Overview: Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators and Vacuum Cups

Adjustable E-Vac

When it comes to vacuum systems, EXAIR manufactures a very compact and reliable product line called the E-Vac Vacuum Generators.  As a simple vacuum pump, you only need to connect to a compressed air source.  It uses a venturi design to generate high vacuum levels very efficiently.  Since they do not require motors, they are low cost with a wide range of vacuum flows and pressures.  EXAIR offers three different types, the High Vacuum Generators for non-porous objects, the Low Vacuum Generators for porous objects, and the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators.  In this blog, I will cover the Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators and the variety of suction cups that we provide.

The Adjustable E-Vac gives flexibility to your vacuum system to change the vacuum levels.  The simplicity in the design makes it a great tool for lifting, clamping, chucking, and pick-and-place.  The design also allows for adjustability.  By loosening a lock nut, you can turn the body to reach different vacuum levels.  So, they can be used to move both porous and non-porous materials.  We offer four different sizes with vacuum flows ranging from 5.8 SCFM (164.2 SLPM) to 81 SCFM (2293.6 SLPM).  With the Adjustable E-Vac, you can change the vacuum pressure to go as high as 25” Hg (85 KPa).  Ideal for dialing in the correct vacuum for delicate materials or controlled clamping.

Adjustable E-Vac: How it works

The Adjustable E-Vacs can be packaged in a variety of ways.  The kits help to experiment with different vacuum cups to help determine the best fit for your application.  EXAIR offers two types of kits, the standard kit and the deluxe kit.  The Adjustable E-Vac Kit would include the E-Vac, an assortment of four vacuum cups that are matched to the performance of the Adjustable E-Vac, an assortment of vacuum fittings and 10 feet (3 meters) of vacuum tubing.  The Adjustable E-Vac Deluxe Kit has the items in the standard kit above plus an Automatic Drain Filter and Pressure Regulator with gage.  With both individual units and kits, you can add a muffler to help reduce the noise even more by adding an “M” to the end of the model number.

EXAIR also offers a variety of suction cups to attach to a variety of objects.  We have the small round, the large round, the oval, and the bellows suction cups.  With the different designs, you can pick up a wide range of materials, both porous and non-porous items.  The vinyl material resists wear and distortion for many repetitive cycles.  Here is a better description of each cup below:

Round Cups

Round:  EXAIR has a small and large round style.  This gives us a range of surface areas that we can target to help maximize lift.  They can come either with cleats for heavier lifting and stability or without cleats.  They work great with flat smooth surfaces for horizontal and vertical lifting.

Oval Cup

Oval:  The vacuum is defined by a skinny long area.  EXAIR offers four different sizes.  If you have tight spaces or selectable targets like opening a bag at the top, then the oval shape will work.  They can also handle flat rigid sheets like wood, glass, cardboard, and composites.

Bellows Cup

Bellows:  These suction cups are best suited for uneven or contoured surfaces.  The convolutions around the diameter allow for the cup to collapse and “wrap” around uneven surfaces.  The internal volume is larger than the other cups, so the release and attach times will be extended.  But, for odd surface formations, they can come in very handy.

To combine the Adjustable E-Vac with the Vacuum Cups, how can we determine which ones to use in your application?  Here is some information that we will have to know before getting started.  I like to use anagrams for memory recall, and here is a list that I like to call MOST:

  1. Material
  2. Orientation
  3. Size/weight
  4. Time

Material will tell us if the object is porous or non-porous.  Porous objects are items like cardboard, fabric, cement, etc.  The material can have a rough surface or pores that will allow air to pass through or around the cup.  The Adjustable E-Vac can have the vacuum pressure altered to pick up the material without damaging the surface.   Non-porous objects are items like glass, metal sheets, and plastic.  They have a smooth texture on the surface.  These materials should use the highest vacuum pressure of 25” Hg (85 KPa) to hold the most weight.

Orientation will help us to calculate a safety factor.  EXAIR’s motto has always been safety.  This is important because we want to make sure that the object is secure during movement.  We just need to know if the object is being picked up horizontally only, or if the object is being picked up vertically or rotated in a vertical position.  Then we can apply a safety factor to handle the weight in any orientation.

Size/Weight is simple.  The size is the area that we can pick up the object.  In some instances, we may only have a small target area while in other applications, we will have an entire sheet.  The type of Vacuum Cups is selected by this target area.  The weight will determine the number of Vacuum Cups and Adjustable E-Vacs required to pick up large objects safely.

Time is for applications with cycle rates.  If the job requires a set time to support and release in a known time frame, then we can determine the correct Adjustable E-Vac This can be used for leak checking, clamping, and automatic packaging.

The Adjustable E-Vac Generators are simple, flexible, and very reliable.  As a vacuum pump, they are very compact because they do not use any motors which can wear out.  If you contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR with MOST, we will be able to get the most from your vacuum system.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Vacuum Generator System Selection – EXAIR E-Vacs

E-Vac Vacuum Generators are a highly efficient, versatile compressed air vacuum pump. Their versatility allows them to be adapted to many applications such as pick and place, clamping or vacuum forming. They’ve also been used in more unique applications like wood veneer pressing and basketball deflation.

EXAIR manufactures (3) types of E-Vacs – Low vacuum generators for porous materials, like cardboard, generating up to 21″ Hg with vacuum flows as high as 18.5 SCFM. Our high vacuum generators, designed for use with non-porous materials like glass or steel sheets, produce vacuum levels up to 27″ Hg and up to 15.8 SCFM of vacuum flow. The adjustable generators provide flexible vacuum performance, up to 25″ Hg and 81 SCFM,  which can be easily adapted to meet the application.

EXAIR E-Vacs provide instantaneous vacuum response, and are engineered for high efficiency to minimize air consumption.


When making a selection, there are a few key areas you want to consider:

Is the material porous or non-porous?

  • This will allow you to select the proper type of vacuum generator to fit the application and the type of vacuum cup best suited for the process.


What is the weight of the part and how will it be lifted?

  • If the part is being lifted where the vacuum cups will be positioned horizontally, like on top of a sheet of glass, you want to use a safety factor of 2 times the actual weight of the part. In processes requiring the cups be positioned vertically on the part, such as picking up a sheet of plywood and hanging it on an overhead conveyor, a safety factor of 4 would be used.


How many Vacuum Cups do I need?

  • Consider the quantity and placement to evenly distribute the weight for safely moving the material.
  • Depending on the maximum vacuum the generator produce, how much weight can each cup lift?
  • Make the cup selection per the following chart


Once you have selected the type and number of cups needed, you can then begin to look at which additional accessories items you might need.

  • Filters – supplying clean, dry air is key for maintaining optimal performance. An automatic drain filter  can be used to remove any water or contaminants in the supply line. If there is oil present, consider using an Oil Removal Filter.
  • Mufflers – help to reduce the noise level without restricting the airflow. We offer 2 different styles – Standard and Straight Through. Standards mufflers are a good choice where the supply air is clean and dry. These mufflers can only be used with the porous and non-porous generators. The Straight Through mufflers reduces sound levels by up to 26 dBA and are the better choice in processes where dirt or particulate may be present.
  • Tubing and Fittings – polyurethane tubing is available in 10′ sections up to 50′ for processes requiring the vacuum cups be placed in a location that wouldn’t allow for direct mounting to the NPT vacuum port on the generator or where multiple cups are needed. You want to keep the length of tubing as short as possible though for effective pickup and release time.
  • Check Valve – will maintain vacuum on the load if the supply pressure were to drop or be lost during operation.

For additional assistance selecting the proper E-Vac and accessories for your process, please contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer


History of Compressed Air

The first use of compressed air did not come from compressors but the human lung. Healthy lungs can exert a pressure of .3 to 1.2 psi. Primitive people used the power of their lungs to propel darts from a blow gun. We use our lungs to blow off debris, stoke a fire, create sounds by voice and by musical instruments.

Around the third millennium B.C. , people began to melt metals such as gold, copper, tin and lead. Higher temperatures were needed requiring large volumes of air to stoke the furnaces: more than what the human lung could provide. Egyptian and Sumerian metallurgists used the wind directed through pipes for their work. Eventually tbellowhese were replaced by hand-operated bellows and then around 1500 B.C. the more efficient foot bellows came into use.

Bellows driven by foot or by water wheel proved a reliable compressor for more than 2,000 years. But as blast furnaces developed, so did the need for increased air compression. In 1762, John Smeaton built a water wheel-driven blowing cylinder that began to replace the bellows. Inventor John Wilkinson introduced an efficient blasting machine in England in 1776 and age of pneumatic energy became universally embraced.

Thus far, air compression was used mostly for the mining and the fabrication of metals. Blowing machines supplied a combustion blast to metallurgic furnaces and ventilation to underground mines. The idea of using compressed air to transmit energy became popular about 1800 when the newly invented pneumatic rock drill was used to connect Italy and France with an 8-mile rail tunnel under Mt. Cenis. This was a super feat for its time and garnered international interest spawning a flurry of inventions from air operated motors to clocks to beer dispensers.

Many engineers theorized compressed air as the energy distribution system of the future. However, electricity advocates held strong to their belief that pneumatic plants would eventually be trumped by electricity. Neither side was truly right and the debate still festers today. Much emphasis is being placed on energy conservation and the use of compressed air. The argument holds true today as it did back then, compressed air is a viable sources of transferring energy and will not go away. It’s prudent use of compressed air, as with any energy source, that is paramount.

Engine block blow off

The use of drilled or open pipe is energy wasteful. For 30 years EXAIR has been helping conserve compressed air with their engineered nozzles. These are designed to provide greater volumes of air than the volume of compressed air used which is a green alternative to drying, cooling, and blow off applications.

If you are interested in conserving your compressed air, one of our application engineers would be happy to assist you. Feel welcomed to give them a call at 1-800-903-9247 or click the chat icon in the upper left hand corner of this page.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
Phone (513) 671-3322
Fax (513) 671-3363
Web: http://www.exair.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/exair_jp
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair