A linear actuator is any mechanical device that converts energy (power from air, electricity, or liquid) to create motion in a straight line, such as blocking, clamping, ejecting, lifting, descending, pushing, or pulling.
It’s typically used in industrial automation and machinery, in applications along with motors, valves, pumps, switches, dampers, and in many other places where linear motion is required.
A linear actuator moves a load, which can be an assembly, components, or a finished product, in a straight line, and is powered by pressurized fluid or air, as well as electricity.
How Do Linear Actuators Work?
Hydraulic and pneumatic actuators differ in how they work.
Hydraulic actuators — also known as hydraulic cylinders — have a hollow cylinder with a piston inserted. An unbalanced pressure applied to the piston generates force that can move an external object.
Since liquids are nearly incompressible, a hydraulic cylinder can provide controlled, precise linear displacement of the piston, but only along the axis of the piston. A good example is a hydraulic car jack.