Magnetic actuators & motors

Magnetic Actuators use magnetic effects to generate forces which impact on the motion of a part in the actuator.

The first large family of magnetic actuators is based on the magnetic forces acting at distance, the Laplace-Lorentz forces and the reluctance forces. Linear types offer strokes in the range of 1 to 20mm, and are complementary to piezo actuators. They can be sorted in 3 categories:

  • Moving coil actuator : Placed in static magnetic field, a mobile coil driven by a current is submitted to the Laplace-Lorentz force. This force is proportional to the applied current. Thus these actuators are controllable. Since first applications were loud-speakers, they are also called voice-coils. CEDRAT TECHNOLOGIES has developed high performance Voice Coils (also called Moving Coils) and LAT Limited Angle Torque actuators for various automotive, industrial or space applications.
  • Moving magnet actuator : Placed between two magnet poles, a mobile permanent magnet can be switched from one pole to the other using coils. Such moving magnet actuators are bi-stable. They present high forces but are not so controllable. Miniature devices have been developed by CEDRAT TECHNOLOGIES for locking and haptic applications.
  • Moving iron actuator : A soft magnetic part placed into a coil system naturally moves in a way that minimises the system magnetic energy. In standard electro-magnets, this reluctance force is larger than the Laplace force but it is only attractive and not controllable. The new MICA™ Moving Iron Controllable magnetic Actuator developed by CEDRAT TECHNOLOGIES thanks to Oseo is an innovative biased (polarised) electromagnetic actuator in which the force can be reversed all along the stroke. It is used for vibrations generation or for active damping in embedded applications. It offers larger strokes than piezo actuators. It offers higher forces and much less heating than any Moving coil actuator.

The second family of magnetic actuators is based on magnetically-controlled active materials. Two types are used by CEDRAT TECHNOLOGIES for innovative devices :

  • Magnetostrictive actuator : These actuators use the magnetostrictive effect, which consists in the deformation of a magnetostrictive material when subjected to a magnetic effect. For example magnetostrictive deformation of Terfenol-D achieves 1600ppm, making this active material an interesting competitor of piezoelectric PZT ceramics for high power transducers or low voltage actuators.
  • Magneto Rheological Fluid Actuator : A Magneto Rheological Fluid (MRF) can solidify when subjected to a magnetic field. This effect can be used to design various MRF-based actuators : valves, brakes, clutches, semi-active dampers, smart hydrostatic / hydrodynamic bearings…

The third broad family of magnetic actuators is the electric motors also called electric rotating machines. CEDRAT TECHNOLOGIES computes all sizes as services but develops only small electric motors, such as Brushless DC motors (BLDC) and stepper motors.

These technologies are presented in the examples hereafter. You can also download our Piezo and magnetic products catalogue. Furthermore, publications are available on magnetic actuators.

Magnetic fast steering mirror M-FSM62