What Is a Rotary Actuator?

Rotary actuators utilize electric, hydraulic, or pneumatic energy to enforce specific types of oscillatory movements. One of the primary uses of a rotary actuator involves manual or automatic valve operation, and advanced motion control systems, such as those found in airplanes and military or medical transport helicopters.

Instead of relying on linear motion to transmit force as linear actuators do, rotary actuators exploit rotation to perform tasks. Rotary actuators can also be connected to mechanical systems to create linear actuators. In this scenario, either one of these actuator types can work as a servo-motor, or an actuator equipped with high-precision sensors.

Keep reading to learn more about rotary actuators, their function, and the two most common types.

What Does a Rotary Gripper Actuator Do?

The fundamental definition of what rotary actuators do is that they actuate (move) a valve or other component into predetermined positions by utilizing an external power source. A rotary gripper actuator is the power behind the movement of both pneumatic and electric rotary grippers.

Actuators can also offer viable solutions to operational issues arising from system failures involving battery energy or faulty springs. Functions of rotary actuators include:

  1. Transforming rotary motions into translational (moving uniformly in the same direction) motions.
  2. Changing linear movement into rotational activity.
  3. Facilitating rotary motions without slippage (medium distances). This problem occurs when belt drives are used.
  4. Using rotary motions for longer distances, an action that is impossible to achieve with gears.
  5. Enabling locking engagement of a rotating element, such as a ratchet and pawl mechanism.

Rotary actuators are also used to operate a rotary gripper actuator found in any pneumatic rotary or electric rotary gripper.

Pneumatic Rotary Gripper

Pneumatic grippers use compressed air to pick up, move, and place objects. These types of grippers usually have two or three finger-like appendages that can securely grasp, hold, and let go of items. Equipped with a double- or single-acting cylinder, pneumatic rotary grippers are commonly found in manufacturing facilities and associated warehouses.

Additionally, a pneumatic rotary gripper can pick up and move objects as small as computer circuit boards or as large and heavy as vehicle engine blocks. They are cost-effective and lightweight. They also offer powerful gripping forces that can be adjusted to accommodate a wide variety of workpiece structures, compositions, and dimensions.

Electric Rotary Gripper

Instead of relying on compressed air for energy, an electric rotary gripper receives power from servo (steppo) motors. An electric rotary gripper is composed of a gearing set, a position sensor, a control circuit, and a DC motor. These types of grippers provide excellent precision control in terms of gripping speed and/or force. Jaw stroke is also programmable with this type of gripper; this makes it so one gripper can grasp and raise both delicate and heavy-duty workpieces.

An electric rotary gripper is a preferred gripper in conditions that are environmentally controlled. Examples of where electric grippers are used include pharmaceutical, medical/healthcare, and “clean room” facilities. With its enhanced positional feedback information, users are quickly alerted to problems involving grasped and raised items being “out of tolerance” range.

Contact GripShape Today

When that important job demands the best electric or pneumatic rotary grippers available, GripShape is here to accommodate all your needs. We can customize grippers based on the weight, size, and configuration of your workpiece.

Additionally, our custom-design process is simple: you schedule a consultation with one of our experts, and then we create a no-obligation 3D model. Once you approve this model, you can purchase a CAD model to manufacture yourself, or we can produce the part for you.

Interested in learning more? Click here to try our user-friendly design tool, or call (877) 709-3529 today to request a consultation.

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