A linear actuator is an actuator that creates motion in a straight line instead of the circular motion usually seen in conventional electric motors. Linear actuators are used in machine tools, industrial material machinery, computer peripherals, and even valves and dampers.
There are several main types of linear actuators.
5 Types of Linear Actuators
1. Mechanical or electromechanical linear actuators. These actuators convert rotary motion into linear motion. The difference between mechanical or electromechanical linear actuators is whether an internal or external power source drives the actuator.
2. Hydraulic linear actuators. Hydraulic linear actuators use a pressurized hydraulic fluid.
That fluid is usually oil. The basic design for these actuators is a hundred years old and best used for rugged applications that require high force, power, and volume.
3. Piezoelectric actuators. These actuators use voltage to expand. They are great for extremely fine positioning down to the subnanometer range with a very short range and motion. They can also handle extreme loads, and they have the fastest acceleration rate available.
4. Pneumatic linear actuators. These actuators use pressurized air or gas. Like the hydraulic linear actuator, these actuators have been around for hundreds of years, but today they are powered by an electric compressor. Items that use pneumatic linear actuators are things like air compressors, pumps, dentistry, and nail guns, to name a few.
5. Compact linear actuators. Lastly, compact linear actuators, such as those made by Artimus Robotics, are specifically designed for low noise and situations where space is a priority. Most compact linear actuators feature a slim design while not compromising on maximum load potential or speed.
There are a variety of different actuators, each one perfect for its intended use. Some of the oldest are hydraulic and pneumatic actuators, while mechanical, piezoelectric, and compact actuators are a little newer to the market. Compact actuators offer more freedom during the design process because they can work for many kinds of projects where space-saving designs are crucial.
Written by Chris Glover