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

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. What is a track linear actuator used for? 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.

Take a look at our track linear actuators!

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 two track styled actuators we offer at Progressive Automations. Our BRK-19 and BRK-01 brackets are compatible with the PA-18 while the BRK-08 and BRK-14 are compatible with the PA-08. Both actuators have the versatility to be custom ordered for different force ratings in case the stocked units do not meet the required specifications. The linear actuator uses include applications that require specific amounts of force or have a certain speed requirement.

Feedback Options

Another customizable feature is the 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.

Both feedback options have their pros and cons and will depend on your intended linear actuator applications. For example, a potentiometer provides direct angular position information of the DC motor shaft. If the system losses power, the potentiometer can retain its positional information. However, potentiometers require contact to make the measurements and provide feedback, which means they are less durable and have a limited useful life compared to other forms of feedback.

Hall effect sensors are more reliable, precise, and have a long useful life. This extended life is due to the fact that hall effect sensors do not need to make any contact and are useful in harsh environments. Also, they are highly resistant to wear and tear, and reliable in high shock environments. Hall effect sensors provide electrical pulses when a magnet is aligned with the sensing electronics. On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of hall effect sensors is that they can only provide relative position information. This means that every time the system loses power, the hall effect sensors would have to be moved to a known location and reset. 

 

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 electric linear actuator home applications that benefit from the track styled design. Many TV lifts, such as the TY-05-30 (see below), operate with the use of a track styled actuator for vertical motion. As you will see below, track actuators can be used for more than just a television lift.

 

Drop Down Video Camera

The PA-18 Track Linear Actuator can be used as a drop-down TV lift, but, instead, a video camera can be mounted to it for television stations to broadcast as seen in the video below by one of our customers. This application provided smooth transitions for cameramen and enhancing the video output.

 

 

Home Automation

For home-specific linear actuator 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 repositioning whiteboards and sliding bookshelves for more effective use of room space.

Motorcycle Lift

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. A track style actuator is capable of lifting this weight smoothly and without stalling. However, since the maximum load of the PA-18 is 900 lbs, multiple actuators can be used simultaneously to distribute the weight and prevent the motors from stalling.

Photo of a man sitting on a motorcycle

 Motorcycle lift

We carry a huge range of actuators if a track actuator isn't right for you!

Conclusion

To summarize, an open track design limits linear actuator uses to applications that will not have much exposure to water, dust, or debris. Additionally, multiple track actuators will need to be used if the required lifting force is greater than the maximum specifications of a Progressive Automations track actuator.

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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