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The Four Types of Actuators

An aircraft actuator is a type of motor that moves mechanisms and systems using hydraulic fluids and currents. They produce linear, rotary, or oscillatory motions. Actuators have applications in many fields and can be used in many kinds of machinery. Many of our common household items, such as printers and disk drives, have actuators. They can even be found in cars! But, because they have so many uses, and each is subject to its own specific conditions, there are considerations to be had when deciding on which actuator to use. The four main types are:


  • Hydraulic actuators require a cylinder which applies hydraulic power to start the mechanical routine. It takes more time to gain speed and slow down because liquids are incompressible. The hydraulic actuator can also be operated manually, like a hydraulic car jack .

  • Pneumatic actuators are very similar; however, they use compressed gas instead of liquid. The compressed gas is moved into a linear or circular motion, depending on the type. The pneumatic actuator is used more in main engine controls because it exhibits a quicker start and stop from the source. It is also used in projects where cleanliness is a priority, because unlike the hydraulic actuator the gas will no spew liquids or spill. However, this type of actuator is generally larger and louder.

  • Electric actuators convert electricity into torque. This actuator is used to create motion for machines that require multiple valves, such as gate or globe valves. Electric actuators are often installed into engines, where the actuators open and close the valves. This is also another relatively clean option because it does not require any fluids.

  • Mechanical actuators convert the circular motion into linear motion. This type of actuator is commonly used in larger sized machines. Devices like rails and pulleys are used in order to convert the motion.

ASAP Distribution, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, should always be your first and only stop for all your hard-to-find actuator. ASAP Distribution is the premier supplier of hydraulic actuators, pneumatic actuators, electric actuators, mechanical actuators, and more! Whether new or obsolete, we can help you find all the parts you need. ASAP Distribution has a wide selection of parts to choose from and our dedicated staff are available and ready to help 24/7x365. If you’re interested in a quote, email us at sales@asap-distribution.com or call us at +1-702-919-1616.


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