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How to decide between a pneumatic and an electric actuator



May 22, 2016 22:31

I think to add to this is that the precision , speed and response of control needs to be considered

With Electric actuators (Direct Screw or Belt), the significant latency in the control loop would be from the control system itself, not the electromechanical parts so when the correct position is detected it can stop very accurately and quickly once the control signal indicates it is a set point,

With Pneumatic there is stored energy in pipes and infrastructure due to driving pressure after the control valve that could cause errors in positioning or additional oscillation of position due to overshoot (If in a linear system) , this could also be seen as slow down of positioning if the overshoot is compensated for in a PID controller for instance.

Pneumatic would be used for solenoids like grippers and clamps in industry etc where it is either activated or not and not part of a linear position system (Typically). It is cheap and relatively clean and most of all, pretty safe and inert with the right gases.

Hydraulic provides the best of POWER and control due to the fact that the liquids are not compressible and can exert masses of power to the device being moved often found with lifting devices, Diggers, Steering and rotational systems etc where power and precision may be needed but not too much speed. This comes at the cost of expensive infrastructure, additional safety requirements and messy maintenance (Thousands of PSI in Hydraulic OIL pressure are not uncommon in large equipment)

Electric provides the finer control and precision including much power if needed as found with CNC Machines, Robotic assembly machines etc. Electric also provides an almost instant response to controls (Within the limitations of the inertia of the item being moved). It is clean and relatively cheap and safe.

Just something else to consider :)

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