NFPA Linear Actuators in Automation

NFPA linear actuators, also called NFPA cylinders, are devices that meet mounting standards developed by the National Fluid Power Association (NFPA). These essential components provide seamless linear motion and control in many industrial automation applications, including robots, material handling systems and packaging equipment, as they offer high speeds, precise control and reliability.

To be an NFPA linear actuator, these cylinders must meet NFPA standards covering common mounting specifications such as:

  • Piston rod diameter & threads
  • Cylinder mounting dimensions and styles
  • Port location and sizes

The value of NFPA cylinders is that by adhering to a common set of NFPA standards, the selection process is simplified. By reducing the need to sort through the physical specifications of individual actuator technologies, users can instead focus on the key motion features that will truly impact performance and reliability in the application. In addition, because they offer standardized specifications, NFPA cylinders are interchangeable with other manufacturers’ NFPA units of the same type and dimensions for faster equipment modification and greater design freedom.

The Role of NFPA Cylinders in Automation Systems

Automation systems are expected to play a huge role in the future of manufacturing, as automation increases efficiency, improves quality, maximizes productivity, reduces accidents and minimizes the cost of wasted time and material. As automated equipment continues to find its way onto the factory floor, there is a growing need for reliable motion control components.

As the devices that convert energy into lifting, ejecting, pressing, clamping, holding and other motions, linear actuators and cylinders will play a vital role in automating processes and equipment as they can be used to provide straight-line motion and control in manufacturing machinery, including robots, material handling equipment, packaging systems, electronics and other automated machines. 

Specifically, NFPA cylinders provide a versatile, cost-effective solution in these applications as the flexible mounting configurations and standard features of these linear actuators deliver a consistent and reliable means of converting energy into the force and linear motion required by today’s automation systems.

Cutting Edge Technology

While NFPA cylinders and actuators provide the value of standardization, not all are created equal. As is true in all things, the higher the quality and reliability of the linear actuator, the better the performance of the automation system. For this reason, many automation engineers seek NFPA-standardized Bimba air cylinders when designing automation systems that require seamless linear motion, high reliability and precision.

Several models of Bimba NFPA actuators are available and all offer cutting-edge technology, including:

  • Graphite-filled and Teflon-coated cast iron bushings to ensure longevity
  • Standard and oversized rod diameters
  • The availability of special rod ends to suit a variety of specifications
  • Precision-machined components for the highest quality
  • Testing for extreme temperatures, fatigue and life span to ensure durability

Bimba offers a full line of NFPA linear actuators to suit a variety of motion control applications, including:

Standard Aluminum and Standard SteelThese linear actuators feature self-aligning rod bushings for improved bearing surface alignment and longer service life, as well as reduced breakaway and running friction for better responsiveness.
Double-WallAvailable in six NFPA mounting styles, this actuator technology uses easy-to-assemble bolt-on mounting kits and offers epoxy-coated aluminum tie-tube outer shells to protect the inner stainless steel body tube in harsh industrial conditions.
Flush Mount and Tough DutyThese NFPA cylinders offer tie rods or nuts that are not exposed at the head and cap for flexible mounting designs, optional rod locks, dampening piston seals and fixed head and cap cushions for heavy-duty performance. Optional adjustable cushions are available for precise adjustments and maximum performance.
Three-Position, Back-to-Back and Air/Oil TandemThe three-position models use two units built as one for space savings and a lower cost than mounting multiple cylinders to create a third position. The Back-to-Back series combines two individual cylinders with shared bore sizes and tie rods for a true four-position cylinder. And, combining air and oil in tandem cylinders allows for high force and precise stroke control in a single package.
Triple Rod, Telescoping and Multi-StageTriple-rod cylinders use three piston rods to increase stability and strength and feature a heavy-duty, non-rotating design for longer strokes. The telescoping cylinders remain 100% double acting while providing space savings, while multi-stage cylinders supply air to multiple pistons to increase force output in extend, retract or both directions.
Stainless Steel and Repairable SSThese NFPA cylinders are ideal for applications that are subjected to chemicals and corrosive environments. Their stainless steel construction provides corrosion resistance and FDA-USDA certification is available on some models.

As the benefits of automation become more apparent and manufacturers continue to rely on automation to effectively and efficiently produce products, automation system designers will need reliable motion components such as NFPA cylinders and linear actuators to satisfy all the requirements of industrial automation applications. JHFOSTER representatives are on call to help with selection of the most suitable Bimba cylinder for your automation application.