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When to Use a Linear Actuator?

When to Use a Linear Actuator?

Nov 21,2022
Electric linear actuators
Manufacturers use linear actuators in tools and industrial machines such as printers, sprayers, computers, and valves. The choice of the actuator depends on the product, with hydraulic actuators powering hydraulic auto jacks and pneumatic actuators typically powering the piston and ignition chamber. Due to the integration, each of these devices provides affordable, repeatable, and consistent movement.

Most Common Uses for Linear Actuators

Material Handling

The multiple uses of linear actuators increase the degree of automation in the workplace. It simplifies the manufacturing process while reducing production costs. Electric linear actuators have been transformed into important and necessary tools for optimal material handling.

Linear actuators are responsible for moving the load from point A to point B. Electromechanical versions have the added ability to stop motion mid-stroke. Some other types of actuators in material handling include industrial, high-speed, and miniature models.

Linear actuators enable safe, reliable, and precise motion, primarily when operators combine them with sensors or other smart technologies. This combination allows workers to complete previously repetitive tasks with minimal human intervention.

Some visible applications include sorters, infeed systems, and grippers. An example is the use of pneumatic actuators and conveyor belts. Electric actuators provide higher efficiency as it does not reduce control capability.

Robot Technology

Linear actuators enable the movement of robots. They allow robotic machinery to interact with its environment through wheels, grippers, arms, and legs. Some of the most popular linear actuators for moving robots include:

Electric screw


Scotch yoke


Pneumatic muscles

Imagine a gripper on the end of a robotic arm. When the operator presses the button, the sensor communicates with the arm to clamp the box in position A. The gripper holds the package and moves it to position B and releases the box onto the conveyor belt or desired work surface.

The clamping mechanism functions due to the linear actuator. When the gripper reaches the proper constraints and holds it, it talks to smart technology so the package doesn't fall or move during transit. Linear actuators offer a more consistent and reliable option than hydraulic actuators which use hydraulic fluid for motion and control.

Food and Beverage Manufacturing

The industrial scale of today's food and beverage industry requires a high degree of automation to meet demand. Manufacturers must simplify processing, handling, packaging, and other processes to ensure timely distribution. Linear actuators play a vital role in making these actions possible.

Each type of linear actuator has a different role in automation. Rod models clean production areas, which makes them the first choice for dairy and beverage plants. Electric rod linear actuators offer a wide variety of functions thanks to a variety of profile options that make them ideal for different types of food production tools.

Linear actuators increase efficiency while keeping the environment clean and reducing the chance of contamination. Take a tour of a food production facility and see actuators in meat separators, toasters, deboning equipment, and food processors. They are also found in ubiquitous equipment such as conveyor belts and bag-making machines.

Window Automation

Adjusting windows at ground level is simple, but can be very difficult when it's out of reach. Solution: Linear actuators. They offer a practical solution that allows people to easily open and close their windows and enjoy the comforts of modern living.

Window automation marks one of the most common uses for large linear actuators (also known as pushrod motors). Even in extreme heat and cold, the device quietly and conveniently contracts or stretches. The best possibilities to see large linear actuators in window automation include:



Casement window

Top-hung or bottom-hung windows

The wide range of uses means linear actuators can be seen everywhere from workshops to warehouses to waiting rooms. A single installation replaces the need for manual operation while improving overall ventilation and airflow. Linear actuators also centralize the control panel instead of having several different places. 

Agricultural machinery

Modern agricultural machinery has never been more reliable, thanks in part to linear actuators. In addition to withstanding harsh weather conditions and exposure to herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, these devices help farmers, workers, and other laborers perform a variety of agricultural tasks.

The zero ground for linear actuators is on site. They allow the operator to control the height and angle of the sprayer for thorough and consistent coverage. The actuator can help open and close the hatch while simplifying the mechanical operating mechanism. 

Linear actuators exist inside the tractor to improve work quality and reduce labor. Actuators ensure accurate steering wheel adjustment, switching ventilation, and adjusting the rear window to the correct operating position. Simple integration means operators can increase control over their tractors without sacrificing performance.

Many of the same mechanisms apply to seeders and combines. Drilling rigs need to be precisely positioned when planting, so farmers can improve land use and minimize waste. Combines benefit from seamless functionality by integrating linear actuators in grain tank extensions, grain tank covers, and concave adjustments.

Solar Panel Operation

The push for alternative energy has coincided with an increase in the use of solar panels. Traditional panels use hydraulics or other similar devices, but recent innovations have made harnessing solar energy more efficient. Motorized linear actuators enable the panels to track the sun, moving with it to maximize direct absorption.

Installing linear actuators provides the greatest benefit to solar panel users. Useful machines absorb more solar energy while enduring heat and harsh work environments. Linear actuators can even withstand high-pressure jets, debris, and dust.

Cutting Equipment

Machines save humans from as many dangers as possible while cutting. They take over repetitive or risky tasks that require more stamina and strength than creativity. Linear actuators power these machines to ensure the accurate cutting of each piece.

Common uses for large linear actuators include wood, glass, metal, and kirigami equipment. The blade can cut straight lines or jigsaw patterns depending on the configuration of the actuator. The same applies to metal cutting, which requires a lot of mechanical strength.

Cleanliness is one of the overlooked advantages of linear actuators in cutting environments. Many people associate the need for automated sanitation with food and beverage processing. A crisp cut reduces the number of chips and waste that can interfere with production.

Valve Operation

Today's industry would not be possible without linear valve actuators that convert electric, pneumatic and hydraulic energy into push-pull motion. Cost-effective products offer an attractive alternative to manual operations. It works with a range of rising stem valves with integrated control optional features.

The two main models are diaphragm and piston actuators. Diaphragm versions contain a segment of rubber instead of wrapping around the rim of the cylinder or chamber. The linkage in the center of the diaphragm moves whenever the device is stressed, making it ideal for low-pressure environments. 

Piston actuators contain a piston that moves along the cylinder block. The rod transfers the force on the piston to the valve, which opens and closes. Piston actuators can handle higher-pressure working loads, travel farther, and have more thrust than diaphragm actuators.

Non-industrial Applications

The most common use of linear actuators is in industrial automation, but these are far from the only applications. This device is becoming more and more popular in residential settings, where similar devices such as hydraulic and pneumatic actuators are not feasible. Many people use linear actuators for automation to create more space in compact homes.

Bottom Line

Linear actuators are an essential part of everyday life, whether you want to open windows or simplify agricultural labor. Simple yet effective mechanisms allow operators to transform manual functions into automated ones. The wide range of uses for linear actuators makes them a must-have piece of equipment, no matter the industry. If you want to buy linear actuators, please contact us.

UG Controls is a professional custom valve actuators manufacturer. We use our engineering expertise and industry experience to continuously improve our products, striving to provide efficient solutions and competitive prices. UG is also a global supplier of highly engineered actuators and accessories for the oil and gas, mining, chemical, pharmaceutical, water and power, food and beverage, and general industrial markets.
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