cost of linear actuators

I have an application where I have to move a 3 lb object in a 3 ft
cubic space. I am not looking at high performance or high accuracy.
It can take as much as 30 seconds to traverse the 3 ft distance and
the accuracy could be no better than 0.020 or 0.050 inch (possibly the
spec could be even looser).
Linear actuators would appear to be the best solution, but I am
finding that they are hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The
product I want to build will have to cost no more than $2,000 for a 3
axis device with controller, overhead and profit.
What is it in a linear actuator that costs so much that you could not
build a low cost version using a threaded rod, servo or stepper motor
and an extruded frame for a lot less?
Does anyone know of a linear actuator that can provide the kind of
performance I am looking for for a couple hundred dollars?
Reply to
Eric Anderson
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Reply to
Tom Gardner
For your application, I'd consider air cylinders. Exhaust restrictors to control speed, stops on the rods for location, solenoid valves for the electric interface. Very low cost,especially if you look at surplus items. Good for many 1000s of cysles without maintenance
Reply to
Karl Townsend
Eric, The cost can be attributed to feedback. Not using feedback can be dangerous to people or machinery. You can use digital or analogue feedback. Neither is cheap. At the very least, you must use limit switches. Please also note that steppers are very wasteful of energy and can slip when transporting loads during acceleration and deceleration. Hydraulic, pnuematic and pulse driven PM Motors are good choices, some require brakes, all require feedback. Steve
Reply to
Steve Lusardi
Try Surplus Center.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------
Eric Anders> I have an application where I have to move a 3 lb object in a 3 ft
Reply to
Given you want to position your load, not just push it into a stop, I'd avoid air. Air is compressible, so you're essentially pushing your load with a spring. When your feedback system says "done", you still have a cylinder full of pressure air, which will keep it moving. As others have said, some kind of electric motor system (screws, wires & pulleys, etc.) looks good.
Reply to
David R Brooks
Precision, speed and power. Given your light load, low speed, and low accuracy requirement, I see no reason why threaded rod and a small motor wouldn't work acceptably.
With a 20-pitch thread, torque would be minimal with 3 lb thrust but speed would be about 1500 RPM to make your speed requirement. That's a bit fast for a steppermotor, though not out of the question. You could also use a DCPM motor with simple rotary encoder feedback. A suitable optical encoder is about $18 at Digi-Key. You'd also need limit switches at ends of travel.
Reply to
Don Foreman

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