Technical Blog

How Does a Linear Actuator Work?

A Linear Actuators’ primary function is to convert rotary action into linear motion. At Heason, linear actuators form part of our product portfolio, they are available in different styles and configurations which make them suitable for many different applications.

Linear actuators are available in various types. One of the main benefits of using a linear actuator over pneumatic or hydraulics is to allow the operator to have full control of the position and speed. They are also much more energy-efficient and often require very little to no maintenance.

How Does a Linear Actuator Work?

To convert rotary action into linear motion, a linear actuator will consist of an AC or DC motor, gearing as well as a lead screw or ball screw with a driving nut.

The motor is powered from mains or battery supply via a direction switch and/or speed controller which causes it to rotate in the desired direction and speed. The nut is connected via an extension tube to the load to be moved linearly based on the rotation of the motor.

As the motor rotates the screw will also rotate forcing the nut along the shaft and whatever is being controlled by the actuator will then move linearly. Depending on which direction the motor is turning, the nut will move either up, down, left, or right.

Linear speed can be controlled by varying the speed of the motor. Similarly, different forces can be applied based on the gear ratios used within the gearbox.

What are Linear Actuators Used for?

Because they convert rotary motion into linear motion, linear actuators are used for applications that involve lifting or lowering, sliding in any direction, tilting, and adjusting.

Some industries which use Linear Actuators for applications include;

  • Marine
  • Materials Handling
  • Factory Automation
  • Defence
  • Printing
  • Packaging
  • Foot processing
  • Clean and renewable energy
  • Defence
  • Machine tool
  • Aerospace

Types of Linear Actuator

At Heason, we offer three main types of linear actuator, these are industrial actuators, precision ball screw actuators and guided rodless actuators - also known as linear units.

Industrial Linear Actuators – a low-cost alternative to hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders. Industrial linear actuators are well suited to applications in mobile off highway, agricultural equipment, military equipment, and manual lifting systems.

Precision Ball Screw Actuators - operate using precision rolled screws with recirculating ball nuts with circa 90% efficiency and 0.001mm repeatability. Precision ball screw actuators are well suited to applications in automation, packaging, machine tools and electronics assemblies, R&D and testing applications.

We have a range of servo and stepper motors suitable for use with our precision ball screw actuators. This enables the required level of control to be achieved.

Rodless Actuators -use either ball screws, lead screws or belts to drive a guided carriage up to 12m stroke length. Like many linear actuators, rodless actuators are known for high accuracy repeatability of 0.01mm and speeds up to 10m/s can. 

We also offer different types of actuator including:

  • Rotary Actuators
  • Industrial Actuators
  • Screw Jacks

Each of these categories can be viewed on our website – if you would like any further information on any of our actuators please contact us. 

Linear Actuators from Heason Technology

Our range of linear actuators come from our supplier Thomson, browse the full range on our website and contact us for more information.

Our range of linear actuators have many advantages:

  • Long dependable life
  • Energy efficient with low operating costs
  • Quiet and smooth operation
  • High positional accuracy
  • High repeatability
  • Rugged and reliable
  • Little to no maintenance required

Some of the linear actuators we offer can have bespoke stroke lengths making them highly diverse so contact us to discuss your application and we will find a solution to support you.

If you have any questions on linear actuators and how they work or would like support selecting a product for your application, please contact us.

Article published on: 04/05/2021