Client Project


A keystone project from my time at Belimo. I worked with a small team of engineers to create a new fire and smoke damper actuator customized for the US market. Building off of the success of the FSNF, which I had completed the year before, we set out to make a less expensive version by creating a new design from scratch instead of basing it on an existing platform.


A damper actuator is a device for use in HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning) systems. Basically, it is a geartrain and motor, with electronics and software, that regulates airflow by opening and closing the damper. 

A fire and smoke actuator is designed to close automaticlly in the event of a fire, and to be able to be reopened by fire responders in order to vent smoke from a room. A fire and smoke actuator must be able to function in high temperatures.


I worked with electrical and software engineers, plus two mechanical designers and a project manager to create the new actuator. Our goals were a smaller (lower torque, smaller package) actuator at lower cost, that met the tough requirements of US fire and smoke regulations. 

Throughout the design process, besides working with my engineering team, I also met regularly with product management, purchasing (supply chain), and manufacturing. Plus outside vendors and regulators.

Beginning from scratch meant freedom to create a custom geartrain solution specific to the design requirements. Using in-house design software, I simulated the geartrain. I balanced the 1. specified torque output, 2. powerspring torque 3. electric motor power and drag. Each element of the system affected the others and so demanded a holistic approach.

I designed prototypes for testing and worked with our prototyping lab to manufacture them. Then tested each solution. Testing involved both a high-temperature test as well as room temperature lifetime testing. I designed and ran all of the tests.

Concurrently, I redesigned the housing, finding ways to reduce both part costs and labor costs.  

In the process I developed several novel solutions for reducing cost and improving performance. 


Disciplines involved:

Gear and geartrain design
Plastic injection molding
Sheet metal 
Electronic components and PCB
Electric motor
Die cast
Sintered metal 
Design for manufactuability
High temperature design



Schematic of geartrain assembly of FSLF