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Actuator start-up is on a roll
Published:  05 May, 2008

Making its public debut at the recent Drives & Controls Show was a new company, Olsen Engineering UK, set up by a former Control Techniques export manager, Piers Olsen. He is focusing on developing the UK market for roller screw actuators with a range of products from the US manufacturer, Exlar.

Olsen believes that there is substantial potential for these products which promise significant benefits over conventional ballscrew, pneumatic and hydraulic actuators, in terms of life, accuracy, robustness, load capacity and size.

While ballscrews are limited to around 2,000 rpm, roller screws can work at 5,000 rpm and above, producing much higher linear travel rates. The planetary roller screws provide many more contact points than a ballscrew and are thus stiffer and have higher load-carrying capacities. They also take up much less space for a given load rating and are claimed to outlive ballscrew actuators by up to 15 times.

Exlar Tritex actuator

Exlarís new Tritex series of servo linear actuators (above), available from Olsen, incorporate a brushless servomotor, servo amplifier and position controller, thus eliminating the expensive and failure-prone interconnections normally associated with servo systems. The IP54-protected servo-actuators are available strokes up to 45cm and peak thrust capacities of 10kN.

Other rollerscrew actuators offer force ratings up to 288kN, linear velocities up to 1.5m/s, and accuracies down to 3Ķm.

According to Olsen, the roller screw actuators cost about 50% more than equivalent ballscrew devices, but he argues that for applications that exploit their benefits, this premium is easily justified.

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