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How Do I Choose the Best Small Linear Actuator?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

Small linear actuators, also known as micro linear actuators, are devices that use a motor to push an object back and forth; they are frequently used for robots, motion-enabled products and with automatic valves. Size is a major factor for a small linear actuator, because most users get smaller actuators to fit a certain space. Along with size, weight is often an issue, because smaller actuators have less weight, which may be required for some products. The small linear actuator typically does not have the same force as a large actuator, so users should check to ensure the force is enough for the application. Velocity is another aspect to look at, because the actuator will have to move fast enough to accurately complete the operation.

When a user decides to get a small linear actuator, size is one of the main considerations. Small linear actuators do not have an official size that qualifies a linear actuator as "small," and some are smaller than others. This is especially important in fields such as robotics, where a small actuator helps keep the entire robot small and makes it easier to create the internal components, because more hardware can fit around a small actuator than a large one.

The size of small linear actuators makes them useful in robotics.
The size of small linear actuators makes them useful in robotics.

While size is very important, the weight of the small linear actuator also must be considered. Heavy actuators that are mounted to the wall, such as with curtain actuators, may fall from their mounting spot if they are too heavy. This also is important because too much weight can decrease the device’s usefulness or make it completely useless.

A small linear actuator does not have the same motor as a full-size linear actuator, so many smaller models cannot replicate the amount of force available from a full-size actuator. For this reason — and because force is important in many experiments and applications — users should check the amount of force the small actuator can produce. The typical amount of force for these actuators rests between 400 and 2,000 pounds (181.4 to 907.1 kilograms).

Along with providing adequate force, a small linear actuator also must be able to move quickly enough to satisfy the experiment or application. These smaller actuators are lighter than full-size actuators, so they typically do not sacrifice much speed. Most small actuators have a speed rating of 20 to 40 inches (50.8 to 101.6 centimeters), which should be enough for general applications, but some high-speed applications may need faster actuators.

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    • The size of small linear actuators makes them useful in robotics.
      By: wellphoto
      The size of small linear actuators makes them useful in robotics.