How Long Do Linear Actuators Last?

Our sales team is often asked how long our actuators last. Today we’re going to address that question. When selecting components to integrate into a product design, one of the most important things to ascertain is how long the components will last. We’re going to discuss how you can determine how long your actuator will last in your application, as well as show you a few things you can do to get the longest possible lifespan from your linear actuator investment.

How Long Do Linear Actuators Last?

The real answer to this question is, it depends. While we know that’s not the information that most clients are looking for, hear us out. We have lifespan numbers for all of our actuator models based on our in-house testing. While we are happy to share these numbers by specific request, there are a few reasons that we do not advertise them publicly.

First, we do our testing in a clean room environment at around 18 degrees Celsius. We also test the devices under a consistent load throughout the entire lifespan of the device. There are many variables that will affect the lifespan of an electric linear actuator. Unless you’re testing a device under the exact same conditions as we do, your actuators may have a considerably longer or shorter lifespan than our testing numbers suggest. For this reason, we always recommend that you do your own application-specific testing to ensure that the actuator model you are considering is appropriate for your application. We offer development discounts to help offset the cost of actuators for testing purposes.

Application Specific Testing

There are dozens of variables that a device may be exposed to over the course of its life that can affect longevity. Testing your actuators under the same conditions that they will be exposed to during their lifespan is the only way to know how long you can expect your actuators to last. If you need help selecting an actuator to test with, we recommend trying our actuator selection tool. Below, we’re going to cover some things that have the greatest impact on actuator life and what you can do about them.

Proper Installation

  • Correct Alignment: Ensure that your actuator is exactly aligned with the linear load it will be connected to. Side-loading an actuator will have an effect on longevity.
  • Securing Actuators: The actuator must be properly secured. Ideally, there will be no play in the mechanism at all and the actuator body will not move when the load is reversed. Slack or jarring movements over time will wear parts prematurely.
  • Cable Management: Keeping cables away from moving components will reduce the risk that they get caught in your mechanism and damaged.

Ideal Operating Conditions

  • Temperature Control: Operating your actuator within the rated operating temperature will maximize lifespan. If you are planning to operate at extreme low temperatures, ask us about our low temperature lubricant options.
  • Environmental Factors: Best practice is to protect actuators from harsh environmental conditions like dust, moisture, and corrosive substances. If your application calls for mounting outdoors, a protective housing or cover is recommended to prevent direct exposure to water and contaminants.
  • Duty Cycle Management: Understand and adhere to the recommended duty cycle to prevent overuse. If your application does not allow for keeping within the rated duty cycle, we recommend moving to a stepper actuator. All Actuonix stepper motor actuators are rated for a maximum duty cycle of 100%.

Proper Usage Techniques

  • Avoid Overloading: Ensuring the actuator is not subjected to loads beyond its rated capacity. Overloading generates extra heat which can dramatically reduce actuator life. If you’re planning to operate your device at the upper limit of its rated load capacity, consider moving to a higher capacity device.
  • Observe Rated Voltage: Ensure that the input voltage is within the range specified on the datasheet.

Common Questions About Actuator Lifespan

How do environmental conditions affect actuator lifespan?

Environmental conditions such as temperature, dust, moisture, and corrosive substances can significantly impact the lifespan of an actuator. It is best to protect actuators from harsh conditions or use protective housing for outdoor applications.

Can I use a linear actuator in extreme temperatures?

Yes, you can. That said, using your actuator outside of the rated temperature range as shown on the datasheet will reduce the life of your actuator and void your warranty.

What is the recommended duty cycle for actuators?

The recommended duty cycle varies by actuator model. Our DC motor models start at a rated duty cycle of 20%, and our stepper motor models have a rated duty cycle of 100%.

How do I select an actuator to test in my application?

Whether you're prototyping a new product or upgrading a linear motion system in an existing product, we want to work with you. Our linear actuator selection tool is the best place to start. Select criteria from the left and the tool will show you only actuators from our catalog that match your criteria.

Explore Actuonix Linear Actuators Today

We hope this article has helped you better understand the factors that affect actuator lifespan and how to improve it. To find out more about our actuators and explore our full range of products, visit our actuators by model page. As a leading manufacturer and innovator in the micro motion marketplace, Actuonix services companies big and small in a number of industries including aerospace, medical, robotics, and more. Get in touch with us today to submit an order or to submit an inquiry.