Applications of Linear and Rotary Actuators

With actuators, the topic is always about motion. Regardless of type, the devices ensure precise and controlled movements. However, if you were to differentiate them, it’s easy to specify two groups. That’s linear and rotary actuators.

As the name says, linear actuators move in a line. In other words, their motion is straight, irrespective of the direction. On the other hand, rotatory actuators don’t follow a straight part. They rotate.

In a way, you can say linear and rotary actuators are opposite. Due to their distinct travel path, none can substitute or replace the other. Nevertheless, both types of actuators have vast applications in many sectors. We’ll discuss some of the top ones in this article.

Linear Actuators Applications 

First, let’s begin with linear motion devices. It’s worth noting that they’re the most popular compared to rotary actuators. Below are some of their key applications

Automated doors and windows

Linear actuators are common for automating sliding and folding doors. The devices ensure smooth opening and closing in places like supermarkets or airports. They provide hands-free access for everyone, especially those with mobility challenges.

The same is true for automated windows. Here, the actuators bring a modern touch, especially at home. This application is most beneficial in situations where manual operation is challenging. Notably, the linear actuators can automate the windows based on preset schedules. They can also work following environmental conditions. 

You can set up linear motion devices in your doors and windows at home easily. All it’ll take is technical know-how, like learning how to replace an actuator. Afterward, you enjoy the convenience, accessibility, and other benefits. 

Adjustable furniture

You can leverage linear actuators in practical applications involving adjustable furniture. Here, the goal is to transform static pieces into customizable ones. The end goal is comfort and convenience. Here are some examples:

  • Height-Adjustable Desks: In this application, the motion devices allow users to switch between sitting and standing positions effortlessly. It takes a simple button push, and the desk’s height adjusts. That promotes ergonomic comfort and flexibility.
  • Motorized Recliners and Sofas: With linear actuators, recliners and sofas can adjust to various positions. That provides optimal comfort for relaxation. It can also help with personalization. 
  • Adjustable Beds: You’ll easily find linear motion devices in adjustable beds. They enable you to customize the elevation of the head or foot of the bed for better sleep quality. You’ll also appreciate the enhanced comfort when reading or watching TV.

Industrial machinery

When it comes to big machines, there’s no argument that linear actuators are pivotal. Motion devices have many uses in the industry. Generally, they make tasks easier and improve efficiency.

A good example is conveyor system. In such an instance, actuators help move things from place to place. Hence, they ensure optimal workflow at a consistent speed.

During manufacturing, producers also count on linear actuators. That’s because the bulk of the production process relies on precise movements. One wrong move could mean a recall when the vehicle is launched.

Overall, we can summarize the application of linear actuators in industrial machinery in three aspects. That is smooth operations, precision, and efficiency. As a result, the motion devices are instrumental for optimal output.

Applications of Rotary Actuators

Now, let’s look at some significant applications of rotary actuators. As mentioned earlier, the difference between this type and the former is the travel path. Rotary actuators don’t move straight but round. 


Rotary actuators work like muscles inside robots. They help the machines move and perform tasks with precision in many ways. In robotics, arms usually need to rotate and move accurately. Rotary actuators ensure such movements. Hence, they allow the robots to perform actions like manipulating objects like a human would. 

The above is also evident in other robotic joints. Thanks to rotary actuators, the robots get the twisting power. They can bend and flex to varying degrees. Additionally, consider robots that move around — like robot vacuums or drones. Rotary motion devices are present on their wheels. That’s why they can turn and navigate seamlessly.

So, the actuators ensure robots can move exactly how they need to. Also, they allow flexibility, such that robots can imitate various human-like movements. 


Cars rely a lot on steering systems. It’s one area where rotary actuators enable precise turning of the wheels. That means responsive and controlled maneuvering for drivers. You’ll find rotary actuators instrumental in convertible roofs. They allow for smooth and efficient opening and closing. However, these are only a few out of many. 

In the automotive industry, rotary actuators also help adjust side mirrors. For drivers, it’s an advantage for accurate positioning. It’s easy to appreciate the optimal visibility. 

Furthermore, rotary motion devices help improve the functionality of ventilation systems. They facilitate the movement of air vents for better comfort. Notably, their linear counterparts are applicable here as well.

Without question, rotary actuators help improve the overall driving experience. They do so by ensuring seamless and precise movements of various car components of the vehicle.


There’s a vast need for rotational motion in aerospace. Thankfully, rotary actuators exist to fill up the space. The motion devices are fundamental in many ways.

Consider aircraft as an example. The actuators help control movable surfaces like elevators and ailerons. You’ll also see them in rudders. Hence, they’re instrumental in precise adjustments to achieve stable flights. 

The contribution of rotary actuators extends to the landing gear. Here, they facilitate the deployment and retraction of components during takeoff and landing. The main advantage is the accuracy they introduce to the said components. 

Turning to spacecraft, rotary actuators also have applications. Notably, they contribute to the controlled movements of antennas and solar arrays. The actuators ensure optimal communication in outer space by adjusting these components to the right position.

Bottom Line

Simply put, linear actuators are best for applications requiring straight motion. Meanwhile, the go-to are rotary actuators for those that demand that components travel a circular path. Nevertheless, whether linear or rotary, actuators prove pivotal in many roles. From the different applications discussed in this piece, one can’t argue about their flexibility. 

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