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A common issue with small linear solenoids is that the stroke length is rather short. I'm pretty sure that increasing the stroke length would require increasing the strength of the magnetic field because the core is farther from the center of the coil. Similarly to a coilgun, would a solenoid with multiple, staged coils get around that problem?

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Multiple coils would make a linear motor, but requires that you switch the coils sequentially to keep the core moving. You can, by switching the coils, move forward or backward, at any speed. A simple solenoid is usually ON/OFF operated and moves a short distance against a spring or gravity. A coilgun is a linear motor, too (but usually only operates forward at full acceleration).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, as long as the coils are staged with a microcontroller and Hall effect sensors or photoelectric sensors, a multi-stage solenoid would work? \$\endgroup\$ – Fluffy Nov 27 '16 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sensors would make for closed-loop positional feedback, if that is required, but you can also just activate the magnetic parts according to a timed sequence. Most rotary motors just take timing from an AC source, and linear motors can do the same. The linear motor (because the moving part cannot be enclosed) doesn't have as good efficiency as a rotary one, or they'd be used more often. \$\endgroup\$ – Whit3rd Nov 27 '16 at 23:54

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