Tech Know-How: Linear Actuator Selection

The linear actuator or in other words – electric drive is a completed technology providing contracting o retracting linear motion. There are models with or without a motor (electromechanical or mechanical) and finally controlled by electric relays. As a mechanical drive providing movement are used lead screw also known as power screw, a screw-nut drive, a belt drive, and a pinion gear. As a guide are usually used the construction of one or several telescopic tubes, guide rails and various linear rails for sliding or rolling along them. Picking up the most suitable electric linear actuator in some cases may become a heavy headache.

Variety of Specifications – What to Choose

The need for a linear or rotational movement in numerous industrial, scientific, medical, domestic, military, and other devices ultimately led to a certain universality of these same devices – actuators, linear actuators or rotation actuators. The most important actuators’ specifications in terms of their multifunctionality are the effort, speed of movement (contraction or retraction) and working stroke.

Another rather important characteristic is the duty cycle (load factor) – meaning the amount of time the actuator can operate without the need to stop. Thus the 10-percent duty cycle specification of electric linear actuator means it is capable of working continuously for one minute out of every ten. The duty cycle is rarely equal to 100 percent. This linear actuator particular specification regularly leads to a significant increase in its cost. Nevertheless. for different conditions, other characteristics may be not the least important – the operating temperature range, the supply voltage, etc.

Electric linear actuators have extremely high productivity taking into account their average prices. Different types of actuators can be used for various areas of everyday life, ranging from the furniture market (tables, chairs, cabinets) to special medical equipment (hospital swing-beds, x-ray equipment, etc.) Thanks to a wide range of products and competitive prices, the technology of linear automation successfully spread around the world giving countries great chances for automation numerous fields of human activities.

Most companies provide a large selection in addition to fully customizable products. Thus such products are suitable for specific cases when some unique qualities are required to achieve the goal aimed. However, some of them provide products specially designed for specific purposes. Some of them are capable to be operated under extreme weather conditions, others easily manage with heavy loads under dangerously high temperatures and so on. When the demand for a specific product rises – company developer creates a new unique product suitable for concrete purposes and workloads.

High-quality actuators are already used for wide variety of applications like home automation, manufacturing, marine and military projects as well as larger robotics projects. Diversity and versatility of this linear motion and automation technology save tons of time, creates automation is spheres where earlier it was merely impossible and brings better performance in areas where robotics is needed.

The main disadvantage of any universal device most often is exactly its universalism, that is its incompatibility in particular cases. However, the variations of characteristics allow overcoming this drawback to some extent. Among the most frequently used and considered to be universal electric linear actuator professionals dealing with automation technologies especially distinguish 12v actuators. These actuators are widely appreciated for their specifications and adjustability for different working conditions.

Nevertheless, exceptions happen – cases of extreme environmental conditions or working specifications, for example, extreme temperatures. In such cases, if there are no ready-made linear actuators, it is sometimes easier and cheaper to develop the specific device by yourself.

Few Tips for Finding & Choosing Most Suitable Linear Actuators

Depending on the environment where the actuator is supposed to be implemented, it can possess few distinguishable features – electrical protection, so that electric actuator could successfully work under the water or inside the vacuum; safety couplings, end stroke sensors, position sensors and so on.

When choosing actuators, extreme importance falls on counting different factors and variables. This is a many-steps-alike process requiring carefulness.

However, among all the factors it is possible to distinguish four the most significant:

  • Specifications (push & pull force, working stroke, power supplying, speed, load factor.
  • Working characteristics (overwhelming temperature, the need for sensors, etc.
  • The cost of the final product.

Availability at the market (most often shipment from another country or even continent is more expensive than the cost of the product itself;
Especially important is the optimization of all these characteristics when choosing an actuator for serial products as a single mistake can lead to serious malfunctioning. Electric linear actuators are the ultimate solution for various needs.

The linear motion systems have long been an integral part of the engineering & industrial sectors and were increasingly used to achieve maximum accuracy in a variety of activity fields. This technology became the cornerstone of the modern automated engineering and one of the best solutions implemented in 21 century – the era of automation when the creation of smart houses and smart urban spaces convenient for social activity became more than real.

Also Read: Tech Know How : Linear Actuator Monitor Lift

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