Linear Motion - Industrial Actuators
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Industrial actuators are the workhorses of the motion world. They typically offer less accuracy and resolution than precision stages-on the order of millimeters rather than microns. They are ruggedized to deliver reliable operation even in harsh environments. They are available with IP-rated enclosures, for example. Instead of linear guides, they may simply feature Delrin blocks sliding on bare metal rails. When the blocks wear out over the course of several years, they are replaced.
Choosing the most appropriate actuator for your application starts with considering factors like speed, force, length of travel, duty cycle, environmental conditions, load, footprint, and budget. The engineering and sales staff at Motion Solutions has decades of experience in matching technology with applications. We can work with you to help you find the component that best suits your needs.
Rod-style actuators are designed for thrust loads. When powered by electric motors, they are a good substitute for hydraulic and pneumatic actuators. The rod exits the actuator to push the load, for example to nudge reject bottles off of a conveyor in a bottling line. They are particularly useful in industrial automation and packaging applications.
It’s important to note that a rod-style actuator does not support the load. These actuators need to be paired with an appropriate linear guide or stage. They should not be used with overhung loads or in any application that applies side loads, upward loads, or downward loads. In such cases, the load requires other support or the actuator needs mechanical guarding. Rod-style actuators have other limitations. The rods tend to sag when extended, which can cause wear to bearings and seals.
Use cases for rod-style actuators range from manipulating rigid, externally-guided and supported loads to pivoting loads. An industrial hatch is a good example of a load that is compatible with a rod-style actuator. The bearings support the hatch and the actuator simply pulls and pushes.
In a rodless actuator, the motion elements are enclosed in a housing. As a result, the actuator not only moves the load, it can support the load. These units have a smaller footprint because they do not require additional space for the rod to emerge. In the case of screw-driven versions, the screws are supported at both ends of the housing and by the nut, making them less vulnerable to screw whip or sag.
The challenge is that a mechanical linkage needs to extend from the load through some sort of slot in the housing to engage with the screw. This limits the amount of thrust these actuators can develop. It also provides an entry point for moisture and contamination.
Applications include moving pallets back and forth in a loading area, positioning lumber for cutting and packaging, etc.