An archive of NSF Controls stories

News Stories Archive

Helping You to Select the Right Solenoid

We have started listing part numbers on our website to help in identifying the correct specification for your application. So far all our standard Tubulars, Low Profile and Rotary solenoids are catalogued on these pages.

While the aim is to provide as much range information as possible, it's worth remembering that:

Over 90% of our production is custom designed!

Therefore limitations are not dictated by these listings.

They are given as guidance for your application needs and also provide a starting reference point for bespoke requirements.

Should you need further assistance with selection, please get in touch and we'll do our best to help.

T.M.M. Motion and Magnetic Technologies Ltd Exhibit at Tel Aviv Show

The Motion Control & Power Solutions Exhibition and Conference took place in Tel Aviv, Israel on 13 January 2015.

The event was very well attended and NSF solenoids which formed part of their display were well received by the attendees.

T.M.M. Motion and Magnetic Technologies Ltd who are based in Ramat-Gan are part of our trusted network of selected suppliers. They specialize in miniature Servo motion combinations and super magnets particularly for difficult conditions.


Tour De France Comes to Keighley

On the weekend of 5/6 July 2014, history was made when the 101st Tour De France completed Stages 1 and 2 in the North of England. This was the fourth time the race had crossed the English Channel but the very first time it made it further North than London.

The momentous occasion saw Yorkshire host the world's most prestigious bike race along with all it's paraphernalia, providing a unique weekend's entertainment. Stage 1 started in Leeds and finished in Harrogate, covering a distance of 190Km. It ended with the stage winner being German, Marcel Kittel after a pile up 300m from the finish line dashed Britain's Mark Cavendish's hopes of winning the opening stage.

Stage 2 on Sunday 6 July took the route from York to Sheffield, some 201Km in total and 521m at the highest point. The pack leaders came through Keighley along North Street then on to the A629 Halifax Road where they received a rousing reception. The reasonably good weather conditions helped swell the number of onlookers, not least outside NSF Controls premises at Ingrow Bridge Works. The picture shows the Tour leaders passing our building.

The 21 stages of the race covered a total of 3,664Km and culminated in the grand finale in Paris on Sunday 27 July, where the overall winner of the coveted yellow jersey was Italian, Vincenzo Nibali who coincidentally was also the Stage 2 winner.

15th Anniversary of Successful Buyout

4th July 2012

Following a merger between owners Lucas and Varity Corporation in 1996, NSF Controls was amongst several divisions considered surplus to future requirement.

Faced with the loss of a viable, unfulfilled business, managers rallied support from employees and lead purchase proposals.

The successful buyout from the American owners was appropriately achieved on Independence Day 1997.

Initial targets of securing jobs and investment for future development have resulted in a solid organisation seeing year on year growth.

The event was celebrated with a presentation to staff. To mark the milestone, the company is sponsoring the Sue Ryder Bronte Sportive on 15th July, supporting our local hospice, Manorlands.

Staff pictured after each receiving a personalised, box presented bottle of wine to mark the occasion.

NSF Produces Invisible Pianist

A component manufactured by Yorkshire based NSF Controls has been used by R Shepherd Consulting in a very high quality computer-controlled, reproducing piano.

As part of the overall electro-mechanical equipment designed into this high-resolution piano, a set of 88 special NSF Tubular solenoids is used to actuate the piano keys. Each solenoid provides the thrust in a velocity-controlled force-actuation system, capable of conveying the subtlest musical control to the piano’s hammers. An important requirement is complete mechanical silence.

NSF Controls worked closely with Richard Shepherd in creating a new bearing system for the plunger in which very close clearances combined with a soft cushion radial bearing support system are employed. The solenoid’s plungers are polished to the highest quality finish prior to being electroless nickel plated. This virtually eliminates any mechanical noise from linear motion. With such tight clearances it was necessary to provide an air breather hole to eliminate pneumatic pumping effects inside the assembly.

The special linear push-shaft extends upwards via a rebound cushion assembly to a threaded head, which allows adjustment with the underside of the piano key. The shaft also extends downwards from the plunger to support a long cylindrical neodymium magnet, which dips into a velocity sensing coil beneath the solenoid; this provides feedback for controlling the hammer velocity.

To cater for very fast repeats, the solenoids are used in a closed-loop control system capable of forcing the current by factors of over 10 for a few milliseconds. The 1” diameter tubular solenoids have special end bearing rings with three m-2.5 threaded holes enabling the solenoid to be attached to a 10mm thick machined aluminium mounting plate, which not only serves as a communal heat-sink, but acts as a large mass into which any residual noise forces are lost. The whole plate is rubber-mounted to the piano to isolate any vibration.

Although there are several manufacturers of reproducing pianos, this special system has been developed for Studio professional use in a modern Steinway-D concert-grand piano. The performance out-classes all others and is so realistic that it has recently been used by Sony Masterworks in a new CD featuring the piano music of Rachmaninoff, whose key strokes were extracted from early 78 rpm records by Zenph Studios in North Carolina. This special piano also 're-performed' Rachmaninoff in Carnegie Hall, New York, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s first USA recital.

Richard Shepherd of R. Shepherd Consulting said, “When I started developing this system it soon became obvious that nobody’s standard solenoids would be good enough. To my surprise and delight NSF were willing to create almost anything I wanted, so we set to work creating a design that suited my needs, yet was not awkward for them to manufacture. It was a joint effort and it absolutely achieves the design objectives.

People who hear the performance close to the piano say they cannot hear anything mechanical, just subtle and beautiful music. My own system at home has been in regular use for over 6 years with many millions of solenoid operations and it is still faultless and mechanically totally silent.”

Roy Whitaker of NSF Controls added, “Working closely with Richard on this application we are pleased that we have been able to achieve the levels of finish demanded in order to eliminate mechanical noise. The use of solenoids in this application is further evidence of the versatility of the component in a wide range of industries.”

NSF Free-way Switch

Leading guitar manufacturers Gibson has for many years manufactured instruments with 3 pickups, each of which are traditionally selected by a conventional 3-position lever switch.

Each pick up gives a different sound because of its relative placement to the strings. Clearly the option to combine two or more pickups will provide even more tonal options for the instrument.

Over time, various methods of providing this additional control have been tried within the Guitar Industry. These would include a multi position rotary switch and additional control switches, both of which provide a confusing visual feedback.

The solution is the ‘Free-way’ switch from NSF Controls, developed in collaboration with Product Design specialist AB Design. It provides a 6-position lever switch in a 2x3 way format. Looking and working like a conventional three position switch, the Free-way toggle actually moves in two planes offering two rows of parallel positions. This patented concept enables multiple electrical settings from a switch where all positions are still easily accessible and distinguishable.

A Leading Rock musician was handed an instrument loaded with the Free-way switch for evaluation and was quickly convinced by how it worked and how intuitive it was to use. A dedicated contact arrangement was developed with Gibson to selectively assign the three pickups on the Custom Guitar allowing the exacting demands for tonal variation demanded by the artist to be achieved.

New Appointments

Yorkshire based NSF Controls has expanded it’s team to handle ever increasing demand for its electro magnetic components and solenoid switches.

Nev Bettney joins the Keighley manufacturer as Sales Co-ordinator and Jodie Grant as Sales Assistant.

Nev’s new role is to develop business opportunities and oversee existing contracts whilst Jodie will be assisting with enquiries, quotations and all aspects of order administration as well as providing general supporting duties.

Jodie joins from a previous position of field sales whilst Nev brings with him 16 years working for Japanese company Pioneer Technology. He has extensive experience of working with large blue chip companies such as Sony, JVC and Sanyo.

Nev said of his appointment with NSF Controls, “I saw great potential for this role with NSF. The company is a leader in its field and I’m looking forward to developing new markets and expanding existing ones.”

Jodie added, “NSF has an excellent company profile which attracted me to the role along with the excellent working environment.”

NSF Controls Celebrates

Tuesday 28 August 2007

NSF Controls, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of electro-mechanical components and assemblies recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its employee/management buyout from Lucas Varity. The company still employs 60 people, including 21 of the original employee and management investors and has successfully implemented the original plan of securing jobs, investing for the future and further developing an innovative approach to design and manufacture.

Four of the five original Directors are still involved with the business, Mike Peters, Les Bennett, Doug Priestley and Marco Laboccetta and are now supported by an enhanced executive team, ensuring that the company has the talents and experience to keep it moving forward. The last 10 years has seen the company invest in new machinery and equipment, new production lines, staff training and Investors in People accreditation.

The company strap line is “from vision to results”, back in 1997 they certainly had the vision and over the last 10 years the results, this has seen export sales increase from 20% to 33% of turnover. Products and components from NSF Controls are operating around the globe, in countries such as Germany, the USA, Turkey, Pakistan, Italy, France, Russia, Australia, Israel, South Africa, China and many, many more.

The focus has moved away from supplying predominantly off the shelf products (although stock products are still offered) to bespoke solutions, which include every aspect of product development, from the identification of the customer's specific needs, design feasibility studies and costings, to 3D and SLA modelling, rapid prototyping and in-house testing facilities.

This approach has seen NSF Controls become increasingly involved with innovative and complex projects and sub-assembly work. Current projects give an insight into their broad sector coverage and include: electric mortice locks, gas valve assemblies, winches for disability/motability use, taxi door locks and military communications.

NSF Controls can look back with pride at the decade completed. Their vision has now manifested itself in a successful business model with a proven track record, providing clients with scalable and tailored solutions.

Their strong technical backbone created the foundation for collaboration with clients and partners alike. NSF Controls have the ability to meet their clients’ requirements, providing value and efficiency through intelligent systems integration. This has earned enormous respect but more importantly has ensured they remain one of the leading suppliers in their sector, Worldwide.

Operations Director Les Bennett comments, “The last 10 years have seen a lot of change in this industry, not least, a lot of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. I’m thrilled that we have stayed true to our original vision and remained out of the turmoil. Certainly our working model has evolved over the years and is still evolving, our core values are still intact and we have not strayed from the vision we had 10 years ago.”

The anniversary was marked by a day of celebration for the staff and included a celebratory lunch at a local restaurant. Because in the end, it has been the combined effort of management and staff that has made NSF Controls.

The NSF Controls product experts are available to help you select the most suitable product to meet your specific requirements and, if required, will work with you to design and produce a customised solution. 

To find out more, please contact our specialist Design & Engineering Team +44 (0)1535 661144 or email 

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See Our Full Range

We supply a wide range of reliable, superior quality solenoids and switches, which also provide a sound basis for development of bespoke solutions.

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Free-Way Switch

Free-Way Switch

Manufactured by NSF Controls Ltd in the UK and available through selected suppliers

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