5 Linear Actuators to Get Your Robot Moving
5 Linear Actuators to Get Your Robot Moving

5 Linear Actuators to Get Your Robot Moving

An actuator is a mechanism that is responsible for producing motion in other devices. Consequently, it needs a source of energy. Actuators can be pneumatic, electric, hydraulic, etc. They turn the given energy into mechanical motion. There are also different kinds of motion, for example rotating, oscillatory and linear. The motion we analyze is called linear for producing movement along a straight line. It is used in various fields, from medical equipment to IT technologies.

Let’s first understand the different types of actuators in robotics


It is equipped with an electrical motor, which generates power. Due to the produced power, the linear actuator for robotics can convert rotary motion into linear motion. The electric actuator is environmentally friendly because it does not require any fluids to work. These devices are mainly used in automatization mechanisms, such as DPS or cruise control. However, the price of this device can be higher than the average in the market.


Hydraulic actuators operate on oil, thus making them harmful to the environment. They are equipped with a cylinder system that allows producing different kinds of motion, for example linear, rotary, oscillatory, etc. The key point in the working process is played by a piston. It provides the pressure needed for quick oil movement. The valve helps to give the right direction to the flow.

The mechanism itself is very simple and old as well. So nowadays it is mainly used in technologies where great power is required.


Pneumatic actuators have a lot in common with the hydraulic ones. They are equipped with the same details, have the same working mechanism and long history. The difference is that a pneumatic actuator doesn’t have a motor, so there is no risk of combustion. Instead, it is powered by an electrical compressor. It also doesn’t require oil or other harmful fluids. Pneumatic actuators work on compressed air.

This device can produce a lot of energy, so it is especially useful when starting or turning off an engine.

5 Linear Actuators to Use for a Robotic Arm

Scotch Yoke

This actuator helps to turn rotational motion into linear. This is how it works:


A solenoid consists of a steel plunger and an electric coil. When the electrical energy is released, the plunger can be either pushed or pulled. This mechanism is mainly used in security devices, like doors and car locks, bells, etc.

Pneumatic cylinders

This kind of robotics linear actuator is environmentally friendly because it works on renewable resources. Pneumatic cylinders are very strong and effective, so they can launch a very powerful motion. The size of every cylinder can vary, so you can choose the one that perfectly suits your robot. The motion is created by compressed air. It is cheap and not harmful to the environment.

Threaded rods

For creating a powerful linear actuator, you will need a battery-operated drill, a threaded rod, and matching nuts. To make a less complicated mechanism you should use cylindrical glue, modified servo, and a slide potentiometer. A stepper motor is an important detail that improves the actuator’s precision.

Pneumatic muscles

The name of this actuator is completely justified because the mechanism of its work resembles the way human muscles operate. The device consists of a skinny balloon and a braided tube. The balloons cannot expand more than when they are inflated. They only expand radially, creating a mechanism similar to human muscle.

Overall, the type of actuator may depend on the application.t. You also should consider the price, the functionality and the effect on the environment when choosing actuator technologies for robotics.

Anna Sapiga

AZ Engineer