Electric Actuators

What are electric actuators?

Electric actuators are the devices that are connected to the motor and the mechanism of the applied machine or device, which are used to transform the electric energy from the motor into the kinetic energy for the mechanism.

The electric actuators provide the quickest way to drive the motions of the connected mechanism, since they receive and give feedback fast. In addition, this type of device makes only little noise during operation. Compared to the mechanical driven devices, such as the pneumatic or hydraulic actuators, the electric actuators are relatively environmentally-friendly, as there is no leakage of the media like gas or hydraulic fluids.

On the devices that work when the mechanisms are driven to move, either with the linear or rotary movements, how well they perform determine the effectiveness of the devices, and this should be derived from the source of the kinetic energy, which is the actuators.

There are both mechanically or electronically driven actuators available for providing these energy sources. The former utilizes the compressed air, gas, or hydraulic fluids as the media, and the latter applies the electricity from the electric motor. Each of them is adopted for various applications with the different features that they have.

In addition to the media that offer the sources of energy, the electric actuators, which are what we focus more on here, are designed in either linear or rotary forms, in order to accommodate the compatible applications of them. No matter the linear or rotary electric actuator is applied, this electronically driven actuator ensures the optimal performance of the connected mechanism.

How does an electric actuator form and how does it work?

The electric actuator is driven with the interaction between the motor, the spindle, and the piston rod. The motor provides the electricity for the spindle, and the spindle is driven and works with rotary movements. As the spindle turns, the piston rod is then driven to move back and forth with the linear movements. 

To see in more details of the interrelation between these components, the electric actuator can be separated into the motor, the drive shaft, the spindle and bearing, the ball screw nut, and the piston rod and bearing.

The electric actuator is operated when the electric motor is initiated. The electric motor is the component that is attached to the drive shaft with a helical screw and provides the power source, which is the electricity, for the transformation of energy through the drive shaft as well as other components.

● Drive shaft
The drive shaft plays the role in the transmission system of the motor and the other components of the electric actuator, since it is arranged in between the one side of the actuator and the helical screw that is connected to the motor. It is the medium of the motor and the actuator, which explain the reason why it is able to transmit the energy from the motor to the actuator.

● Spindle and bearing
The spindle is the component that moves with rotary orientation, and the bearing is used to support and handle the thrust load of the radial force that is produced as the spindle rotates. 

Once the spindle rotates, it causes the ball screw nut to move forward and backward, which then makes the linear motion of other components afterwards.

● Ball screw nut
The ball screw nut is the part that performs the linear motion in the electric actuator. The motion of this part is driven when the spindle rotates, which allows the ball screw nut to move along the helical screw that penetrates through the entire actuator.

● Piston rod and bearing
The piston rod is made of a hollow object, and is attached to the ball screw nut. It is the part that delivers the output of the electric actuator, which is the kinetic energy, to the connected mechanism.

When the ball screw nut is driven by the rotating spindle, the ball screw nut causes the piston rod to move back and forth together and these movements would then be sent to the mechanism, and complete the transmission of motion.
In addition, the bearing around the piston rod supports the thrust load of the axial force, which is made as the piston rod moves.

What are the advantages of using an electric actuator?

Positioning with the highest precision
Comparing the methods of motion driving that rely on the pneumatic, hydraulic, and electric forces, the electric actuator provides the highest precision when it comes to the positioning of the connected mechanism, which makes it the most commonly adopted power source.

● Quiet operation
Furthermore, this type of actuator makes the least noise as it works, which ensures the quiet operation of its application accordingly.

 No media leakage
As there is no gas or hydraulic fluids that act as the media of the actuator, there is no media leakage in the electric actuator as well, and this prevents the risk of the pollution to the environments accordingly.

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