When it comes to the matter of actuators, there are two main types that arrive to define the entire field: rotary actuators and linear actuators. The former moves an object in a circular motion, whereas the latter locomotes an object in a straight line. However, the differences do not stop here because their applications differ based on the context in which they are used.
In this article, we will take a closer look at these two main types of actuators and pick apart their differences to try to understand their usage.
The primary difference between these two can be inferred from the name: a linear actuator will produce a linear motion, whereas a rotary actuator will make a rotary motion. Now, the important part is to recognize which is better used in a specific instance. The ease of usage has to be mentioned when it comes to these actuators. Whereas the rotary actuator is much more versatile and can be implemented in many more functions, the linear actuator may have an important advantage: the ease with which it can be mounted. It can be especially important when a machine has to be put together quickly and efficiently. Moreover, there is the added benefit of the maintenance process being made a bit easier in the case of a linear actuator.
In the department of speed, the linear actuator comes as the unequivocal winner. Due to the fact that a linear actuator makes a linear motion, it also results in the possibility of higher velocity compared to a rotary actuator. Because a linear actuator makes a push-pull motion, it is much easier to make it obtain higher degrees of speed than in the case of a rotary actuator. It is made an exception when it comes to rolling motions, in which a rotary actuator would be much more useful, and it would reach higher speeds quicker.
Depending on the nature of the project one has to make, the choice between the linear and the rotary actuator can be influenced by the degree of precision it requires. For example, generally speaking, it is known that the linear actuator may be more precise than the rotary one. However, it matters a lot where and how the actuator is going to be employed. When it comes to things such as farm-related machinery, a rotary actuator may be more fit because of the capability it has with the angle rotation. If there are required actions like moving the arm of a machinery (the arm of an excavator), booms, or any other component that acts as a joint, then the rotary actuator is a much more viable solution.
When it comes to the power they can generate, rotary actuator works by creating rotational force, whereas linear actuator results in linear force. Because of the way they create this force, it has been noticed that while the rotary actuator moves around a limited arc, the other linear actuator has the ultimate advantage of rotating a large number of times, some would say, close to infinitely. Electrical rotary actuators, especially, are known for their versatility, which makes them quite valuable. They can accomplish different tasks and are the best when optioned for projects that require resistance and a lot of power that other actuators may not provide at that respective size. They are quite efficient when it comes to work that requires a certain degree of force but also an amount of finesse.
The Bottom Line
Even though a rotary and a linear actuator are both actuators, their characteristics arrive to define them accordingly. A quick comparison of the two can have an unexpected result. It can be seen that when it comes to distinctive traits like motion, speed, power, and precision, there are quite a few discrepancies between the two actuators. Whereas one may favor some of these traits more, the other may fail to accomplish them as well. Finally, it is recommended for the user to be aware of some of the basic information when it comes to a rotary actuator and a linear one in order to be able to make the best choice between the two.