Custom Solution From Stock For A Pick And Place Application

Even if you’re just a casual, infrequent reader of our blogs, you likely know that EXAIR Corporation is proud of our abilities to customize solutions for “out of the box” compressed air product applications. Oftentimes, this is offered as a custom engineered product, developed from a user’s specifications when one of our stock products just won’t work for one reason or another. For instance, when an exotic material of construction is required for heat or corrosion concerns, a special length or size is needed for space constraints, etc.

An Air Amplifier with a PTFE plug (left,) a curved Super Air Knife (center,) and a flanged Line Vac are just a few ways EXAIR has provided custom solutions.

Other times, though, we can use a stock product for something other than what everyone else uses it for.  We’ve sold Air Amplifiers for use in vacuum chucking, and pick-and-place applications – those are normally the realm of our E-Vac Vacuum Generators.  Speaking of E-Vacs, they’ve been used to deflate basketballs.

And speaking of E-Vacs (still,) I had the pleasure of helping a long-time customer solve a new problem in their growing manufacturing business.  They put their consumer products in blister packages, and recently converted one of the lines that picks & places the plastic “blister” onto the cardboard “backer” from two at a time, to six at a time.  They were using a Model 810003M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator, which worked fine, every time, with two Model 900762 1″ x 1/2″ Oval Vacuum Cups, but when they put four more of those Vacuum Cups on, they weren’t able to pick all six “blisters” every time.

These plastic blisters are smooth and non-porous, so this a “textbook” application for a High Vacuum Generator.  They’re also VERY lightweight, and were picked in a horizontal motion, so the 27″Hg that the Model 810003M can generate wasn’t actually necessary.  By replacing it with a Model 800003M E-Vac Low Vacuum Generator, the extra vacuum flow solved the problem, with no increase in compressed air consumption, which was critical for this area of their operation.

EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generators and Vacuum Cups are a reliable, low cost solution for most any pick & place application.

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can solve many of your industrial/commercial challenges.  Our catalog documents the ones they’re aimed at.  Others need to be addressed by knowledge and experience…and maybe a little theory to practice.  If that’s the case, call an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’re here to help, and we’re pretty good at it.

What’s In A Name?

Well, a lot, actually…if that name is EXAIR. I wrote a blog just last week about how a set of Super Air Knives solved a MAJOR problem with a brand new aluminum sawing application – the company got those Super Air Knives on the recommendation of the Maintenance Supervisor, who had used them, with great success, at a previous company.

Even more recently, I had the pleasure of helping a caller from an engineering firm that specifies a wide range of our products for use in their OEM machinery:

*Air Knives & Nozzles for automated blow offs.
*Cabinet Cooler Systems for electrical/electronics heat protection.
*E-Vac Vacuum Generators for end-of-arm robotics “pick & place.”

Turns out, they use a good amount of compressed air in their manufacturing facility and (did I mention they’re an engineering firm?) they’re interested in implementing a facilities resource management program. For one part of this, they want to know how much compressed air they’re using, when they’re using it, and what they’re using it for. And when presented with a question about compressed air, they thought about EXAIR…and wanted to know more about the Digital Flowmeter.

EXAIR's Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger
EXAIR’s Digital Flowmeter w/ USB Data Logger

We discussed everything from theory of operation, to best practices for installation (location, position, etc.,) to accuracy, to getting the flow data…and we’ve got a few options for that:

*The Digital Flowmeter itself can output a 4-20mA signal, or there’s an optional RS-485 output board available.
*The USB Data Logger connects directly to the Digital Flowmeter and records flow rate data – about 9 hours’ worth if measured once a second; 2 years’ worth if measured every 12 hours. When removed from the Digital Flowmeter and plugged into your computer, you can use its software, or Microsoft Excel, to view & analyze the data.
*The Summing Remote Display offers instant indication of current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ air consumption, and cumulative total usage, all at the push of a button.

EXAIR's Remote Summing Display - see current flow rate, previous 24 hours' consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!
EXAIR’s Summing Remote Display – see current flow rate, previous 24 hours’ consumption, or total cumulative usage, at the push of a button!

The latter turned out to be the best fit for my caller – the main supply header runs right past his office, and, if he can sell his facilities folks on it, he can install the Summing Remote Display on the wall, right next to his desk.  Easy as that.

EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products have made a name for themselves in many places like this. Here at the factory, we’re all dedicated to spreading, and reinforcing, that reputation for excellence. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Help with Choosing an E-Vac Vacuum Generator

This is a pretty common question when it comes to Vacuum Generator use in pick-and-place application, and although we can’t boil it down to a simple table & formula based on mass (like we can with the Vacuum Cups themselves,) we can usually hone right in on it, if we have enough details of the situation. And, if questions remain, we can always test one to find out…we’ve got an Efficiency Lab.

That’s what I did, first thing this morning. I had the pleasure of speaking with a robotics instructor at a vocational school yesterday…his class was building a robot to enter in a competition, and one of the operations it needs to accomplish is picking up a golf ball and carrying it a certain distance.  This sounded like a great application for a small E-Vac Vacuum Generator, and, considering the potential leakage at the Vacuum Cup face from the dimples on the golf ball, my first instinct was to consider our Model 810002M E-Vac Low Vacuum (Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler, and a Model 900766 Bellow Style Vacuum Cup, with a 0.73″ diameter face…our smallest, and ideally sized for a golf ball.  They, however, have a VERY limited supply of compressed air, so the difference between the Model 810002M’s compressed air consumption (2.3 SCFM @80psig) and the Model 800001M E-Vac High Vacuum (Non-Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler (1.5 SCFM @80psig) was worth considering.  Also, we figured that they might be able to use a Model 900804 Check Valve, so the only time they’d need to supply air was to pick it up, and, possibly intermittently to maintain the vacuum.  So, golf ball in hand, off to the Efficiency Lab I went.  I also took our trusty video camera:

As you can see, it locked on to the golf ball instantly, and the Check Valve allowed the Vacuum Cup to hold the ball for over 13 seconds with no air flow to the E-Vac, proving that there isn’t much leakage at all past those dimples.  I suspect we’ll be seeing this robotics class team in the winner’s circle at the competition.

In most cases, the difference between 1.5 SCFM and 2.3 SCFM consumption may go unnoticed when picking a short-duration pick-and place vacuum generator.  The higher usage product’s supply pressure can always be regulated down to reduce compressed air consumption and use only what’s necessary to do the task…we, in fact, recommend that on ANY compressed air application.  In this case, though, it was worth finding out.

If you have a pick-and-place application that you’d like help with in selecting the right system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
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