Choosing the appropriate actuator has become an essential component of a successful linear motion system. There exist hundreds of options of linear actuators. The trick is to select the actuator that will meet your needs. Here are the key factors to consider when choosing an actuator.


Choose an actuator that can fit the size of your load. Pick an actuator designed for the task presented by the application. You also need to calculate the stiffness of the actuator in different directions. You can use load capacity to estimate the lifespan of an actuator. Consider the positioning of the load before purchasing an actuator. You want an actuator that can support the weight at various angles.


Keep pricing targets in mind before going to shop for an actuator. The most expensive actuators are linear motors followed by screw-type actuators. Belt drives are the most affordable actuators. However, engineering allows for actuators trade-off. In some cases, budget constraints outweigh the performance of an actuator. For instance, duty cycle tends to be more critical than speed. Look for an actuator with standard components. However, if it doesn’t meet your needs, look for a vendor that can design a customized actuator.


The right choice of an actuator will help you meet your requirements. It also enables project managers to meet budget and assembly targets. You want an actuator that can meet your repeatability requirement. The optimum choice depends on the needs of the application. Roller guide is designed to provide flawless performance in linear motion space.

Duty Cycle

Duty cycle has a significant impact on the lifespan of equipment. You want a linear actuator that can meet the requirement of the application. You may use lead screws on stainless steel and plastics. However, lead screws can introduce significant wear and tear over the lifespan of an actuator. Therefore, avoid lead screws if your application has a high duty cycle. Instead, use a ball-screws actuator. It has rolling friction rather than sliding friction. Moreover, ball-screws actuator lasts longer and has a more predictable lifespan. Choose planetary roller screw for applications that require perfection. Ball screws actuators distribute weight to minimize friction. It is ideal for aerospace and military applications.

Extreme dirt may damage the performance of a linear actuator. Rod-style actuators are a good fit for filthy environments. In a rod-style actuator, the load rests on a carriage that exposes the device to contamination. Keep in mind that lubrication can trap and hold debris that may damage the surface of a linear actuator.

Stroke Length

Stroke length is an important consideration when choosing a linear actuator. Pick screw-based actuators if your strokes exceed 5 feet. However, be cautious with extremely long travel screw actuators as they can exceed the critical speed. Belt drives are useful for long stroke lengths.

In short, the choice of an actuator is determined by the nature of the application. Consider the nature of the load and the intended motion profile before purchasing an actuator. Afterwards, consider the mechanical attributes of each type of linear actuator. Choose a linear motion that provides the desired motion profile and required longevity.

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