TechnologyWhat Are Linear Actuators Used For?

What Are Linear Actuators Used For?


Electric Linear Actuators are used in various applications. They can either be linear or X-Y-Z configurations. Linear actuators have advantages over conventional electric motors, because they have a straight line motion capability. However, the advantages of linear actuators are only apparent after you understand how they work. To understand them better, let us examine some of the most common uses for them. After reading this article, you will be well-equipped to choose the best one for your specific needs.

Electric Linear Actuators

Electric linear actuators are mechanical devices used to move parts. Their design is similar to a bicycle, but the difference lies in the components. A lead screw, a motor and gears make up an electric linear actuator. There are also differences between the two, but they essentially have the same purpose. These actuators have many parts and can be mounted in numerous ways. They are also made up of several sensors that detect the position of each component.

Before purchasing an electric linear actuator, it is important to consider its environmental needs. Will it be operating in an indoor or outdoor environment? Will it be subjected to high pressure cleaning? If so, will it require a motor with more than one hundred parts? A cheap electric linear actuator will not last as long as a high-quality, high-performance version. If you want a longer-lasting electric linear actuator, look for copper motor windings. Cheaper motor windings will result in less power and a shorter life-cycle.

X-Y-Z configuration

When selecting automated equipment, X-Y-Z configuration is one of the most common choices. In addition to size, X-Y-Z actuators can be used for compression only, rotary actions, or both. When designing a linear actuator system, it is important to consider your application’s design constraints and application requirements. This will ensure that your new equipment performs as required and is easy to maintain.

The X-Y-Z configuration allows you to install many independent axes, and dozens of metres of stroke. These actuators are highly reliable and can handle heavy loads. Additionally, they can support numerous vertical Z axes. Single carriage systems, such as belt systems, are suitable for strokes up to 12m. Ball screw actuators, on the other hand, are limited by critical speeds.


Linear actuators can be designed for applications where the load must be held stationary. Unlike traditional servo motors, which can only work in forward direction, these actuators can back drive when unpowered. Back-driving is also desirable in some applications. If power fails, a load driven against gravity would crash down. In such a case, an actuator may be mechanically stopped by a spring or power-off brake.

In addition to back-driving, linear actuators can be mounted in pivoting or reversible orientations. This feature is known as radial loading, and applies force in a direction perpendicular to the actuator’s longitudinal axis. While radial and eccentric loading are both beneficial, they can also shorten the life of a linear actuator. In order to avoid such problems, it is best to use an actuator with back-driving capability.

Dynamic load capacity

When designing a linear actuator, it is important to consider both the static and dynamic load capacities. A static load capacity is the force that is applied when an actuator is in motion, and a dynamic load capacity is the force that is applied when the actuator is still. Both types of load capacity are equally important for many different applications, including adhesive applicators. Other examples of applications include automatic doors and computer disk drives. The principle of a linear actuator involves an inclined plane and a lead screw. The nut and lead screw assembly continue along an inclined ramp with a small rotational force.

The main difference between rotary and linear actuators lies in their capabilities. Compared to rotary actuators, linear actuators are better for compression applications, and they have a wider range of motion. A double-piston linear actuator is an example of this. This model offers superior speed and high accuracy. It also features a magnetic strip and stainless steel strip to improve its load stability. It is suitable for X-Y configurations, and features a self-supporting design and excellent positioning accuracy.

Easy installation

If you’re considering buying a new linear actuator, you’ll be glad to know that many types are simple to install. Electric linear actuators are particularly convenient, as many are self-contained. These are also typically easy to install, and don’t require constant balancing to avoid a dangerous situation. However, while electric actuators are relatively self-contained, they still require some maintenance. Learn more about the different types of linear actuators, including some of the benefits they offer.

Many actuators are pre-installed with limit switches. Limit switches vary in type, but most are electro-mechanical, magnetic proximity, or rotary cam. They are pre-set to cut off the motor when the actuator reaches a specified length, such as full extension. A limit switch will also prevent over-stretching the motor, preventing burns. Depending on the actuator, this limit switch can be a convenient way to prevent premature motor failure.


When choosing a linear actuator, it is important to consider a few factors. While a cheap model may be attractive to you, it may not be up to the standard you require. Cheap actuators usually lack features such as feedback and high force. If you need a high force or a large stroke, beware of buying a cheap actuator. The cheaper actuators will likely use low-quality parts, and you will end up spending more money replacing them later.

The cost of linear actuators is often a stumbling block for many applications. However, stepper motor actuators offer significant cost savings over traditional DC servomotors. Actuonix’s model S20 stepper linear actuators are priced at $80. If cost is a factor, consider the benefits of buying a linear actuator that has multiple built-in features. By eliminating the cost of manufacturing and purchasing individual parts, you can save time and money in the long run.

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