Actuators & Controls

Curtiss-Wright Valves Division feature a range of actuators for use in a wide variety of different settings, including to a military level and a variety of industrial uses. 

We offer corrosion resistant, electrically operated valve actuators for both quarter turn and multi-turn uses as well as direct drive handwheel, hydraulic, multi-turn marine actuators. 

For military applications, we offer corrosion resistant, electrically and hydraulically operated valve actuators and hydraulic control stations.

The Nu-Torque product brand has worked diligently in providing the effective and competitive equipment for the FFG-7 Class Frigate, providing a range of valve and actuator configurations. 

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Valve Actuator: Purpose & Functionality

A valve actuator is a type of control valve that operates using a power source. The power sources vary from manually operation to automated operation, but it’s effectively a mechanism for opening and closing a valve. They are often part of a system designed to regulate flow, pressure, or other processes, allowing the system to respond by opening or closing the valve or setting it to an intermediary position to reduce or increase flow


  • Has an inherent failure-mode action
  • Low supply-pressure requirement
  • Adjustable to various conditions

How do valve actuators work?

An actuator moves the object that requires movement. Still, the power used comes from different sources using gas pressure, hydraulic pressure, electricity, or manually by turning a lever.   

Valve Actuator Applications

Valve actuators play a significant part in automating process control. Thus, they are used in various applications, such as wastewater treatment plants, power plants, refineries, mining and nuclear processes, food factories, and pipelines.

Types of Valve Actuators

At Curtiss Wright, we offer several types of valve actuators that are perfect for specific applications. 

Manual Valve Actuators

Manually operated valves require someone in attendance to adjust them using a direct or geared mechanism attached to the valve stem. Manual operated valves are powered by hand and typically feature a handwheel, lever, or declutchable mechanism to move the valve stem. A manual actuator is inexpensive as they are generally self-contained and don't require a remote operation. However, the manual process is not always the best option; some applications feature valves in hard to reach pipelines, toxic, or even hostile environments and require a remote operation. 

Types of Manual Valve Operation


It’s commonly used on smaller valves and the easiest to operate. The lever is attached to the stem and gives the leverage needed to open and close the valve. On even smaller valves, the lever is usually replaced by ovals, tees, and various other shaped knobs.

Hand Wheels

Handwheels are useful when operating larger valves that require high torque. Mainly found on larger butterfly valves, they need multiple turns to get the valve to the desired 90 degrees. 

Manual Valves with Limit Switches

While a manual valve doesn’t require automated actuation, the system still needs to know its position. That’s where manual valves with limit switches (position indicators) are used; the switches communicate the valve's current position to the control system.

Types of Automated Valve Operation

At Curtiss Wright, we also offer a selection of automated valve actuators, that require no manual operation. 

Pneumatic Valve Actuators

Valve actuators Air or gas is the operating energy used for pneumatic valve actuators. When operating linear or quarter-turn valves, pressure creates a linear force on the valve stem or produces torque to provide rotary motion. While not ideal for high-pressure environments, they're versatile, quick to respond, and are the most viable option for applications that don't have electricity readily available.

Hydraulic Valve Actuators

Hydraulic actuators use liquid to apply pressure to the valve. They work in the same way as pneumatic valves but exert a large amount of force because fluid is not compressible. Most hydraulic valve actuators feature a fail-safe feature, so the valve can open or close if needed in an emergency.  

Electric Valve Actuators

Run from mains or a battery; electric valve actuators have intricate electrical circuitry that powers the valve operation. While they must have electricity available to operate, they are quiet, dependable, non-toxic, energy-efficient, and can be adjusted remotely. They're also the quickest way to change the operation of large valves effectively.