Actuators - Components of an Electric Linear Actuator

Components of an Electric Linear Actuator


Actuators are made up of many components. Whilst all Actuator different slightly the main components remain similar. The Actuator above is a FIRGELLI Premium style actuator. The main components of an Actuator are the Motor (to create rotary motion and high speed and high torque), Some gears (to reduce the speed and increase the torque), and a Leadscew (to convert the rotary motion to Linear Motion). Below is a full list of all components. 

1. Rod - This is the main shaft that slides in and out of the main actuator body and is what gets connected to the components thats been driven
2. End cap screws
3. End Cap with built in O-Ring and wiper
4. End cap gasket
5. Motor cap screws
6. Washers
7. Motor End Cap
8. End cap gasket
9. Motor Housing
10. Motor Armature
11. Motor body gasket
12. Motor base sub assembly with Brushes
13. Actuator Body sub plate
14. End cap screw
15. End cap screws
16. Spur gears
17. Sub assembly screws
18. Actuator Body sub plate
19. Bearing housing with thrust bearing installed
20. Leadscrew stopper
21. Leadscrew
22. MIcro switches track locator
23. Main Actuator Body.

Actuators: Definition

Linear actuators convert rotational motion into a straight pushing or pulling movement. They’re ideal for uses involving tilting, lifting, pushing, or pulling with force. There are countless uses for electric linear actuators, and  globally, the linear actuator market exceeds $224.4 billion annually.

Keep reading to learn more about the world Actuators, their uses, types and applicaitons.

Where are Actuators used?

Actuators are used just about everywhere in our normal lives from Cars to our homes, we interact with Actuators on a daily basis and don't even know it.  A typical car uses about 100 actuator each, from Electric linear motion Actuators to open and close the trunk lid automatically, so solenoid Actuators to open and close the car door lock remotely, and in the Engine drive train system there are even more Actuators used, from the fuel injectors that use wither Piezo Stack actuators or Solenoid actuators.

In the Home you may find them performing all sorts of tasks such as lifting the TV up out of a cabinet or from the ceiling to turning the sprinkler heads on in a garden irrigation system.  In all these applications the Actuators are all hidden away out of sight. These are not devices that need to be seen, so they can be kept out of the way. 


What’s an Electric Linear Actuator?

An electric linear actuator converts the energy of an AC or DC electric motor. It turns the rotation of the motor into linear movement.

It does this by rotating the actuator screw. The screw turns clockwise or counterclockwise.

This motion causes the shaft to move in a straight, up and down motion. This motion creates the pushing and pulling effect for a load.

How Actuators Work

There are many electric actuator uses. Beverage companies might use them to produce bottled drinks. Elsewhere, a farm might use electric linear actuators to milk cows.

Electric actuators enhance efficiency. You could find electric linear actuators anywhere a machine performs work with loads. This work might include:

  • Lowering
  • Positioning
  • Pulling
  • Pushing
  • Raising
  • Rotating

Firms can use electric linear actuators for any of these applications.

Companies use electric linear actuators to overcome complex challenges. They also provide safe, clean environments.

Furthermore, electric actuators provide motion control. Moreover, they give operators full control.

Also, electric linear actuators are energy efficient. They also have a long duty cycle. In addition, actuators require little to no maintenance.

Types of Electric Actuators

At Firgelli Automations, we design and manufacture several kinds of electric linear actuators. They’re all customizable and interchangeable.

We can also make linear actuators to fit your customized application. These electric linear actuators include the following:

  • Parallel drive actuators
  • Right angle actuators
  • In-line actuators
  • Gear motor actuators
  • Dual motor actuators

Let’s have a closer look at these several types of electric actuators.

Dual Motor Actuator

A dual-mode actuator generates movement in two directions. It might do so separately or at the same time.

This kind of electric actuator is usually more expensive than other models. Overall, however, the cost of a full system is lower because a dual-mode actuator has fewer parts.

Electric Lifting Column

You’ll often see electric lifting column actuators used by medical, industrial, and ergonomic manufacturers. It can lift heavy loads vertically while staying stable. As a result, you’ll usually see this kind of electric linear actuator used for applications such as bariatric beds and adjustable height industrial workstations. Been Columns they are typically telescopic, meaning they can extend much further than their closed length which makes them a very attractive motion control device for applications like Desk lifts. 

Gear Motor Actuator

A gear motor actuator is cost-effective and flexible. Usually, we make it with a worm gear motor. It has a compact design, and it’s a good choice for rotary motion if you want to turn something with a high torque. 

In-line Actuator

An in-line actuator has a longer retracted length. We make it especially to fit into compact or small spaces. Usually, it has a motor, planetary gear assembly, and drive spindle connected to a leadscrew that slides a rod up and down the leadscrew shaft. This is essentially converting rotary motion of a gear motor to linear motion, and describes 90% of all linear actuators on the market. 

Linear Slide Actuator

A linear slide actuator makes linear movement without an outer tube. It has a plastic slide mechanism that travels across the actuator. You might find this kind of electric linear actuator used for furniture such as powered couches and recliners. It uses the same principle as a standard Electric linear Actuator, but instead of moving a Rod shaft in and out it moves a slider up and down the main body of the actuator. 

Parallel Drive Actuator

A parallel drive actuator has a motor directly parallel to the drop spindle. It has a spur or spiral gear with more gear options compared to other actuators. It allows for a broader range of speeds and loads.

Right-Angle/ L Drive Actuator

A right-angle actuator has a motor perpendicular to the drive spindle. Usually, this kind of actuator has a worm gear drive. The drive typically has increased self-locking capability. The drive gears on this style are typically Worm gear drives which are quite efficient and have the benefit of been very quiet. 

Components of an Electric Linear Actuator

An electric linear actuator has an AC or DC motor. It also has a series of gears.

It also has a lead screw and drive nut to push the main driveshaft in and out. This is the basic construction of most electric linear actuators.

Other electronics determine the stroke limit switching and positional feedback options. In its purest form, however, an actuator is a motor, gears, and a lead screw. In most cases, the differences between actuators rest in these components.

Let’s have a closer look at the other numerous parts of an electric linear actuator.


Electric linear actuators feature a front and rear clevis. This is a U-shaped metal piece with holes on each end.

The holes hold a fastening device such as a pin or bolt. The clevis attachments enable users to mount the actuator to applications.

Actuators also have a cover tube. It’s an extruded aluminum tube that protects the outside of the actuator. It also houses the inner components.

Actuators also have an inner tube. You may also hear an inner tube called an extension tube, translating tube, drive, or piston. Usually, manufacturers make the inner tube using aluminum or stainless steel.

The next component is the spindle. You may also hear this component called a rotating screw, lifting screw, or lead screw. It’s a long, straight rod that rotates in a tool or machine.

More Actuator Components

A safety stop is an important component of actuators. It stops the tube from overextending. Meanwhile, the wipers stop contaminants such as dust and liquids from entering the spindle area.

The next component is the drive nut. It attaches to the inner tube and travels along the spindle. This component enables the extension or retraction of the inner tube.

Actuators also have limit switches. They control the fully extended and retracted inner tube position. Limit switches do this by cutting current to the motor.

Actuators also have steel or plastic gears. They mate with other gears to change the relationship between the speed of a drive mechanism.


Electric linear actuators also have several sensors. For instance, the feedback—or output—sensor communicates the actuator stroke position. It sends this information to a microcontroller.

Actuators create a magnetic field. The Hall Effect Sensor reads feedback from the field. When magnetic field density reaches a level set by the microcontroller, the sensor generates an output voltage called the Hall Voltage.

The potentiometer sensor includes a wiper and slider. It has two connections that change an electrical signal output.

The reed sensor reads position. It’s a switch operated by the magnetic field. This normally open switch closes when it comes in contact with the field.


It takes several parts to make the electric linear accelerator motor. For instance, the motor housing holds all the internal parts. It also protects the motor from damage.

An actuator may also have a DC current motor to create power. Some applications, however, may require an AC motor.

The rotor is the inner motor part that rotates. The motor has a stator that generates a stationary magnetic field around the rotor.

The motor also has carbon brushes. They use sliding friction to send electrical current from the stator to the rotor. Meanwhile, the shaft connects the gear motor to the bottom part of the stator on the motor.

How are Actuator made

Here is a video showing how Linear Actuators are made in the factory

Choosing an Electric Linear Actuator

There are many kinds of electric linear actuators. Every application is unique. As a result, there are several things you must consider to choose the right actuator.

For example, you must think about the technical constraints of an application. These constraints might include:

  • Duty cycle
  • Environment
  • Load
  • Space
  • Speed

Depending on your application, you may need to consider more constraints.

A Closer Look at Actuator Constraints

The load is the force the actuator must support. It defines components needed for the actuator.

Every actuator has a speed and loads it can’t exceed. Otherwise, the actuator could overheat and fail.

The duty cycle is the on and off time of a device. You must choose an actuator with a duty cycle that fits your use. If not, you can subject the mechanical parts of the actuator to excessive wear and potential overheating.

You must also consider the space in which the actuator will operate. For example, you may need to use an actuator in a restricted space. If so, you need to consider whether space restrictions will allow you to integrate an actuator for your use.

Finally, you must consider the environment where you will use the actuator. For example, you should think about whether you need an actuator for an indoor or outdoor environment. Alternatively, you may need to consider whether your actuator can withstand high-pressure cleaning if needed.

Building Electric Linear Actuators

It takes more than 100 different actuator parts to build a high-quality electric linear actuator. In the absence of quality materials or protection such as O-rings, an actuator will have a relatively short lifecycle.

For example, you should look for actuators with copper motor windings. A cheaper material will result in reduced motor power and a shorter lifespan.

Also, even though it’s not perceptible to the naked eye, actuators need a break. If they don’t take a break, they can overheat and fail.

However, the higher the quality of an electric linear actuator, the less time it needs to rest. In turn, it can do more work without wearing out.

The Best Source for Quality Electric Linear Actuators

You now know more about the components of an electric linear actuator.

Firgelli Automations has made it easy to buy, install, and use linear actuators since 2002. We’re a trusted source for quality, cost-effective, and accessible actuators.

We’re also the first company to make actuators available online. Today, we’ve grown into a brand that’s recognized around the world.

Feel free to browse our full line of electric linear actuators.

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