Linear actuator using stepper motor and leadscrew

Linear actuators convert the rotary motion of a motor into a linear motion. They consist of a stepping motor (hybrid stepping motor) and a rotor with hollow shaft. Part of this hollow shaft is a screw nut which, together with a leadscrew, is responsible for converting the rotary motion into linear motion. Our manufacturing partner Haydon-Kerk offers different versions of linear actuators for different applications. The actuators can reach up to 2.200N peak force.

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Hybrid stepper motor linear actuator

We offer hybrid stepper motor linear actuators in three designs and six sizes, which cover a wide force-velocity range thanks to different screws and screw pitches. You will find a detailed description of each of the three design types further below ("Captive", "Non-Captive", "External Linear"

Since the rotary motion of the stepper motor is converted into a linear motion by a special screw nut, a compact, cost-effective unit is created. It is particularly suitable for applications where small, very precise positioning movements are required. This high accuracy is made possible by the microstepping operation of the drive electronics. Our hybrid stepper motor linear actuators are not only highly precise, they also offer a wide range of forces. They generate forces between 40 and 2,200 N with a high force-to-volume ratio. The lead screw was developed for automation and has a high degree of efficiency.

The following video shows how the three different designs work.

Video illustrating how the linear stepper motor lead screw actuators work.

Technology used by the leadscrew stepper linear actuators

Most important features:

  • Standard hybrid stepper motor with ACME lead screw
  • 6 sizes NEMA8, 14, 17, 23, 34 and 42
  • Step angle 1.8° or 0.9°
  • Motorization: 1 stack or 2 stack motor
  • Force up to 2,200 N
  • Speed up to 100 mm/s
  • Accuracy up to 0.0015 mm / full step
  • Backlash-free nut optional
  • Spindle options e.g. special coating

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Design type: „Non-captive“

Most important features of the non-captive version:

  • Compact motor with hollow shaft and integrated nut
  • The lead-screw travels back-and-forth
  • For long travel distances
  • The spindle must be secured against rotation by application: Reason: any type of screw requires anti-rotation, otherwise it cannot develop its linear force

Design type: "Captive“

Most important features of the "captive version":

  • Splined rod for guidance and anti-rotation
  • For short strokes up to 63mm

Design type: "Linear External"

Key features of design type: Linear External

  • Ideal for longer strokes
  • Lead screw is rotated by the stepper motor, but has no linear travel itself
  • Linear travel is provided by a screw nut driven by the lead screw
  • Screw nut must be provided with anti-rotation
  • Screw nut in various designs

Design type: "Dual motion" (a.k.a Rotolinear)

The Haydon Kerk family of rotolinear leadscrew stepper linear actuators provide independent linear and rotary motion in either Size 14 or Size 17 actuators. Each actuator incorporates two stepper motors which can be controlled independently using a standard dual-axis driver. Dual motion actuators integrate precise rotational and linear motion in one simple and compact actuator. 

Features:

  • Available in bipolar and unipolar coils 
  • Step resolution of 0.9° and 1.8°
  • Available standard and custom winding voltages 
  • Large range of leads
  • Run using a standard two axis driver

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Design Type: Z-Theta Actuator

The Z-Theta actuator provides linear and rotary point-to-point motion in a compact package.

At the center of the Z-Theta Actuator is the patented ScrewRail™, which combines both guidance and linear motion in a slim coaxial profile. Haydon Kerk's innovative dual-motion integration with a pair of stepper motors adds rotational motion (theta) that reduces the size of the actuator system by 50-80% compared to alternative approaches, at a lower budget than the equivalent components purchased separately.

The highly configurable Z-Theta Actuator offers flexibility, economy, consistency and performance suitable for a wide range of applications in laboratory automation, semiconductor and industrial automation. Performance can be customized with a variety of spindle resolutions, a choice of free-wheeling and backlash-free spindle nuts, stepper motor configuration options, and optical encoders.

Key Features:

  • Compact coaxial design allows small footprint
  • Easy integration into the system
  • Pre-engineered, modular design reduces supply chain and time to market
  • Configuration options optimize performance for specific applications
  • Compatible with a wide range of drives and controls

The Z-Theta actuator is a product designed to address the ever-increasing performance requirements of rotary and linear motion in lab automation. The Z-Theta actuator has been designed with a combination of development work, manufacturing expertise and a keen eye for what is critical in rotary and linear motion. The linear actuator based on the ScrewRail® is complemented by the new approach of directly integrating a rotary motor to drive the theta motion. This design is coupled with a second motor to control the linear motion of the carriage via a lead screw. Optional encoders are available for both the linear and rotary axes, providing either position confirmation or full step-servo control of the device. The result is a highly compact system solution for medium to high precision applications where both rotary and linear motion are required.

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Z-Theta Actuator application example: Hybrid Liquid-Handling-System

In Lab Automation and especially in the pipetting process, movement flexibility and a high density of samples within the system are important. When configuring a system, it is also crucial to consider the sensitivity of the process and that motion control components often generate particulate during operation. In some applications, foreign debris contaminants can affect the integrity of test results.

The Z-Theta actuator's innovative design approach makes it particularly suitable for use in lab automation. In a polar/cartesian system, the actuator components, with the exception of the z-axis and theta arm, are located below the test stand. The z-theta component moves through the center of the test bed. This design results in space savings. One advantage of the space savings is that the stroke of the x-axis is reduced. The arm is articulated by the angular movement, increasing the reach of the x-axis at both ends of the stroke. This eliminates the lost stroke along the x-axis, reducing cost. In addition, because of the hybrid polar/cartesian drive system, there are no components that generate particulate over the samples. This provides a reduction in the risk of sample contamination.