Custom Voice Coil Actuator (VCA) Solutions

BEI Kimco offers a wide variety of customization options, as well as special types of voice coil actuators for specific applications. We can modify any existing catalog part, or design a new unit from scratch in order to meet customer requirements. If you are interested in a custom unit, or would like to know more about our capabilities, please contact us

Custom VCA Types:

Moving Magnet Design:

Most linear voice coil actuators utilize a “moving coil” design, meaning that the coil itself moves while the magnets remain stationary within the assembly. However, there are times when using a “moving magnet” design, which is the inverse of a moving coil, would be beneficial. Some of the advantages include: increased heat dissipation and an absence of moving lead wires.

Tilt VCA:

This type of unit consists of four voice coil actuator field assemblies placed on a common base. The actuator coils are mounted on a plate, independent from the base, while the coils are configured in pairs to push/pull with four independent magnetic circuits. The large air gaps of this design allows for better tilting angles than a conventional VCA. The end result is a device with high dynamic response in a small package that can do the work of multiple individual units.

Spherical VCA: 

This extraordinary voice coil actuator design has four coils on a common frame; each positioned 90º from the next. When suitably excited, the coils position a load at any point within 15º x 15º solid angle. It offers roll and pitch motion in one device.

VCA Customization Options:

Split Coil Design:

Voice coil actuators with split coil designs are made to increase the force of the VCA without having to increase its overall diameter. It also provides a lower Inductance and electrical time constant, making a weaker effect of the armature reaction. This feature can allow one actuator to do the work of two or more. BEI Kimco’s engineers designed and developed the original split coil design back in 1989.

Magnetic Spring & Latches:

Sometimes applications require that the moving coil of a VCA stays in a specific position along the stroke when not in use. By using a magnetic spring or latch, a preferred or “home” position can be established when the VCA is de-energized. This feature reduces power consumption, which increases battery life for portable devices and provides a fail-safe valve mechanism with greater reliability than a mechanical option, which can fatigue or fail over time.

Environmental Protection:

There are some applications where the internal components are going to be exposed to a harsh environment and they will need some added protection. By sealing our voice coil actuators to an IP64 rating, we can ensure continuous operation under highly contaminated conditions and/or withstand splashes and sprays from water or other fluids without malfunction. This can provide a cost-effective solution for initial purchase and prevents expensive actuator replacement costs due to failure from contamination. For installation, the actuator is mounted on the field assembly side using a hollow fitting that equalizes the actuators pressure.

Aperture/Through-Hole Design:

Applications involving laser focusing occasionally require VCA’s to be designed with a through-hole or aperture design. This allows the laser to pass through the VCA without interference and cut down on the limited space often available within the assembly. This will also lessen the weight of the VCA itself, but due to the reduction in magnetic material, can also reduce the available force that the unit can provide. Apertures sizes are customizable based upon application requirements, although are available as catalog VCAs with standard sizes. Please click here for more information.

Low Outgassing:

Voice coil actuators are sometimes required in environments where outgassing is prohibited. Military and space applications can use voice coil actuators to steer mirrors or focus lenses, and need their selected components to meet NASA's Collected Volatile Condensable Materials (CVCM) and Total Mass Lost (TML) requirements. Medical applications may require all the materials in a voice coil actuator to be bio-compatible and/or vacuum compatible. We also have applications where our customers require their components to go through a vacuum bake process, which minimizes the outgassing that occurs from the voice coil actuator during its normal use. All of these requirements are well within our capabilities and can be applied to any catalog or custom unit.

Bearing Options: 

Our housed and semi-housed voice coil actuators use linear bearings/bushings to provide long life and low friction. Many variables go into selecting which bushing material or bearing type is best suited for each application. There are many options to choose from and we continue to look for more, depending on axial loads, speeds, bio-compatibility life requirements and more. In some cases, our bearings have allowed our actuators to achieve billions of cycles of use without replacement or downtime.