Tips For Extending The Life Of Your Linear Actuator
Posted by on 6/20/2017
It's easy to get a long service life out of your micro linear actuators. Actuonix devices are built to last and each unit is tested before it leaves our facility. That said, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to get the most possible life from your linear actuators. As with any other electronic devices, they're designed to be used in a specific way. If they are installed or operated in a way other than intended by the manufacturer, it's possible to cause your actuator to fail early. Follow the advice below to maximize your investment and get the most out of your actuator purchase.
1. Keep within the rated duty cycle
Duty cycle is basically how much of the time an actuator is operational stated as a percentage. A duty cycle of 20% means that an actuator is rated to be in operation 20% of the time. For more information on duty cycles check out this article. The duty cycle of an actuator as indicated on the data sheet is designed to give you the best balance of usability and lifespan. If your actuator has a 20% duty cycle and you run it at 30%, it will probably do that just fine for a while, but over time it will shorten the life of the device.
2. Minimize side load
Standard linear actuators are designed to push and pull a load. They are not designed to be side loaded. Side loading an actuator can significantly reduce it's life by increasing the internal friction which wears out the components much faster. If your application puts the actuator in a position where a side load will be present, consider using a linear slide rail in conjunction with your actuator. Another solution would be to use a track actuator. Track actuators are designed to take some side load and are idea of these types of situations.
3. Stay within the recommended voltage
Actuators have a rated voltage for a reason. If you apply more voltage than is recommended for a unit it may run faster for a while. Ultimately however, this will shorten the life of the motor and cause premature failure of the device. It is better to purchase an actuator that is rated for the voltage that you intend to use or alternately, find a way to reduce the voltage in your application.
4. Watch your force
All things being equal, the lower the force that your application requires, the longer your actuator will last. An actuator rated for a 20lbs max is capable of pushing/pulling 20lbs of force. It is recommended that you operate your actuator as far below the max rated force as possible for maximum lifespan. If you require a high force consider moving up to a higher gearing ratio. This will reduce the speed of the device but increase it's lifespan.
5. Avoid extreme operating conditions
It's best of avoid using actuators in environments with extreme heat, cold, dirt or dust and moisture if possible. There are situations where a customer's needs can be accommodated. For example, in the past we have actuators with custom gear lube for low temperatures. For more information, check out our custom linear actuator page. For some applications, an actuator can be modified to work in extreme conditions or placed in an enclosure for protection. Before placing an actuator in an extreme environment make sure to check with the unit's manufacturer and ensure that it can handle what you're asking of it. If you follow the above recommendations and treat your micro linear actuators with care, you should get a great service life out of them.