What is Actuator? Examples, Applications, Types


Definition: An actuator is a mechanical or electromechanical device that converts a control signal into mechanical motion or movement by taking power from an energy source. 

The control signal and energy source both may be electrical or gas pressure or liquid pressure or air pressure or any other form of energy. The actuator is very helpful for moving and controlling a mechanism. Actuators are available in almost every machine used in domestic to industrial. Actuator generally works as part of a machine and it moves or actuates by itself as well as actuates the other part of the machine or system.

Types of Actuator


Actuators are divided according to their function, working principle, construction, the form of energy they used. So, the different types of actuators are,
  • Mechanical Linear Actuators
  • Mechanical Rotary Actuator
  • Hydraulic Linear Actuators
  • Hydraulic Rotary Actuator
  • Pneumatic Linear Actuators
  • Pneumatic Rotary Actuator
  • Electrical Linear Actuators
  • Electrical Rotary Actuators
  • Electromechanical Actuators
  • Electrohydraulic Actuators
  • Thermal Actuators
  • Magnetic Actuators
  • Electromagnetic Actuators
  • Piezoelectric Actuator
  • Soft Actuator

You can observe actuators used everywhere around us. Different types of actuators have their own functions, advantages, and disadvantages. For different applications, different types of actuators are used. All the actuators required a control signal and a source of energy for their operation. When a control signal is applied to an actuator it takes power or energy from the energy source and makes movements or motions.

Actuator Example: Solenoid



The actuator that mover or operates something in a straight or linear way is called a linear actuator and the actuator that moves or operate something in a rotational or circular motion is called rotary motion. These are the basic two types for all the actuators. Linear actuators are much more stronger and they are used for heavy loads also, whereas rotary actuators are most suitable for precise control, complex designing, etc.


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Actuators Examples


The common examples of actuators are,
  • Rack and Pinion - mechanical liner type
  • Chain Block Hoist - mechanical linear type
  • Hydraulic Cylinder - hydraulic linear type
  • Screw Jack - mechanical linear Type
  • Solenoid - electromagnetic type
  • Stepper Motor - electrical rotary type
  • Thermal Bimorph - thermal
  • Servo Mechanism - electrical rotary type
  • Air Cylinders - pneumatic
  • Pneumatic Cylinders - pneumatic
  • Air Actuators - pneumatic
  • Hard Disk Drives - electrical linear
  • Printers - electrical linear
  • Door Lock System - electromagnetic
  • Damper Opening and Closing - electromechanical
  • Bi Metalic Strips - thermal
  • Piston - pneumatic
  • Permanent Magnet Moving Coil(PMMC) Instruments - Magnetic
  • 3D printers - soft actuator
  • Sliding Door - linear
  • Car Seat - linear
  • Adjustable Chairs - linear


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Applications of Actuator


1. Electrical actuators are mostly used in automation systems such as sliding doors, moving lights, aircraft, gaming zone, air conditioners, etc.

2. Pneumatic Actuators are very powerful and they are mostly used for industrial purposes and machinery.

3. Hydraulic actuators are used in cranes, lifting systems, digging machines, agriculture machinery, etc.

4. Electromagnetic actuators are used for operating valves, positioning, direction control system, flow control, etc.

5. Soft actuators are used in compact devices, smaller systems, for higher accuracy, control, and reliability.


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What is Actuator? Examples, Applications, Types What is Actuator? Examples, Applications, Types Reviewed by Author on 9/07/2021 Rating: 5
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