Asco valves, whether designed to better channel the flow of steam, air, water or some other compressed fluid medium, are the choice amongst professional engineers for motion control tasks of just about any nature. The fact is that contromatic valves from Asco Valves range from the simplest on-off solenoid valves to complicated computer operated valve assemblies meant to serve as complete flow control solutions.
Pistons by their nature produce a simple linear motion. However, when a piston is conjoined to a crankshaft via a hinged arm, that linear motion can be mechanically transmuted into circular motion. Piston actuated valves get switched into their secondary or alternate position by the motion of a crankshaft, move fluid or gas from one space into another, a common technique used in internal combustion engines and a great many other machines – a great many of which contain piston actuated valves distributed by Asco, due to the valves’ famed high quality and ability to withstand wear and tear.
The term ‘contromatic valves’ is one without a proper formal definition, and arose from the efforts of corporate marketers to find a neat umbrella term that could be used to describe the gamut of Asco valves, including solenoid valves and piston-actuated valves. ‘Contromatic’ was coined as all of these devices allow for greater measures of control, be it manually, at the hands of an operating technician at a switchboard, or in the fashion of a servo valve.
Servo valves are capable of responding to changes in the operation of the machine to which they’re adjoined. This is essentially achieved by means of the principle of negative feedback, whereby the actual, present functioning or position of a device is compared to the desired or intended ‘control’ position.
A simple example of this is the original thermostat, known at the time of its inception as the ‘furnace regulator’, which was developed and patented by Albert Butz in 1885. The device was constructed in such a way that when the ambient temperature of the room fell below a given temperature, the device would close a circuit and energize a solenoid, which in turn would deploy its armature to move a motor gear, turning a crank that would allow more air into the furnace, thus increasing ambient heat up until a certain point, at which time the engine would turn another half revolution, raveling the chain back up and closing the furnace’s damper flap.
The incorporation of a solenoid into the device was, at the time, a rather rare thing. Indeed, it was only in 1910 that Asco Valves incorporated solenoids into its valves, becoming the distributor of the first commercially available solenoid valves. The company’s later expansion into piston actuated valves would secure its standing, at that crucial time, at the head of a relatively small field of manufacturers, a fact that’s turned it into an international engineering and parts supply powerhouse.
Still, Asco Valves is not alone amongst distributors that havestood the test of time. Many of the dominant companies in the production of valves and motion-actuation systems are over half a century old. Among them is Honeywell, a corporation that, aside from solenoid valves, manufactures pneumatic and hydraulic systems, and can trace its roots back as far as 1886 (and the aforementioned Albert Butz).