Home Robots: 5 Best DIY Robots Ideas with Linear Actuators

Actuators are widely used in robotics. There are many kinds of actuators applied in robotics. Actually, electric actuators are those elements that allow your robot from interacting with the world.

Linear actuators play a special role in robotics. There are many ways you can apply them for your robot, starting from an automated production line and to a robot servant who will clean your apartment. Here, we will check how to make the most common actuator types for your robot.

Threaded Rods

This actuator type is very simple indeed. To make one, you need just a couple of things:

  • Some nuts;
  • A drill;
  • A threaded rod.

If you don’t have these items but need the actuator right now, you can use less elaborate elements, such as a glue stick, a potentiometer, and a servo.

Pneumatic cylinders

In pneumatic cylinders, the air is used to make the actuator work. These actuators are durable, the sizes vary greatly. It means you can find any size you need. One more advantage of these actuators is that they are powerful and able to maintain their position once they are pressurized. It’s the most money-saving solution for a DIY robot application.

Scotch Yokes

In many robots, servos are applied to produce motion. Yes, in this case, we are talking about rotational motion, not about a linear one. This actuator is actually a rod. In the middle of it, there is a rectangular slot. In the slot, a wheel with a pin is inserted. When the wheel rotates, the rod moves backward and forwards. If you are planning to create a robot that can walk and move hands automatically, these actuators are must-have for your application.


These are the best actuators for those who love making dancing robots. These actuators require a source of power. A solenoid is basically an electric coil. When you connect to it a power source, the rod starts moving and moving/pushing a plunger.

In some actuators, a spring is used to return the plunger to its initial location when the actuator is disconnected from a power source.

Pneumatic muscles

Such an actuator is a balloon located inside of a tube. Usually, the tube is made from braided mesh. The ends of the balloon are clamped to the ends of the tube. That’s why when you inflate the balloon, it expands only to a certain amount.

The principle of work of a solenoid actuator is similar to the principle of how human muscles work, that’s why it is called pneumatic muscles.

Final Thoughts

Actuators offer plenty of opportunities in the robotics industry. Don’t forget also to pay attention to such factors as the actuator price and its environmental effect. When you know what kind of robot you are making and what movements it shall make, you can find a perfect actuator to use.