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Micro Linear Actuators


The M3-L is a miniature high-resolution positioning system. It is a “smart” actuator with integrated driver and closed-loop controller inside the actuator.

This compact, powerful motion system helps OEM designers improve performance and reduce the size of instruments in a wide range of applications.

M3-L micro linear actuators add high-resolution positioning to portable and hand-held devices. They accept a 3.3 V supply and high-level input via standard serial interface.

NOTE: Actuator vs. Translation Stage

The M3-L is a linear actuator  designed to push or pull a light object. It requires careful attention to loading under static and dynamic conditions. It is not designed to carry a load.  If you need to carry a load, please consider the M3-LS Linear Smart Stage instead.


  • Small: complete, compact system with embedded closed-loop controls.  Less than half the size and one-fourth the weight of comparable systems.
  • NO external control board is needed.
  • Precise: 0.5μm position resolution with six millimeters of travel.
  • Low voltage, low power use: runs on 3.3V input, holds position with power off.
  • Simple system integration: accepts high-level motion commands DIRECTLY from your system processor, over standard serial interface (I2C or SPI).
  • Flexible system, fast time to market: the M3 platform is designed for rapid customization. Modules are configurable for single- or multi-axis motion and travel up to 20 mm.


The M3-L is ideal for precision tuning of optical and photonics systems. Defense applications include laser beam steering and targeting, UAV and UGV flight controls, and field-portable systems for biomedical and chemical detection and analysis. Medical applications include micro surgical devices and point-of-care systems.

APPLICATION VIDEO | This video demonstrates the use of the M3-L micro linear actuator for laser beam control and for tuning high-powered RF and microwave systems.

Photo courtesy of Dimitrios Peroulis, Purdue University

CUSTOMER APPLICATION | A new paper describes a high-Q tunable bandpass filter machined from plastic, using the M3-L micro linear actuator for tuning. The prototype is a precursor to mass production of low-cost, high-performance microwave devices for future 5G networks. Learn more.

Developer’s Kits

M3-L developer’s kits provide convenient evaluation of the M3-L system and prototyping for your design.

VIDEO | The M3-L developer’s kit includes an M3-L micro linear actuator that operates on 3.3V and high-level input commands via SPI interface.
M3-L developer’s kits include one M3-L linear actuator and a USB adapter to convert high-level computer commands into SPI commands for the actuator’s embedded controller. Standard bullet nose (push) and eye end (pull) tips are included.
New Scale Pathway™ software lets you easily evaluate the micro linear actuator and validate your embedded software. Control multiple actuators from one PC screen.

Ordering Information

DK-M3-L-1.8-TRK-6.0-S Developer's Kit

Developer’s kit including M3-L actuator,  “push” and “pull” ends, USB adapter (SPI), connecting cables, mounting hardware and New Scale Pathway software.

Contact us for custom or high-volume requirements.

M3-L-1.8-6.0 Linear Actuator

M3-L Linear Actuator with built-in controller


The following specifications refer to the Developer’s Kit module. We customize production modules to your OEM specifications.

Travel range 6 mm
Max module dimensions 28 x 13.2 x 7.5 mm including controller
Speed > 5 mm/s
Resolution 0.5 μm
Linear accuracy, +/- 25 μm
Typical operating speed and load 5 mm/s at 0.15 N load
Maximum load (push-pull stall force with +/- 1 degree axial alignment) < 0.20 N
Maximum recommended mass 5 grams
Digital interface I2C or SPI
Input voltage 3.1 to 3.6 V
Input power* < 0.5 Watts (5mm/s at 0.15N) < 0.2 Watts quiescent
Weight of module (without tip) 4.5 grams
Temperature 5°C (lower possible; contact factory) to 70°C
Compliance CE / RoHS
Control interface Via USB adapter from PC or directly via I2C or SPI serial interface
Controller embedded

* Power depends on input voltage, speed, and load.

Block Diagram

The M3-L micro linear actuator has an integrated SQUIGGLE motor and controller inside the compact housing. The motor moves a mechanical assembly. The NSE-5310 position sensor detects the movement of a multi-pole magnetic strip attached to the moving mechanical assembly, and provides the direct digital position information to the motion control processor.

The on-board NSD motor drive ASIC accepts commands from the processor and drives the motor. System input is provided as high-level commands from the system microprocessor via standard I2C or SPI serial interface. NO EXTERNAL CONTROL BOARD IS NEEDED. The M3-L linear actuator operates on standard 3.3 V battery power.

integration and customization

An integration guide and CAD file are available for download (registration required).

New Scale offers both standard and custom M3-L Linear Actuators. In addition to bi-directional (push/pull) systems and custom tips, we can create systems to address your requirements for travel range, module size, force, environmental conditions and more. Learn more about our custom engineering services..

Learn more

See the related product: M3-LS Linear Smart Stages

Learn more about the M3 micro-mechatronic module platform