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An actuator is a motor that transforms the energy into motion, but how does it change this energy? Every different actuator has its own working principle; this passage will briefly introduce two kinds of actuator working principles.
Working principle of the double-acting actuator
If the middle filed between two cylinder pistons is filled with air supply pressure which comes from the airport, the two cylinder pistons will be parted and they will move to the bottoms of the cylinder. Finally the air chamber will let the air go out through the air pot, at the same time the output shaft will be moved in an anticlockwise rotation by the rack of the two pistons. Oppositely, if the two ends of the air chambers are filled with air pressure, the two pistons will be driven to the middle of the cylinder. Then the air goes out from the airport and at the same time the output shaft will be moved in a clockwise rotation by the rack of the two pistons.
This actuator working principle could produce two kinds of opposite powers. Here is one detailed example for the actuator working principle: premium pneumatic actuators . Pneumatic actuators just like hydraulic actuators; the difference is that pneumatic actuators use the compressed air to create powers not the liquid materials. Similarly like the Working principle of the double-acting actuator, the air enters the air chamber, and is discharged from the other side. But usually people do not use pneumatic actuators in those machines with heavy weight, light duty machinery make uses of them more often. The reason why is that the power of the actuator working principle only come from an air compressor. However, the input source is air which is very common; these actuators are utilized in many fields for machinery. Of course, everything has its drawbacks. The majority of the air compressors are of large size, heavy weight, loud noise, so it is hard to send them to other places. Moreover, leaking is another problem which consumes more and less efficient.
Working principle of the single-acting actuator
The main difference of the single-acting electric actuators is decided by how the working fluid acts on the piston. For a single-acting actuator, only one side of the piston is affected by the work fluid, but the double-acting actuator working principle acts one both ends of the cylinder pistons. If the piston is wanted to be driven back to another direction, a single-acting cylinder needs the help of the load, springs and other cylinders, or the flywheel power. It does not like the double-acting actuators which rely on themselves. Even though the single-acting actuator working principle is not independent, it is lighter which makes it easily to be transported to other places and less loud, so it is still largely used. Most reciprocating engines adopt single-acting cylinders, especially internal combustion engines and external combustion engines such as Sterling engines and some steam engines. Some pumps and hydraulic also use single-acting cylinders.