Electric Linear Actuators Offer Significant Cost Savings
Electric actuators are often overlooked when choosing a linear actuator because the upfront cost is usually higher than fluid actuators; however, electric actuators last a lifetime due to their precision, flexibility, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and low maintenance Cycle costs are usually much lower than other options.
What is the Difference Between Electric Actuators and Other Types?
In simple terms, the job of any linear actuator is to produce linear motion. They are used in countless industrial applications including food and beverage processing, material handling, robotics, and motion control. Actuators are electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulically actuated, so the main difference between actuator types is how they are powered.
Pneumatic actuators are powered by gas, usually supplied by an electric motor running an air compressor. Hydraulic actuators are powered by fluid, usually supplied by an electric motor or an internal combustion engine running a hydraulic pump. Electric actuators are driven by mechanical transmissions run by electric motors. They all use some kind of prime mover (electric motor or internal combustion engine) and some kind of transmission (pump/compressor and fluid or purely mechanical) to change rotary motion into linear motion.
Electric linear actuators are a bit more complex than their fluid-driven counterparts due to mechanical drives such as ball screws, roller screws, worm gears, belt drives, racks, and pinions. However, technological advancements have enabled electric actuators to be faster, more precise, and more efficient than other types of actuators, which can help manufacturers increase output and quality at relatively low operating costs.
While pneumatic and hydraulic actuators offer low initial cost, ease of use, and high thrust, they have disadvantages that electric actuators do not. Hydraulic actuators are prone to oil leakage, which can lead to position drift at best and fire, health hazards, and environmental or product contamination issues at worst. Pneumatic actuators require extensive air preparation, including filtering for some actuators, dehumidifying, adding oil mist, and degreasing for others. Because air is compressible and acts like a spring, pneumatic actuators generally cannot be used for precise motion control.
Because electric actuators do not have an intermediate fluid with mass, inertia, turbulence, compressibility, and viscosity, they can control speed, position, and force more efficiently and precisely than hydrodynamic actuators. The holding torque of their electric motors and mechanical transmissions helps prevent position drift, and many electric actuators provide continuous position feedback, allowing them to handle more complex movements, such as multipoint positioning applications.
These features make electric actuators more capable of repeating specific motion profiles to improve quality and consistency or yield. Additionally, electric actuators are not difficult to change or adjust motion parameters if the application changes, making them more flexible and adaptable than other types of actuators.
How Do Electric Actuators Save Money?
In manufacturing, there is a consistent need to improve energy efficiency. Incorporating electric actuators can help achieve this. Statistics show that electric linear actuators typically operate at around 75% efficiency, while hydraulic and pneumatic actuators typically operate at around 50% and 25% efficiency, respectively. The remarkable efficiency of electric actuators is due in part to the fact that they only consume electricity when producing motion, rather than having to expend energy moving fluid to do so.
Electric actuators present a much lower risk of contamination, which is especially important in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries.
Electric actuators are also low maintenance. Even in high-performance applications, electric actuators require only periodic changes of grease or lubricant, a simple, inexpensive task compared to changing large volumes of hydraulic oil, various filters, and numerous seals.
Thanks to technological advancements, electric actuators are able to deliver higher levels of productivity, precision, and quality for complex motion applications with optimum efficiency and repeatability, while reducing energy use, maintenance, and the risk of environmental or product contamination. If you want to buy electric actuators, welcome to contact us.
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