Solenoid valves offers lonfer life

A miniature solenoid valve has been developed that offers users high performance, fast response times, low power consumption and long operating life. Dean Palmer reports

A miniature solenoid valve has been developed that offers users high performance, fast response times, low power consumption and long operating life. Dean Palmer reports Taking inspiration from the Swiss watch industry, a new sub-miniature solenoid valve has been developed that boasts a very long operating life, low power consumption and fast response time. Launched in the Summer of this year by Fluid Automation Systems (FAS) of Switzerland, recently acquired by motion control specialist firm Norgren, the 'Chipsol' two and three-way solenoid valve represents a breakthrough for applications that require a compact, lightweight solution combined with high performance and reliability. The valve should be of interest to design engineers that need to control pneumatic or medical micro-components and for modern automation environments. The first obvious advantage of Chipsol is that it's very compact and lightweight. The valve weighs in at just 4.5g and has a diameter of 8mm, so obvious space and weight savings can be made here. It also uses little energy, with a nominal coil power consumption of just 0.5W. As Yvan Rueff, research director at FAS, told Eureka: "We're targeting the valve primarily at the medical device industry. We already have medical customers of Chipsol, including UK-based medical device manufacturer Pensol, and Drager, a company that makes ventilators and incubators based in Germany." The nominal pressure ratings for Chipsol is 0 bar up to 8 bar and the valves are available in a large variety of pneumatic mounting options that adapt to most industrial requirements. The valve can be directly integrated into manifolds with a common supply, individual outlets and common exhaust galleries. Rueff continued: "Chipsol incorporates just 10 parts, that's 30 to 50% less parts than our 10mm valve, Picosol. This means the valve operates very quietly. The body of the valve is made from stainless steel 430 and there are three PEEK 'O' rings as standard." The real breakthrough comes from the life expectancy of the valve. Because there are fewer moving parts, friction is virtually zero within the device. Two stainless steel flat springs have been added, which have a thickness of less than 0.1mm. This results in a valve that, in lab tests, has gone through half a billion cycles without any problems. The company states a life expectancy of approximately two billion cycles. New platforms for the valve are currently in the R&D stage and Rueff told Eureka that he expected there to be a 5 or 6mm version on the horizon shortly. David Leakey, European Medical sector head at Norgren commented: "Chipsol will be an invaluable addition to our sales portfolio. One application I'm looking at involves using it for dispensing reagents and mixing with human plasma. Medical manufacturers need to reduce the size of these in-vitro diagnostics systems to eventually be able to fit them onto a doctor's desk. We're therefore looking at a valve that will minimise the cost of the system and reduce the volume of reagent required." He also stated other sectors that might benefit from Chipsol. "Inkjet printing machines, printing presses and gluing systems require solenoid valves with very short response times and that are chemically compatible with inks and corrosive solvents. Textile machines and the scientific sector for air pollution control, gas analysers, micro dosing, oxygen enrichment systems, chromatography and aggressive fluid processing." Pointers * Chipsol is ideal for applications that require low energy consumption and reduced space and weight * The valve weighs just 4.5g and has a diameter of 8mm * Nominal pressures are from 0 bar up to 8 bar