Electric linear actuators are steadily gaining ground in MOH machine design applications. Where they could once efficiently replace single hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders in simple, end-to-end motion applications using up to 100 watts of power, today, they can perform complex motion profiles drawing power up to 400 watts. Part of this new functionality stems from embedding microprocessors into the design, thus creating “smart actuators.”
Designing with smart actuators
Smart actuator applications could be as simple as low-level power switching or as sophisticated as implementing a control deck across a CAN bus network. Having a microprocessor in the actuator enables access to functionality and data that might otherwise have required incorporating external components. Before a smart actuator starts to move, it checks the environment to be sure it is safe for the user and the application. Once it starts, it measures its position along the stroke. Collecting this data without adding external sensors and other equipment also reduces the number of components you need and simplifies installation.