Should you Build or Buy a Linear Actuator

As the saying goes, “when you want something done, you’ve got to do it on your own.” This relates to anything you do, in your life. Picture, buying something then throwing it away.

Let’s say you have a project and need to realize it using the muscle of linear actuators, you have two choices. You can either build your own linear actuator or just buy one to save you all the trouble and hustle.

People thinking on build or buy linear actuator

Usually, you opt to build actuator to save you on costs. it’s quite understandable because actuators can be costly. Building too can hurt your pocket, as you’ll need tools and equipment.

You’ll require the following sets of tools and materials for your build:


  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Welding equipment (but its optional)
  • Hacksaw
  • Mallet
  • MITRE box
  • Metallic file

  • Resin
  • Cut rod for M10 nuts
  • M10 bolt and nuts
  • A piece of cloth rail
  • Cloth rail holder
  • DC/AC motor or a battery
  • Petroleum jelly

Once you have, all of the above materials and tools you are ready to assemble your diy linear actuator. The process requires patience and some technical skills to be able to put the bits and pieces together.

The problems you can incur

Every build is unique and you’ll have to plan before setting up. A first headache you may have is selecting which type of drive. Your selection needs to be spot on for you to build linear actuators. It’s equally important because you don’t want a drive that uses AC motor type but a DC one. Why? Because an AC powered motor only spins in one direction even with a change of polarity.

The second problem you may occur is when setting up the inner or threaded rod. The length needs to be right. In case you are using a DC motor, its involving work as you’ll require the rod attached to the motor’s surface.

The final problem is setting up the outer casing. You’ll require nuts in order to place everything firmly in place. A hammer and some cutting is required and some technical skills. It can be quite tricky for a non-tech savvy individual as a first project.

You can argue how to build a linear actuator is simple by just watching a couple of YouTube videos. Actually, you can, but you may hit an obstacle because the materials you may have are different or require readjustments.

diy linear actuator

homemade linear actuator

Advantages of making your own actuator:

  • Cheap and kind to your pocket
  • Ability to use ready-at-hand materials and tools
  • You can customize to suit your needs
  • You are able to pinpoint problems should they occur

Disadvantages of your do-it-yourself actuator:

  • Can be overwhelming if you don’t have the technical skills and don’t have knowledge on how do linear actuators work
  • Requires tools and material and may force you to buy them
  • Requires lots of time and patience

A homemade linear actuator is a preferred choice for someone looking to go at it in on his or her own. If you are good technically, then embarking on your project with your actuator should be a joy.

If you decide to make linear actuators, you’ll have to remember the technical aspects of your proposed project. Patience is also a virtue as sometimes it can be nerve-wracking when things don’t work out. Everything good thing has a bad side too.

So, let’s say you have no clue where to start with your actuator creation at home. You may opt to buy linear actuators, where you start.

The selection process made easy

Before you even start buying an actuator, you’ll need to know a few basic things. First, start by looking for a licensed and experienced supplier. Then, discuss with them the project idea you have in mind for details. This stage will include a focus on the load, type of actuator, power, and mode of control.

    The selection process will involve:

  • The amount of force in either pounds or newtons and whether the actuator will lift/push/pull. The direction of the actuator horizontal or vertical
  • The stroke – how far your actuator will move and here its calculated in millimeter
  • The speed – slow/fast/average and here the mode of calculation is either mm/sec or inches/sec
  • The frequency of usage
  • How long your end product for your product last
  • Mounting
  • Safety features in case there is a loss of power
  • Where your actuator will operate (whether indoors or outdoors)
  • Size (large or small)
  • A power source ( motor or battery)

Once you’re armed with the above information, you are ready to buy linear actuator for project. The selection process can be quite challenging for non-techie, so never get afraid of asking questions. The supplier is there to assist and understands your needs.

one of the linear actuators supplier

You might be having doubts and questions on whether to buy electric linear actuators or maybe ask someone to do it for you. Below is a breakdown of the pro and cons of buying an actuator.

Advantages of buying an actuator:

  • They have safety failure features in case of failure
  • Their mode of operation is silent
  • They use less power
  • They require little to no maintenance
  • They have a long life cycle
  • They have the ability to be easily integrated with motion and electronic control systems

Disadvantages of buying an actuator:

  • They can be quite costly
  • Their installation can be lengthy and require technical knowledge
  • Their load ratings can be high

Depending on your project needs, you’ll buy actuator strictly based on your criteria. Like before any purchase, you’ll consider the cost so as not to go broke from one purchase.

Another aspect that affects your buying decision is whether to buy actuators online or the traditional way of going to a supplier. You’ll have to weight this outright to get value for your monies.

The saying curiosity killed the cat does not apply when it comes to you selecting your actuator. You’ll need to be well informed before making your purchased. Again, ask, ask, and ask if something isn’t clear. Search for linear actuator companies online, read reviews to get their credibility.

Our final thoughts

Both building and buying actuator totally depends on your project needs and the amount of cash. Both come with advantages and disadvantages but buying an actuator is the way to go. Why? Simply because of the advantages out way the disadvantages.

You may be entangled in buy vs build dilemma and you are right to feel that way. It’s always a tough decision to make. Buying eliminates all the guesswork when it comes embarking on your project. What’s more, something can go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing. You’ll be using power tools to cut, hammer and wield your homemade actuator.

When purchasing an actuator, however, you are rest assured that everything will work smoothly. You’ll, first, get a free consultation before making your purchased. This will give you pieces of mind, as you will make an informed decision.

However, either way, the decision is yours. No one will force you to buy an actuator. You’ll just get advice on what it does and what it has the potential to do.

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