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

E-Vacs: Shrinking Foam Packages

In-Line E-Vac Family

A foam manufacturer was looking for a way to reduce the size of their shipping packages.  The type of product was a polyurethane open-cell foam that they would place inside plastic bags to ship.  With shipping charges, the dimensional weight, not actual weight, is used, and it can be very costly.  Since it was open-cell foam, they wanted to evacuate the air from the plastic bags.  This would decrease the package volume and reduce shipping costs dramatically.

The company gave me some details on the product and their process.  The polyurethane foam had a density of 1.1 lb./ft3 (18 Kg/M3), and they were bagging pieces of the foam in plastic bags with the dimensions of 30” long by 10” diameter (0.75m long by 0.25m diameter).  They attempted to use a shop vac to reduce the volume; but, it was too loud and too cumbersome for their process.  They also noticed that the vacuum level was not enough to maximize the shrinkage.  They searched the internet for a better way, and they found the E-Vac™ Vacuum Generators.  They contacted EXAIR to get more information.

The EXAIR E-Vacs use compressed air to create a vacuum by a venturi method.  It can reach vacuum levels up to 27” Hg (91 kPa).  They are very compact and lightweight, and they do not have any moving parts to wear.  So, they are very durable and long lasting in systems with cycling or continuous operations.  In comparison, a typical electric vacuum has a vacuum pressure near 6” Hg (20 kPa).  With the EXAIR E-Vac having a vacuum level 27” Hg (91 kPa), we can draw out much more air to reduce the volume.

At EXAIR, we pride ourselves on customer service.  With this application, I was able to setup a representative sample for testing.  I shot a short video to show the power of our smallest E-Vac.  The video shows a representative sample with a smaller bag.  You can see the volume change with polyurethane foam.

In addition to the video, I was able to calculate the time to evacuate the package to 27” Hg (91 kPa).  EXAIR manufactures seven different sizes of High Vacuum E-Vac Generators with different flow ranges.  The above customer requested an evacuation time in about 30 second.  With Equation 1, I can determine the correct E-Vac size to meet the requirement.

Equation 1:  q = V * ln(p0 / p1)  / t
q = Vacuum flow rate (SCFM)

V = enclosed volume (ft^3)

p0 = atmospheric pressure (“Hg)

p1 = end vacuum pressure (“Hg)

t = evacuation time (min)

Details:
Volume of cylindrical plastic bag: V = 1.36 ft3

Atmospheric air pressure: p0 = 29.92” Hg

Final absolute air pressure: p1 = (29.92” Hg – 27” Hg) = 2.92” Hg

Time to evacuation: t = 0.5 min.

Thus,

q = V * ln(p0 / p1) / t

q = 1.36 ft3 * ln(29.92” Hg / 2.92” Hg) / 0.5 min

q = 6.3 ft3/min or 6.3 SCFM

From the specification on our E-Vac, I was able to recommend the model 810013M.  At 80 PSIG, this model has a vacuum flow rate of 6.85 SCFM; plenty enough to hit the target time.  After installing the E-Vac in their packaging process, they were able to reduce the size by almost 70%.  This was very helpful in reducing the dimensional weight for each shipment; saving the company and their customers much money.

If you would like to send samples in for vacuum test or need calculations for performance improvements, EXAIR Application Engineers will be happy to assist you.  EXAIR always likes to go that extra mile for our customers.

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

The Case For The Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator

Vacuum generation is vital to many industrial processes:

*Pick-and-place. Vacuum cup systems are used to move metal sheets onto laser & plasma cutting beds, precisely place parts for assembly using end-of-arm robotic tooling, or moving awkward objects, like plates of glass, by hand.

The same Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generator can be used for a range of products, from the cinder bloc (left) to small pavers (right.)

*Bag/package opening.  When plastic bags come off a roll and are fed through an automated filler, vacuum cups can make quick work of opening them up, immediately before the filling operation.

*Vacuum filling.  A closed container can be easily filled, without a pump, by simply drawing a vacuum on it.  Same mechanism (and simplicity) as when you drink a beverage through a straw.

These are just a few of the typical uses for an EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generator…I’ve written before about how this is our most versatile product line (by number of different applications) but these in particular are the ones I want to use to make the case for the Adjustable E-Vacs.

EXAIR Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators are available in four distinct models, depending on the needs of your application.  Performance is variable not only by regulating the air supply pressure (like any compressed air product) but also by threading the plug into the body, which changes the size of the annular gap that feeds the Venturi, changing the vacuum and flow levels.  This can be used to overcome vacuum loss due to material porosity or vacuum cup leakage in a pick-and place application, to accommodate different bag sizes or types in an opening application, or to change the rate at which a liquid is moved in a vacuum filling operation.

With four to choose from, EXAIR has an Adjustable E-Vac that will fit your vacuum generating needs.

Because of their larger throat diameter, they’re also better suited for situations where particulates or moisture may be entrained…they won’t clog or ‘stall out’ as is common with other Venturi-type products.  This is especially useful in vacuum chucking/clamping, or when contaminants from dirty environments can make their way into the system.

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

Like EXAIR In-Line Vacuum Generators, they instantly develop rated vacuum as soon as compressed air is supplied, so they’re well suited for fast moving operations.  With no moving parts, they’re durable, effective, and if you feed them with clean, dry air, they’ll operate a good long time, virtually maintenance free.

If you have a vacuum generating application you’d like to discuss, please give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Person of Interest: Giovanni Battista Venturi

Giovanni Battista Venturi was an Italian physicist that was born in Bibbiano, Italy on March 15, 1746.  He died at the age of 76 on April 24, 1822.  During his early life, Giovanni was ordained as a priest at the age of 23; and, he became a professor of geometry and philosophy at the University of Modena at the age of 28.    He moved to Paris France where he worked with other scholars to expand his knowledge of physics and chemistry.  In 1797, he wrote a dissertation on the now famous “Venturi effect”.  However, an actual device was never created or applied until 1888 where Clemens Herschel was awarded the patent for the first Venturi tube.

Venturi Tube

The Venturi effect is a decrease in fluid pressure when fluid flows through a constricted area of a pipe.  In other words, as the diameter becomes smaller, the fluid velocity becomes faster.  This increase in velocity will create a lower pressure just past the constricted area.  when designed correctly, you can create a strong vacuum or a large negative pressure.

E-Vac design

The EXAIR E-Vac® Vacuum Generators use this phenomenon founded by Giovanni Venturi by using compressed air as the fluid.  This type of Venturi tube restricts the internal area to generate a fast velocity through the body creating a vacuum pressure for suction.  EXAIR offers three types of Venturi tubes; low vacuum, high vacuum and adjustable.  The high vacuum generators can create a vacuum level as high as 27” Hg (71 KPa).  The Adjustable E-Vacs can alter the internal air velocities by turning the body and getting different vacuum pressures.  Without any moving parts or electric motors to wear, the EXAIR E-Vacs are a simple design that is very durable, effective and long-lasting.  A great product for applications like pick and place, clamping, lifting and vacuum forming,

The Venturi effect was discovered in 1797, brought into existence in 1888, and is still used in vacuum applications to this very day.  If you have an application where a Venturi tube could help you, please contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to assist you.

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

 

Photo: Venturi Tube with labels by ComputerGeezer an Geof.  GNU Free Documentation License

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.