Electric Cylinders - What They Are, and Why You Should Be Using Them


Electric Cylinders (or electro-mechanical cylinders) are captive linear actuators designed as modular systems.

Due to lower maintenance costs, enhanced motion control, and a long list of additional benefits. This highly versatile linear motion product provides internal guiding and anti-rotation features ideal for z-axis and z-theta dual-axis designs. Another unique feature of an electric cylinder is the tubular structure, which shields the leadscrew or ball screw from dust, dirt, and other environmental factors, allowing it to operate in harsh conditions. Additional benefits include:

  • Accurate control of speed, position, and force
  • Smaller in size
  • Easy synchronization of multiple axes
  • Increased efficiency vs. hydraulic systems
  • Environmentally friendly (reduction in energy consumption, no use of oil, or hazardous fire resistance fluids)
  • Suitable for high-temperature and clean application environments
  • Longer product life
  • Easy installation
  • Smooth, quiet operation
  • Highly customizable

Engineers can configure electric cylinders with a wide array of options, including different mount types like trunnion mounts, mounting feet, and ISO plates.

End effector customizations include imperial or metric threaded ends, clevis, or internal threads to mount other adaptors specific to your project. Electric Cylinders can be built with lead screw drives to keep costs low, prevent back driving, and offer anti-backlash options. Or, ball screws drives can be incorporated when higher efficiency and load speeds are needed.

Standard electric cylinder sizes accept NEMA 17 and 23 motors in single or double stack lengths. Optional encoders can also be added. Other positioning accessories include home position sensors, limit sensors, end of travel sensors, and linear potentiometers. When more sophisticated linear motion is required, adding a servo motor will produce more consistent torque across a wide range of speeds. Intelligent motors are another option and provide a plug-and-play option for an onboard drive and programmable controller. These numerous configuration options make electric cylinders unique and highly customizable linear motion products.

Common uses for electric cylinders are found in both the packaging and food processing industries. Other applications include pick-and-place lab automation functions, semi-conductor/wafer processing, and the farming and agricultural industries. The technology and interface of electric cylinder linear actuators provide quick, economical change-overs and broader functionality, making them an intelligent choice for various linear motion systems.