Directional control valves (DCVs) are one of the most fundamental parts of hydraulic and pneumatic systems. DCVs allow fluid flow (hydraulic oil, water or air) into different paths from one or more sources. DCVs will usually consist of a spool inside a cylinder which is mechanically or electrically actuated. The position of the spool restricts or permits flow, thus it controls the fluid flow.
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- Wikipedia: Directional control valve