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Motion Control Resources

Blog Post: Selecting the Right Linear Actuator

by Shawn Hakim, Sales Engineer
Motion Solutions

Selecting the Right Linear Actuator

ALISO VIEJO, CA - Building a successful linear motion system starts with choosing the appropriate actuator. Between the different sizes, technologies, and qualities, hundreds of options exist. The trick is to winnow down to the actuator that will deliver the best results. Fortunately, that is not as difficult as it sounds. The requirements of the application will reduce the set of possible actuator solutions and the constraints of the project will determine the best fit.

The process starts with considering a series of key factors:


Speed is an important factor to consider when selecting an actuator. Although screw-type actuators are effective, economical components, at very high speeds, they suffer from a phenomenon known as screw whip, in which the screw bows out as it turns. Screw whip causes vibration and premature wear.

The threshold for screw whip, called the critical speed, depends upon the dimensions and material of the screw. Critical speed, can be calculated analytically using well-known equations. If the speed is too high for the use of a screw-type actuator, consider a linear motor or a belt drive actuator. . .

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