What is a stepper motor linear actuator?

A stepper motor linear actuator is a device that combines the rotational motion of a stepper motor with the linear motion of an actuator. This type of actuator is designed to convert the rotary motion of the motor into linear motion in a controlled and precise manner. Stepper motor linear actuators are known for their accuracy, repeatability, and suitability for applications requiring controlled and incremental movement.

Key features of stepper motor linear actuators include:

Stepper Motor Technology: Stepper motors are widely used in linear actuators due to their ability to move in discrete steps. Each step corresponds to a specific angular movement, allowing for precise control over the linear motion.

Linear Translation Mechanism: The linear motion is achieved through a translation mechanism, such as a lead screw, ball screw, or other linear guidance systems. As the stepper motor rotates, this mechanism translates the motion into linear displacement.

Positional Accuracy: Stepper motors provide high positional accuracy, making them suitable for applications where precise and controlled linear movement is essential. The ability to move in steps allows for fine adjustments and positioning.

Open-Loop Control: Stepper motor linear actuators often operate in an open-loop control system, where the control is based on the number of steps the motor takes. This simplifies the control system, as there is no need for external feedback devices.

High Torque at Low Speeds: Stepper motors generate high torque even at low speeds, making them suitable for applications that require controlled and gradual movements.

Incremental Motion: Stepper motor linear actuators are ideal for applications that involve incremental motion or where the movement needs to be precisely controlled in discrete steps.

Compact Design: These actuators are often designed to be compact and space-efficient, allowing for integration into systems with limited space.

Versatility: Stepper motor linear actuators find applications in various industries, including robotics, automation, 3D printing, CNC machines, medical devices, and precision positioning systems.

While stepper motor linear actuators offer high precision and accuracy, it’s important to note that they may not be suitable for applications requiring continuous or high-speed motion. The choice of linear actuator depends on the specific requirements of the application, including speed, precision, and force considerations.

Do linear actuators use stepper motors?

Linear actuators can use various types of motors, and stepper motors are one of the options. The choice of motor depends on the specific requirements of the application, including factors such as precision, speed, and control complexity. 

Here are some common types of motors used in linear actuators:

Stepper Motors: Stepper motors are popular for their ability to move in discrete steps, providing precise control over linear motion. They are commonly used in applications where accurate positioning and repeatability are crucial. Stepper motor linear actuators are suitable for tasks such as precision positioning systems, 3D printers, and applications requiring incremental movements.

DC Motors: DC (Direct Current) motors are widely used in linear actuators for applications where continuous and smooth motion is required. They are known for their simplicity and efficiency. DC motor linear actuators are often used in automation, home appliances, and automotive applications.

Servo Motors: Servo motors offer precise control and are commonly used in high-performance linear actuators. They provide feedback to the control system, allowing for accurate positioning and dynamic control. Servo motor linear actuators are used in applications such as robotics, CNC machines, and industrial automation.

Brushless DC Motors: Brushless DC motors provide the benefits of DC motors without the need for brushes, resulting in reduced maintenance and longer life. Brushless DC motor linear actuators are used in various applications, including medical devices, aerospace, and automotive systems.

AC Motors: AC (Alternating Current) motors can also be used in linear actuators, especially in applications where the availability of AC power is convenient. AC motor linear actuators are commonly found in industrial machinery and heavy-duty applications.

The motor selection is influenced by factors such as the required force or torque, speed, precision, and the specific needs of the application. Stepper motors, with their ability to move in precise steps, are favored in applications where positional accuracy is paramount. However, each motor type has its advantages and limitations, and the choice depends on the unique requirements of the linear actuator’s intended use.

What is the difference between stepper motors and linear actuators?

Stepper motors and linear actuators are different components used in motion control systems, and they serve distinct purposes. Here are the key differences between stepper motors and linear actuators:


Stepper Motor: A stepper motor is a type of rotary motor that moves in discrete steps. It converts electrical pulses into rotational motion, and its output shaft rotates in fixed increments.

Linear Actuator: A linear actuator is a device that generates linear motion or movement along a straight path. It can be driven by various types of motors, including stepper motors.

Motion Type:

Stepper Motor: Stepper motors produce rotational motion. To achieve linear motion with a stepper motor, additional mechanisms such as lead screws or gears are often employed.

Linear Actuator: Linear actuators generate linear motion directly, eliminating the need for additional mechanisms to convert rotational to linear motion.


Stepper Motor: Stepper motors are controlled by sending a series of electrical pulses. The number of pulses determines the number of steps the motor takes, allowing for precise control over the rotation.

Linear Actuator: Linear actuators can be driven by various types of motors, including stepper motors, but the control mechanisms may differ based on the specific motor type.


Stepper Motor: Stepper motors are commonly used in applications where precise positioning and control are essential, such as in CNC machines, 3D printers, and robotics.

Linear Actuator: Linear actuators find applications in tasks requiring linear motion, such as lifting, pushing, or pulling loads. They are used in adjustable furniture, medical equipment, industrial automation, and more.

Mechanical Design:

Stepper Motor: Stepper motors have a rotary design, and additional components may be needed to convert the rotational motion to linear motion.

Linear Actuator: Linear actuators are designed to produce linear motion directly, and their mechanical structure is optimized for this purpose.

Control Complexity:

Stepper Motor: Stepper motors are known for their relatively simple control systems, especially in open-loop configurations. They do not typically require position feedback for basic applications.

Linear Actuator: Depending on the type of motor used in the linear actuator, control systems may vary in complexity. Some linear actuators, especially those with servo motors, may incorporate feedback systems for precise control.

In summary, while stepper motors and linear actuators may work together in certain applications, they serve different primary functions. Stepper motors produce rotary motion in steps, and additional components may be needed for linear applications. Linear actuators, on the other hand, are designed to produce linear motion directly, making them more suitable for applications requiring straightforward linear movement.

About JIECANG linear actuator

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