Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Rack and Pinion Style Pneumatic Valve Actuator

Automax Actuator
Rack & Pinion Actuator
(courtesy of Flowserve Automax)
Three primary kinds of valve actuators are commonly used: pneumatic, hydraulic, and electric.

Pneumatic actuators can be further categorized as scotch yoke design, vane design, and the subject of this post - rack and pinion actuators.

Rack and pinion actuators provide a rotational movement designed to open and close quarter-turn valves such as ball, butterfly, or plug valves and also for operating industrial or commercial dampers.
internal of rack and pinion actuator

The rotational movement of a rack and pinion actuator is accomplished via linear motion and two gears. A circular gear, referred to a “pinion” engages the teeth of a linear gear “bar” referred to as the “rack”.

Pneumatic actuators use pistons that are attached to the rack. As air or spring power is applied the to pistons, the rack is “pushed” inward or “pulled” outward. This linear movement is transferred to the rotary pinion gear (in both directions) providing bi-directional rotation.

rack and pinion
Visual of rack and pinion
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
Rack and pinion actuators pistons can be pressurized with air, gas, or oil to provide the linear the movement that spins the pinion gear. To rotate the pinion gear in the opposite direction, the air, gas, or oil must be redirected to the other sides of the piston, or use coil springs as the energy source for rotation. Rack and pinion actuators using springs are referred to as "spring-return actuators". Actuators that rely on opposite side pressurization of the rack are referred to as "direct acting".

Most actuators are designed for 100-degree travel with clockwise and counterclockwise travel adjustment for open and closed positions. World standard ISO mounting pad are commonly available to provide ease and flexibility in direct valve installation.

NAMUR mounting dimensions on actuator pneumatic port connections and on actuator accessory holes and drive shaft are also common design features to make adding pilot valves and accessories more convenient.

actuated valve
Fully automated valve with rack
and pinion actuator, solenoid, and
limit switch.
Pneumatic pneumatic rack and pinion actuators are compact and save space. They are reliable, durable and provide a good life cycle. There are many brands of rack and pinion actuators on the market, all with subtle differences in piston seals, shaft seals, spring design and body designs.

For more information on any pneumatic or electric valve automation project, contact:

Mead O’Brien, Inc.
www.meadobrien.com
10800 Midwest Industrial Blvd
St. Louis, Missouri 63132
Phone (314) 423-5161
Toll Free (800) 874-9655
Fax (314) 423-5707
Email: meadstl@meadobrien.com