A solenoid is a variety of electromagnet consisting of a copper wire coil wound tightly into a helix, an iron or steel housing, and a mobile plunger made of magnetic material. When an electric current passes through the coil, the solenoid produces a magnetic field and converts that magnetic energy into mechanical motion. Essentially, a solenoid converts electrical energy into mechanical work through electromagnetic forces. For example, solenoids are often used as a valve to actuate a push or pull force on a magnetic component in a device. Solenoids can also act as a switch in electromechanical devices. These electromagnetic devices are used in hundreds of everyday applications from doorbells to car ignition systems.
Custom Coils designs and develops quality solenoids to meet the needs of your application. We work efficiently and expertly to create specialty coils for our valued customers.
How Does a Solenoid Work?
When an electric current is applied to a solenoid, it creates a powerful magnetic field that attracts or repels a magnetic material, ie magnetic plunger, to move inside of its housing. As the plunger moves back and forth, it creates the mechanical motion that powers the intended component.
Solenoid magnets have an advantage over conventional permanent magnets because their magnetism can be switched on or off as needed by removing or applying the electrical current. You can adjust the strength of the magnetic pull by increasing or decreasing the electrical current. Additionally, the direction of motion can be reversed based on the direction of current flow through the solenoid.
There are two basic types of solenoids: valve and electric. In valve solenoids, a constant electric current is applied to the solenoid. Once activated, the piston or plunger retracts to open the valve that would otherwise block the flow of material. Once the electromagnetic field is broken, the solenoid is deactivated and the valve will close.
Electric solenoids are used to close circuits to allow engines to run. When the solenoid receives the electric current it pulls nearby metal components in place to create a closed circuit. Constant electric current is required to keep the circuit closed and the engine running.
Applications for Solenoids
Without realizing it, you use solenoids every day. Solenoids vary in size and power, making them suitable for countless applications. Powerful solenoids consist of many coils, create strong magnetic fields, and can be used to power large machinery. A smaller, less powerful solenoid can be used for smaller functions like ringing a doorbell. Some of the more common applications for solenoids include:
- Mechanical or fluid control valves
- Starting a car
- Ringing a doorbell
- Door locking mechanisms
- Nail guns
- Air conditioning controls inside vehicles
- Powering signal systems in the railroad industry
While these simple but effective devices are used to actuate many common devices, they have become highly utilized in nontraditional physical motion applications, such Ion Beam Accelerator systems.
There are innumerable applications for solenoids, as any device that requires force to create mechanical movement can benefit from their functionality.
Custom Coils is Your Expert on Solenoid Design and Manufacturing
Solenoids are important devices in much of the technology we use daily. These devices are effective, versatile, and easy to implement in your systems. From conception to production, the experts at Custom Coils will partner with you to determine your specific needs and customize the right solenoid device for your application. Contact us to learn more about our services or request a quote today.