Thursday, 5 December 2019

Custom Linear Actuators

Custom linear actuators

Updated for 2020!

Do you need a custom linear actuator for your next product or project? Actuonix Motion Devices can help. We pride ourselves on manufacturing the largest selection of affordable micro actuators available. Even still, we regularly get requests from customers who require a custom actuation solution that is outside of our regular range of products.

If your applications parameters dictate a custom actuator configuration, no problem. Our team of in-house engineers can work with you to customize a product that will suit your needs.



Custom Linear Actuators That Meet YOUR Specifications

At Actuonix, we manufacture all of our products. Unlike some of our competitors, our team of engineers designs every piece of our actuators from our headquarters in Western Canada. Because we control the entire production process, we can alter our designs to suit your needs.

Do Custom Electric Actuators Require A Minimum Order Quantity?

Yes, we require a minimum MOQ of 500 for basic actuator modifications. The MOQ may be more or less depending on what your particular needs are. Below are some examples of customizations that we can produce with a minimum order quantity of 500 units.

Change Electrical Connector

There are many different styles of connectors out there. If you're ordering a large number of actuators for your design, it might be worth having us customize a cable for you, rather than adapting your project to match the cables that we install on stock actuators.

Installing a custom linear actuator cable to match what's already available on your device will save you time and money.

Longer Or Shorter Connection Wire

Not only can we change the cable, we can also customize the length of the cable. Whether you want your cables to be 5 inches or 50 inches, we can work with you to produce a custom cable that will work for your application.

Combining a custom cable length with a custom plug can make the motion component of your design much easier to manage.


Modifying Limit Switch Position

Our internal limit switches are non-adjustable on stock actuators. That said, there are other ways to limit the stroke of your actuator that might work for you. These include using an LAC board, an external limit switch kit, or controlling your actuators via arduino.

If your requirements meet our minimum order quanitity and you want to limit the stroke without the use of external switches or an LAC board, talk to our sales team about modifying a stock product to your specifications. We can have the limit switch position modified at our factory.

Shortening Actuator Stroke 

If simply limiting actuator travel wouldn't work for you, and you need a device with a physically shorter stroke than what we offer, we can do that as well.

We have done this type of actuator customization for many customers in the past and know the process inside and out. 

Custom Rod End Attachments

All of our micro linear actuators (with the exception of our NXT and T16 lines) come with the stock clevis end tip. You will also find a threaded end tip inside the included hardware kit. Most of our clients are able to make one of these tips work for them. If however, you require a different means of attachment, we can work with you to design an end tip that will integrate seamlessly into your design.

If you don't require a large enough quantity for custom actuator production, you can manufacture your own end tips to suit your needs.

The internal thread on the shaft is M8 x 1.25.


Fitting A Motor/Gearbox With A Custom Gear Ratio

Do you need a custom speed or force spec that is not available in our stock products?

Though our line of electric actuators comes with a variety of gearing options, there are others available. We can work with our motor supplier to provide actuators with a custom gear ratio to better suit your force and speed requirements.

Changing Lubricants To Facilitate Low-Temp Operation

If you are planning on operating our miniature actuators in an extreme environment, you may need to order devices with a custom gear oil to facilitate low-temperature operations. The stock gear oil works well in a wide range of temperatures but can become too thick when subjected to extremely low temperatures.

In addition to the linear actuator customizations mentioned above, we can make more significant design alterations up to and including designing a different clamshell, or an entirely new product. The minimum order quantity for major customizations begins at 2000 units.

If you're looking for an affordable custom actuator for your next product design, you're in the right place. Nobody can match Actuonix's selection of actuators. And if none of our 168 stock models work for your application, we can design something within your budget that will.

We want to you get the right micro linear actuator for your needs, at the an affordable price. That's why we included a complete mounting hardware kit with every actuator we sell. Other companies charge $8-10 for just the hardware kit. 

Contact us today to learn more about our custom linear actuator solutions.


Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Introducing Our New Line Of S20 Stepper Actuators!


For years, Actuonix has been providing affordable motion solutions to OEM designers, inventors, builders and hobbyists of all types. We’re proud that our products have been the backbone of some truly amazing projects. From animatronics, RC construction and 3D displays to complex medical devices, prosthetics and automotive applications, our actuators have served a wide range of clients. They’ve even been to space!

We’re always reaching for more. We want to serve more people, be involved in more projects and offer affordable motion solutions to those for whom we haven’t been a fit in the past. When we first started developing actuators over a decade ago, we wanted to offer a solution that would serve the widest range of customers at an affordable price. As this business has grown over the years, we have released new products to appeal to different builders.

One of the main pieces of feedback that we receive from some customers is that they wish we offered a product that offered a higher positioning accuracy than our current offerings.

We hear you. In fact, our new line has been in development for . Our engineers have been hard at work ensuring that our new line is the best it can possibly be. And the best part? As with all of our products, it’s affordable for OEM designers and hobbyists alike.


Introducing the Actuonix S20 line of stepper actuators




We’re proud to announce that our new S20 line of stepper actuators is now officially available in our store!

The S20 is a rod-style actuator that is built off of our popular L12 platform. Unlike our other actuators which use a DC motor and gearbox, the S20 line has a NEMA 8 motor mounted directly to the actuator shaft. The S20 offers high-precision positioning in a very compact package that is ideal for mounting in tight spaces.

The S20 is available in four different stroke lengths: 15mm (0.59"), 30mm (1.18"), 50mm (1.97") and 100mm (3.93") to ensure that we offer a stepper actuator solution that will work with your design


How to drive a stepper actuator

For those who need a means of driving their stepper actuator, we are now offering a TIC T825 Stepper Driver Board by Pololu.

The Pololu Tic family of stepper motor controllers makes it easy to add basic control of a bipolar stepper motor to a variety of projects. These versatile, general-purpose modules support six different control interfaces – USB for direct connection to a computer, TTL serial and I²C for use with a microcontroller, RC hobby servo pulses for use in an RC system, analog voltages for use with a potentiometer or analog joystick, and quadrature encoder for use with a rotary encoder dial – and offer many settings that can be configured using Pololu's free configuration utility (for Windows, Linux, and macOS). This software simplifies initial setup of the device and allows for in-system testing and monitoring of the controller via USB (a micro-B USB cable is required to connect the Tic to a computer).


Still have questions?

If you’re not sure whether or not a stepper actuator is the right choice for you, give us a call! We can help direct you to the best actuator for your project or for incorporating into your product design.
Friday, 25 October 2019

2019 FIRST Robotics Sponsorship Winners

Each year, Actuonix Motion Devices offers five sponsorship opportunities to FIRST Robotics teams. While applications started out a little slow this year, I'm pleased to say we received a flurry of responses right before the deadline.

It was a challenge to choose winners this year. All of the teams that applied show great potential and we're looking forward to seeing what each and every one of you builds in the year to come.

This year's winners of our $500USD financial sponsorship are:

Team 6377 'Howdy Bots'

Team 6832  'STEAMex'

This year's winners of our three $250USD product sponsorship are:

Team 13201 'Hazmat'
Team 469 'Las Guerrillas'
Team 6829 'Ignite Robotics' 

Thank you to all of the team members, mentors and parents who took the time to apply. Please keep an eye open for more sponsorship opportunities next year!
Monday, 14 October 2019

4 Different Types Of Linear Actuators

Linear actuators are much more common than many people realize. In fact, many motion-enabled products these days contain linear actuators. From consumer products to robotics, automotive and aviation, we’re surrounded by actuators all the time.

Just a modern vehicle alone can have dozens of actuators. Many functions that are controlled by the simple push of a button, are actually being driven by an actuator behind the dashboard or under the hood.

What is a linear actuator?

A linear actuator is simply a device that uses energy to create motion in a straight line. That energy can be compressed air, electricity, vacuum or pressurized hydraulic oil. Many applications require a device that can move things straight in and out, and that’s how linear actuators became popular.

Electric linear actuators take the rotary motion created by a standard electric motor and convert it to linear motion. This makes it simple to make objects slide,


There are several different types of linear actuators that you will find on the market. Each has their own merits and drawbacks. I’m going to walk you through the different types of actuators available and look into which types of use are appropriate for which product.

Electric

Electric actuators are very common. They come in a variety of different styles and designs, shapes, sizes and price points. In fact, just navigating electric linear actuators can be a daunting task. The most common types of electric linear actuator are lead-screw, belt-drive and rack and pinion.

Benefits of electric linear actuators

Electric linear actuators (both large and micro) are well-suited to applications that require relatively slow, steady and precise movement. They tend to be more cost-effective than other types of actuators as well.

Another benefit to using electric actuators is you have a wide variety of control options, ranging from simple switches to remote control, arduino-powered and even IOT wifi enabled. If you want the widest array of options regarding control, electric is probably the best way to go.


Additionally, installation of electric actuators is relatively simple when compared to other types of motion devices. Some actuator manufacturers even provide a mounting hardware kit with their devices to make installation a breeze.

Pneumatic

Pneumatic actuators use compressed air, rather than an electric motor, to enable motion. Pneumatic actuators are less precise than electric, and are best suited to applications that require only two positions, rather than a range of positioning options.

Pneumatic actuators range in price but are generally inexpensive. Pneumatic actuators can be found mostly in industrial settings where access to compressed air is readily available.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic actuators use pressurized hydraulic oil to create movement. They can be counted on for precise, powerful movement but do not tend to be fast. Hydraulic actuators can be found in commercial environments that require a great deal of force such as heavy equipment, fabrication, and manufacturing.

Next time you pass an excavator or backhoe, have a look at the big cylinders that lift the boom. Those are just large hydraulic actuators!

Vacuum

Vacuum actuators are similar to pneumatic actuators, but rather than using compressed air to create the motion, they use vacuum created by a vacuum pump.

Vacuum actuators are common in automobiles as engines create vacuum that can be easily utilized to create motion. They can also be found in HVAC, industrial and other applications. Vacuum actuators are generally not used at the hobbyist level.

How to choose a linear actuator

When it’s time to decide on a linear actuator for your application, it’s important to first have a look at what you need the actuator to do. For example:



  • How far do you need the actuator to travel?
  • What is the expected load on the actuator?
  • How long do you need the actuator to last?
  • What is your price range?


Also consider what type of movement you’re looking for. Do you need something that will quickly move from one point to the next, or are you looking for consistent, steady movement?


If you’ve answered these questions, and still aren’t sure what type of actuator you need, you can feel free to send an email to our sales team. They would be happy to help you find a motion device that’s right for your needs. If we don’t have the product, we can direct you to somebody who will.


You can also check our product descriptions and datasheets on our product pages to help guide your decision.


At Actuonix, we carry the largest selection of micro linear actuators available anywhere. Every single one of our products was designed by our team of engineers just outside of Victoria, BC, in Western Canada. We don’t rebrand actuators that can be found on Chinese websites. Everything that we sell, we designed from the ground up. Head over to our website to check out our full product offerings.




Wednesday, 18 September 2019

FIRST Robotics Sponsorship 2019



It's that time of year again!  Applications are now open for the Actuonix FIRST Robotics Sponsorship Program.

Actuonix Motion Devices is a proud supporter of FIRST and will be offering five team sponsorship oppourtunities in 2019: 2 financial sponsorships of $500 USD and 3 product sponsorships of $250 in-store credit.

For more information, eligibility criteria and application form, click here.

The submission deadline is October 15, 2019 and winners will be notified no later than October 21, 2019.
Thursday, 4 July 2019

In depth with the UVSRC



Actuonix Motion Devices is a proud sponsor of the University of Victoria Submarine Racing Club, a design team based out of our home territory of Victoria, British Columbia. Ahead of their international competition in Washington, D.C., Team leader Liam Scott-Moncrieff was kind enough to provide some insight into the program and the team’s season so far.

Can you tell us a little bit about the program and the history of the club at UVic?

The UVic Submarine Racing Club (UVSRC) is an undergraduate engineering design team at the University of Victoria. UVSRC is UVic's youngest design team, having made their debut at the European International Submarine Races (eISR) 2018 in Portsmouth, UK, with their submarine 'Chinook'. eISR 2018 was a huge success, with Chinook taking fourth place out of 18 teams.

The club is composed of a team of 15 core members and 20+ contributing members, including students from mechanical and electrical engineering, computer sciences, business and even history. The team is split into 6 sub-systems dedicated to one aspect or design feature. The students get to apply the knowledge gained in class to designing and manufacturing a real-life project. The project is funded through grants, donations and sponsorship from within the university and external businesses.



What’s new for this year?

This year, UVSRC is competing at the 19th International Submarine Races at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Washington D.C. with 'Chinook II', a new and improved version of last year's hull.

Chinook II, like Chinook I, is a flooded, human-powered submersible vehicle. It measures 11'9" long and is 2'2" at its largest diameter. The pilot floats prone in the vehicle and pedals to turn a pair of couter-rotating propellers. The submarine is controlled by a pair of rudders and dive planes at the stern. These are controlled by the pilot through a cable linkage to a steering column at the bow. Chinook II has integrated SCUBA tank and regulator for the pilot, as well as a secondary safety tank and emergency pop-up buoy. While last year's fibre-glass hull was retained, several significant improvements have been made to make Chinook II faster and more nibble in the water.

Firstly, the steering system was completely overhauled. Where previously there was an assembly of cut and drilled bar stock there is now a precision-machined alignment frame from our sponsor Rainhouse Canada. The frame holds the shaft bearings in alignment with the hull and, with the help of two u-bar connector joints, allows the rudder and dive-plane pairs to move together in perfect alignment.

This new steering system is complemented by brand new control surfaces. These control surfaces are thinner yet stronger than last year's, thanks to their caste-resin over waterjet frame construction. They use biomimicry, taking inspiration from the blue whale, whos' fins' have bumps and dips along their leading edge, called 'tubercles'. These tubercles have been shown to reduce the stall angle and increase lift at low speeds while keeping drag low. Initial testing has demonstrated excellent performance and we are hopeful these will give us an extra edge at the competition.

Last year's propeller blades have also been swapped out for larger and stronger blades. The new blades are constructed from a 3D printed plastic core, allow for an ideal, high efficiency shape. Internal blind holes the length of the blade allow two steel struts to be embedded inside, giving them excellent bending and shear strength. This is further complimented by a carbon fiber skin, making the blades rigid and durable. These blades have greatly increased the power the pilot can transmit to the water, allow us to accelerate faster and reach higher speeds.


Finally, troubles maintaining a consistent depth at last year's competition has lead to the introduction of an electronic depth controller. This controller will automatically regulate the submarine's depth, allowing the pilot to concentrate on pedalling hard and steering straight. The controller works by reading the water pressure using a high-accuracy piezo-resistive pressure transducer. This pressure value is compared to the desired depth and run through a control algorithm, which sets the dive plane angle to keep sub at its ideal hydrodynamic depth.

How are you utilizing Actuonix micro linear actuators in the project?

The actuation is done using a linear actuator and accompanying control board kindly provided by Actuonix Motion Devices. The device was chosen for it's high strength and ability to be easily and reliably waterproofed over a rotary servo. The actuator is mounted in a watertight enclosure and actuates a precision-ground steel shaft. This shaft passes through a double o-ring barrier out into the wet exterior, where it connects to a lever-arm linkage that drives the dive plane shaft. This is favourable to a servo motor as it does not require additional gearing and does not experience bending forces from the control surfaces that could compromise the o-ring seals.

What are your goals for this season’s competition?

We are hopeful that these key improvements will allow us to perform better and go faster than last year, and with luck and some fast pedalling, make the podium at ISR 19. This would be a huge accomplishment for us at the more competitive American event. Making the podium in just our second year of operation would be an excellent testament to the hard work and talent of UVic engineering students, and would give us the energy and inspiration to continue innovating, improving and learning.



A big thanks to Liam and the UVSRC team for taking the time to get us up to speed with their project. We’ll have an update incoming with the results from Washington!

For more information on the UVSRC team visit https://www.uvicsubmarine.com/
Friday, 15 March 2019

Arduino Day 2019


March 16 is Arduino Day 2019! With over 600 events in more than 100 countries, Arduino Day is meant to bring users together to share experiences and learn more about the open source platform.

The schedule of official events, including a live stream of an 'Ask Me Anything' with Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi from company headquarters in Milan, can be found here:
https://blog.arduino.cc/2019/03/14/official-arduino-day-in-milan-schedule-and-streaming/

And you can follow along on twitter via the #ArduinoD19 hashtag.

Actuonix + Arduino


Actuonix has a full line-up of Arduino-compatible linear actuators and servos. Our R-Series actuators have been designed specifically to work with the Arduino Servo Library and are available in a full compliment of stroke lengths and gearing options.

For more on our Arduino-compatible products vistit the Actuonix Website.

Need help getting started?We have compiled resources to help you get started with adding motion to your next Arduino-based project, which you can find here: https://www.actuonix.com/category-s/1957.htm