Anyone with Pneumatic Cylinder or Linear Actuator Experience?

Need some advice on sourcing parts for a project I’m considering tackling.

Basically, I want to have a proximity sensor (IR module) activated device, which needs to have a 6 or so inch travel.

I understand the basics of both types of acuators, and that an electric linear actuator is generally slower than a pneumatic cylinder, and that the latter is likely much louder.

What I don’t know is how to correctly size and source either device.

With a linear actuator, basically all I’d need is a power source and a means of switching it on or off, as I understand it. So once I determined what kind of actuator would work for my project, the rest is reasonably simple.

With pneumatic, I need not just the cylinder, but the correct fittings, hoses, and an electrically-operated valve…in all likelihood a 2-way valve, since the idea would be to have the cylinder be air-operated in both directions.

I do already have a compressor and a decent supply of hoses, so that much I have covered.

Any suggestions on strategies for making sure I don’t waste money and time on unsuitable parts would be welcome.

@ devhammer - I was just talking to my father about this as he is creating an automated packing machine for one of his production lines and is going to have a similar part.

He is creating a pusher to move boxes (20kg) along the floor by having a 20mm threaded rod inside of a pvc tube with limit switches to move it forward and back.
Pros - very cheap to make, can move alot.
Cons - Slow

Pneumatic, apart form the actuator and compressor etc you will heed a air valve something like this

Will need 12v and around 120ma to drive it.
Pros - fast, easy and off the shelf parts - fairly cheap
Cons - the actuator has stiction and has to overcome the compressed air which acts like a spring so the action will not be smooth.

Pros - smooth, powerful
Cons - can be messy if you get a leak :slight_smile:

So does the actuator need to move fast? My father is sending thru a drawing of said design if this might be useful for you.

These guys make nice ones but they are expensive

Nice but as you say - a tad spendy

@ Justin,

Thanks for the feedback. To be clear, I’m not looking into hydraulics at all…as you say, too messy. Also too expensive, and I don’t need that much force.

I think the Firgelli actuators may ultimately be the best choice. They’re more self-contained than a pneumatic solution, and while they’re pricier, I suspect that by the time I got done screwing around with hoses and possibly tanks (otherwise, I’d have to have my compressor on all the time), plus the noisiness of pneumatic, it will probably be worth spending the extra money.

Now I just need to figure out whether it’s worth $80-120 to make this particular project. On the plus side, even though the project is for a temporary purpose, the actuator would definitely be able to be repurposed.

PS - seems to me that the main firgelli site is great for simple hobby stuff, but their site has better heavy-duty actuators.

@ devhammer - Did you get any further with the actuators??

Haven’t ordered anything yet, but I think if I do, I’m likely to go with one of the actuators from the site. They’re a little pricier, but more robust as well, and my seat-of-the-pants engineering rule is that I would always rather have something that’s stronger than I need than something that’s not strong enough. :slight_smile:

The larger issue is simply one of time. The project I have in mind combines carpentry, motion control, sound, and lighting, so could be pretty time-consuming.

sounds like your building a motion control platform. Now thats something i would love to see…
I thought about giving something like that a go with three firgelli small actuators to make a small head controller.

Something much simpler, really. One actuator as part of the overall project. Trying to make sure my ambitions don’t overrun my skills. :slight_smile:

Pololu carries a selection of linear actuators: Pololu - Linear Actuators

I haven’t ordered one of these yet, but at 74.95, they are about 30% cheaper than the Firgellis. 450LB is way overkill for what I’m looking at - hopefully for what you’re working on too :wink:

I was actually looking into something similar - trying to determine if i want to go with a static rotating “arm” to extend the wheels on my rovers, or an extendable option like this with the motor for the wheel at the end of the actuator.

Looks like most of these are 12V though, not 5 or 3.3V, so would probably have to use with a motor controller setup.