Actuators are mechanisms which control the environment they are present in, by a variety of control methods. These controls can be simple or complex, and can be either hardware or software based as the user chooses. Electric actuators in particular change electrical energy into mechanical torque to change the way things move around it, such as valves and pressure points, so that they can do their jobs effectively. Electric actuators are very popular for motion systems, among other things, because they are both more efficient and cleaner than other actuators which are also available, such as pneumatic actuators. Electric actuators involve electricity, rather than any kind of fossil fuels.
Actuators need two things: a control source, and an energy source. In the case of electric actuators, the energy source is always electrical in nature rather than anything else like a hydraulic fluid, or oil, or something else of that nature. In the case of the control source, it doesn’t even need to be a particularly strong source of energy. Anything can provide the control source, from human interaction to electric current. The control source is the impetus for the electric actuators to begin converting energy into movement.
Benefit One – a simple design
Actuators which use oil or hydraulics to produce their movement have a lot of extra parts to deal with the extra material which moves through it every time someone uses the actuators. This naturally leads to a situation where these types of actuators are more prone to damage and wear, meaning that they need to be replaced more often. In contrast, electric actuators are very simply designed, with a minimum number of moving parts. This simple design makes the actuators very popular for a number of reasons:
- The simple design, with few moving parts, means that electric actuators are less prone to damage, and can withstand wear more effectively. This makes the electric actuators more popular within equipment in general, and particularly within equipment which is used a lot, or under a lot of pressure
- The simple design also means that electric actuators can be used more easily in equipment which is either difficult to access because of the conditions it is under, or in equipment which is normally stowed away in difficult corners. Having an actuator in it which has fewer moving parts and is more durable means that the actuator will not need to be changed so much, and that there is less need to handle the difficult conditions that the equipment is in
- The simple design also has an aesthetic appeal – as more people are turning to home automation, the electric actuator is coming into greater prominence as something which can provide the needed movement for someone without them having to sacrifice space.
Benefit Two – it is eco-friendly
Fossil fuels are used in almost every industry we have, but the recent move towards brainstorming new ideas for energy has shown that we want to move away our reliance on them. Actuators are also guilty of this, producing emissions and other harmful output which can build up over time and cause problems. Since electric actuators do not rely on fossil fuels to keep them going, they do not produce emissions or gases of any kind, and so are very clean and eco-friendly in comparison to other actuators.
This also means that electric actuators can be used in more equipment. Where other actuators would disqualify themselves from use to the smell or the sound, electric actuators, since they don’t use fossil fuels, are very highly prized, and used often. These actuators mean that the range of equipment which actuators can be used in increases, which has predictable effects on things like waste and downtime, since these actuators do not need to be repaired so often.
Benefit Three – precision
The precision which electric actuators are known for – particularly fast electric actuators – is another huge benefit to actuators in general, because it has changed the way in which we can approach certain fields. Now, we have more abilities in more fields because actuators have stretched what we can do. Actuators were almost the start of our real journey into the technological abilities we have today, as they were what was needed to enable equipment to move beyond the initial barrier it had reached in terms of ability.
Electric actuators are much more precise than other types of actuator, which means that equipment with electric actuators in it are capable of much more in terms of the precision and delicacy of various task. Robotics is where this is most obvious – the use of electric actuators within that industry has allowed us to vastly widen the ways in which robots can be used. Originally just used for the heavy lifting, now robots are capable of movements which are delicate enough to be used in surgery, and in interacting with human beings.