Linear Actuator vs. Rotary Actuator

Motion control and automation would not be possible without actuators. Actuators convert information in a signal into a physical motion. Actuators are responsible for the actual movement of machinery. There are two main types of  actuator: linear actuators and rotary actuators.

Linear actuators are one of the most common types of actuator, and are found in everything from computers to DVD players to video game consoles. Linear actuators are also often used in motion control for industrial machinery.

They are fairly simple, and as the name implies, produce linear motion. This means that linear actuators can move forward or backwards on a set linear path. The movements of linear actuators are defined in linear units such as inches or millimeters.

Since linear actuators only move in two directions on a set path, linear actuators are defined as finite. They have a set distance that they can travel in either direction before they must stop.

Rotary actuators are a little different.

Rotary actuators produce rotary motion, meaning that the actuator revolves on a circular path. Movement from this type of actuator is defined in rotary units, typically degrees.

A rotary actuator can be set to be finite, but unlike linear actuators, rotary actuators can also be infinite. A rotary table doesn’t have a fixed distance it can travel. It’s not limited by a linear patch, and it can keep spinning in the same direction for as long as necessary. While rotary actuators are capable of infinite rotation, they are often set to a fixed angular position when used with servomotors.

Both linear and rotary actuators can be electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic. Electric actuators are the most common type. Indramat servo motors use electric actuators for motion control.

However, if you’re having problems with your Indramat system, knowing the difference between a linear and rotary motor isn’t necessarily going to help you out. The only thing you really need to know is our phone number. Give us a call at (479)-422-0390 for you Indramat repair needs.