For many years, machinery relied on engines and motors that generated rotational motion. However, several industrial (and non-industrial) applications needed linear motion also. Imagine, for example, the need to lift a load in a straight line. This is not easy to achieve with rotational motion. One can use a pulley to pull the load from above. But, what if one cannot install a pulley? How to push the load upward?
Linear actuators solve this problem at an effective cost. They transform the rotational motions from a motor into controllable linear motion. Currently, the most common source of rotational motion for an actuator is an electric motor. In the past, hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders provided linear motion for different applications. Since the electric linear actuator price has dropped in the last years, older solutions are being replaced rapidly.
Nowadays, electric actuators are everywhere. They come in different types to meet the requirements of specific applications. Some common linear actuators are:
- Industrial and high-force actuators;
- High-speed actuators;
- Miniature and micro-actuators;
- Tracker actuators.
But, what are they used for? It’s not an exaggeration to say that linear actuators have changed the world. Novel actuators promise to continue changing the world in so many fields. In this article, we list some of the applications that have had a big impact on our world.
Linear actuators make possible many movements that robots can perform. Electric linear actuators are particularly suitable for this application. It is possible to control the movement of an electric actuator very precisely. Thus, more precise linear actuators have enabled the creation of robots that perform very delicate tasks. Newer robots can even assist surgeons during operations. In the future, these medical robots may perform surgical procedures in which very high precision is needed.
The growing population around the world demands more efficient ways to produce food. Thanks to linear actuators, agricultural machinery has become reliable and efficient. Linear actuators reduce labor and assist farmers to complete different agricultural tasks faster. From planting seeds to harvesting, linear actuators play a crucial role.
Most of the applications of linear actuators are in different manufacturing industries. But non-industrial applications are also abundant. One field in which linear actuators have had a disruptive application is home automation. The concept of a smart home is possible thanks to linear actuators. These devices allow for the automation of doors, desks, windows, and other pieces of furniture.
This type of application extends to offices and medical premises. For instance, automated operating tables are common in modern hospitals. Likewise, automated beds that can be operated by a patient are also a reality. None of these things would be possible without linear actuators.
Solar Panel Automation
The quest for clean energy sources has motivated the installation of solar panels in many locations around the world. To make the harnessing of solar energy more efficient, linear actuators can be installed to track the sun. This application allows for more energy absorption during the day.