Many types of machinery must position parts and linearly move loads. As a result, machine designers must frequently decide whether to use an electric linear or a pneumatic actuator to meet this requirement.
Choosing the suitable actuator for the job is critical in today’s complex global climate because making the wrong choice can frequently result in a yearly loss of millions of dollars. However, the decision is sometimes unclear or easy to make. Both electric linear and pneumatic actuators have a history in industrial applications and offer precise positioning and control. However, both advancements have their advantages and disadvantages.
To make the best decision on whether to use an electric or a pneumatic actuator, you must thoroughly assess the presentation, part cost, framework cost, and efficiency requirements of your specific linear movement control application and comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of each type of actuator.
Electric Actuator: Advantages and Disadvantages
To evaluate the use of electric linear actuators, which are known to provide higher levels of accuracy, you should first survey the precision expected by your linear movement control framework. A ball screw, an Acme lead screw, and a roller screw are the typical components of electric actuators driven by electric motors like stepper engines or servomotors. As the screw turns, it moves a cylinder connected to the bar or carriage, which carries the heap. The following are pneumatic actuators’ benefits and drawbacks:
- A wide range of control options for the specific movement profile
- Greater adaptability for machines with adaptable cycles and low operational costs
- The more significant economy in medium-sized organizations that influence their exhibition benefits
- Lower substitution costs, particularly in applications with separate gadgets from actuators.
- More flexible drive options include using a more efficient stepper engine for precise positioning at lower speeds or a more expensive servomotor for dominant execution at high rates.
- Greater precision by utilizing high-accuracy screws and anti-backfire components can provide accuracy to ten-thousandths of an inch.
- Unsurprisingly, operating energy costs are generally related to engine power draw.
- Expensive component costs
- Low operational costs
Pneumatic Actuator: Advantages and Disadvantages
Pneumatic actuators offer enhanced power and speed in a compact design for linear movement control applications where high accuracy is not necessary. Pneumatic actuators use a pneumatic cylinder with a standard power range of 20 to 4,000 pounds powered by compressed air. Water-powered propelled activation is another innovation that can give more power and speed per unit. The following are pneumatic actuators’ benefits and drawbacks:
- High power and speed with a well-defined stroke and quick reaction time.
- More excellent economy when the number of cylinders is scaled to match the blower limit.
- Exorbitant when the blower limit is not fully utilized, with additional costs incurred when a blower sits idle.
- Low component costs.
- Expensive operational costs.
- Expensive maintenance.
- Wastes a significant amount of power when the blower is idle or when the pneumatic framework is not adequately maintained, resulting in air spills.
It’s important to go past the initial part costs for each framework when contrasting the prices of electric linear and pneumatic actuators. Pneumatic actuator frameworks have far greater maintenance and running costs than electric actuator frameworks. For instance, manual changeovers of pneumatic actuators are expensive due to a lack of innovation and the skill necessary to make the alterations. Electric linear actuators can significantly reduce changeover costs because they are more useful for a specific plan and easier to maintain. These savings should be factored into your execution decision.
The decision between pneumatic and electric actuators comes down to simplicity, precision, efficiency, and maintenance requirements.
Pneumatic actuators offer advantages in compactness, ease of installation, and ability to fulfill basic positioning needs over short distances quickly. On the other hand, electric actuators provide superior precision and repeatability, making them well-suited for applications requiring long strokes and positioning at multiple points with advanced motion profiles.
While pneumatic actuators typically have lower initial costs, it’s crucial to consider the overall ownership cost, which includes the initial purchase price, operating expenses, and maintenance costs. It’s important to note that pneumatic actuators rely on air compressors, which consume electricity. Electric actuators can potentially have lower long-term operating and maintenance expenses.
Switching from pneumatic to electric actuators is a sensible choice for applications that demand higher accuracy and repeatability in position, speed, acceleration, and force. Electric actuators also excel in data collection and multi-axis synchronization.
The demand for linear actuators that offer great power efficiency and low weight is driven by the emphasis on efficiency and cost reduction.