Positioning Systems & Actuators

Positioning systems & actuators produce the desired motion in a motion control system. Actuators create physical movement by converting energy to rotary or linear mechanical motion. A linear actuator is a device that converts energy into linear motion.

Positioning systems are easy to use and designed for turnkey operation. Most positioning systems use a rigid base, ball/acme screw, and servo/stepper motor and drive.

Types of Linear Actuators

There are a number of different types of linear actuators.

  • Screw Actuators: screw actuators can be either lead screw actuators (those with a threaded nut that moves with a screw), ball screw actuators (a lead screw actuator that uses ball bearings), or planetary roller screw actuators (a lead screw actuator with threaded rollers around the main threaded shaft)
  • Belt Actuators: actuators based on belt drives. These are typically used in applications where speed is important.
  • Rod & Rodless Actuators:
    • Rod: As motion occurs, the rod moves out of the end of the actuator. These produce more force and are tolerant of dirty environments. They require a bearing structure to carry the load.
    • Rodless: The housing of the actuator completely surrounds the screw, providing a load bearing and guidance structure. These are difficult to seal for dirty or wet environments.
  • Integrated Actuators: Integrate a rod actuator into a motor housing. This eliminates the need for a coupling. These actuators provide the lowest size and weight, with easier maintenance, but at a higher cost.

Types of Positioning Systems

  • Screw Driven Positioning Stages: used in instances where accuracy and repeatability take precedence over axial thrust forces. All sub-assembly components are precision machined to contribute to the overall accuracy and repeatability of the stage. The drive mechanisms of the position tables are either acme or ball screw with linear bearings used to carry the user load.
  • Belt Driven Positioning Stages: used in high speed positioning applications where using a screw driven positioning stage is impractical. Belt driven positioning stages have a unique ability to provide the same speed capability independent of travel length.
  • High Accuracy Positioning Tables/Nano Precision Stages: used in applications where high accuracy and repeatability and/or smoothness are critical features. Much like screw driven positioning stages, all sub-assembly components are machined to tight tolerances for accuracy and repeatability.

For more information, browse our selection of positioning systems & actuators below!