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2016.08.12

PART 5-IP Ratings and Lubrication

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Authors: Jon Mueller and Tyler Pocock

Welcome to part four of our six part discussion of the basics of electric linear actuators and factors to consider when purchasing an electric actuator. Whether you are operating an indoor electric linear actuator or outdoor electric linear actuator, you will need it to be made of durable and quality components.

IP Ratings
Not only do the internal parts of an actuator effect it's life span, but the ability to protect the actuator from intrusions such as solid objects and liquids will ensure its' long lasting life as well. TiMOTION helps ensure this by adding a protective seal around the outside of our electric actuators and lifting columns. 

To take this a step further, depending on the environment that the application will be in, we are able to customize the level of protection around the outside of the electric actuator. These levels are calculated based off the IP Rating. The IP Rating stands for International Protecting Rating that consists usually of two digits following "IP" that describes its level of protection. The first digit indicates the level of protection against ingress of solid foreign objects such as dust and debris. This scale ranges from 0 (not protected) to 6 (high level of protection from dust). The second digit indicates the level of ingress protection against liquids such as water. This scale of protection ranges from 0 (not protected) to 9 (high level of protection from liquids).

Our linear actuators can be sealed to the customized level of protection that a customer desires, with our most common levels of protection being ratings of IP42, IP54, and IP66, and IP69K. The IP42 protection can be used typically in an indoor application where dust and liquid are not large factors such as in a TV lift, household couch, chair, or adjustable bed. These types of applications are often used with our (TVL3, TA5, TA5L, TA5P, TA6, and TA14 linear actuator models). 

The IP54 rating is more universal because it has a higher level of protection which can allow the actuator to operate in a more volatile environment such as a hospital, dental office, or warehouse. These types of applications are often used with our (TA1, TA4, TA7, etc. actuator models). 

The IP66 rating is one of our highest level seals, which makes it a waterproof linear actuator. It can be placed typically into an outdoor environment where harsh conditions are present such as a farms construction sites. In addition, IP66 can also be very important for medical and patient mobility equipment such as pool lifts and medical beds.  These types of applications are often used with our (TA2, TA2P, MA1, and TA16 actuator models).

We also offer an IP69K level of protection, which is considered to be one of the highest in the industry. IP69K is a protection provision of high temperature and pressured water. An actuator with this level of protection can be sprayed down with a high pressure hose such as in an agricultural setting where dust, dirt, and chemical levels are high. The IP69K rating is an optional sealant on our JP4 actuator models.

Lubrication
The type and amount of lubrication used in a linear actuator will greatly affect its life span. Think of lubrication as the blood of the linear actuator, without it, all of the parts to the actuator won't work together and will NOT last. Lubrication helps reduce friction, which in turn helps regulate temperature within the motor. It also keeps moving parts separate, reduces noise and vibration, and prevents corrosion to the machine.

The two main types of lubrication used are grease and oil. Grease is thicker than oil which will allow it to hold higher loads and also requires less frequent maintenance. TiMOTION uses a specific type of grease depending on the load/speed requirements of the actuator. Generally speaking, grease with a higher viscosity (thinner) will be used in lower load applications and grease with lower viscosity (thicker) will be used in higher-load applications. 

We hope that this has helped you develop a better understanding and foundation for electric linear actuation systems. In our last week, we’ll consider the certifications and standards that are needed to meet requirements of certain markets and countries. If you have further questions and/or would like help with your next application, TiMOTION would be glad to assist you. We specialize in partnering with our clients while providing quality solutions for their linear motion needs.