use a transmission to move the power from the engine into blade movement. The helicopter’s main rotor is powered by a large multi-blade propeller that is driven by an engine.

Types of Piston Pump

Lift Pump Piston Pump

Lift Pump Piston Pump

The lift pump piston pump is used to circulate cooling water through the engine. In order to provide enough pressure to drive the cooling system, a hydraulic actuator or an electrically driven oil pump may be added. The lift pump is constantly running to keep the cylinders pressurized and cooled as they go up and down during operation.

These pumps contain pistons that are connected by rods to a crankshaft. The crank shaft is inside of an oil-filled casing which contains ports where hydraulic fluid enters and exits.

Force Pump Piston Pump

Force Pump Piston Pump

Force pumps are used to supply hydraulic fluid under pressure to the rest of the engine. Force pump pistons are smaller in diameter than lift pump pistons and they’re connected by a shaft to an internal gear which drives all of the other components within the engine. Oil will be forced through hoses into reservoirs where it’s stored until needed.

The force pump is used to move hydraulic fluid under pressure to the actuators and valves throughout the engine. Force pumps are driven by electric motors which allow them to be easily started or stopped.

How a Piston Work

How a Piston Work

A piston is a crucial part of an engine. It works by forcing air-fuel mixture into the combustion chamber, where it will be ignited and send the exhaust out of the cylinder. A piston is made up of two parts: a connecting rod and a piston chamber. The connecting rod is attached to the crankshaft and moves as it turns, forcing the piston to move up and down in the cylinder. The other part of a piston is the compression chamber or combustion chamber, which is where air-fuel mixture pushes into.

In an internal combustion engine like a car or motorcycle, pistons work with valves that regulate air flow so they can push it in and out at different times. When a piston moves towards the top of the cylinder, it creates a vacuum that allows air to rush in from the intake manifold.

As it continues its motion up into compression and combustion stages, fuel is injected inside where it mixes with hot air and ignites. The burning fuel pushes outward against the piston, forcing itself out through the exhaust valve and into the exhaust port. Then, as the piston moves back down to its original position, it creates a new vacuum for air to rush in and complete the cycle.

A piston works very hard to compress air and fuel, but it also has the help of many other parts that make it move. It is connected to a crankshaft by a connecting rod. The crankshaft is attached to the engine block through bearings or bushings. In engines with multiple cylinders, each side will have a set of rods and pistons. The number of cylinders an engine has will determine whether it is a 4-cylinder or 8-cylinder engine.


Which engines use piston?

Piston is used in Internal combustion engines, where things get burnt inside the cylinder.These engines are called Piston Engines.

Examples: Car Engine, Motorbike Engine, Tram Engine etc and many other engines use pistons

Why do some engines use two pistons on one crank pin?

In these types of engines it gives smoothness and more torque to the engine. By this way if one piston is stopped, the other can run without any problem, that’s why called a opposed piston engine.

How fast do pistons go up and down?

That depends on the size of the cylinder that it’s in. The faster they go, the more power is generated. It also depends on their weight, but you’ll see a horizontal engine move a lot slower than one that’s vertical.

That’s because horizontal engines have to keep a certain amount of pressure on the piston to maintain balance and power. Vertical pistons don’t have to worry about that because the crankshaft does all of that work for them.


In this post you learnt about Piston engines and their working. So now you know how a piston works and more about what they are used for. I hope this article will help you to get more information.

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