What is a Linear Actuator and How Does it Work?

In Op-Ed, Tech by Cassie Crone0 Comments

Actuators are just one option of the available varieties to actuate or operate valves. With the other options like levers, handwheels and gears, human interaction is essential. With actuators, however, a valve is automatically operated without human help. They are operated by a source of energy. According to boatactuator.com , actuators are mostly used in applications where the use of human help is dangerous.  Actuators can either be cross-sectional (quarter-turn) or linear. Cross-sectional actuators convert electricity into rotational motion. Unlike cross-sectional actuators, linear actuators tend to be durable and  reliable. This paper seeks to explicate what a linear actuator is and how it operates.

Linear actuators

A linear actuator is an industrial device which converts rotational motion like rolling and rotating arms into linear motion such as push movements and pull movements. They operate on robots by producing linear motion or motion in a straight line. This linear motion is used to operate many kinds of operations. With linear actuators, heavy objects are adjusted, lifted, tilted, pulled or pushed by simply pressing a button. Heavy objects which are impossible to operate using the human hands are best operated using linear actuators. They provide a motion control which is accurate as well as clean movement. They are reliable since they only need little or no maintenance. Installation of linear actuators is easy and less spacious since it does not have hoses or pumps. An electronic linear actuator is comprised of a motor, a spindle with a nut, and a gear.


How a linear actuator works

There are different types of linear actuators. Each linear actuator uses a drive. Intricate electrical circuitry is used by the actuators to program during the actuation process. Irrespective of the type of linear actuator, the motor runs to turn a screw which pushes the drive nut. The drive nut, in turn, pushes the actuator rod back and forth. This achieves the purpose of the linear actuator which is to move a valve to enable a robot to operate without human assistance. The screw can be made to rotate freely by use of radio thrust bearings where there is high pressure. Double-acting types of actuators are supplied with air or any type of liquid on both sides of the piston. This liquid or air is used as energy to open or close a valve. Actuators with springs are supplied with air on only one side of the piston. The air closes or opens the valve while the spring affects the opposing motion. Pneumatic actuators make use of compressed air to generate power for the operating energy. Despite these actuators being able to respond quickly, they are not the best to be used in environments under high pressure because the gas is compressible.


Linear actuators are used for elevating tables in marine applications. Different manuals provide guidelines on how to enhance automation in marine projects. Other uses include pipeline applications and offshore applications, among others. The study of linear actuators and how they work is therefore very important in the mechanical industry. More research on the actuators should be done. With most processes in the industry becoming automatic, and the use of robots increasing in the industry, there is a need to study more how the actuators work since they enhance the functions of these robots. A robot or any other automatic machine would remain useless without the availability of actuators. They enable the robots to go perform their intended purposes.


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