Transforming the Output of a Rotary Electric Motor Into Linear Motion

This simple, flexible arrangement provides physical propulsion in a vast array of applications, but it does have its weaknesses.


  1. The common electric motor is an impressively simple device. Comprising little more than many wraps of wire, a few magnets, and micro linear actuators new release some supporting structure, an electric motor is capable of efficiently turning current into motion. As electric current flows through the thousands of wraps of wire that are found in the average motor of this kind, it sets up strong, though relatively small, fields of electromagnetic force. The magnets within the motor react to these varying fields by pushing against it, causing the shaft they are mounted on to spin.

    This simple, flexible arrangement provides physical propulsion in a vast array of applications, but it does have its weaknesses. The most obvious of all of these is that a standard electric motor produces motion of a radial kind, with the shaft being most directly suited to turning gears, wheels, and similarly rotation-oriented receptors. In many cases, though, what is instead required is an output of linear force, typically meaning a simple, repeatable push or pull.

    In many cases, this can be arranged for through the addition of appropriate gearing and other accessories connected to the electric motor. There are a number of proven arrangements that can be used to translate rotational motion into that of a linear kind, and these show up in everything from heavy industrial equipment to consumer devices like washing machines.

    In other situations, though, building an ad-hoc extension to an electric motor becomes a lot less practical. Particularly in places where space is already at a premium, it can be much more rewarding to have access to parts that incorporate electric motors alongside the gearing and extensions needed to make them produce linear physical motion.

    Fortunately DC Linear Actuators of this kind are relatively easy to find on the market today. A micro linear actuator that includes everything from the electric motor to the activation mechanism that it powers can be acquired to suit nearly any purpose, from hobbyist projects to advanced robotics initiatives.

    As can be seen at, these devices are also available in a range of basic types. Some micro linear actuators today emphasize the greatest possible output of force, giving up speed of operation in the process. Others operate at great frequency, but put out relatively little force with each push or pull, making a trade off of the opposite kind. In either case, these tiny parts often prove to be far more suitable and capable than attempting to build on what an electric motor will offer in raw form.