Linear Actuator Uses: How they are used for projects & what are the applications

Linear Actuators make the movements possible in Robots, they allow interactive machinery to communicate and work together through the use of moving gears wheels, tracks, grippers, arms and legs.  Some of the more popular uses for Linear Actuators is in Industrial Automation and also Home and Automotive uses to make our daily lives easer. Their motions are impressive; you’ve seen them in action to do incredible things but you still don’t really know how they do what they do all the awesome things they do. You aren’t alone. Many people take advantage of actuators without ever knowing how they work and that is completely okay. This is why so many products already built and ready for your use, such as sit stand desks, TV lifts, side rails, column lifts and more.

However, if you’re the type of person who is intrigued by the mechanics and capabilities of actuators, and who wants to build something from scratch, you’ve also come to the right place.

The most common place a linear actuator is used

With the advancement of electronics, and magnets, Electric Linear Actuators have actually become very powerful and offer great durability and reliability. As a result most Linear Actuators are now used in the Automotive Industry, to open Doors, trunks, roofs etc. The most common place an Electric linear actuator is used in in your car. These actuators do the opening and closing for you at the touch of a button, thereby making life much easier for you.

Where are linear actuators used

Electric Linear Actuators used in your home

Another very popular place where Linear Actuators are used is in the home. Automating systems in the home has become a very popular place to adopt Linear Actuator technology. Whether its moving TV's in and out of a piece of cabinetry or lifting an appliance out of a kitchen center island, they all use Linear Actuators to create the Linear Motion. 

Where are linear actuators used?

Kitchen appliance lifts and TV Lifts are probably the most common types of applications in the home that use Linear Actuators and they all use Electric Linear Motion equipment and not Hydraulic or pneumatic. In this example above an Actuator is placed beneath the cabinet to lift up the Appliance box where the benefit is to keep these ugly devices out of sight when not in use, and also increase the workable surface area of the kitchen counter tops.

What other applications are linear actuators used in?

Boats have also began to adopt Linear Actuators on the insides, whereas Hydraulic Actuators are typically used outside or underneath boats for operating things like the stabilizers and even steering, both of which require linear motion but because these are under water functions it makes more sense to use Hydraulic Linear Actuators over Electric Actuators that could cause reliability issues if water was to enter the Actuators if they are of the Electric type. Electric Linear Actuators are now mostly used inside boats and yachts where they are kept dry. 

Where are linear actuators also used

 Lifting Hatches on Yachts use Linear Actuators to make access much easier.

Where are linear actuators also used

 As you can see its hard to think of an industry that does not require Linear Motion and therefore a Linear Actuator. Furthermore Its clear that Electrically driven Actuators offer superior accuracy and positional control witch very high reliability and durability, requiring little or no maintenance whatsoever. 
Actuators have the ability to adapt to almost any need, and they provide solutions that are well functioning and can be applied to many different applications for a wide range of applications and products.


What is a Linear Actuator?

Put simply, an actuator is a mechanical device that moves another device to serve a purpose. For example, TV lifts use an actuator to move the TV. It is, in the simplest of terms, the “mover”.  

In more technical terms, an actuator is a mechanical device that provides control, movement and positioning of objects. This can be done manually or with energy sources such as air, hydraulics, electrical current, etc. Actuators are a motor that turns the energy received into a torque (a measure of force) which then causes the object to move. Simple enough, right?


What do Actuators Do?

Actuators control and move an object. That’s the easiest way to explain it. We will get into more detail in just a moment with regards to how actuators work but essentially, they facilitate the motion. As for the type of motion, that depends on the type of actuator. For example, linear actuators produce a straight line, rotary actuators product a circulator motion and oscillatory offers repetitive motions. Each type allows for more force, control, speed, control and duty to be supported.


How Does an Actuator Work?

Actuators need a control signal and source of energy, such as hydraulic fluid pressure, an electric current or pneumatic pressure, in order to work. There are two basic motions that actuators can do, which are linear and rotary.

Linear actuators operate in straight line motions, such as lifting an object up and down like a TV lift. Rotary actuators provide turning/circle motions. As for the power configurations, styles and sizes on the actuator, that depends on the type.


What is a Linear Actuator?

Since we carry the largest inventory of linear actuators, it only makes sense that we give you a detailed breakdown of what linear actuators are as well. As mentioned previously, linear actuators are mechanical devices that provide back-and-forth movements. They’re used in a vast array of equipment and machines, such as TV lifts, sit stand desks, car jacks, etc.


What are the Different Types of Linear Actuators

Now that you understand what linear actuators are, it’s time to dive into the different types of linear actuators. Don’t worry – it’s quite simple to understand, as the types of linear actuators are often broken down into four main categories that are based on how the actuator is powered. For example, there are:

  1. Hydraulic actuators
  2. Electric actuators
  3. Pneumatic actuators
  4. Mechanical actuators


What are Hydraulic Linear Actuators?

Just as the name suggests, hydraulic actuators are linear actuators that use hydraulic power to facilitate the movements. When compared to other types of linear actuators, these tend to take longer to speed up and slow down, making them great for breakable items, such as TV lifts. After all, you wouldn’t want your television lifting and lowering with incredible speeds as it would likely to result in damage.


What are Electric Actuators?

Electric actuators are devices that are powered by motors that take the electrical current and turn it into mechanical torque (a measure of force). There is no oil involved, making electric actuators to be considered one of the cleanest types of actuators available.


What are Pneumatic Actuators?

Pneumatic actuators are quite similar to hydraulic actuators. The difference is that, instead of using liquid energy, pneumatic actuators use energy in the form of compressed gas. These types of actuators are often ideal for major engine controls, as they provide quick responses and the ability to start and stop control and power source almost immediately.


What are Mechanical Actuators?

Mechanical actuators are devices that function by turning rotary motion into linear motion. They are commonly used for things such as pulleys, chains, rails, gears, etc. To put it into perspective, using a screwdriver that makes rotary motion to push a screw in or out is an example of mechanical actuators.


How to Choose a Linear Actuator

If you’re looking to take advantage of linear actuators, it’s time to determine what the best actuator is for you. Before doing anything else, it’s imperative to think about the purpose your actuator will be serving. For example, if you are building a TV lift, you may want to use hydraulic actuators that perform the motions slowly.

Once you have decided on the purpose of your actuator, you can begin to think about the requirements your actuator must provide.  Resorting back to the previous example, if you’ll be using the linear actuator for a TV lift, you require a steady, slow, controlled movement. Figuring out the speed and controlled movement will help you narrow in on the best types of actuators for your project.

If you’re still unsure as to what type of actuator you need, we highly recommend reading the descriptions of our vast collection of linear actuators to understand how they work to ensure you find the best solution for your project. We also offer a vast array of high quality materials needed to build with actuators, such as controllers, brackets, accessories, and more.

Now, if you want to skip the complicated building process, shop our collection of sit stand desks, TV lifts, side rails, column lifts and more, right here right now. We’ve done the building for you, so you can take advantage of linear actuators without having to build anything at all.


At Firgelli Automations, we carry the largest inventory of linear actuators that are designed by our in-house team of engineers.  So, whether you plan on building a project form scratch or want to harness the benefits of such incredible devices with products that use actuators, visit Firgelli Automations.

Share This Article

Need Help Finding the Right Actuator?

We precision engineer and manufacture our products so you get direct manufacturers pricing. We offer same day shipping and knowledgeable customer support. Try using our Actuator Calculator to get help picking the right actuator for your application.