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A Complete Guide to the 5 Most Common Types of Actuators

A Complete Guide to the 5 Most Common Types of Actuators

It’s safe to say that the invention of cars was one of the most significant innovations in the history of transportation. Whether it’s a vehicle to help transport the family for a road trip or a muscle car to show off as you cruise down the highway, cars serve multiple purposes and offer a quick and efficient way to get around. Additionally, car enthusiasts are always looking to make their vehicles exceed their limits through add-ons and aftermarket modifications.

Turbochargers add numerous benefits to a car, including power and fuel efficiency. Due to their popularity, car manufacturers have recently started installing turbochargers in their vehicles. However, one of the essential components of a turbocharger is the actuator. So, what is an actuator, and how does it work? Here are the five most common types of actuators and a complete guide to understanding their uses.

What is an Actuator?

A turbo actuator is a value that helps divert exhaust gases away from the turbine wheel within the turbocharger. It protects the turbocharger by capping the maximum boost pressure. It keeps the pressure safe by using the vehicle’s exhaust to power the turbine, forcing more air into its engine, thus going fast. The actuator acts as a pressure relief valve to help control turbochargers' output, controlling the turbine's speed and protecting the turbo from wear and tear.

How Does an Actuator Work?

A turbocharger actuator consists of two simple parts: a spring and a diaphragm. The spring holds the turbocharger's wastegate shut until boost pressure is at a set level. From there, it opens and allows for the gas to escape, reducing boost pressure. However, it can experience a few problems over time.

Pressure and heat can begin to take a toll on the spring, causing it to weaken. As a result, the wastegate starts to open earlier than it should, reducing boost pressure and performance for your turbocharger. Additionally, the diaphragm can fail, which causes the valve to remain shut. Boost pressure then rises to severe levels, leading to catastrophic engine damage.

Common Types of Actuators

While there are many types of actuators, knowing the five common types can help you figure out which one suits you best. These types are linear, rotary, hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric actuators. While some actuators help create motion, others provide energy sources for your turbocharger.

Various engines use actuators, including electric, stepper, and hydraulic motors. All operate differently and assist with powering other machinery, not just cars.

Motion Actuators

Rotary Actuators

An actuator that helps create motion is a rotary actuator. They make a circular motion, receiving their name due to their rotating parts. They are often used with linear actuators if machinery must move forward, backward, down, and up.

Additionally, most rotary actuators are powered electrically, while others require a pneumatic or hydraulic system to operate. Rotary actuators have a plethora of uses, including electric fans, windshield wipers, and manufacturing machinery that transports items.

Linear Actuators

Compared to rotary actuators, linear actuators operate by moving within a straight path. While mechanical or electric, they’re primarily used in hydraulic or pneumatic devices. Any machinery, equipment, or tool that requires straight motions will incorporate a linear actuator.

The simple makeup of a linear actuator consists of a nut, sliding tube, and cover. The sliding tube provides space for motion, while the nut and cover facilitate the interlocking movement that keeps the actuator straight. While other complex linear actuators have additional parts, these three parts allow straight movement.

Source of Power Actuators

Hydraulic Actuators

Exercise equipment, excavators, and car transport carriers often use hydraulic actuators. Hydraulic actuators operate using a fluid-filled cylinder with a suspended piston at its center. Additionally, hydraulic actuators produce linear movements, with a spring attached at one end for returning motion.

Electric Actuators

Electric actuators use electricity and are found in electric cars, robotics, and manufacturing machinery—these work by creating precise motion to keep the flow of electric power constant. There are two kinds of electric actuators: electromechanical and electrohydraulic actuators.

Electromechanical actuators convert electric signals into rotary or linear movements. Meanwhile, electrohydraulic actuators are also powered electrically but give movement to a hydraulic accumulator. The accumulator provides movement force, usually used in heavy industrial equipment.

Pneumatic Actuators

Pneumatic actuators are considered one of the most reliable options for machine motion. They utilize pressurized gases, creating mechanical movement.

Because of their precise motions, many companies and businesses prefer pneumatic-powered actuators. Equipment that relies on pneumatic actuators includes pressure sensors, bus brakes, vane motors, pneumatic mailing systems, and exercise machines.

Actuator Maintenance

Regular maintenance and proper upkeep are essential to keeping your actuator functioning. Since a broken or damaged actuator can lead to major shutdowns, hazards, and loss of productivity, a handful of tips can prevent these issues. The last thing you want is complete engine failure due to poor observation and prevention.

Measure Data Performance

Although actuators don’t show external signs of an issue, you can trace problems through the actuator’s performance. You can also use automated graphs and output computations to identify underlying or harder-to-find problems.

Inspect, Replenish, & Replace

To avoid actuator issues, performing a routine equipment check is a must. Inspecting wear and tear will help prevent catastrophic failure.

Additionally, regularly replenish cylinder fluid and double-check for leaks. Ensure that you replace damaged bolts, nuts, coils, or screws in your actuator parts. Inspections and repairs can save you thousands of dollars in damages.

When your turbocharger starts to lose potency, it could be due to a failing actuator. Luckily, we at TurboTurbos offer turbocharger actuators for any issue you’re experiencing. Whether you’re experiencing excessive pressure or wear and tear, we will help you find the perfect replacement. If you have any questions, our experienced team will gladly help you find what you need.

A Complete Guide to the 5 Most Common Types of Actuators

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