Three Cool Projects for a Small Linear Actuator

Christopher Nook by Christopher Nook

In short, a linear actuator is a device that creates linear (straight) motion. From highly complex applications to the simplest button pressing application, small linear actuators are used everywhere!

In short, a linear actuator is a device that creates linear (straight) motion. From highly complex applications to the simplest button pressing application, small linear actuators are used everywhere! 

After getting together with some fellow Helix design engineers, we have come up with (what we deem to be) 3 cool projects for this class of linear actuator. 

1.  Automated Stage Lighting Systems

Have you ever been to a concert, show or play where stage lighting played a large role in the theatrics and entertainment value of the performance? Utilizing linear actuators within intelligent stage lighting can produce complex effects and can really bring a show to life.

Actuators are used throughout various components of stage lighting systems. They can be found within the advanced lighting machinery as well as throughout the rails and structure of the automated lighting systems.

2.  Automated HV
AC Damper

Automated HVAC dampers are valves or plates used to control proper airflow throughout buildings. There are two kinds of HVAC dampers, automated and manual. Automated dampers are powered by a small linear actuator which regulates airflow constantly controlled by a thermostat, solenoid or building automation system.

The small footprint and torque make these actuators ideal for small automated HVAC dampers that require safe and precise operation with little to no maintenance required. 

Installing the correct automated HVAC dampers will help increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions, extend facility life, improve overall indoor environmental quality and help conserve water flow. 

3.  Robots 

Every engineer's idea of the "coolest" project for a small linear actuator - robots!

From kids to adults, people are fascinated by robots and how they do what they do. Asking questions like; how do all of these elements come together and move, lift, carry and take over the world as seen in almost every Sci-Fi movie?

The Answer: Linear actuators - power the mechanic linear motion needed for robot mobility. 

At a more industrial level, robotic arms can be used to streamline processes, increase production and automate repetitive tasks. As seen in the image to the right, linear actuators can be placed throughout robotic machines. Wherever you see motion in a robot, there is some kind of mechanical actuator controlling that. 

At a more commercial level, linear actuators can also be found in household appliances such as robotic lawn mowers and robotic vacuums. 

Bigger isn't always better

Smaller doesn't necessarily mean “less punch." When your major factors are size, space or precision, choosing the right linear actuator can make all the difference. To get ultimate precision performance for the intended application, you want to be very clear on the requirements necessary to perform the needed task.

Armed with the necessary information you can achieve top performance and productivity through the integration of a small linear actuator into your cool application/project.


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Additional Reading

A Small Linear Actuator can Accomplish Big Things

How Linear Actuators Improve HVAC Performance

Linear Actuator Systems Benefit Automatic Hospital Bed Design