What is a linear actuator? How Does it work? How can you use it in your home? Keep reading to learn how to select a linear actuator for your home and how to use it.
How to Select a Linear Actuator For Your Home
Non-professionals could find selecting a suitable actuator for a certain application challenging. It is because the process requires an in-depth knowledge of various calculations and application details before a user can select the right actuator for a specified purpose. Additionally, users of may skip some stages when identifying a cost-effective and the best electric actuator because of the many options available. Critical to the discussion is the fact that different actuators are suitable for different purposes. It follows that the steps involved in selecting vary depending on the scope of the actuator. It follows that an engineer could apply the following general steps when selecting a linear actuator before moving to the specifics of the actuator that suit a particular purpose. A review assists the engineer to spot malfunctions and mistakes of the original actuator.
Defining an Actuator
First of all, what really is an actuator? An actuator is a machine responsible for creating a fixed motion in order to move or control a mechanical system. It is powered by a source of energy, which can come inn different forms. The most common are powered by electricity. The other kinds are powered by hydraulic fluid pressure, or a pneumatic pressure. These types are usually installed for industrial use. Actuators can easily be controlled by any input mainly, a software-based input, manual control by a human, or a simple fixed mechanical or electronic system.
The Linear Actuator
The most famous and well-used type of actuator is the linear actuator. A linear actuator has 4 basic parts in order for it to function properly. These 4 parts are the motor, nut, sliding tube, and fixed cover. The main part is of course the motor, which is powered by electricity. This motor is responsible for turning the nut which is fixed at the bottom of a sliding tube. The motor can be set to turn either clockwise or anti clockwise, which causes the nut and sliding tube to either extend or retract within the fixed cover. The motion of the linear actuators is usually controlled by software in order to set the best rhythm and consistency of the machine.
Linear actuators are commonly used in industrial grade motion systems but the beauty of linear actuators is that they are easily installed and can offer a wide variety of functions. This gives the benefit to the engineer or “DIY-er” since these types of actuators can easily be installed inside the home or any other workplace where motion automation is needed.
Factors to Consider
An electric linear actuator utilizes the concepts applied in mechanical and electric engineering disciplines. Therefore, the power used in watts by the actuator is a significant consideration when analyzing the requirements. Mechanical power generated by the electric actuator, is established by the speed and load to be moved. Therefore, mechanical power is given as Force (F) in Newtons, and then multiplied by the motions velocity in m/s. Separate from mechanical power, this engineer must consider additional factors like the duty cycle, electric power-in, and efficiency of the actuator when selecting. The supplier should present the information by showing the force-current and force- speed graph. Electric power in for the actuator is calculated by multiplying the current draw (I) by the voltage (V).
The duty cycle in any electric actuator shows the actuator’s frequency of all operations in any given application and the amount of time spent between operations. During such operations, the power lost in mechanical inefficiency is changed to heat; therefore, the minimum temperature in the component of the motor is assumed the duty cycle limit. Duty cycle is the increasing time in one operation (up-down movement) then divided by the total amount of time spent between operations and the amount of time spent during the operation. When this duty cycle increases, the speeds of movement and the actuator’s load have to be minimized to maintain efficiency.
The efficiency of the actuator establishes how hot it gets during an operation. When the actuator utilizes batteries to make the system work, the efficiency factor might be utilized to show the batteries’ life. The actuators that do not work when current is switched off must be twenty-seven percent efficient. One scholar suggests that actuators that are 100% efficient imply that their motion does not stop once someone switches off the current, and this might affect operations. The efficiency of any actuator is determined by dividing mechanical power by electric power.
The last factor is considering the life of the actuator in any given application. Repairing an actuator is never easy, although some components like screws and motor are replaceable. Researchers recommend that an actuator’s motor life and the life of several other critical components be equal to keep away from constant replacements of various components that can affect an actuator’s performance and efficiency. Additionally, when replacing specific components of the actuator, or the actuator itself, the engineer must have the essential information from calculations and documentations to comply with the new component and the application requirements.
In conclusion, it is clear that selecting the right actuator, given the scope of the actuator, could be a challenging task for non-professionals. However, this article provides guidelines that could help non-professionals identify actuators suited for specific purposes. For instance, it is clear that the power of an electric actuator is an important factor to consider when choosing an actuator. Additional factors to consider when choosing an actuator include the actuator’s life, its efficiency, and duty cycle.
Check this video tutorial on how to build a simple Linear Actuator by Mark Carew!