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Common Challenges in Operation of Pneumatic Rotary Actuators

Pneumatic rotary actuators serve as essential components in the realm of automation, blending high torque and durable construction within a compact, cost-effective package. However, optimizing their performance requires careful attention to key details.

External controls are very simple, consisting primarily of a directional control valve, but getting good performance from these actuators requires careful attention to some details.

An initial primary consideration is controlling inertia. In many applications, the static torque of the actuator itself isn’t the limiting factor. Instead, the challenge lies in achieving a smooth, controlled motion with a gentle stop. This is done to prevent both noise and potential damage to both the actuator and surrounding components. This underscores the importance of sizing the actuator properly with the load’s inertia and fine-tuning the operating parameters accordingly.

But that isn’t the only consideration. Some others include:

Enhancing Efficiency with Flow Controls
Meter-out flow controls play a vital role in improving efficiency and safety, allowing for quick acceleration followed by a steady speed. Without proper flow controls, high-speed crashes at the end of rotation are more likely to occur.

Maximizing Deceleration with Cushions
Configurable with pneumatic cushions, these actuators ensure a smooth deceleration in the final stages of rotation, minimizing cycle time and reducing shock. Precise adjustment of airflow restriction is essential for optimal cushion effectiveness.

Utilizing Bumpers and Hydraulic Shock Absorbers
Bumpers and hydraulic shock absorbers soften the impact at the end of stroke, absorbing kinetic energy and enhancing performance. While bumpers are effective at low speeds, hydraulic shocks offer progressive metering for consistent deceleration.

Addressing Lash for Precision
Clearance between rack and pinion teeth introduces lash, affecting positioning precision. Solutions include dual rack actuators, vane actuators, and external stops, each tailored to minimize lash and optimize performance.

How Can Cross Company Help?

With careful attention to details like controlled motion, flow controls, and lash reduction, pneumatic rotary actuators can deliver exceptional functionality and precision in automation applications.

These are some of the reasons why it’s so important to partner with an expert for motion control and automation applications. Cross Company is proud to partner with Rotomation to provide high-quality pneumatic actuators and more. Contact us today to learn more or check out our Rotomation offering.

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Did you know… Cross Company is an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Our ESOP started in 1979 and as of 2006, we are 100% employee-owned! Learn more about our ESOP and how that benefits both team members and our customers.
Did you know... the precision measurement group at Cross was founded in 1939 by our current CEO's grandfather, Jim King. That's a whole lot of calibration!
Did you know... A fingerprint weighs about 50 micrograms. We know, we weighed it! The residue left from a finger can actually make a difference in weight results which is why we wear gloves when we calibrate weights. For reference, a sheet of paper is about 4.5 grams, that’s 4.5 million micrograms.
Did you know… Cross Company has grown significantly since our start in 1954. Over the years we've acquired 26 companies! Today, our five groups have expertise in everything from industrial automation to precision measurement, and industry knowledge going all the way back to 1939.