Precision Linear Actuators

A precision linear actuator is a positioning device that provides motion in 1 degree of freedom. PI designs and manufactures a variety of precision linear actuators (pushers) including economical stepper-motor driven actuators, high-speed linear motor types for automation and nanometer precise piezo-motor actuators.

While there are many different types of precision actuators, piezoelectric actuators are the first choice when accuracy, speed, responsiveness, and resolution are essential.

Choose from a Product Group below, or scroll to see all Product Groups

Precision Lead Screw Captive Actuators, Stepper & Servo Motor-Driven

<0.1µm Resolution to 50mm Travel, ~1mm/sec

Classical motorized captive linear actuators with servo and stepper motors are typically combinations of a rotation-type motor and a screw-type actuator.

Lead-screws provide high forces and self locking capabilities, while ball screws are used for higher speed applications with longer service life. Position feedback is available with linear encoders and motor shaft mounted rotary encoders.

Smaller motors are often equipped with gear heads to provide higher torque and resolution, however at the cost of speed.

Actuators with built-in anti-rotation (non rotating tip) are easier to integrate and when used as pushers, do not generate torque or wear at the contact surface.

M-230 High Precision Actuator
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M-230 High Precision Actuator

Servo & Stepper Motors

  • 10 and 25mm travel
  • 0.05µm min. incremental motion
  • 4nm sensor resolution
  • 1.2 mm/sec max. velocity
  • 70N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip
This ultra-compact precision actuator is related to the M-231 but uses a folded drive with the motor and lead screw side-by-side.
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M-232 Servo Motor Actuator

Compact, Servo & Stepper

  • 17mm travel
  • 0.1µm min. incremental motion
  • 7nm sensor resolution
  • 1.5 mm/sec max. velocity
  • 40N push/pull force
The M-227 Series provides very high resolution and smooth motion. It requires external limit switches.
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M-227 High Precision Actuator

Servo & Stepper Motors

  • 10, 25, 50mm travel
  • 0.05µm min. incremental motion
  • 4nm sensor resolution
  • 0.75mm/sec max. velocity
  • 40N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip
  • Requires external limit switches

Low Cost Lead Screw Captive Actuators, Stepper Motor-Driven

To 25mm Travel, 1µm Resolution, to 5mm/sec

M-228/9 Low Cost Linear Actuators
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M-228/9 Low Cost Linear Actuators

Gear & Direct Drive, Stepper

  • 10 and 25mm travel
  • 1µm min. incremental motion
  • 1.5 and 5mm/sec max. velocity
  • 20/50/80N push/pull force

Precision Ball Screw Actuators Servo & Stepper Motor-Driven

To 0.1µm Resolution, Low Friction, To 50mm/sec, Forces to 400N

Recirculating ball screws (RBS) provide lower friction and higher velocity than lead screws by replacing sliding friction with rolling friction. Lower friction also means less heat generation when operated at high duty cycles and high velocities. On the other hand, reduced friction also means lower holding forces when powered off.

Actuators with built-in anti-rotation (non rotating tip) are easier to integrate and when used as pushers, do not generate torque or wear at the contact surface.

L-220 High Precision Actuators
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L-220 High Precision Actuators

Servo & Stepper Motors

  • 13/26/52/77mm travel
  • 0.1µm min. incremental motion
  • 20nm sensor resolution
  • 3.5mm/sec max. velocity
  • 125N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip 
M-235 High Precision Actuators
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M-235 High Precision Actuators

Servo & Stepper Motors

  • 20/50mm travel
  • 0.1 & 0.5µm min. inc. motion
  • 16 & 500nm sensor resolution
  • 2.6 & 30mm/sec max. velocity
  • 120 & 50N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip 
	The L-239 is our highest load standard linear actuator. It can handle pushing forces of up to 66 lbs. The high-speed version reaches velocities of 2 inches/second.
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L-239 High Precision Actuators

Servo & Stepper Motors

  • 52mm travel
  • 0.2 & 0.1µm min. inc. motion
  • 50nm sensor resolution
  • 50 & 25mm/sec max. velocity
  • 300N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip 
M-238 High Precision Actuators
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M-238 High Precision Actuators

Servo Motor / Linear Encoder

  • 50mm travel
  • 0.1µm min. inc. motion
  • 0.1µm linear encoder
  • 30mm/sec max. velocity
  • 400N push/pull force
  • Nonrotating tip 

Fast Voice Coil Actuators with Mechanical Bearings

Velocity to 750mm/sec, to 20mm Travel, to 20N Force

Voice Coil Actuators are based on a single-phase electromagnetic linear motor similar to the driver of a loud-speaker. They provide high velocity with zero wear and motion ranges typically up to 1 inch. The V-273/5/7 family actuators below come with a force sensor option, useful in applications such as switch testing or touch surface sensitivity analysis. The C-413 controller allows on-the-fly switching between force and position mode.

This OEM actuator was designed for automation applications. Its friction-free, low inertia voice coil linear motor provides high dynamics with velocities to 250mm/sec. The position is controlled precisely via an integrated linear encoder. An optional high-resolution force sensor further helps with integration into sensitive automation applications. Force and position are controlled by PI's C-413 PIMag™ Motion Controller.
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V-273 Voice Coil Actuator

Force Sensor Option

  • 20mm travel
  • 10nm linear encoder resolution
  • 100mm/sec max. velocity
  • 6N push/pull force
  • 1mN force sensor option
V-275 Voice Coil Actuator
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V-275 Voice Coil Actuator

High-Speed, Force Sensor Option

  • 10mm travel
  • 10nm linear encoder resolution
  • 600mm/sec max. velocity
  • 15N push/pull force
  • 1mN force sensor option
V-277 Voice Coil Actuator
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V-277 Voice Coil Actuator

High-Speed, Force Sensor Option

  • 15mm travel
  • 10nm linear encoder resolution
  • 750mm/sec max. velocity
  • 20N push/pull force
  • 1mN force sensor option

Fast Voice Coil Actuators with Frictionless Air Bearings / Flexures

Zero Wear, Velocity to 1000mm/sec, to 25mm Travel, to 70N Force

These voice coil actuators uses frictionless bearings – either flexures for short travel, or air bearings for extremely straight guiding. Both drive and guiding systems are wear free and clean room compatible.

PIglide VC air bearing positioning stages are voice coil driven with fully preloaded air bearings and optical linear encoders. These stages are ideally suited for many high precision applications where long travels are not required, such as autofocus and scanning applications. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications. Optional bellows protect the bearing from contamination. Low moving mass means high accelerations and fast turnaround times.
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A-131 Voice Coil Positioner

For Fast Scanning/Autofocus

  • 1” travel
  • Optional bellows
  • 1nm resolution
  • 8g max. acceleration
V-900KPIC Mini Vertical Actuator
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V-900KPIC Mini Vertical Actuator

Zero-Wear Flexures

  • 1.5mm travel
  • 100nm linear encoder resolution
  • Frictionless, zero-wear flexures
  • Very compact: 32x44x14mm

Different Types of Piezo Motor Actuators

PI currently offers several  types of long travel piezo linear motors and several types of short travel actuators such as flexure actuators, stack actuators, and bender actuators. The drive principle in piezo ceramic motors / actuators is intrinsically nonmagnetic and vacuum-compatible.

Piezo Motor Actuators
Stick-Slip Ratchet Type Piezo Motor Actuators (Screw Drives) are often used for set & forget type adjustments, replacing  manual micrometers. They provide high resolution and holding forces, but low speed typically on the order of a few mm/minute.

Stick-Slip Direct-Drive Piezo Motor Actuators (Mini-Rod Drives) are compact ceramic linear motors with forces to 10N and speed to 10 mm/sec.

PiezoWalk® Linear Motors achieve holding forces to 800N and picometer range resolution; however they are more complex and typically used in high-end applications.

For more information on the differences between piezo motors and actuators and their applications, refer to the piezo motion tutorial.

Ultrasonic Piezo Motors are characterized by very high speed of 100's of mm/sec and a very compact design.

Information on vacuum compatible motorized actuators can be found here.

Compact, Low Cost Piezo Ratchet Motor Actuators (Micrometer Replacement)

Set & Forget Applications, to 20nm Steps, to 22N Force

Piezo ratchet drives leverage the stick-slip effect to provide nanometric motion by turning a precision lead screw in very small increments. A special driver generates a quasi-saw tooth signal.

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N-472 Closed-Loop PiezoMike

Piezo Ratchet Drive

  • <1nm encoder resolution 
  • ¼” and 1/2” (13mm) motion range
  • Self-clamping: Holding force >100N
  • Pushing force 22N
  • Variety of mounting options
Piezo ratchet drives are a special form of inertia motors based on the stick-slip effect. A small piezo ceramic actuator embedded in a precision mechanism drives a high resolution screw. The drive principle relies on a quasi-saw tooth signal with a slow expansion phase and a fast contraction phase. This expansion leads to a small rotation of a high resolution lead screw (see animation). When the piezo element has reached its maximum expansion, a much shorter contraction phase follows – too fast for the screw to follow, because of its inertia.
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N-470 PiezoMike Micrometer

Piezo Ratchet Drive

  • ¼” to 1” (26mm) motion range
  • Self-clamping: Holding force >100N
  • Pushing force 22N
  • 30 nanometer step size
  • Variety of mounting options
N-470.V/U Vacuum PiezoMike
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N-470.V/U Vacuum PiezoMike

Piezo Ratchet Drive

  • ¼” to 1” (26mm) motion range
  • Self-clamping: Holding force >100N
  • Pushing force 22N
  • 20 nanometer step Size
  • Variety of mounting options

Application Example:
N-480 kinematic mirror mount with N-470 actuators

Compact, Low Cost Piezo Motor Actuators, Mini-Rod Inertia Drive

7N Force, Travel to 35mm, 5mm/sec

These actuators require some kind external position feedback – the inertia motors provide high resolution, but w/o an internal sensor exact position information is not provided. Unlike conventional stepper motors, the step size in piezo inetia motors is not equidistant.

Captive and Non-captive Versions
The N-422 is a non-captive design with the shaft running through the motor, providing longer travel. The N-412 is a captive design.

N-422 OEM Piezo Motor Actuator
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N-422 OEM Piezo Motor Actuator

Direct Drive Piezo Inertia Motor

  • 35mm travel
  • 0.3µm step size
  • 5mm/sec max. velocity
  • 7N push/pull force
  • 10N holding force

 

N-412 Piezo Motor Actuato
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N-412 Piezo Motor Actuato

Direct Drive Piezo Inertia Motor

  • 13mm travel
  • 0.3µm step size
  • 5mm/sec max. velocity
  • 7N push/pull force
  • 10N holding force

Application Example:
N-412 linear actuators on a kinematic mirror mount

High-End PiezoWalk Motor Actuators

To 600N Force, Travel to 125mm, up to 10mm/sec

The operating principle of a PiezoWalk® linear motor is similar to the principle of biological walking. Motion is generated through a succession of coordinated lift/forward/drop cycles of two or more “legs”. Each cycle can be controlled to provide steps from a few picometers to a few microns of linear motion. With repetition rates of up to 100’s of steps per second, continuous motion up to 15mm/sec can be achieved. These drives are preloaded, self-clamping and achieve exceptional life times.

N-381 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator
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N-381 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator

Manipulator, Piezo Stepper

  • 30mm travel
  • 0.03nm open loop resolution
  • 10mm/sec max. velocity
  • 10N push/pull force
  • 20nm encoder integrated
N-331 V8 PiezoWalk® Actuator
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N-331 V8 PiezoWalk® Actuator

V8 Drive: Higher Force & Speed

  • 25 to 100mm travel
  • 0.02nm open loop resolution
  • 15mm/sec max. velocity
  • 50N push/pull force
  • 5nm encoder integrated
N-310 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator
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N-310 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator

Miniature OEM Actuator

  • 10 to 125mm travel
  • 0.03nm open loop resolution
  • 10mm/sec max. velocity
  • 10N push/pull force
  • Use w/external position feedback
N-111 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator
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N-111 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator

Medium Force, Encoder Option

  • 10mm travel
  • 0.03nm open loop resolution
  • 1mm/sec max. velocity
  • 50N push/pull force
  • 5nm encoder integrated
N-216 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator
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N-216 PiezoWalk® Linear Actuator

High Force, Encoder Option

  • 20mm travel
  • 0.03nm open loop resolution
  • 1mm/sec max. velocity
  • 600N push/pull force
  • 5nm encoder integrated

Ultra-High Resolution Piezo Flexure / Micrometer Actuators & Flexure Actuators

For Fast Step & Settle or Dynamic Scanning Applications, Sub-nm Resolution, up to 1mm Travel

Piezo flexure actuators provide friction free motion with sub-nm resolution and very fast response (millisecond and below).

P-853 Piezo-Micrometer
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P-853 Piezo-Micrometer

Piezo Flexure + Micrometer

  • Sub-nanometer resolution
  • 18mm manual / 25µm fine motion
  • Combines piezo-flexure-class fine
  • Travel with manual micrometer
  • Dynamic operation to 10 Hz 
P-601 Piezo Flexure Actuator
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P-601 Piezo Flexure Actuator

Closed-Loop Option

  • 100, 250 and 400µm travel
  • Position sensor option for closed-loop operation
  • Flexure guided = Frictionless & straight motion
  • High dynamics and stiffness
  • PICMA® long-life piezo actuator
P-602 Piezo Flexure Actuator
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P-602 Piezo Flexure Actuator

Motion to 1mm, High Force

  • Up to 1mm travel
  • Position sensor option for closed-loop operation
  • Flexure guided = Frictionless & straight motion
  • To 400N force, high stiffness & dynamics
  • PICMA® long-life piezo actuator
P-603 Piezo Flexure Actuator
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P-603 Piezo Flexure Actuator

Motion to 500µm

  • 100, 300 and 500µm travel
  • Position sensor option for closed-loop operation
  • Compact, cost-effective design
  • Flexure guided = Frictionless & straight motion
  • High dynamics and stiffness
  • PICMA® long-life piezo actuator
Flexure-guided and motion-amplified piezo ceramic actuators provide longer displacement ranges compared to piezo stacks in a more compact package. They are designed with protective preloads and several types of integrated flexure-guiding mechanisms are feasible depending on the guiding precision required in the application.
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P-604 Low-Cost, Piezo Flexure Actuator

300µm Motion, Flexure Guided

  • 300µm travel
  • Cost-optimized for large quantities
  • Lightweight construction, only 4 grams
  • Flexure guided = Frictionless & straight motion
  • Small footprint of 13x20mm
  • PICMA® long-life piezo actuator
  • For OEM instrumentation

Ultra-High Resolution Piezo Stack Actuators (Short Travel 15 to 180µm)

Forces to 30kN+, Sub-millisec Response, Sub-nm Resolution

Piezo stack actuators provide high forces, high stiffness, and very fast response in the sub-millisecond range, with displacement typically in the 100µm range.

Applications: Biotechnology, nano-dispensing, microfluidics, valve control, fast switching and nanopositioning, optics, medical-devices, life-sciences

Piezo Stack Actuators
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Piezo Stack Actuators

  • Very high force & stiffness
  • Sub-millisec response
  • Many different designs
  • Sub-nanometer resolution
  • Learn more….

Custom Actuators – Hybrid Actuators

Precision actuators can be customized for force, speed, resolution and travel length to suit varying applications - like adjusting 798 quarter ton segments in the primary mirror of the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with nanometer accuracy in the extreme environment of the Chilean Atacama Desert, with a hybrid actuator design. More information