Photo of track linear actuators and text in the centre "Track Linear Actuators features and applications"

Track Linear Actuators and Their Further Applications

Nathan Bong
Nathan Bong
PA Engineer

A track linear actuator’s operation is similar to a standard actuator except that its range of motion is enclosed in a track instead of projecting out into the open air. Having this design style makes the actuator more sensitive to dust and water. However, its main advantage is it can handle more force than an equivalent traditional device in ratio to its physical size. This is because a track system has a pre-defined path for the force which increases the amount of structural support when fully loaded. In comparison to traditional electric actuators, a track linear actuator would also be more efficient and affordable for indoor applications that already required a fixed vertical or horizontal motion.

Customizable Features and Accessories

Photo of track linear actuators PA-18 and PA-08 models by Progressive Automations

PA-18 with BRK-19 (left)                                             PA-08 with BRK-08 (right)

The PA-18 and PA-08 models are currently the 2 track styled actuators we offer. Our BRK-19 and BRK-01 brackets would be compatible with PA-18 while the BRK-08 and BRK-14 would be for the PA-08. Both of these actuators have the versatility to be custom ordered for different force ratings in case the stocked units do not meet the required specifications. This is useful for applications that require specific amounts of force or have a certain speed requirement. Another customizable feature would be positional feedback where the PA-18 has options for hall effect sensors while the PA-08 has options for potentiometer feedback. Using feedback allows the actuators to transmit signals to a controller and allows for synchronization or positions to be stored in memory. A customized PA-08 with potentiometer feedback would be compatible with a PA-39 control box. Hall effect sensors with the PA-18 will allow for compatibility with the PA-40 and can be compatible with FLTCON control boxes if custom ordered for 24 VDC motors.

Applications for Track Linear Actuators

Photo of TV lifts TY-05-30 models by Progressive Automations

  

                TY-05-30 back view (left)                                                                                                            TY-05-30 front view (right)

Although our track actuators are sensitive to dust, debris, and water due to an Ingress Protection rating of IP20, there are still many indoor applications that benefit from the track styled design. Many TV lifts such as the TY-05-30 operate with the use of a track styled actuator for vertical motion. This kind of drop-down TV lift can also be used for mounting video cameras for television stations to broadcast as seen in the video below by one of our customers.

Drop Down Video Camera Using PA-18 Track Linear Actuator:

For home-specific applications, the tracks also double in benefit as a guided path for achieving horizontal motion in automated sliding doors, custom cabinetry and dressers. It would also be possible to program an Arduino to have a track linear actuator open automated curtains in the day and then close the curtains at night based on the operator’s required timing. Classrooms and libraries would benefit from track linear actuators as they are suitable for reposition whiteboards and sliding bookshelves for more effective use of room space. Motorcycle repair shops can also use track styled actuators for motorcycle lifts to allow for a technician to work from below. One of our customers had utilized custom PA-18 actuators with hall effect sensors to allow for synchronous motion and better weight distribution since Touring bikes can weigh 900 lbs each.

Photo of a man sitting on a motorcycle

 Motorcycle lift

Conclusion

To summarize, an open track design limits track actuators to be used for applications that have not much exposure to water, dust or debris. When used correctly, track linear actuators are great options for indoor applications that benefit from a pre-defined travel path or required structural durability to handle loads. They also provide options for positional feedback and are generally more affordable than traditional actuators of the same size. If you require further assistance or have more questions on track linear actuators, you may call us at 1-800-676-6123 or email us at sales@progressiveautomations.com.

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