Linear actuators are used for the majority of automation ideas. Nowadays, you can find them in any industry. If you use any automated devices at home, you can be sure that linear actuators have been used for them, too. It happens because linear actuators have specific benefits such as:
- They are environmentally friendly: in electric linear actuators, no dangerous liquids are used. Thus, the risks of leakages are eliminated;
- Such actuators are pre-lubricated: there is no need for maintenance works. It allows cutting costs on maintenance of equipment;
- Linear actuators provide top accuracy levels of positioning. They can be used in the fields, such as medical, where this feature is crucial;
- These devices are silent. It makes them convenient to use at home and in industrial applications;
- Actuators come in different sizes from heavy-duty items for industrial applications to mini-actuators that are perfect for medical applications and robotics.
There are many companies that develop and manufacture linear actuators. Search “where to buy linear actuator?” and you’ll be able to choose any reliable provider and get in touch with their specialists. They will help you to choose the most suitable option. Some companies will even offer to make a customized device.
Smart Automation Ideas with Linear Actuators for Your Home
At home, you can use linear actuators for a variety of applications. Only your imagination and budget are the limit. Some technical knowledge, a nice design, and you can turn your accommodation into something completely different.
The most frequent applications where linear actuators are used are the following:
- TV lift – this item can turn your living room or back yard into an advanced space;
- A popup rack for spices, utensils, or any domestic item will save space in your kitchen;
- A bed lift will free a lot of space for an additional storage option;
- A linear actuator system will make your solar panel work more efficiently;
- Automated windows and doors will add comfort and safety to your home.
Industrial Automation with Linear Actuators
In the manufacturing premises, actuator systems are used to move conveyors, to manage robotic arms, to open and close valves and covers. In the most advanced factories, cobots are used to handle dangerous processes or to manage works that can be demanding for people. Linear actuators allow:
- Reducing energy consumption: these actuators are efficient and powerful;
- Avoiding downtime: electric actuators don’t require maintenance;
- Reducing production costs: once installed, the actuator system will work for years.
Linear Actuators for Military Applications
In the military, automation with linear actuators has found a wide application. Here are just a couple of examples where linear actuators can be used:
- In the military weaponry, actuators are used to make the needed adjustments;
- In marine vessels, systems based on linear actuators improve the manoeuvring properties;
- Robots are used to collect information, to explore potentially dangerous places, for the training of soldiers.
In the military, the most advanced systems based on linear actuators play a crucial role. They allow saving people`s lives if used correctly.
Automation with Linear Actuators in the Medical Field
In medicine, actuators are irreplaceable. They are used to improve the life quality of patients and to facilitate the work of medical personnel. Electric linear actuators made it possible to perform minimally invasive surgical intrusions. Some examples of how medical devices can be automated with linear actuators? Here they are:
- Bed and chair lifts, to improve the life quality of patients with certain disorders. These devices facilitate the work of medical staff, too. They don’t have to lift the patient or take him/her down. A push of a button is enough to adjust the height of the furniture to make it simple for a patient to move;
- In dentist chairs, linear actuators are used to adjust the height and the position of a chair;
- Medical robotic systems are used for minimally invasive intrusions. Many kinds of surgeries have become possible only thanks to the application of robots.
Thus, automation with linear actuators in the medical industry has led to many improvements. These advancements help to improve the quality of medical services and to save the lives of patients.
Automation Ideas for the Agricultural Industry
Agriculture is one of the industries where automation plays a special role. This industry depends on all kinds of equipment. Farmers work from dusk to dawn to manage all the works on time. Usually, they have a limited time frame to plant and to collect the yield. Thus, the more automated devices they use, the more productive their work is.
In agriculture, linear actuators are used everywhere:
- In fertilizer spreaders, actuator systems allow farmers to control the volume of fertilizer spread on the crop;
- Actuators provide a variety of solutions for combine harvesters. They allow adjusting the height and speed of knives, to adjust the cutter bar, and similar;
- In corn headers, actuator systems are used to adjust the exact distance at which the corn head shall be cut.
Linear actuators are used not only for agricultural machinery. Actuator systems are widely applied to automate garage and barn doors, ventilation systems, feed gates for animals. These devices help to make agricultural works more productive and less demanding.
How to Choose an Actuator Correctly
If you are going to automate a device on your own, you need to know which actuator will work most optimally in the application. Manufacturers provide the most detailed information about the actuators they sell. Though even to use this information correctly, you need to know exactly what factors you shall pay attention to. The most important features to consider are given below.
Calculate the Load Correctly
The load that your actuator needs to manage: many people still believe that it is enough to know the weight of the object to be lifted. For example, if a TV set weighs 5 kg, the actuator needs to be able to handle supposedly 5 kg. This is far from the truth though.
To calculate the load value for your actuator, you need to consider:
- Installation location;
- Position of the actuator (vertical vs. horizontal);
- Friction load;
- Gravitational load;
- Inertial load.
There are special formulas to calculate the load value for an electric actuator. If you aren’t sure how to use it, we recommend asking a specialist. Normally, there is always somebody available to assist with these calculations.
Consider Positioning Accuracy
While in some industries, such as agriculture, the positioning accuracy might be not so crucial, on others, such as medical, it might be one of the priorities. A linear actuator shall meet the requirements to such criteria as:
- The precision of movement and positioning;
- Movement straightness;
- Movement flatness.
While for some applications, deviations are permitted, for others, even the smallest offset can make it impossible to use an actuator.
Protection Level Depends on the Installation Environment
We all know that for different environments, different elements are used. For indoors, the minimum protection level is needed. While for outdoor applications, you shall choose at least those items that are weatherproof. When choosing an electric linear actuator, you shall consider its protection level (IP).
Normally, the IP rating is indicated with two letters and two numbers. In some cases, one more letter might be added. The first number tells how resistant is the actuator against solids, for example, dust. The second number informs about the protection level against liquids.
For example, if the first number is 0, it means that the actuator is not protected against solids. Number 6 means the top protection level. 1 for liquids means that the actuator isn’t protected against liquids, while 9 means top protection level. Sometimes, a letter is added to indicate special conditions.
More Things to Consider
Along with technical features, there are some more things to consider. One of such things is the installation surface. Before installing your actuator system and the device, check whether the installation surface can support their load. Consider that the load isn’t going to be static only. Therefore, calculate properly everything. If you have doubts, it is better to install some supports on the surface.
The stroke length is one more factor to pay attention to. You don’t want your actuator to stick out of the device. Neither you want it to move halfway only. Thus, check at which distance the movement distance, add 1-2 inches, and you will get the stroke length.
In some items, the noise level is important. Of course, the lower the noise generation is the better it is for any application. But the levels that are suitable for industrial applications might be absolutely unacceptable for use at home. This is something we pay the least attention to. Though if you install in your bedroom or home office a system that generates a lot of noise, it might be not the most pleasant experience.
Linear actuators are indispensable in many applications. If you choose your actuator correctly and use it according to the specifications, you can count on long and reliable service.
Author’s Bio: Hayley Mann is a technology enthusiast specializing in automation methods of ergonomics devices. Her engineering background helps her to create interesting articles on technical topics, making them understandable for all readers.