Linear Actuators: Types and Uses - The Redditch Standard

Linear Actuators: Types and Uses

Correspondent 2nd Dec, 2022   0

A linear actuator creates motion in a straight line, as opposed to an electric motor that moves in circular fashion. In this article, we’ll look at the different types of linear actuators available on the market and what their applications are.

What types of linear actuators are there?

In principle, a linear actuator is used to change the position of an object or system by creating motion in a straight line. Linear drives can be controlled remotely, for example from a control or measurement room, or via a wired handset or app directly on the controller.

The range of applications for linear actuators is very wide. Therefore, there are a variety of designs for linear actuators. Depending on the application and the available installation space, linear actuators can have different characteristics.




Linear actuators have different designs. Here you will find a list of available actuators:

● Screw socket


● Linear angle actuator

● Electric cylinder/one complete piston

● Internal rotor

● Rail runner

● Direct current actuator

● Lifting column

● Coaxial driver

How is the linear actuator designed?

The actual construction of a linear actuator is technically identical in most cases, but can differ in design.

Each linear actuator needs an electric motor that turns a spindle via a gear. On the spindle (shaft with external thread) there is a tube (piston with internal thread) that moves back and forth on the spindle, depending on the direction of rotation. There is almost always a gearbox between the spindle and the electric motor.

There are planetary or angular gears, coaxial, vertically placed gears. The gearbox reduces the speed of the high-speed electric motor to the desired spindle speed.

What type of gearbox has a linear drive?

As mentioned above, there are different types of gears when using a linear actuator. Angular gears are flanged to the electric motor with a manufacturer and application specific angle. Planetary gears are also usually installed on the electric motor in a specific application. Continuous gearboxes (coaxial gearboxes) are often placed axially on the rotating axis of the electric motor. Planetary gears have the greatest self-retaining power of all available gearboxes, since a twisted shaft prevents the movement of the gear on it.

How is a linear actuator attached?

On the piston (which moves forward due to the rotation of the spindle) there is a through-hole through which a metric fixing screw can be inserted. The screw then connects the piston rod to the application or system to be moved. On the back of the linear actuator housing, there is another fastening option called the fastening eye. Like the piston rod, the mounting eye also has a hole through which a mounting screw can be inserted.

Depending on the size and weight of the linear actuator, the mounting of the piston and eye has smaller or larger holes to move the weights and to absorb tensile and shear forces. Some manufacturers may also change the axial position of the mounting eye. If the mounting eye cannot be adjusted axially, the entire linear actuator must be rotated axially to fit the mounting geometry.

As the extendible piston is mounted on a spindle, the piston can be adjusted axially by turning it, so that the piston can also be attached to the front of the application.

This is a submitted article.

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