10 Applications that Benefit the Most from Linear Motion

10 Applications that Benefit the Most from Linear Motion

Nathan Bong
Nathan Bong
PA Engineer

Linear motion can be found in nearly every machine, process, and equipment we use in our daily lives. From something as simple as mechanical pencils, all the way to heavy-duty agriculture equipment, there’s no doubt linear motion plays a crucial role in our society. If you wanted some inspiration for project ideas or were interested in learning about the popular applications which utilize linear motion, this is just the article for you! We will be covering the 10 applications that benefit the most from linear motion.

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What Is a Linear Motion Drive?

The most common drive technologies for linear motion are lead screw, ball screw, and belt drives found in the machines we operate. Linear electric actuators are generally designed with a lead screw or ball screw drive.

Lead screw and ball screw

Lead screw (left), ball screw (middle), belt drive (right)

 

What is Linear Motion in Technology?

The linear motion found in technology is the mechanical movement carried out on a single axis that physically drives a system to the desired position.

 

What Factors Govern Linear Motion?

The major factors that govern linear motion are typically the application dynamics, speed controllers, control boxes, and linear actuator specifications used in a system. Other disturbances such as wind resistance, changing load demands, and aging equipment can also affect the linear motion of a system. For more linear motion tips, please refer to our actuator testing guide!

 

Our Top 10 Applications with Linear Motion

Many different applications utilize linear motion through their machine’s operation. As there are many different types of linear actuators on the market, the applications which benefit from linear motion can be found in a wide range of different industries. Below are the 10 applications that benefit the most from linear motion:

  1. TV Lifts
  2. Standing Desks
  3. Adjustable Beds
  4. Car Customization
  5. Automated Window Openers
  6. Automated Doors
  7. Boatsheds
  8. Solar Trackers
  9. Movie Robots
  10. Agriculture Equipment

1.     TV Lifts

Drop-Down Motorized TV Lift

 

We offer drop-down TV lifts available in different sizes to be installed from the ceiling or against the wall. By integrating electric actuators for linear motion, TV lifts can raise and lower to the desired positions for the benefits such as:

  • Child safety for lower risk of screen damage
  • Less screen exposure to dust and dirt
  • More luxurious TV appearance
  • Increased space efficiency
  • Better theft protection

 

Below is a video of the Drop-Down Motorized TV Lift Installation and demonstration:

 

2.     Standing Desks

Solo Ryzer standing desk

 

By utilizing linear motion technology to adjust desk working height, electric standing desks are becoming very popular for reducing bad posture and promoting a more active work style. Making your very own DIY standing desk using linear actuators or lifting columns allows for more user options to personalize the style, color, shape, and size. Another alternative is the use of standard standing desks which offer the convenience of being pre-built with high availability.

The Executive Stand Up Desk by Joshua Mouch is a great project to refer to if you are looking for ideas to create your very own DIY desk. The standard White Corner Ryzer standing desk frame has also been used by TECH HD as seen in his video below for a gaming desk setup:

 

3.      Adjustable Beds

Adjustable bed

 

Adjustable beds come with many different features and conveniences for us to have the most relaxing experience possible by offering users:

  • Better quality sleep
  • Improved posture
  • Massage features
  • Convenient charging ports
  • Underbed LED lighting

Adjustable bed changing positions

 

By utilizing linear electric actuators, adjustable beds can change their positions to accommodate various user-specific requirements and conditions. This also allows for the versatility of changing configurations for other activities like watching television, working on a laptop, or reading a book. Adjusting the bed’s configuration to reduce snoring and mitigate pain from sore body spots are some of the notable reasons many are experiencing improvements in sleep quality.

Adjustable bed

Adjustable bed with a foot actuator

 

Adjustable bed

Adjustable bed with a head actuator

 

4.      Car Customization

Car Customization

 

So, what does an actuator do in a car? Whether it be for automating lift mechanisms, hoods, trunks, or other car components that were previously manual, linear electric actuators offer endless possibilities! Their high level of capability, durability, and ease of use is what makes linear electric actuators very popular for providing linear motion in the automotive industry. With all the different car customizations available, car owners get to experience benefits such as:

  • More personalized style
  • Greater user convenience
  • Easier usability for elderly and injured
  • Improved safety and comfort

One notable case of stylish car customization can be found in the Automatic Hood by the team at 427Naja using our custom PA-09 linear actuators:

 

Another example by Nathan Bong shows how linear motion technology can improve convenience by opening and closing a car trunk wirelessly with PA-14 linear actuators:

Automatic trunk using linear actuators

Browse all of our electric linear actuators, ranging from micro to industrial!

5.      Automated Window Openers

Automated Window Openers

 

Automated window openers offer the ability to open and close windows into the desired position at any given time for improved convenience, comfort, safety, and security. Linear electric actuators can often be found in buildings providing linear motion as the driving force when changing window positions. With all the different control boxes available, options such as the PA-35 WiFi Control Box enables the use of smartphones to control the actuators that raise and lower windows.

A great example displaying the convenience an automatic window opener can offer is found in the video below by the AutoWindows team:

 

We also have an article to check out the full story on how the AutoWindows team completed their AutoWindows Prototype 1 by integrating our PA-04 linear actuator!

6.    Automated Doors

Automated Doors

 

Automated doors share similarities with automated windows as both help improve convenience, comfort, safety, and security; however, heavier duty linear actuators are generally required for the doors. Having a higher force rating on linear electric actuators ensures there is sufficient drive to move the heavier door while keeping it locked if extra security was needed.

A beautiful Tiny Home by the team at Cubist Engineering is the perfect example of elegance and durability with our PA-17-24-2000 heavy duty actuator operating a Gull Wing Door:

 

To read more about this Luxury Tiny Home and the Automated Door, check out the full article!

7.      Boatsheds

A boat

 

Boatsheds offer the benefit of keeping a boat covered to stay clean and dry for future use. Moving a boat shed by hand usually takes a significant amount of time and manual labor, however, linear electric actuators make the process of covering a boat much easier. With the use of remote-controlled systems, users can control the position of their electric actuators for the linear motion to raise boat sheds when moving their boats. After returning the boats, an operator can remotely control their electric actuators and lower the boat sheds for added cover.

Boatsheds with linear actuators

Boatsheds with linear actuators

 

Our customers from Floe International use the PA-04 custom linear actuators to drive their boat sheds:

 

8.     Solar Trackers

Solar trackers

 

The solar tracker project above by Matthew from Indian Garden Farms was driven by our PA-17-20-850 heavy duty linear actuator. Solar panels help to reduce our environmental footprint by introducing clean and renewable energy solutions. Linear actuators with solar trackers can be integrated to position solar panels for increased power yield by accounting for the changing direction of sun rays throughout the day. By using multiple actuators, solar panels can also be positioned vertically to minimize the risk of panel damage during hailstorms or heavy snowfall.

PA-17 mounted behind solar panels

 

During the solar tracker’s lifespan, Matthew experienced increased power yields thanks to the actuator providing linear drive to move the panels into the optimized position. Matthew’s area has been experiencing much heavier winds over the last 2 to 3 years. Due to this, the wind eventually tore the mounts attached to the actuator and sometimes snaps the array’s framing. Upon further inspection, Matthew found that the PA-17 unit was still in good condition and operational, even after experiencing lots of heavy winds in various weather conditions. Matthew has been very impressed with the PA-17 model as they performed above expectations and would still be in service if the solar tracker had stronger framing. This PA-17 unit is now in storage; however, Matthew may take on this project again with more durable framing in the future.

Our team has also made a how-to video as a guide for a smaller and more portable solar tracker project utilizing linear servo controls:

 

9.     Movie Robots

A team Movie Robots

 

Linear servos are commonly used for operating the movie robots found in conventions, amusement parks, carnivals, or during the making of new movies. Having impressive eye-catching robots in movies can often help bring joy to fans while also promoting creative thinking to the audience. Perhaps one of the most popular examples is the Disney character named Wall-E. To replicate the appearance of a real Wall-E robot, Mike Senna and Michael McMaster used PA-14 actuators for the linear motion to move Wall-E’s head and arm.

The Wall-E arm and head movements can also be found in the demonstration video below:

 

Both McMaster and Senna are working on multiple other projects, most of them being new robot designs. However, they do hope to add more functionality to their real-life Wall-E as time allows. For more upcoming projects, feel free to follow Mike Senna and Michael McMaster on Youtube!

Have an interesting project in mind? Apply for project sponsorship to get a discount on your order!

10.      Agriculture Equipment

John Deere Combines

 

Agriculture equipment is often used on farms to help increase production efficiency, promote better operational convenience, and remove humans from hazardous environments. Our PA-17 heavy duty linear electric actuators are popular for various agriculture equipment due to their high force capability, water-resistant Ingress Protection ratings, and durable construction.

In a harvester combine auger by one of our customers, linear motion from the PA-17 eliminates the need to constantly climb up and down the combine just to turn the auger. This also eliminates all the hazards associated with manual folding of the auger when jumping into a grain-filled tank.

The Power Fold Auger by PWR EZ SYSTEMS was created specifically for John Deere Combines as seen below:

 

In Summary

Linear motion plays a vital role in our society through the everyday machines, processes, and equipment that operates using linear motion technologies. As we continue making future technological advancements, we can expect to see more applications with linear motion technology providing better efficiency, versatility, and capabilities.

We hope you found this as informative and interesting as we did, especially if you were interested in learning about the popular applications which are reaping the benefits of linear motion. If you have any queries or wish to discuss our products further, please do not hesitate in reaching out to us! We are experts in what we do and will be happy to assist in any way we can.

sales@progressiveautomations.com | 1-800-676-6123

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