Showing posts with label rack and pinion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rack and pinion. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2018

Valve Actuation 101: The Three Basic Types of Pneumatic Valve Actuator

Pneumatic valve actuators come in three basic design varieties:
  1. Scotch-yoke
  2. Rack & pinion
  3. Rotary vane
All three types provide the same function - converting air pressure to rotational movement intended to open, close, or position a quarter-turn valve (ball valves, plug valves, butterfly valves, or other 90 degree rotational valves).

All three styles are available in either direct acting or spring return versions. Direct acting actuators use the air supply to move the actuator in both directions (open and close). Spring return actuators, as the name implies, uses springs to move the actuator back to its "resting" state. Converting from direct acting to spring return is done through simple modifications, typically just adding an external spring module, or removing the end caps from rack and pinion actuators and installing several coil springs.

Scotch yoke
Scotch yoke (Limitorque)
Scotch-yoke actuators use a pneumatic piston mechanism to transfer movement to a linear push rod, that in turn engages a pivoting lever arm to provide rotation. They come in a wide variety of sizes, but are very often used on larger valves because they are capable of producing very high torque output. Spring return units have a large return spring module mounted on the opposite end of the piston mechanism working directly against the pressurized cylinder.

Rack and pinion
Rack and pinion (Delval)
A rack & pinion pneumatic actuator uses opposing pistons with integral gears to engage a pinion gear shaft to produce rotation. Rack & pinion actuators (sometimes referred to as a lunch box because of their shape) tend to be more compact than scotch yoke, have standardized mounting patterns, and produce output torques suitable for small to medium sized valves. They almost always include standard bolting and coupling patterns to directly attach a valve, solenoid, limit switch or positioner. Rack and pinion actuators use several smaller coil springs mounted internally and provide the torque to return the valve to its starting position.

Vane actuators generally provide the most space savings when comparing size-to-torque with rack and pinion and scotch yoke. They have a reputation for long life because then contain fewer moving parts than rack and pinion and scotch yoke actuators. Vane actuators use externally mounted, helically wound "clock springs" for their spring return mechanism.

The practical difference between these three types of pneumatic actuators comes down to size, power, torque curve and ease of adding peripherals. For the best selection of valve actuator for any quarter turn valve application, you should seek the advice of a qualified valve automation specialist. By doing so your valve actuation package will be optimized for safety, longevity, and performance.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Understanding Industrial Rack and Pinion Valve Actuators

Basic concept of rack and pinion gear
Basic concept of
rack and pinion gear.
Valves are essential to industries which constitute the backbone of the modern world. The prevalence of valves in engineering, mechanics, and science demands that each individual valve performs to a certain standard. Just as the valve itself is a key component of a larger system, the valve actuator is as important to the valve as the valve is to the industry in which it functions. Actuators are powered mechanisms that position valves between open and closed states.

Pneumatic rack and pinion actuators utilize air pressure as the motive force which changes the position of a valve.  A rack and pinion actuator is comprised of two opposing pistons, each with its own gear (referred to as the "rack"). The two piston racks are set against a round pinion gear. As pressure increases against one side of each piston, each rack moves linearly against the opposite sides of the pinion gear causing rotational movement. This rotational movement is used to open and close a valve. See the animation above (provided by Wikipedia) below for a visual understanding.

This short video introduces the basic parts and operation of rack and pinion valve actuators to anyone unfamiliar with the device.


Visit http://www.swansonflo.com to learn more about industrial valves, valve actuators, and valve automation.