Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Principles of Rotary Actuators

rotary actuator
Variation of the rotary actuator.
(Kinetrol pneumatic vane actuator.)
A rotary actuator is an output device for a fluid power system that delivers an oscillating motion over a limited range in less than one full revolution of the circle.

A true rotary actuator produces work by direct action of fluid pressure against internal vanes. Work is defined as a force applied over a distance. Rotary actuators produce a special type of rotational work called torque.

Torque occurs when a force acts on a radius. Since rotary actuators operate at low speed with high torque, torque output rather than the horsepower is used for the rating and identification purposes. Speed is a secondary consideration when choosing a rotary actuator for a particular application.

The typical units of measurement for torque are foot pounds (lb·ft). For example, if a rotary actuator with an arm length or radius of two feet were used to lift the two hundred-pound weight, then the resultant torque required to accomplish the work would be 400 lb·ft.

Understanding the relationship between the output torque required and the physical set up a fluid system enables designers to determine the appropriate rotary actuator for each unique application.

The following video does an excellent job of illustrating the mechanics and the physics behind rotary actuators.