Simple Guide to How Electric Motorized Linear Actuators Work

Electric Motorized Linear Actuators

Linear actuators are a common part of our everyday lives, and many people don’t know how much they actually rely on them. The earliest form of an actuator dates back to Roman Egypt. This machine component is available in many different forms, such as mechanical and hydraulic. The latest type of actuator is the motorized linear actuator. Creative Motion Control makes electric linear actuators. Our electric motorized linear actuators are compliant with IP65, have built-in anti-rotation, and can connect to almost any motor. 

What is a Linear Actuator?

In general, an actuator describes a device that needs input from an outside signal and an energy source. The input combines to create some sort of motion. There are two traditional types of actuators: linear and rotary. 

A linear actuator turns the input motion into pushing and pulling movements (also known as linear movements). The advantage of these actuators is that an operator gains complete control over an object. With the press of a button, you can drop, push, pull, slide, lift, or tilt an object. 

In simpler terms, actuators allow electricity to become a movement. A linear actuator doesn’t require much upkeep because it is such a simple and efficient system. The parts of a motorized linear actuator include:

  • An AC motor or DC motor
  • Different gears
  • A screw to push the rod shaft

Actuators are smaller than pneumatic or hydraulic systems. They are also a lot cheaper to employ.

How is a Linear Actuator Motorized?

A linear motorized actuator comes in handy when you need to handle any type of load. Many industries benefit from these systems, such as:

  • Industrial fields
  • Renewable energy
  • Naval applications
  • Healthcare

Different internal sets result in electric movement. When you look for a linear motorized actuator, you will find features such as force, stroke, speed, and more. Force refers to the weight you want to handle.

The weight that you want to keep is your static load, and the weight you want to move is the dynamic load. The stroke, in millimeters, is the linear movement you want. Finally, the speed tells you how much time you’ll need to do the stroke. 

The duty cycle is a numeric representation of the actuator’s phases for working and resting. You will find this ratio expressed in different ways depending on the type of actuator. Other terms to be familiar with are the power supply, gearbox, screw, and control. 

Types of Motors

A motorized linear actuator can come with a DC or AC motor. The most common motor type is 12-volt DC. If you require a high-force linear actuator, you might use a 24-volt DC motor. As for AC motor types, they are typically single or three-phase.

Motorized Linear Actuator Styles 

Depending on your needs, you may want a certain type of actuator. Some of these types are:

L-Drive. An L-drive actuator is driven by worm gear, which means it doesn’t have many gear ratio options. These motors do not make a lot of noise and are more efficient than other motor types.

Inline. Inline actuators are longer and can fit inside smaller spaces. Its parts consist of a drive spindle, planetary gear, and motor. 

Parallel drive. In these motorized actuators, the drive spindle and motor are parallel. This aspect gives you more speeds, but it may be noisier than an L-Drive.

Dual-motor. As the name suggests, a dual-motor allows for a two-directional movement. You can use less linear actuators if you have these.

Gear motor. These motors are compact and work best when you need something flexible. You can match them with different spindles. 

You may also come across motorized lifting columns. These columns can contract and expand to help you lift loads high up. Additionally, lifting columns have guiding included in their structure. 

Advantages to a Motorized Linear Actuator

If you need simple and smooth movement, a motorized linear actuator is for you. You can control an immense amount of force with precision. 

Many people like to compare actuator systems to hydraulic systems. While hydraulic systems can also work with high forces, they require more space and investment. With hydraulics, you have to have valves and pipes, pumps, and a fluid tank.

In comparison to a hydraulic system, an actuator system offers:

  • Easier cleaning and installation
  • Better and more specific control
  • Lower operating costs
  • Lower contamination risks

An electrical actuator system is also non-toxic and better for the environment. If you need to do a job on a budget, it is the superior choice. 

Linear Actuators in the Real World

Because of their convenience, linear actuators have a lot of applications. You’ve probably encountered them without realizing it. The following are just some of the many uses for a motorized linear actuator in different sectors. 

Hospitals and Care Centers

Actuator systems can help patients be more comfortable. For example, the systems in hospital beds allow patients to adjust the settings via remote control. The hospital staff can save time because they don’t have to make these adjustments manually.

Care center staff also don’t have to worry about difficult physical work. Patient lifts, which use actuator systems, remove all heavy lifting so that professionals can focus on their patients. Other uses for linear actuators include:

  • Treatment chairs
  • Operating tables
  • X-rays
  • Electric hospital tables


Modern farmers need reliable systems to handle food and animals. Motorized linear actuators aid with:

  • Ventilation systems
  • Grain handling
  • Automated feeding
  • Climate control

When it comes to stables, electric actuators are useful because they work in any weather conditions. Farmers don’t have to worry about moisture, dust, or extensive maintenance. Actuators allow for improved animal health and efficient waste management.

Vehicles and Lawn Mowers

Electric actuators can fit into most vehicles, and they leave a negligible carbon footprint. These systems are valuable when it comes to accessible cars and vans and street sweepers. Actuators can help with wheelchair ramps, doors, special lifts, and tailgates. 

When it comes to outdoor equipment, actuators allow for:

  • Easy-to-install and low maintenance turnkeys
  • Energy efficiency and better ergonomics
  • Feedback to an intelligent control system 


A motorized linear actuator makes it easier to be environmentally friendly. In pellet heaters, actuator systems can effectively remove ashes and keep the grates in good condition. 

Actuators also aid solar panels when following the sun. They support many systems within solar power plants, and they work even in harsh weather conditions. Actuators work similarly for harnessing wind energy via turbines. 

Can You Sideload On a Linear Actuator?

Sideloading refers to applying a force that is perpendicular to your actuator. You should avoid sideloading because it can damage your linear actuator. You can use linear actuators for compression, tension, or both.

If you need to sideload or cross-load, there are system applications that can assist you. For example, you can add a slide rail to lessen the strain on the actuator.  

How to Choose a Linear Actuator

With so many actuator models, it can be hard to know which one is the best for your project. When you are ready to select one, it will help to consider the following factors. 

The Load

What is the weight of the load you need to support? This factor will affect the components of the actuator to make sure it can handle the load. You also want to know the direction and length that you need to operate the actuator. 

The diameter of the tubes, the motors, and the gears influence the strength of the system. You need to make sure you have the appropriate type to get your job done.

The Space

You should determine how much space your system will have to operate. As discussed in the actuator types section, different styles take up more space than others. If you have space restrictions, you may want to select an inline motorized linear actuator. 

The Speed

All devices have a suggested speed and load. Keeping within the required speed will help extend the life of your actuator. If you use a fast speed with a high force, you may encounter early wear-and-tear.

The Environment

Another factor to consider is where the actuator will operate. To narrow down your choices, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it need to work inside or outside?
  • Will it have to deal with high-pressure or intensive cleaning?
  • Does it need to operate quietly?

All these questions will help you pick the correct motorized linear actuator. If you need professional assistance, contact Creative Motion Control.

Purchasing a Linear Actuator

For any application, you can find a motorized actuator that meets your requirements. You’ll also want to consider your budget. 

Now that you have a better understanding of how actuator systems work, you can put them to use. Actuators have hundreds of applications, and they can help your system run smoothly and efficiently. They have a long lifetime with minimal upkeep, so they’ll save you time and money in the long run. 

For a professionally developed motorized linear actuator, trust Creative Motion Control to meet your needs. To know more, contact us today.

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