How does a Linear Actuator work?

How does a Linear Actuator work?

Linear actuators work by moving an object or piece of equipment in a straight line, moving an object extraordinarily accurately and repeatably if required. The first reason for designing a linear actuator right into a system is for the necessity to move a payload in a linear fashion somewhat than a rotary one. As most typical electric motors are rotary, a linear actuator is used to transform rotary motion to linear motion.

The electric motor is generally linked to the linear actuator by a flexible coupling or a belt, enabling the motor to be mounted either axially or perpendicular to the linear actuator. A wide range of motor sizes will be mounted to those actuators depending on requirements.

Linear actuators have incorporated linear bearings that help the moving payload, as well as rotary bearings that support either the lead screw, ball screw or belt pulleys. This then permits them to operate as ‘stand-alone’ gadgets, making them straightforward to mount into existing machines and eliminating the necessity to design/manufacture very costly customized parts. To increase the load capacity and stability of a linear actuator system, they can be paired up with the payload carried between them, equivalent to in an XY gantry model stage. In this case, a shaft or belt is usually used to keep the two actuators in sync with every other.

Options of Linear Actuators

Linear Actuators have the following features:

High repeatability

Positioning accuracy

Easy operation

Lengthy life

Easy upkeep or upkeep free

Protection rankings available for some models

Suitable for harsh environments

Compact design

Rugged and reliable

Safe operation


Industries and applications for Linear Actuators

Linear Actuators can be used in various applications that require a load to either be lifted, lowered, pushed, pulled, rotated or positioned. Linear Actuators are used in industries together with:


Food processing

Industrial vehicles

Factory automation

Material dealing with

Clean energy



Machine instrument





Types of Linear Actuators

Picking the right type of linear actuator in your motion application can assist you achieve the most effective results. Lead Screw Actuators, Ball Screw Actuators and Belt Actuators are three types of linear actuators that can be utilized in varied applications to produce motion.

A Lead Screw Actuator uses a plain screw/nut arrangement to translate the rotary motion from a motor to linear motion. A manually driven screw or an AC induction motor are essentially the most commonly used strategies to supply the rotary motion, as they’re generally utilized in low cost and low precision applications. The ability of the actuator to ‘back drive’ is reduced over ball screw actuators due to the low efficiency of the screw/nut. In some applications, this may be an advantage as it helps to keep the payload stationary whilst not in motion. Applications embody agricultural equipment and manual lift systems, the place safety and reliability are more critical than precision and performance.

A Ball Screw Actuator makes use of a high precision nut with recirculating ball bearings that rotate round a ground screw thread. In principle this is similar to a regular ball race with the load being transmitted by the rolling balls. The significant advantages of this system are high-precision and low friction, giving a very efficient methodology of converting rotary motion to linear motion. Stepper or servo motors are generally used to supply the rotary motion. Ball screw actuators are well suited to repeatable indexing and quick cyclic applications corresponding to machine instruments, scientific instruments and medical systems.

Belt actuators work the place a belt is carried between pulleys and attached to the moving carriage, then as the belt rotates the carriage is pulled alongside the actuator. One of the pulleys is pushed by a motor which is generally mounted perpendicular to the actuator and coupled utilizing a flexible coupling. They offer a relatively low-cost alternative, as they inherently have a decrease stage of precision. Belt pushed linear actuators are excellent for long journey and high linear pace applications such as packaging and automated material dealing with systems.