Different Types Of Actuators

Industrial & Manufacturing Blog

The goal of a valve actuator is to move the closure member to the right position. This is accomplished through one of several methods of actuation, including pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, and manual. The version that you will need to use depends on how the particular application you are using is designed.


Manual actuators use a hand wheel or a lever to control a series of gears. The manual actuators can be impractical under some situations given how the actuator is operated. The power of a manual actuator comes from human intervention rather than automatically. This is only useful if a human is always nearby when the actuator must be activated.


The electric actuators use a current to drive a series of gears in order to achieve the correct torque. An electric motor is mechanically connected and turns a lead screw. As the screw rotates, a nut gets driven along the threads. The nut also returns the actuator to its original position after it has fulfilled its purpose. Electric actuators either require that the actuator be connected to a power grid or standalone battery. The advantage of electric actuators over other applications is that electricity is a source of power that is often freely available.


A pneumatic actuator converts air pressure into rotary or linear motion. Pressure from an external compressor moves a piston found within the cylinder. The piston returns to its original position either through a springback force or through fluid that is supplied on the other side of the actuator.  Sometimes, electricity must be used to generate the air compression that is necessary to power the actuator. For that reason, this is sometimes not the most energy-efficient way to open and close the actuator.


Hydraulics rely on fluids that can be reliably compressed. Therefore, when a force is generated, the fluid has the ability to predictably transfer the energy from one location to another. They operate in a manner similar to pneumatics. Both pneumatic and hydraulic actuators can be a challenge because they must be sized properly in order to be efficient and durable.

The best way to determine which actuator is best for your application is to contact a vendor with electric valve actuators for sale. While electric actuators are often the best option, by thoroughly explaining how your machine works, it will be easier to determine which actuator will be the most efficient. For more information, contact a company like ETI Systems.


17 October 2016

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