Electrical – Small, two-way linear actuator


I'm looking for a certain component – not a concrete shopping recommendation, but rather if this kind of device exists and what it is called.

I need a little actuator that has the following properties:

  • linear motion (travel ~1 cm)
  • no intermediate steps required (just goes full to the left or to the right)
  • fast switching
  • no high force neccessary (should just be able to flip a mechanical switch)
  • small package size (say 3x3x1.5 cm)

What I'm looking for is basically this:

                                enter image description here

I put on a voltage, and the rod bumps out to the left. Reverse the voltage and it bumps to the right. The rod should be protected from fall out by a tab, but there need not be a spring to force it back to the middle. It can remain where it is when there is no current.

If I hold the current for a few seconds, it would be great if it would remain excerting a force, but it would be also ok if the force would be cut – it should just not melt.

I've found solenoid actors, but they are mostly just push or pull type, with a spring, and also they are too bulky:

                                                enter image description here

What I'm also not looking for is the kind of linear actuator where you have a rotating motor, and that pushes a screw out or in. I really just need a "bang a little rod to the left or right" solenoid in a box. Any idea where I can find this (or a suitable replacement)?

Best Answer

So, at least I found out that what I am looking for exists. It is called a reversible (or double-action) solenoid actor *. Here is a link to an example product listing.

Unfortunately, all reversible solenoid actors I found on the market are rather big, and my idea behind using one was that I wanted something with a small form factor (smaller than e.g. a step motor or rotational actuator). It seems, if I ever get around to building my project, I would just place a magnet on the thing I want to push, and place a reversible electromagnet at some distance.

* I actually found it via the German term, Umkehrhubmagnet (in case it helps anybody).

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