5 Benefits Every Machine Designer Must Know About Electric Linear Actuators
Let’s start with the basics. Why would you choose an electric linear actuator? A linear actuator device creates motion in a straight line. It is used in instances where linear motion is required, such as automotive manufacturing, process industries, material handling and robotics. Industrial applications use three basic types of linear actuators: pneumatic, hydraulic and electric.
Deciding between these three types is crucial for engineers. While pneumatic and hydraulic actuators offer short-term cost savings and simplicity, they may also be less efficient and more prone to environmentally harmful fluid leaks. Electric-powered linear actuators, on the other hand, offer significant efficiency, design and long-term cost savings advantages.
Below are the top five benefits of choosing an electric linear actuator:
1. Complex motion handling
Motion control systems have grown more complicated as machinery advances. An electric linear actuator can provide precise control over speed, acceleration, deceleration and force, outperforming fluid powered technologies. It offers accuracy, repeatability and infinite positioning capabilities with data feedback.
2. Adaptive design
An electric actuator’s programming can be modified if parameters change. The actuator can be adjusted to meet new specifications with minimal downtime and loss of productivity.
3. Lower lifetime cost and greater efficiency
Electric-powered systems operate at 70-80% total system efficiency, compared to 40-55% for hydraulic and 10-15% for pneumatic systems. In fact, savings over the total life cycle cost of the electric actuator—including the savings in efficiency, energy use and reduced maintenance—can far outweigh the higher price tag.
4. Compatibility with other electric production systems
An electric actuator is easily integrated into motion control systems with the use of PLCs, HMIs and other devices to offer enhanced motion control, data collection and diagnostics.
5. Lower total cost of ownership
Cost is always a major factor in any decision to purchase automation equipment. While electric actuators offer superior accuracy and more precise motion control, those benefits come with a higher initial cost. But, that initial cost can be offset by the savings you’ll receive over the life of the product – the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Many factors affect TCO, including efficiency, electric utility costs, air and hydraulic fluid leaks, maintenance, actuator replacement, product quality, changeover time, cycle times and contamination risks. Choosing an electric actuator over a pneumatic or hydraulic device will provide a lower TCO, making the electric actuator the more cost-effective choice.
Electric rod actuators vs. rodless electromechanical actuators
Once you have decided to use an electric linear actuator in your application, the next step is choosing your style.
Electric linear actuators come in two different styles: rod and rodless. The type you choose is dependent on the task you need to perform, and each type has its own advantages. Electric rod actuators can deliver speed, control and precision but may come with a higher initial cost and a more complex design than fluid power cylinders. Rodless electro-mechanical actuators have an advantage over electric rod actuators because many have the ability to support and carry loads.
Learn more about electric linear actuators and their many benefits in Tolomatic’s eBook A Resource on Electrical Linear Actuators.