Valve 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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A valve actuator is a type of control valve that operates using a power source. The power sources vary from manual 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.  

How do valve actuators work?

A valve 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.   


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


Valve actuators play a significant part in automating process control. Thus, they are used in various applications, including:

  • Wastewater treatment plants
  • Power plants
  • Refineries
  • Mining & Nuclear processes
  • Food factories
  • Pipelines


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. 



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.

Automated 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.

  • Pneumatic actuators generate precise linear motion by providing accuracy. 
  • In applications of extreme temperatures, pneumatic actuators are the most common choice. A typical temperature range is -40°F to 250°F. Pneumatic actuators also use air instead of hazardous materials, so they meet safety requirements and explosion protection.
  • Pneumatic actuators are the most cost-efficient method of linear motion. 
  • They can be integrated with electronics and condition monitoring.
  • Their lightweight design includes durable components that require minimal maintenance. 
  • Pneumatic actuators can suffer pressure losses, and air's compressibility makes pneumatics less efficient than linear-motion methods. 
  • To generate excellent efficiency, pneumatic actuators must fit a specific job. They cannot be used for other applications, and accurate control and efficiency must be ensured by using proportional regulators and valves, increasing the complexity and cost of the valve actuator. 
  • Even though compressed air is readily available, companies have to pay for it. So, if it becomes contaminated by oil or lubrication, it can lead to downtime and maintenance of the valve and other components. 


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. 

  • Electrical actuators offer the highest precision-control positioning. Meaning they are easily scalable for any force requirement. 
  • Electric actuators can be networked and reprogrammed quickly. 
  • Electric actuators are quiet, smooth, and repeatable.
  • They offer complete control of motion profiles, such as velocity, position, torque, and applied force. 
  • No fluid leaks ensure environmental hazards are eliminated.
  • Electrical actuators are more costly than pneumatic and hydraulic actuators.
  • Electrical actuators are not suited for all environments.
  • Continuously running the motor will overheat and increase the wear on the reduction gear. 
  • Most electrical actuators are large and hard to install in a place that requires a compact solution. 
  • It's challenging to change the values for force, thrust, and speed once a motor is fitted.


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.  

  • Hydraulic actuators are suitable for high-force applications, operating in pressures of up to 4,000 psi. They can also produce force 25 times greater than pneumatic cylinders. 
  • A hydraulic valve actuator can hold consistent force and torque without the pump supplying more fluid or pressure.
  • Hydraulic actuators can have their pumps and motors away from the actuator and have minimal effect on the power. 
  • Hydraulics leak fluid, and as a result, leads to low efficiency. 
  • Hydraulic actuators include many components, such as a fluid reservoir, motors, pumps, release valves, and heat exchangers, along with noise-reduction equipment. It’s a problem for high-force systems that require compact actuators.

Marine Actuators

Automation in marine vessels is becoming a more common occurrence. Suitable for various marine applications such as tiller control, engine throttle control, on deck handling and hydrofoil positioning. Everything from doors to windows to ladders can benefit, such as interior applications (TV lift, adjustable table, cabinet) or exterior applications (engine hatch lift, window opener, adjustable ladder). they can be either interior or exterior uses, cosmetic or functional.

Electric linear actuators also add those luxury touches within a marine vessel. From adding motion to TV lifts, and customisation of furniture including chair and couch actuators to allow users to adjust to their optimal comfort level. 

Marine Actuator Benefits:

  • Durable solution
  • Saves valuable time 
  • Energy efficient
  • Makes the vessel easier to maneuver
  • High force
  • Easy to install

linear valve actuators

Linear valve actuators are actuators that convert electric, hydraulic or pneumatic energy into linear motion. Compared to a rotary actuator which creates circular motion. Linear actuators allow for excellent efficiency and a cost-effective alternative to human operation. 


Most electric motors are rotary; therefore, a linear actuation is connected by a flexible coupling or a belt to produce linear motion. Linear valve actuators are then connected to a control valve to create motion that will perform an open or close valve operation. 



  • Simple design
  • Minimal moving parts
  • High speeds possible
  • Self-contained
  • Identical behavior extending or retracting


Linear actuators are used in a range of markets and applications, including: 

  • Material handling 
  • Valve operation
  • Machine tools
  • Agricultural machinery
  • Robotics
  • Food and beverage manufacturing
  • Window automation
  • Solar panel operation
  • Cutting equipment

Some industrial applications require pneumatic linear actuators for rapid valve operation, while other applications desire precise valve control, which is achieved with electric linear actuators.


What are the types of hydraulic valve actuator?

Hyraulic valve actuators typically have a linear or rotary output and are classified into three groups:

  1. Cylinders or jacks
  2. Rotary actuators
  3. Motors
Linear Hydraulic Valve Actuator

Its purpose is to generate a mechanical movement in a straight line. It achieves this by using an unbalanced pressure applied with hydraulic fluid onto a piston in a hollow cylinder, leading to torque strong enough to move an external object. The amount of torque it can generate is the main advantage of a hydraulic linear actuator. 

Rotary Hydraulic Valve Actuator

Hydraulic rotary actuators use incompressible, pressurized fluid to rotate mechanical parts of a device. Usually, they consist of two varieties of rotational components, circular shafts and tables with a bolt pattern. It is available with single and double shafts and rotates when the helical spine teeth connect to the piston's splines.  

What does a hydraulic valve actuator do?

The actuators in a hydraulic control system are there to convert the pump's hydraulic energy and process it into work.

How do I choose a linear actuator?

  1. Determine the amount of force required for the desired application.
  2. Work out the total distance the actuator needs to move.
  3. Determine the speed required.
  4. Choose your actuator based on the above findings; if in doubt, you can contact us to discuss your requirements. 

What is stroke length in a linear actuator?

Stroke length refers to how far the linear actuator moves and is equal to the fully extended length minus the fully retracted length in most linear actuators. 


For most basic rod linear actuators, the stroke is how far the rod extends outwards from the body of the actuator.


further information

At Curtiss Wright Valve Division, you’ll find various products suited to an array of industrial markets worldwide, including Power Generation, Oil & Gas, Chemical/Petrochemical and Defense.


Our range of valves includes Actuators & Controls, Ball Valves, Butterfly Valves, Changeover Valves, Check Valves, Control Valves, Directional Control Valves, Defense Services, Engineering Services, Engineering Software, Gate Valves, Globe Valves, Plug Valves, Pressure Relief Valves, Solenoid Operated Valves, Strainers, Specialty Valves & Accessories, and Instrumentation Equipment.


If you require any further information on any product, such as specification sheets, you can find them in the related documents or the library. To locate and contact your nearest sales office, click here. Alternatively, you can fill in a contact form here