Poppet valve

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A poppet valve is a valve consisting of a hole, usually round or oval, and a tapered plug, usually a disk shape on the end of a shaft also called a valve stem. The shaft guides the plug portion by sliding through a valve guide. In most applications a pressure differential helps to seal the valve and in some applications also open it.

Presta and Schrader valves used on pneumatic tires are examples of poppet valves. The Presta valve has no spring and relies on a pressure differential for opening and closing while being inflated.



The word poppet shares etymology with "puppet": it is from the Middle English popet ("youth" or "doll"), from Middle French poupette, which is a diminutive of poupe. The use of the word poppet to describe a valve comes from the same word applied to marionettes, which – like the poppet valve – move bodily in response to remote motion transmitted linearly.[1][2] In the past, "puppet valve" was a synonym for poppet valve;[3][4] however, this usage of "puppet" is now obsolete.


The operating principle of poppet valves is described in "How Poppet Valves Work"[5].

In most cases it is beneficial to have a "balanced poppet" in a direct acting valve. Less force is needed to move the poppet because all forces on the poppet are nullified by equal and opposite forces. The solenoid coil has to counteract only the spring force.


Poppet valves are used in many industrial process from controlling the flow of milk to isolating sterile air in the semiconductor industry. However, they are most well-known for their use in internal combustion and steam engines, as described below.

Internal combustion engine

Poppet valves are used in most piston engines to open and close the intake and exhaust ports in the cylinder head. The valve is usually a flat disk of metal with a long rod known as the valve stem out one end. The stem is used to push down on the valve and open it, with a spring generally used to close it when the stem is not being pushed on. Desmodromic valves are closed by positive mechanical action instead of by a spring, and are used in some high speed motorcycle and auto racing engines, eliminating 'valve float' at high RPM.

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