A Small Linear Actuator Can Accomplish Big Things

Christopher Nook by Christopher Nook

Take a small linear actuator, for instance. Simply put, it is a device that creates a linear or straight motion. Its compact size allows it to fit into tight compartments, better enabling complex applications such as stage lighting systems, robotic control and AC dampers in HVAC systems to perform linear motion tasks.

Sometimes the best things come in small packages.

Take a small linear actuator, for instance. Simply put, it is a device that creates a linear or straight motion. Its compact size allows it to fit into tight compartments, better enabling complex applications such as stage lighting systems, robotic control and AC dampers in HVAC systems to perform linear motion tasks. They can also be found in everything from computers and industrial machinery to applications as specialized as an automatic hospital bed.

Yes, linear actuators are able to accomplish big things — and they are the preferred device for creating straight motion. There are three main types of linear actuators: electric, pneumatic and hydraulic - all of which have their pros and cons.

 

Small electric linear actuators may not have as much force as hydraulic or pneumatic units, however, they have many advantages over their traditional counterparts. Small electric linear actuators do not require complicated plumbing and pumps like pneumatic and hydraulic units. No plumbing means less maintenance; no tracking down leaks or cleaning up hydraulic oil spills.

Some other advantages of an electric actuator are equal force in both directions, variable speed, and precise positioning. Typically, hydraulic and pneumatic actuators travel at only one speed and move between hard stops. Electric actuators can vary their speed, control the acceleration/deceleration of the load and move to precise and repeatable positions. This means more capability with less complex mechanics.

Here's a closer look at the characteristics that help small linear actuators shine:

Small footprint: These linear actuators have, not surprisingly, a small footprint. This makes them easier to incorporate into complex automated systems where precise operation is critical and maintenance is difficult. That’s why they're valuable in residential and commercial HVAC applications. For example, they regulate airflow by actuating the system's dampers. This helps to reduce emissions, improve overall indoor air quality (IAQ) and increase the system's efficiency.

Motion control: Whenever you see a robot in action, you know that there's some kind of mechanical actuator controlling it. More and more design engineers are turning to small linear actuators to help robots perform sophisticated motion tasks, such as automating an assembly line.
 
Flexibility: A small linear actuator's flexibility means that it has less impact on the overall design. These compact actuators can be designed and programmed to fit into virtually any application. This flexibility allows designers and engineers to visualize and create the product they want with little restriction imposed by the parameters of the actuator.
 

Reliability & Noise Reduction: Small actuators are reliable enough to stand up to even the most demanding of environments. There are no noisy valves, hissing air exhausts, or humming pumps. Electric actuators operate quietly due to precision machining, self-lubrication and less moving parts. This unique combination is also responsible for reducing your overall maintenance.

As you can see, sometimes the best things do come in the smallest packages. For a variety of applications, small linear actuators offer precision, performance, and a compact footprint ensuring that your design parameters are not adversely affected by the need to incorporate a linear motion solution. 

For more information on small linear motion actuators and how they can benefit your next application, contact Helix Linear Technologies today.