Whether to adopt electric or hydraulic high-force linear actuators is a decision that many manufacturers will be faced with in time. While at one point, choice was limited to only hydraulic components, electrical variations emerged as options that are considered superior in many conditions.
If you’re unsure whether you should exchange your hydraulic actuators, here are five situations when electrical is the way to go:
When You’re Looking for Instantaneous Force
Electric linear actuators use current passing through the servo motor to produce torque that drives the power screw and generates force. This force is very efficient, thanks in part to the use of roller screws with have transmission force capabilities of 40,000 lbf or higher.
The actuators are also instant-impact, since they don’t have to wait for pressure to build, as in hydraulic components. The electrical surge transfers energy quickly for split-second force applications.
When You Need Better Control
Electric linear actuators with servo motors are often the top of the line when it comes to control over key factors like velocity and output force. The actuators are highly adaptable, and can be adjusted as you go along.
Although hydraulic actuators work well in simple situations, complicated projects often require complex and expensive servo hydraulic systems, which can be impractical in cost.
When Velocity is a Concern
Electric actuators are more intelligent; they have control over the entire motion profile, without some of the physical limitations of their hydraulic counterparts.
However, the electrical actuators have one drawback: as the motor gets larger, torque grows but RPMs diminish. This is because an electric system depends on screw profile, torque, and RPM to increase force.
However, because an electric actuator has control over the entire motion profile, it doesn’t have to stroke the entire length of each cycle. The actuator may be able to deliver peak velocities since it can execute shorter, more intelligent moves.
When Your Environment is Small, Hot, or Sensitive
A smaller footprint is a key advantage of an electrical high-force actuator, which often takes up only a fraction of the size required for a hydraulic cylinder with HPU.
Not only are they smaller, but electrical actuators perform better at extreme temperatures, where hydraulic systems tend to slow down in the cold and experience fluid degradation in heat.
Finally, electrical actuators do well in sensitive environments since they’re very clean. There’s no risk of leak or contamination, as in hydraulic systems, and no risk of potentially flammable oil leaks.
Putting It All Together
There are many situations in which the cost of an electric linear high-force actuator will pay for itself in time. Although hydraulic actuators are relatively dependable, manufacturers seeking to grow through innovation should give strong consideration to using electrical high-force linear actuators when the circumstances permit.