How Powerful Are Linear Actuators


Linear actuators are devices that create straight motion. They are represented by a variety of sizes from mini actuators to huge industrial items. However, how powerful are linear actuators? Are they more efficient in this regard than other actuator types, such as, for example, pneumatic or hydraulic solutions?

Just as an example: the PA-13 high force electric linear actuator (manufactured by Progressive Automations) is designed to pull and push 3000 lbs. The device is able to hold 3500 lbs. Smaller items will be less powerful but still, it is amazing how these devices can work.

Force and Lock-Up Force

When talking about the force of an actuator, we shall distinguish between to terms:

  • Force (sometimes, this term is specified as pull/push force) – this value is measured in pounds. It shows which weight an actuator can push or pull. In the above-mentioned example, this value equals 3000 lbs.
  • Lock-up force – this value shows the weight which an actuator is able to support if the object is resting on the actuator, when the actuator is in “locked mode”, for example.

Different Features Are Interconnected

When choosing an actuator consider that all its features are interconnected. For example, such values as force, weight capacity, speed, stroke length, and so on, influence one on another. For example, actuators with a higher weight capacity will, most likely, be slower than those where this value is lower. Also, the longer the stroke length is, the slower an actuator will be.

Other Benefits

Now, you might argue that electric actuators are not as powerful as hydraulic or pneumatic actuators that otherwise, have the same or similar characteristics. Some of the most significant are the following:

  • While they are powerful, they are also very precise in positioning. Thus, they can be used in such industries as medicine, robotics, and similar;
  • The footprint is minimal: there are no liquids used, thus, there are no leakage of harmful liquids in the environment;
  • The maintenance expenses are absent or minimal: all the actuators are pre-lubricated and sealed. They can work for decades without any need for maintenance. The absence of maintenance also means that there is no downtime. The items work constantly whenever it is required.
  • Electric actuators can be extremely varied in sizes. They can be very big and very small. Thus, they can be fitted in almost every design without exercising any influence on it. This their specifics are beneficial to such crucial fields as medicine, robotics, aerospace industry;
  • They contain a minimum of moving parts. Thus, they are reliable which allows us to use them in many applications.

These benefits are the most crucial. They are the main reason why electric actuators are replacing hydraulic and pneumatic actuators in many realms.

Final Thoughts

The force of linear actuators varies greatly depending on many specifications of the items. However, electric linear actuators might be less powerful than pneumatic or hydraulic ones with the same features. On the other hand, they are so beneficial in some regards that many companies with no doubt move to them.


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