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Cylindrical cams can provide motions that involve more than a single rotation of the cylinder and generally provide positive positioning, removing the need for a spring or other provision to keep the follower in contact with the control surface.Applications include machine tool drives, such as reciprocating saws, and shift control barrels in sequential transmissions, such as on most modern motorcycles. a cylinder with an irregular shape) that strikes a lever at one or more points on its circular path.A common example is the camshaft of an automobile, which takes the rotary motion of the engine and translates it into the reciprocating motion necessary to operate the intake and exhaust valves of the cylinders.Certain cams can be characterized by their displacement diagrams, which reflect the changing position a roller follower (a shaft with a rotating wheel at the end) would make as the cam rotates about an axis.These diagrams relate angular position, usually in degrees, to the radial displacement experienced at that position.Each tool movement or operation was controlled directly by one or more cams.
A cylinder may have several grooves cut into the surface and drive several followers.
Cylindrical cams may also be used to reference an output to two inputs, where one input is rotation of the cylinder, and the second is position of the follower axially along the cam. These were once common for special functions in control systems, such as fire control mechanisms for guns on naval vessels A face cam produces motion by using a follower riding on the face of a disk.
The most common type has the follower ride in a slot so that the captive follower produces radial motion with positive positioning without the need for a spring or other mechanism to keep the follower in contact with the control surface.
Ideally, a convex curve between the onset and maximum position of lift reduces acceleration, but this requires impractically large shaft diameters relative to lift.
Thus, in practice, the points at which lift begins and ends mean that a tangent to the base circle appears on the profile.