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I am designing a solenoid actuator system and need help determining the kinematics. I need to know what the force from the solenoid would be as a function of the plunger's position.

Would there be a simple function or would it require more advanced FEA modeling algorithms to get a good answer?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd take an experimental approach and measure the force with a load cell or a scale. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Oct 26 '17 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks Nick, I was thinking of finding a more general function so I can apply it to other solenoid systems and optimize designs, but I can try measuring the force and doing a regression to get a smooth function from that \$\endgroup\$ – Timothy Barrett Oct 27 '17 at 15:34
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In general, when designing a system like this the easiest thing is to simply look at the Stroke/Force Curves for each solenoid published on manufacturer's datasheets. You will soon get a good feeling for the Power that you require.

One thing to bear in mind is duty cycle. You can put 48V through a 12V solenoid, (in order to boost your force at a high extension) but, because it will be drawing 16x more power than usual, you can only keep 48V through it for a very short period of time to avoid overheating. Again - the limits on this are all published on datasheets.

This means that for some applications, you may be able to use a high-voltage pulse to 'pull in' your load from a long stroke position, and then step down to the continuously-rated voltage in order to hold the load at zero stroke.

For a more theoretical approach, have a read of this: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.428.9647&rep=rep1&type=pdf

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