What is an Actuator?An actuator is a device that makes something move or operate. It receives a source of energy and uses it to move something. Scroll down to learn more about what actuators are and various types of actuators.
Today we’re going to talk about actuators. There’s probably not a day that goes by where you don’t use or encounter an actuator at home, or at work.
In this article, we’re going to:
– Explain the purpose of an actuator
– Discuss the 2 different types of actuators
– Look at the 3 typical sources of energy required for an actuator to move something
– Observe the operation of an actuator used in a very common industrial control application
In very simple terms, an actuator is a device that makes something move or operate. Every one of us takes advantage of at least one actuator every day. Let’s look at some examples of actuators.
1. Grocery Store Door
When we go to the grocery store, the door opens automatically for us. An actuator makes the door open.
2. Car Seat
We can move the car seat forward or backward before we drive away in our car. An actuator makes the seat move.
Types of Actuators
1. Linear Actuator
An actuator can move something in a straight line, also referred to as linear.
2. Rotary Actuator
Also, An actuator can make something move in a circular motion, also referred to as rotary.
What Makes an Actuator Move?
We’ve talked about the movement of an actuator, but we haven’t discussed how, or what makes it move.
Actuators receive a source of energy and use it to move something. To put it another way, the actuator converts a source of energy into a physical-mechanical motion.
A butterfly valve is operated by turning the Handwheel connected to the rotary actuator. In industrial applications, the Handwheel could be replaced by one of three typical sources of energy, which can operate the rotary actuator:
– Electric actuators use some form of electric energy to operate.
– Hydraulic actuators use a variety of liquids as a source of energy.
– Pneumatic actuators are operated by compressed air.
Types of Actuators
Typical actuator types in the industry include:
– Electric Motors
– Hydraulic motors
– Pneumatic Control Valves
4-20 mA Pneumatic Actuator
Let’s look at a typical Pneumatic Actuator in action! The PLC analog output card produces a 4-20 mA current to move the valve from fully open to fully closed.
The 4-20 mA current will be converted to pneumatic pressure which becomes the source of energy to operate the actuator.
Let’s review what we’ve discussed.
– An Actuator is a device that makes something move or operate.
– An Actuator can move something in a straight line, referred to as linear, or in a circular motion, referred to as rotary.
– An Actuator receives a source of energy and uses it to move something. In other words, it converts the source of energy into physical-mechanical motion.
That source of energy can be in 3 different forms:
Typical actuators in the industry include:
– Pneumatic Control Valve
– Electric Motor
– Hydraulic Motor
We hope you enjoyed this article on Actuator, here at RealPars our team of experts is on hand to answer your questions and respond to your feedback.
Also, we’d love to hear your suggestions for topics you want our team to cover.
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