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How To Select The Best Rotary Actuator

Rotary actuators are the most compact devices available for producing torque from pneumatic or hydraulic pressure. Whether you need a rotary actuator that’s fast or slow, heavy or light duty, complex or simple – Best Pneumatic Systems has the ideal solution for you. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to our range of high quality SMC rotary actuators.

As part of our comprehensive selection of SMC rotary actuators, we can offer a wide range of rack and pinion rotary actuators and rotary vane actuators that are suitable for a wide variety of actuation applications. Here, we’ll talk you through the benefits of each type of actuator, as well as some of our more popular models.

When selecting a pneumatic rotary actuator for your application, you should weigh up mechanical efficiency, size, shaft options, rotation speed and, of course, cost. Furthermore, it’s useful to consider some wider factors too, including backlash, the actuator’s ability to handle axial and radial loads on the shaft, and its ability to stop a load.


Rack and pinion rotary actuators are ideal for high-speed production applications that require minimal wear and long life cycle reliability. Offering the widest ranges of torque and rotation, rotary actuators deliver excellent mechanical efficiency. This can often be as high as 90-95%. Rotary actuators are designed for simplified mounting. For example, hollow pinion gears allow the machine’s shaft to mount through the pinion gear of the actuator, which eliminates the need for a coupling.

Among our most popular models of SMC rack and pinion actuators is the MSQ compact rotary table. Ideal for material transfer applications, the MSQ incorporates load bearings and a mounting face with a rack and pinion rotary actuator. Available in a range of sizes, with auto switch capability and rotational adjustments from 0-190 degrees, our MSQ rack and pinion actuators also feature a hollow shaft and direct load mounting capabilities.


Rotary vane actuators are ideal for applications where space is limited because of their compact size. Commonly used in medium-speed applications to clamp, transfer or position light loads, rotary vane actuators deliver a reasonable amount of mechanical efficiency and minimal bypass leakage. Positioning is precise, with no backlash, and, thanks to their relative low cost, vane actuators are an excellent choice for light to medium duty pneumatic applications.

Within our range of SMC rotary vane actuators, we have the MSU compact rotary table series. Designed for end-of-arm tooling applications, this high precision actuator incorporates load bearings and a mounting face with a vane style rotary actuator. The MSU series features rotation indicators on the side of the table to enable easy rotating range adjustments.


If you’d like more information about our rotary actuator range or would like to discuss your application requirements in more detail, then please contact Best Pneumatic Systems today on 01254 395000 or email [email protected].

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