Kelston Actuation designs and manufactures linear actuators for any industrial application.
Talk to us about your positioning problem and our UK-based design engineers will consult with you on what is possible - discussing variables such as lead screw types, translation lengths, speeds and repeatibility.
We have manufactured hundreds of specialist components for businesses all over the world - each made to deliver particular performance dynamics for unique tasks.
Learn more about how linear actuators work >
Tell us what your component needs to deliver. How far and fast does it need to travel? How much weight does it need to lift - and how often? We can adapt existing lead screw and translating functions for whatever the task demands.
We can accommodate any style of mounting, whether it's trunnion, single clevis, double clevis, foot mounted, as well as incoporating a choice of internal gearbox designs – spur, helical, worm gear box, epicyclic etc.
We will consult with you on whether you need a keyed or non-keyed design, if you have requirements for clean environments, your system layouts (inline, 90-degree, parallel etc), required gearbox ratios, motor parameters - even the colour you need it in!
The design options are limitless. Just contact our team today for more information.
Call: +44 (0) 117 947 3100
Linear actuators are components used to move objects into different positions within a mechanical system. Their name comes from the linear direction of movement they provide.
Linear Actuators work by translating rotary motion (provided by an attached motor) into linear motion. When the motor runs, it works an attached worm screw through an internal gearbox system. This gearbox then acts on an attached lead screw, causing it to rotate too.
Threaded onto the lead screw is a lead or ball nut – the component that ultimately drives the actuation. Because the lead screw is fashioned as a helical thread, as it rotates it translates the nut vertically up and down (locking mechanisms work on the nut to stop it rotating with the screw itself).
So, the motor turns the worm screw, which operates the gearbox, which rotates the lead screw, which causes the nut to move up and down the lead screw thread. To create a useful application of this movement, the lead nut is fixed to a sliding tube or ram – which as a result of the nut’s translation – moves up and down too. And thus, linear actuation is achieved.
Linear actuators can be used for a variety of different purposes from home appliances to industrial level applications. On a small scale, you might find a linear actuator in a home printer, microwave or a garage door closing system. At industrial level, linear actuators are used for the heavy-lifting of goods, the running of automated production lines, tracking conveyor belts, cutting of materials, operating valves and much, much more.
Whilst there is an almost endless number of applications for linear actuators, Kelston Actuation frequently manufactures custom designs for the automotive, pharmaceutical, aviation, manufacturing, packaging and food and beverage industries.
Whilst the fundamental action of a linear actuator doesn’t change (delivering a linear directional movement) there are various dynamic differences in how they can do that – including the travel speed and length, the repeatability and positional accuracy of the action.
The functional nature of an actuator is heavily dependent on the design of the lead screw. There are various styles available such as machine (trapezoidal), ball or roller screws. Each style has its own characteristic qualities and would be more appropriate for different scenarios. For example, a ball screw is more applicable for an action with high repeatability and accuracy. Trapezoidal screws are extremely durable and are reliable at preventing back drive.
Linear Actuators can feature trunnion, single clevis, double clevis, foot or gimble mountings on the ram or sliding tube to match the attached component.
Other options include the internal gearbox, motor attachment and configuration layout (inline, 90-degree, parallel etc). Additionally, a linear actuator may need to operate in a clean environment, in which case there will be variations on the materials of construction (stainless steel etc) and how they are designed as sealed systems.
Typically, linear actuators are used as alternatives to hydraulic or pneumatically powered systems. There are several key advantages they offer:
1. Cost effective
Linear actuators tend to be cheaper to manufacture and maintain compared to other systems. The electrical current needed to power the motor is easy and cost effective to supply – and can be achieved with less space and system reorganisation.
Linear actuators require only oil or grease filled lubrication to operate. This makes them a lot less hazardous than hydraulically powered systems that require treatment with harmful fluids to run efficiently. The precise acceleration and positional control of linear actuators also means there is less threat of operational failure. Personnel in charge of the system can control the power source directly and adjust positioning more acutely.
Ball and roller screw types can be used effectively to position loads with smoother translation and greater precision. This can be advantageous if you handle fragile goods or components or need to be very accurate with your payload movements.
Due to their dynamic design, linear actuators are reconfigurable and reusable. You can alter operational speeds, repeatability rates or lengths of travel to perform a different action altogether.
Another key advantage of linear actuator design is the ease at which they can be incorporated into synchronised systems. You can link several actuators together to provide a singular working unit running off one motor – or just as easily – have them run individually with their own motors for unique functions.
AB Dynamics supplies advanced production testing and R&D systems to the global motor industry. The company asked Kelston Actuation to design and manufacture specific linear actuator components for their trademark Suspension Parameter Measurement Machine (SPMM).
The SPMM measures the kinematic characteristics of a vehicle’s suspension and steering system. It is powered by a set of six actuators that perform linear movement on five different axes. Each actuator is driven independently by its own servo motor drive.
The actuators are fitted with positional control switches, which along with the servo motor, integrate with the SPMM control panel.
Each bespoke actuator consists of a spiral bevel gearbox rotating a worm and wheel gear set – which drives a high precision ball screw.
All products designed and manufactured in the UK.
We have been manufacturing components in the UK for over 40 years. All products are developed and dispatched from our site in Bristol - supported by a team of experienced design engineers, production technicians and the latest manufacturing technology.
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