Introduction: discover the basic information about actuators

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Avoid the error of purchasing a robot when a straightforward actuator would do. Robots are now the “go-to” instrument for industrial automation, although they are frequently an unnecessary expense. A linear actuator or two is a far better option for many automation jobs.

Although there are many different types, sizes, and capacities of actuators, understanding how and when to use them doesn’t require technical knowledge. You may start putting creative and affordable automation ideas into practice after you are aware of their advantages and disadvantages.

A single axis of motion

The majority of contemporary robots rotate along five or six axes of motion, each from a joint. This means that although these devices travel in arcs by nature, most of the time you want things to go in a straight line. That is challenging for a robot since it takes numerous synchronized rotating motions to generate a linear translation.

In many circumstances, an actuator is all that is required to produce motion in a single direction with a single motor. For cheaper than the price of a robot, sophisticated 3-d trajectories can be followed by adding two more actuators and synchronizing their movements.

Start the project.

Think about the following inquiries:

Axes, how many?

To remove a box of a conveyor, only one axis is needed. Two steps involve lifting, translating, and lowering each pack into a carton. Even complicated motions can frequently be broken down into two or three axes. Simple height adjustments, a chute, or allowing a box to swivel will do. Alter your orientation.

How far should i move?

You need a conveyor at six feet. An actuator and six inches will do the trick. The length of the stroke is everything.

How soon?

Think about speed and how you must be able to control your acceleration and slowdown. Fragile components may break or shift out of place as a result of forceful movements.

How much mass must be transported?

Pushing a pack of baking soda off a conveyor requires more force than pushing a gallon of engine oil.


Cheap actuators go to their hard stop or the conclusion of their stroke. Others can be quickly adjusted because their speed and position are programmable.

Choose a type of actuator

Once the aforementioned factors are understood, selecting an linear actuators can begin.

That trio principal types are:

Although they cannot be programmed, hydraulics are capable of very high forces and extended strokes. They require substantial pipe and electrical supplies and are prone to leaks. Because they are inexpensive, pneumatics are commonly employed in automation; nonetheless, air requires piping and is expensive. Electricity is portable, programmable, and simple to install in wiring, and it can move objects at fast speeds with force and precision and accelerate and decelerate under control. Moving is the only thing that uses energy.

Due to their greater compactness, electric actuators are replacing hydraulic actuators more and more in automation. Linear actuator motors, voice coils, and piezoelectric actuators are more forms of actuators.

Examples of applications for electric actuators

A single actuator can easily change a position or direction, as in the conveyor-diverter example. Other instances include unlocking a door to open a cover and permitting the dispensing of a product. Positioning can be done by a single actuator with control over the stroke. An illustration would be adjusting the labeling machine’s head for various carton sizes.

With a gantry, many robotic-style tasks can be completed. A gantry can cover a wide area because of its three axes. This kind of construction is perfect for packaging, 3-d printing, and machine loading and unloading. It can also be shrunk. Other actuator applications can involve feeding sheet metal into a press or shaping machine, moving a laser height sensor over a box to detect height, or applying a screen print “squeegee” to a silkscreen.  


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