- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 26 Oct 2020
An actuator is a component of a machine that is responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism or system, by converting energy into motion. It is the mechanism by which a control system acts upon an environment. It can be a simple system, such as fixed or electronic, or software-based, such as robot control.
Motion is usually created by air, electricity or liquid. The types of motion created by actuators are linear, rotary or oscillatory.
The most common types of actuator are as follows:
Pneumatic actuators convert energy formed by a vacuum or compressed air at high pressure into either linear or rotary motion. The advantage of this type of actuator is that has a quick response time as the power source doesn’t need to be stored in reserve. Large forces can be produced from relatively small pressure changes.
Hydraulic actuators consist of a cylinder or fluid motor that uses hydraulic power to drive mechanical operation. The motion output can be linear, rotary or oscillatory. The cylinder consists of a hollow tube along which a piston can slide. Despite having limited acceleration, a hydraulic actuator can exert considerable force as liquids are virtually impossible to compress.
An electric actuator is powered by electrical energy converted by a motor. Electrical energy is used to actuate equipment such as multi-turn valves. Its advantage is that it is one of the cleanest forms of actuator as no oil is required.
 Thermal or magnetic
A mechanical actuator functions by converting rotary motion into linear motion to execute movement. It involves gears, rails, pulleys, chains and other devices to operate. An example is a rack and pinion mechanism.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Institute applauds funding initiatives but presses for additional retrofit and tax measures.
The switch from analogue to digital has begun.
The fourth industrial revolution is well underway.
Free online resource will offer guidance on conserving places and the planet during COP26.
Government allocates additional money for building new homes on derelict land.
Smart built environments can be designed around the requirements of real people.
Consistency is at the core of realistic strategies.
Entries being accepted until 20 November 2021.
Fuller’s legacy in the field of resource management.