When it comes to actuators for motion control applications, there are several types to choose from. These include pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, or electro-mechanical.
When it comes to actuators for motion control applications, there are several types to choose from. These include pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, or electro-mechanical. While the hydraulic and pneumatic technologies are perhaps the most popular types of linear actuators, electric linear actuators are gaining traction due to the benefits they offer compared to the competition.
With that being said, here's a look at the top 5 benefits of using an electric linear actuator and why more engineers are trending toward this type of technology.
Electric actuators have advanced to the point where they are just about maintenance-free. They are much less complex than their pneumatic and hydraulic counterparts, typically consisting of a motor, gearbox, screw and a clutch - thereby making them easier to maintain. They often require little to no lubrication.
With hydraulic systems, fluid must be checked and added or changed regularly to ensure proper operation and prevent contamination. What's more, is that multiple axes may be controlled by a single hydraulic system, so a seemingly small problem can potentially impact many parts of the operation. Electric actuators are also easier to troubleshoot for numerous reasons.
Low maintenance translates to lower cost of ownership. There are two main factors to consider when it comes to cost. A general rule of thumb is that if you have a hydraulic system operating one, two or three axes, it can be replaced with an electro-mechanical equivalent for less money. The second factor is that compared to hydraulic-based linear motion systems, electric actuators cost less to operate. This is primarily due to the fact that they only require power when they're moving. Pneumatic systems require air even when motion isn't required, essentially wasting energy. Hence, it's estimated that using an electric actuator can offer a cost savings of up to 90 percent.
It's a popular misconception that electric actuators cost more than the competitive technologies. That's not true any more and the savings that will be accrued over their lifetime make them an economical investment.
Hydraulic and pneumatic actuators are prone to leaks and ruptures where electro-mechanical systems are not. This is definitely a health and safety concern - not to mention the potential sizeable repair costs generally associated with those technologies. Electric actuators don't have these problems.
Unlike pneumatics and hydraulics, electric linear actuators run on electricity, a clean technology. Due to the technology's low risk of product contamination, it is preferred in a variety of industries, such as the pharmaceutical, food, water and medical industries. The increased efficiency and clean technology benefits help to reduce an organization's environmental footprint.
Electric actuators also run much quieter than hydraulics and pneumatics providing a safer and more pleasant working environment. In fact, health and safety guidelines state that machines should operate at a maximum of 85 decibels at 1 meter, a requirement this technology easily meets.
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